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Three kick-ass e-reader uses: a writer’s list

typesetting blocks

There’s tons of advice out for how to use your e-reader more effectively, but I thought I’d throw out this short list because these things have changed my life. They’ve certainly altered the way I engage with text and they’ve helped me – in some way – to become a better writer. And finally, they’ve given me mental powers that would blow your mind out your nasal cavity.

1. Discover New Work

If you’re like me, I’m always on the lookout for books that may add to my repertoire – either new approaches to fiction, good storytelling, or non-fiction that helps me understand an issue, so I can include it as a theme in my work. The problem is my mental powers do not include as prodigious a memory as I would need to actually remember all of the books that I have heard of online or elsewhere. My e-reader (which is a Kindle, but this works for other devices too) is a great help here. As soon as I hear or read something about a book that sounds of interest to me, I look it up on Amazon, and send the sample to my device. (You could do this with Nook, Kobo, etc. too.) Then, the next time I spark up my reader, I can check out the sample, and decide if the book is something I want to buy and read.

One of the greatest discoveries I’ve made this way is Debt, The First 5000 Years, which I learned about in a comment on another book.

2. Make Web Reading Manageable

Okay, you’ve had 25 tabs open in your browser at the same time, admit it. Maybe you have more self control, but I quite often find lots of interesting, long articles that I would like to read, and I have good intentions, I really do. But more often than not, those tabs are still open when I reach the end of my writing day, and I close down my browser. No more. Learn the magic of sending web content to your ereader. Now here, I have concrete advice for Kindle readers. Use Chrome or Firefox as your browser, and get the Send to Kindle plugin. [Chrome plugin here, Firefox plugin here.] Works great, and now just like I do for discovery, I have a chance to read all those great articles I don’t have time for during the work day. I’ve you’ve got another kind of e-reader, it’s a bit more complicated. Lifehacker has your back, though.

3. Editing Your Work With Your E-Reader

This is for those of you who don’t want to kill a lot of trees, but who understand the importance of reading your work on paper. It’s just too easy to miss typos, grammatical mistakes, repeated words and other literary outrages if you only edit and proof on the screen. But if you’ve got a long document, like a novel, that can add up to a lot of paper and toner. I use my Kindle to proof. The higher resolution makes it easier to read and catch mistakes. Plus, because I’m reading so much on it already, the Word file I send to my e-reader feels more like a finished product. And so, I see the errors.

Bonus tip: I also then read the work aloud. That’s right. Out loud. Not just whispered, but I read it as though I’m belting it out to a packed audience of enthusiastic fans. I perform the hell out of it. It sounds goofy, but this will also help you discover where you have problems with wording, rhythm, and grammar.

Alltop is a world-class plagiarism machine. Photo by Miria Grunick via Flickr

Now, why not throw one of my books on your e-reader?