Amazon Announces a New Way to Send Stuff to Your Kindle

Download Amazon's new Send to Kindle software app

Amazon has quietly announced a new application. There’s now an easier way to get your own documents onto your Kindle. Just download and install Amazon’s “Send to Kindle” software onto your PC (by pointing your computer’s browser to amazon.com/sendtokindle.) “Support for Mac is coming soon,” Amazon promises further down the page…

Once you’ve installed it, a “send to Kindle” choice appears whenever you right-click on a file in Windows Explorer. And “send to Kindle” also appears as a choice on the “Print” menu in Microsoft Word, “or in the print dialogue of any Windows application.” In the past, you had to e-mail your documents to the e-mail address which Amazon had created for your Kindle. Or you could also connect your USB cord to your PC, and then transfer documents by connecting the other end to your Kindle.

This was seems much more convenient, and it might get me to use my Kindle for more than just reading ebooks I’ve downloaded from Amazon.com. “Kindle Personal Documents Service makes it easy to take your personal documents with you,” Amazon explains at the top of another web page at amazon.com/kindlepersonaldocuments, promising that it eliminates the need for a print-out!

I say Amazon “quietly” announced the news, because I only found out about it from a post on their “Kindle Daily” blog. And they also suggested another way you can use Amazon’s servers to manage files that you want to store. “You can also simply archive documents in your Kindle Library for re-download later. Your last page read along with bookmarks, notes and highlights are automatically synchronized for your documents (with the exception of PDFs) across your Kindle devices and supported Kindle reading apps .”

Part of me wonders if Amazon is up to something. Once your personal documents are stored on Amazon, it becomes a part of your life – and then it’s even harder to switch to a competing digital reader! You’d have to transfer all the individual documents — and more importantly, you’d feel a personal attachment to your Kindle. “It’s not just that device where I downloaded 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. It’s also where I stored that draft of an important manuscript that I’m trying to finish…”

I think Amazon has concluded they’ve got a real business reason to encourage their customers to store documents “in the cloud.” The new, trendy concept in technology is the idea that your smartphone and your PC and your Kindle (and other tablet devices) can all access the same set of files – your own personal collection of digital content. You can buy an mp3 of your favorite song for your new Kindle Fire tablet — but you’ll also be able to listen to it on your PC using Amazon’s “cloud player.” Of course, you can also just download that mp3 straight to your hard drive, and then do whatever you want with it.

But if you’ve ever tried that, you’ll know that Amazon adds extra steps to that process. It’s like they’ve optimized their mp3 service for use with the Amazon Cloud Player, and they’re simply supporting, reluctantly, the old-fashioned custom of listening to mp3s directly from your hard drive. Maybe I’m just suspicious because “cloud storage” still feels new — and in time, I’ll wonder how I ever lived without storing everything on a universally-accessible cloud drive. But for now I still find myself wondering what’s the catch. Do I really want my personal documents to be stored in Seattle, and beamed to an orbiting satellite in outer space?

It does sound cool — like something that James Bond might do. But in any case, this capability has arrived, and how we use it is up to us. “Reading your personal documents on Kindle is now easier than ever,” Amazon explains on their web page.

“You can download archived personal documents from your Kindle Library on Kindle Keyboard, Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle for iPad, Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for iPod…”

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