How to get a free book on your Kindle from a ferry boat in Thailand with a SIM card and a Pixi smart phone.
I like challenges. Especially technical ones. Bonus points if they help my kids to read and stay off of their phones.* Here goes.
If you’re looking for the easy way out, you can stop reading now.
Goal: get a free book onto my son’s Kindle by the time we reach the mainland.
Sure, I could connect his Kindle to WiFi on the boat (although I don’t know for sure it has it, there are styrofoam cups of noodles and hot water, however), but that would be too easy. Also, because my other son goes through books faster than he goes through socks (oh wait, he doesn’t wear socks), I’ve been having fun with the U.S. library system and lending books to the Kindle.
It takes a few steps, but once you get the hang of it, it’s possible.
- U.S. library card (or number and passcode)
- WiFi (or #4)
- Local (Thai) SIM card with hotspot functionality
- Laptop or smart phone
- Overdrive account (optional)
For many of you, #2 might be the most difficult if you don’t have it already. I think, in order to get a US library card, you have to show proof of residence in that city and then go in person to get a card. A little more difficult if you no longer live there. But there must be a library where you live. Check out what online lending options it offers.
If you do have an Overdrive account, the search function is usually easier and better than the libraries. You can also add multiple libraries if you have multiple library accounts. For example, I also have a Los Angeles library account. The only drawback is that you can’t filter by availability, so you have to click through to the library site, log in, and see if it’s actually available. Here are the basic steps.
- Log into Overdrive. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one. You’ll also want to connect your library/libraries.
- Search, filter, find your book.
- Click through to the library site to check availability.
- If available, check that it’s in the format you want. For example, for the Kindle. Careful, eBook and ePub is not for Kindle. It will probably say Kindle.
- Click to download (although you’re not actually going to be downloading directly from the library site).
- Choose Kindle format.
- TIP: before you click to connect to Amazon, go over to Amazon.com and log in with the account you want to be using. For example, I’ll log in using my son’s Amazon account.
- Click to download. You will be brought to the Amazon site.
- If you’re logged in, you’ll have the option to download the book to your Kindle.
- Connect your Kindle to the WiFi (or your hotspot from your Thai SIM card phone).
- The book will download.
See? Easy! Only 11 steps and you only need 3 accounts, a SIM card, a library card and … OK, given up yet? Sure, I get it. Go pay the whopping $6.99 for the Kindle version of the book directly from the Kindle itself connected to WiFi (somehow) and you’re all set. But remember, I like challenges and books for free are fun, too — this coming from a writer earning his living from people buying books. But all exposure is good exposure and having your books in the library is an excellent way to reach readers who don’t want to pay full price (or any price) for the book. It’s all good. It’s all reading. It’s all better than mindless video games on a screen.
But remember, I like challenges and books for free are fun, too — this coming from a writer earning his living from people buying books. But all exposure is good exposure and having your books in the library is an excellent way to reach readers who don’t want to pay full price (or any price) for the book. It’s all good. It’s all reading. It’s all better than mindless video games on a screen.
I’ll be surprised if the libraries don’t make it easier to borrow books more automatically than all of the steps I outline here. Well, if not, there are always free books on Amazon, like, you know, this one.
Good luck and don’t come to me with technical questions. I barely can make this work. But hey, we’re now somewhere in between the island of Ko Samui and mainland Thailand and I just got a free book for my son on his Kindle from the Los Angeles Public Library while I wrote this so if I can do it with all of these limitations, you can do it too.
* Oh, that’s right. I almost forgot. They don’t have their phones.