I just bought an Amazon Kindle and I love it. Nothing ever attracted me to ebook readers until I tried one, and now I can't see a reason not to immediately burn all physical books and start again.

This blog is about using your Kindle for studying Japanese. Next time I'll look at reading Japanese books and manga.

So, you should buy a Kindle. If you live in Japan you can get a 3G version delivered (from the USA) for around 18,000 yen, which is a bargain when you consider that you can use it to go on the internet, including using Google Maps like GPS, for free.

Books are usually cheaper than physical alternatives, and Amazon offers a huge range of pre-1923 novels for free. Not only that, but sites like Project Gutenburg and Google Books have TONS more.

If you have previously bought an ebook in an unsupported format, or have any other document you want to convert to view on your Kindle, use a program like mobipocket to switch to the .mobi file (.pdf also works on the newer versions).

Anyway, end of sales pitch.


Japanese Study

So you have a textbook or some other resource on your computer which you want to view on your Kindle? If it's a .pdf just copy it straight over, and for anything else just use mobipocket to convert it to .mobi first. You can also use Amazon's free conversion service (scroll down a little), although it reportedly sometimes messes with the formatting, plus it takes a few minutes. Why wait?!

The newest Kindles (3 and 4) let you rotate and zoom very easily, so you shouldn't have any problems with small text/furigana. You can also set up bookmarks so that you can flip between sections (e.g. dictionary entries, exercises). The only thing missing is a touchscreen and pen for practicing writing. Maybe next edition?

Japanese textbook in portrait mode
You can also study flashcards using the Kindle. The best way to do this, as pointed out by Minlawc in the comments, is to use Anki Online (you need to download and install it on a computer before the online feature is available). The third generation Kindle has built-in WiFi (there's also a 3G version), and using Anki this way couldn't be easier. Check it out.

One more great feature of the new Kindle is the audiobook function. This means you can (almost) use it as an mp3 player. Load up your Japanese lessons/podcasts and you have an all-in-one package which weighs almost nothing. I love it!

JapanesePod101 mp3 playing in internal speaker mode
Of course, another great way to study Japanese is to read books/stories in Japanese, which is the subject of the 3rd part of our series:

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AccessJ.com's 3-part Kindle guide series
  1. Using a Kindle to Study Japanese
  2. Converting and Adding Manga to a Kindle
  3. Reading Japanese Books and Manga on a Kindle
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