Ever since a California Avenue Starbucks meeting with Graham talking about hacking his Kindle and getting my own Kindle I’ve wanted to check up on what people manage to get their Kindles to do that they don’t do right out of the box that Amazon.com sends it in.
A simple Google query – “Kindle hacks” – brings a bunch of entertaining links to the surface. About playing Minesweeper on a Kindle, about Google Maps and GPS, how to make screenshots, load pictures onto the Kindle and play slideshows, use the Kindle to check email and send text messages for free, install Ubuntu 9.04 on it, and where to get books for free.
And that is really the subject of this post. Previously I expressed disappointment that there was no Dutch content for my shiny new gadget. I spoke too soon! One search result from the aforementioned query was a pointer to manybooks.net. This site features downloads of free books in many languages including the quirky one generally spoken in the territory between the cities of Maastricht and Delfzijl. Most of the listings on Manybooks appear to be of books whose copyright terms have expired. For example you’ll find works from Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo and William Shakespeare.
Speaking of Shakespeare, for English exams at high school in The Netherlands I had to read one book of before 1850 (well, I had to read more books than that but one of them had to from before then). I picked the Merchant of Venice. Didn’t understand it at all. Which turned out to be a good thing. During the oral exam mr van Hofwegen, my English teacher, asked about that book. I replied that I had read it but that I didn’t understand it. He went on to explain the story, quote left and right from it. I sat there inserting appropriate responses at appropriate times (“ah!”, “oh, very interesting”, “hmm”, “really?”) and I came away with a very good mark.
But this is not about the Sweet Swan of Avon, this is about how my Kindle became bilingual.
Manybooks’ list of books in the Dutch language includes many translated works (De Koopman van Venetië !) but also original Dutch works from Louis Couperus, Johan Huizinga, Lodewijk van Dessel, Willem Kloos and Multatuli.
[For the English reader: there will be quotations in Dutch below. At those points please rehearse your favorite Shakespeare quotes. There will be a test later.]
At school I skillfully avoided having to read Multatuli’s Max Havelaar and here the download for my Kindle is staring at me. And so now it is on my device. Being a few chapters into the book I quite like it! Batavus Droogstoppel, the teller of the story in the book, has a sense of humor that very much speaks to me.
During his tirade against plays, poetry and fictional literature:
“En dan komen later weer andere leugens. Een meisjen is een engel. Wie dit het eerste ontdekte, heeft nooit zusters gehad.”
One of his critical remarks against Busselinck & Waterman:
“Dat zyn ook makelaars in koffi, doch hun adres behoeft ge niet te weten.”
During his summation of the contents of Sjaalman’s package:
“Over de lengte op zee. (Ik denk dat op zee alles wel even lang zal wezen als op ‘t land.)”
And I am already most intent on seeing what today is at Lauriersgracht 37 on my next trip to The Netherlands.
Yesterdays exploration of free books yielded several other items:
Darwin’s On the Origin of Species
2BRO2B by Kurt Vonnegut
Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietsche
Heavy reading perhaps but the morale of the list: if the book is 70+ years old then you can probably find it for free rather than purchase it from the Amazon store (with apologies to mr Bezos).
Hacks, hits and tips:
- Top 25 Kindle Hacks
- Kindle 2 hack list
- Resources and tutorials to get more out of your Kindle
- See a Kindle in your city
(On that last link, if you are in the Rochester area and are intrigued about getting a Kindle I’d be happy to demo over a latte at Spin Caffe or Starbucks)