Several weeks ago I purchased an Amazon Kindle DX. As expected it has some significant benefits, some limitations, and some anti-features. I decided to document these here.

As a spend almost 3 hours each day travelling to/from the city by train I would like to be able to read books on the trip. Unfortunately books tend to be heavy, and are prone to get damaged in my bag because of their size.

My idea is that the Kindle DX would allow me to read books during this time without having to carry them around.

This is purely my experiences so far. I make no claim that everything I have said is accurate, but will try to fix any mistakes as I find them.


I was expecting to receive the Kindle on Friday. When it didn’t arrive I contacted DHL Friday afternoon and was told that VicFast accepted the delivery but not assigned it to a driver. On Monday morning there the tracking information still had not been delivered and I complained to both Amazon and DHL. It turned out it had been delivered to our letter box on Friday. As we hadn’t realized this, and had no reason to check our letter box after the Australia post delivery, it had been in my letter box all weekend, where it could have been stolen at any point. Not only that but it had been raining the entire weekend. Fortunately (by some miracle) the water didn’t penetrate the cardboard box, and my Kindle was still intact.

After the complaint with DHL they responded with:

We offer our most sincere apology for the inconvenience caused by the delivery of this shipment of electronics left in the rain.

While our contract with Amazon does stipulate that shipments can be left without a signature, this should only be done after confirming that noone is home to sign for the shipment. The shipments are also not to be left in clear view of the road, and in a safe area if noone is home to sign for the shipment. I have forwarded your Airway bill details to the management team of our Third Party associates to look into this matter with the driver concerned.

Please be assured that this incident is not indicative of the high level of service normally provided by DHL. We trust our future business dealings pursue a trouble free course.


This is an E-Paper display. Unlike a conventional monitor, you are not staring directly at a light that is pointed into your eyes all the time. Unfortunately, the surface does seem to be reflective so depending on the angle it is positioned at, glare could be an issue.


Digital Rights Management. This is a very contentious issue. I would argue though that DRM doesn’t do anything to protect the rights of the publishers.

  • There are claims that people have broken the DRM and can remove the DRM from DRM encoded books.
  • I can still copy the content of the book, e.g by photographing the Kindle screen.

Furthermore it prevents me from doing things I could do with a standard paper books:

  • I can buy a book, read it, and give the away to friends, at no cost. The number of people who can read one book is not restricted. There are no time limits or other restrictions. The only practical restriction is that only one person can read the book at the time.
  • I can go into a major bookshop, and I can read the entire book before I decide if I want to buy it or not.
  • I can get my company to pay for a book that is related to my work, and the company owns the book so anybody else at work who wants to read the book can do so.

None of these are possible with e-books purchased from Amazon’s store.

Unlike other DRM schemes however, the Kindle allows you to copy content from other websites (via USB), provided it is a compatable format. There are some websites that allow retrieving books (especially public domain books) free of charge. Unfortunately there are many books, especially non-fiction, that are only available from Amazon’s store.

Also Amazon has received bad publicity over its ability to remove content remotely. While they settled the case out of court, the wording of the guarantee to wider rights, as on Wikipedia, only applies to Kindle’s being purchased from and used in USA, so it doesn’t appear to apply to me.

Amazon claim they need to be able to remotely delete content in case on non-payment or the user asks for a refund. However they are not able to do this for dead tree books, so why should E-Books be considered any different?


The Kindle supports different formats for files:

  • Unprotected Mobipocket.
  • AZW format. The DRM format Amazon provides books in you purchase from there store. Not that some files with the .azw extension appear to be unprotected Mobipocket files, as such I wonder if all AZW files are just Mobipocket format with DRM encryption.
  • Text format. Text format is good, although obviously you don’t get the pictures. Text format comes out better if the Kindle is allowed to do the word wrapping itself. Unfortunately some text books come with the lines prewrapped, and this looks awful if the text size is too large and the Kindle wraps lines that are too long. Later on I might try and create a script that joins long lines together.
  • PDF format. People I talk to seem surprised that this isn’t the ideal format for the Kindle. PDF files are intended for printing, not viewing on a computer. If you have a document formated for large paper (e.g. A4) with multiple columns the type ends up being very small even on the large Kindle DX. Due to the slow refresh rate of the screen it becomes inconvenient to try and scroll around the page. If the PDF file was formatted for a smaller page size then it is ok. It is also worth noting it is not possible to annotate PDF content.

As far as I can tell, HTML format is not supported except with the built in web browser. So you can not use html format ebooks.

According to the documentation, Amazon also offer a feature where I can turn other formats (e.g. word and HTML) into AZW format, free of charge, by emailing it to, and then downloading the result and copying it via USB. As of yet I haven’t tested this service.

Quality of books

Generally the quality is good. However there are some problems:

  • Tables appear awful. No separation between table cells, text can scroll of edge of screen where it can’t be read.
  • Some diagrams are too small and low resolution to see what the diagram is displaying.
  • Online books are never provided with any add on digital files that the publisher may provide with the book in tape or CD format. This makes it worthless to purchase some books, e.g. books on learning another language.

This would be OK if the e-book was cheaper, however many e-books (especially non-fiction) have similar inflated prices to the paper books.

I don’t know if some of these problems are due to the format used or the process of coverting the book to this format.

Local restrictions

As I use this in Australia there are some restrictions I face:

  • The Kindle comes with a built in 3G Sim for Amazon. I can’t change this. On the good side this means I can connect to Amazon or Wikipedia out of the box without needing to setup a 3G account. On the other hand, this means Amazon pay International data roaming fees, and as a result they have some restrictions. These restrictions are not clearly mentioned on the Amazon website under the Australia Specific country page. One restriction is that I cannot download from any website other then Wikipedia or Amazon. Blog content is not available. Also magazines/news papers do not come with images, which makes them next to useless IMHO.
  • Availability of books. Many books I like to read are simply not available in this country. e.g. any Tom Clancy book. I have just started reading the Jack Ryan series of Tom Clancy books. This means I will continue to have to carry heavy books with me on the train.

Aviaton use

As a pilot, I wanted to see if the Kindle would assist me in anyway. In particular I wanted to be able to put the ERSA on my Kindle, so I can get a list of airports when flying without having to take the big bulky book. Airservices Australia provide the PDF files free of charge, so it should be easy, right?

Wrong. First problem is the Airservices Australia provide the document in separate PDF files for each and every airport. The Kindle doesn’t cope very well with having hundreds of closely related PDF files, as everything is displayed on a single level.

I tried to join the files to create one PDF file. On my first attempt I used pdfjoin, part of the pdfjam package in Ubuntu. however found in doing so I lost the images. Not only that, but searching through PDF files seems to take ages, making it very difficult to find details for the desired airport quickly and easily.

I tried again with pdftk, however it prompts for a password because it thinks the source files are encrypted.

As a test I copied several PDF files for several airports individually straight from the website. The text is nice, large, and readable. Unfortunately the airport diagrams have a lot of corruption in the rendering which makes it unusable.

I am not sure what the solution is here, but unfortunately, using the ERSA on the Kindle is not feasible at present time.

Using other Australian aviation documents might still be possible, e.g.

  • Flightsafety. Text appears small once scaled to fit screen size. While it is better in landscape view, looking at multi column text in landscape is tedious.

  • AIP. This is also split up in many PDF files. Unfortunately, Airservices Australia assumes you will be browsing this online, and only provides links to other PDF files within the first PDF files you download.

  • CASR. Not tried yet.
  • CAR. Not tried yet.
  • CAOs. Not tried yet.

Links to these CASA documents, and more are found on CASA’s website.

Feedback to Amazon

This is on my to do list. They have provided me an email address where I can provide feedback.


Overall I am really happy with my purchase. It is a shame though that there are anti-features, such as DRM and country restrictions, that very much restrict what I can do with the Kindle, and as a result, may limit the number of books I purchase from Amazon’s store.