Why your Kindle Paperwhite loves Instapaper

How to synchronise your reading list wirelessly

Last year I started using Instapaper's automatic delivery feature for Kindle readers. This is an almost secret feature for the users of the read later service hidden as an extra. I strongly believe this has to be a 'must' for every Kindle reader owner.

If you didn't know, Instapaper is the service that allows you to save interesting content from the web to read it later. You may, for instance, save this mini guide and read it when you have more time before going to sleep. Instapaper will keep a basic version of the article without the clutter, saving it in your device of choice so you don't even need internet connection to access the content. Sounds simple, but this is the kind of thing that changes your habits.

There are several ways to save content to Instapaper and developers keep adding support to third party apps. In my case, I use a handy bookmarklet on Safari on my Mac, I tap on a special bookmark on my iPhone and click on the share buttons in apps I use constantly during the day such as Tweetbot and Reeder.

What happens to all that content being saved for later? This is stored in the cloud until you sync the Instapaper app, which will download the lightweight files containing the articles to present you with all the content you've been saving. I love both Instapaper on the iPhone and the iPad as I use my phone for reading during my daily commute and the iPad to read at home, usually in bed. As you can see, the service allows you to shift your preferences, focus on your productivity and possibly enjoying more your time reading.

Getting your Kindle into the mix

I recently purchased a Kindle Paperwhite. This is the first e-ink reader from Amazon to use a front-lit display, allowing you to use it in dark environments without the need of any external light. The Paperwhite is also my first touch e-reader.

Despite the bells and whistles in the new touch user interface, the Paperwhite is still very basic in terms flexibility. Unlike Kindle Fires, Android tablets and iOS devices, you can't install apps. The web-browser is primitive at best. You are locked in Amazon's DRM book walled garden.

As a heavy Instapaper user I simply couldn't limit my Kindle to book reading

Without getting into more comments about the device, the Kindle Paperwhite has proven a great pocketable solution for my reading both on the go and at home. The small and thin form factor, coupled with the glowing e-ink display is a great combination. That's where the Instapaper delivery service changes everything, making the Paperwhite the ultimate reading device.

Setting up automatic article delivery on your Kindle

To get started you'll need an Instapaper and an Amazon account working. If you haven't done so already, you need to access the 'Manage your Kindle' section on Amazon and authorise personal document delivery on your device. This will allow you to email files to a @kindle.com email address instead of using a cable and a computer. Copy the first part of your Kindle email address without the @kindle part.

While you're still on the Amazon website, open a new tab on your browser and login to Instapaper.com. Clicking on the 'Account' section (top right corner) you are greeted with some simple options. Look for 'Do you use an Amazon Kindle' and click on 'Manage Kindle Settings'. What you want to do here is to get the email address Instapaper will be using to send you articles automatically. This is a random email address ending with kindle.xxxxx@instapaper.com unique for your account. If you continue reading there's a space to paste the Kindle email address that you have copied to the clipboard some seconds ago. Paste that on 'My Kindle's email address'.

To complete the setup now you only need to copy the whole @instapaper.com email address (in green) and return to the Amazon website and add it to the approved email list. This part can be found on 'Send-to-Kindle Email Settings'. Note: Owners of a 3G Kindle you'll be able choose from a @kindle or @free.kindle.com address.

Once this setup is done you have several options. You can choose to send now a sample file with the contents of your reading list manually or allow the system to send you an update to your Kindle regularly. I prefer getting a weekly compilation of the articles every Friday — the default day for weekly deliveries — as this is the time I need to go through 50-60 saved articles. Also, by using the Instapaper app on iOS and can read, delete and archive quick reads and leave the lengthy ones for the Friday delivery.

The Instapaper experience on a Kindle Paperwhite

As soon as you have setup the automatic delivery your Kindle should start fetching Instapaper content in the form of periodicals. These differ from the book format in the inclusion of a table of contents, so you can navigate to the article you want to read. Horizontal swipes move between pages while a vertical gesture takes you to the next item on your reading list.

One of the coolest things you can do with your Kindle is to Archive and Like items. The link included at the top and bottom of every article includes a link, opened by Amazon's experimental browser that will tell the Instapaper server this item has to be archived or liked. The layout is simple enough for the Kindle to handle it quickly, although this isn't as fast as it could be, plus it requires you to tap on the Back button to return to the article.

The implementation isn't fantastic but I appreciate the workaround given the device's limitations. The Instapaper list on your Kindle doesn't update automatically so you might find some items that you have archived or deleted after sending the sending the content to your e-reader.

Another neat addition to is the option to archive all items on the Instapaper periodical and download all new items. This is very handy and means that as long as you have access to an internet connection you will be able to bring more content to your Kindle.

Final words

Intapaper's ability to send articles to the Kindle is a completely obscure feature that changes the way you user your e-ink reader. I own and use the whole lot of iOS devices and Kindles and make them work in harmony. It's easy to see the iOS element disappear from the equation, perhaps saving items to the Instapaper queue from your PC as you browse the web or use third-party enabled desktop apps.

Coupled with a member subscription that removes the 50-article cap for each periodical, Instapaper becomes a must-have option for Kindle owners. It redefines it's purpose slightly, makes it more versa tile and opens that closed gate that is the Kindle Book Store to other type of free content.

Next time someone asks me about my Paperwhite I'll say: yes, it's a cheap tablet and has a potentially unlimited amount of content to keep me reading. Not necessarily books.

This is an update of sorts to my previous post: