Practical Prepper

Amazon Kindle: My thoughts after a year




I have had my Kindle Fire for a little over a year and I felt that enough time had passed that a review was in order.

Amazon Kindle Review

From the standpoint of an average reader, I'd have to say that the Kindle more than serves its purpose.

From the standpoint of a tech geek, the Kindle Fire is a little slow when compared to a powerhouse like the iPad.

When it comes to Survival, the Kindle has some major ups and downs.

The good:

Instant access to over 1 million books, and that number is continually growing.

100's of books are available for free every day, and many sites are available that have daily updates on what books have been made free. My favorite one is

The Kindle Fire is a tablet computer that offers reading as well as video and games that can provide entertainment for yourself as well as your children.  This is a great thing to have in both disaster situations and long road trips.

Most books have a ‘Preview” feature that allows you to get a good look inside before you make a purchase.

Libraries are now offering free online rentals of books.  This has saved me from having to spend a ton of money on books that end up not being that good.

Books are stored directly on the device as well as in the cloud. This lets you read even without an internet connection.

The Bad:

It is Wifi only which leaves you tethered to a wifi hotspot when you want to make a download.

The most obvious drawback to the Kindle for a survivalist is that when the battery runs out, you are cut off from accessing your library.

The Kindle is tough, but in a survival situation, you will have to take extra time to make sure that the tablet doesn't get broken.

Using it for anything other than reading or watching videos will quickly show you just how watered-down a tablet is compared to the iPad.

The bottom line:

If you are an avid reader and want to have total access to an ever-increasing library of books, then you need a Kindle.

I realize that it is nowhere near the same as having an entire library filled with books that entertain you as well as improve your skills.

While it is true that you are out of luck when it runs out of juice, you can still use it during normal circumstances to increase your knowledge right up until the lights go out.

If you don't care about apps and only want to use the Kindle for reading, the new “paperwhite” version of the Kindle takes a major leap in the right direction for survivalists. It boasts up to 8 weeks of battery life on a single charge.

It is becoming harder and harder to find an actual bookstore to browse and at any used bookstore you are never guaranteed that the book you want will be in stock.  With the Kindle you can preview almost any book before you buy the digital version and most books also offer physical copies for purchase.

A Kindle won't feed you or provide fresh water, but it will provide a wealth of information and entertainment that is instantly available at the push of a button, in a package that will fit in your back pocket.

What are your thoughts on digital books?

* Just to make a note, the Kindle software can be downloaded onto a PC/Mac and is also available as a free app for smartphones.

Want more? Check out other articles we have for you from our site:

7 Key Points to Consider When Living Off the Grid

29 YouTube Survival Skills that Could Save Your Life

65 Survival Lessons from the Great Depression

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 21, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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  1. Jon

    January 21, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    Frankly, I don’t see any of these devices as long-term survival items. WiFi is only as good as the internet provider: even if you have power, it doesn’t mean they will. If you need a digital book, put in onto you PC, where you only need your own power source to read it. Even better, buy the books. Yes, paper ones. I could suggest many, but your imagination and research will fill the blanks. To make it easier for certain situations, I have also tagged the outside cover of all the ones in my library which would be grabbed and preserved, so I don’t have to hunt and peck in an emergency. Mind you, I have a kindle and love it. However, in a disaster situation, I’ll store it with the social security info and lawn-watering instructions.

    • Joe

      January 21, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      Hey Jon thanks for the info, but with the kindle you can store your books directly on the device, OR in the cloud. If you store it on the device you don’t need wifi to read them. And for a power source a kindle would be much easier to charge and run than a pc. Check out one of the other readers comments below about using the goal zero lantern to charge the kindle.

      • Suellen

        January 21, 2013 at 11:01 PM

        I bought several different solar items that I can use to charge my reader with and my books are downloaded and if I need to I have a 32g micro card to save books on.

  2. Donald O'Brien

    January 21, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    I received the first Kindle eReader on the day it was released as a gift. I thought it was kind of dumb. Then I tried it and have never looked back at a printed book again. I have been an early purchaser of every Kindle release including the Fire. Like the iPAD the Kindle Fire is impossible to use in the daylight. Although I prefer reading on any of the Kindle eReaders, the Fire has the added advantage of movies and watching some TV shows within wifi range. I have not purchased the latest Fire yet – trying to justify the cost of the 8.9″ version, but changes in technology over the past year should reverse some of your Cons and add to the Pro side of the ledger. I have an Acer Tablet and find the 10″ screen size is a major benefit over a 7″ table for Internet use. So I think a real plus for the newest Fire is the bigger screen size. Still not and iPad, but…….

  3. David Payne

    January 21, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    If you are looking for a tablet computer then the iPad is most definitely the way to go. However, as a reader, the Kindle Paperwhite the best option. When traveling abroad, in survival situations, or even just reading in bed the Kindle holds all of your books, is backlit to allow reading in the dark, and the optional lifetime 3G and long battery life make it perfect.

  4. Roma

    January 21, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    I have a regular Kindle and I am loading it with books. I figure what ever happens, as long as I can have something to read I will get through it in a much better mood. It has, I believe, about a months battery life if you read a lot. I have a Goal Zero lantern, Battery Pack and Solar Panel (7), all of which do a great job of recharging the Kindle, cell phone, etc. They should be able to recharge the Kindle Fire as well. To recharge a laptop you would need one of their more expensive units I believe.

    • Joe

      January 21, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      Thank you Roma,
      I was just wondering if those would work to recharge a kindle!
      I know that they won’t work on any type of apple product but that’s great to know that they will recharge a kindle.
      Thanks so much!

  5. Friederike

    January 21, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    I bought a kindle(the cheapest one) and it very helpful in our homeschool.It saves me money and space. Though i still don’t like to give up my real books.May be i do need to get a more expensive one to easier maneuver the kindle.

  6. Miles

    January 21, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    I went to a Best Buy presentation just because the offered a free Kindle Fire for attending. I would have never bought one because it just did not “make sense”, why spend money when I can read a book for free from the library. Now, I really like my Fire and I still get books free from the library downloaded to the Fire. Its very handy and easy to read, even in the daylight (one comment says you can’t read it in the sunlight but you can). Don’t really see it as a survival tool (though you can store info there) but it is a great product if you want a way to read. I recommend a good cover but I bought a rotating cover on eBay for $5.99 and it works great.

  7. gena

    January 21, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    One major difference between the Kindle products and the apple products is the cost.
    BTW – you can also load audio books on the kindle and I have all of them backed on my computer and on MP3 players, along with all my music collection. Bought a nice 16gb mp3 player at the PX at a reasonable price and have another 8gb mp3 player I bought on sale at WalMart, so I have redundancy in my backing up of items in the eventuality I need to flee quickly. But would be sure the Kindle Fire was with me also. I found with the Kindle Fire, when I tried to move my music collection over to it, it would only allow me to move music I had purchased from Of some 1200 or so songs, it would only allow me to put 90 (ninety) of them on the Kindle Fire. I have no pirated music on the computer, I own the CDs for every song on the computer, but it will not let me load them to the Kindle if I bought them elsewhere. Sucks. I presume it will be the same with audiobooks, if you haven’t bought them from (part of you probably cannot load them on your Kindle products.

    • Jennifer

      January 21, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      It may just be a formatting problem. I had unfortunately ripped much of my CD collection to windows media format instead of MP3 years ago, and now I can’t use them on the Fire or on my Sansa MP3 player unless I convert them. I did find a program that will convert them without having to rip them again, but it doesn’t keep any of the album and artist information, and it’s a pain to add back in by hand, so I’m thinking it might be easier to just pull out all of my CD’s and start over. The music I ripped to MP3 does transfer okay, though. I hope this helps.

    • Paul Plasters

      January 24, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      Look at a program such as “Calibre”. It will change the format of programs, and most likely music etc., to Kindle format. Might work for your music. It will also change programs (books etc.) to other formats so that if you buy a different tablet, you can still use your programs, books etc., to the proper format for the new machine.

      • leonard williams

        January 24, 2013 at 9:41 PM

        “calibre” is FREE!!! and great for changing format of digital media. personaly i wwould not own a hand held device for reading ebooks. the screen is way too small and with an old wide screan lap top, you can customise it the way you want it. i buy internal 1.5 “TERA”BIT hard drives to store copies of my pdf’s on. has lots of free ebooks to download that are photographed and converted to digital format by libraries. i also burn 2 copies to cd and dvd’s i have the kindle for pc as well as calibre. i also have a special “book” scanner that lets me scann a book with out damaging the binding. fariday cages will preserve my extra hard drives from emp and there is no guarantee a cd or dvd will last even a week, but that is why i make several back up coppies of everything. the space needed for storage of 5,000 paper format is enormus and having 2 or more copies at other location’s?.i have my library at several locations and my bugout vehicle. with laptop i can print a page any time i need to. i have back up laptops too.

    • Kay Geers

      February 7, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      I’ve been able to put my songs from my computer on my kindle fire. I had to go thru iTunes. I transferred all my music to iTunes then downloaded them to the kindle. It uses the regular music function on the kindle. Amazon MP3 player doesn’t work.

      Just a thot,

  8. JJM

    January 21, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    My notebook has a folder full of Survival info. For a Survival Tool, I need to search for a Tablet that will allow me to read at a minimum my PDFs, Word Docs, and Web Archives (html files). This folder would be copied to a thumb drive or other small storage.
    Low power consumption is a priority along with ability to recharge from my hand held solar USB charger &/or 12 volt battery.
    Any recommendations??

    • Roma

      January 21, 2013 at 5:08 PM

      I believe the Kindle Paperwhite will let you load your documents on. I don’t have one yet, but think I read that somewhere, you might check that out.

    • Lisa

      January 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      JJM, the kindle fire does allow for the importation of documents, it actually can set you up with an email specific to you and your kindle. I love this option, but I cannot tell you how it works, except that, because I have yet to take advantage of the option.

      • Joe

        January 22, 2013 at 11:06 AM

        Hey Lisa, you can actually import PDF and possibly word docs into your kindle fire you just need a download from the App Store, I believe it’s called something like back office? This allows you to move items around in the back of your kindle fire ( it acts much like a windows folder system using cut copy paste etc. I’ve used it with mine to download PDF versions of survival manuals and move them to my documents folder to make them readable. as a tip I also use this feature to store important information (birth certificates, images, social security numbers, mortgage and loan info etc) in a hidden folder. Then I just remove the app feom the main menu and bing instant hidden information storage

        • JJM

          January 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM

          Thanks guys for the info. Will carefully check the options on several brands/models.

  9. Keith

    January 21, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    For Gina,
    A friend gave me a thumb drive with a few hundred ebooks that did not come from Amazon. I loaded them to my Acer then to my Kindle Fire. No problem. I love my Fire. The web and email feature is helpful, too. My daughter uses hers for school and she doesn’t need an Ipad.

  10. Rob

    January 21, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    I bought the Kindle DX a few years back, so I could read pdfs without having to zoom or re-paginate them. But I also have a Sony PRS reader that I can load a lot of my books onto a SD or Micro SD card and carry them separate from the reader or back them up somewhere NOT on their servers. Both have a long battery life and short of an EM pulse I’ll have some reading to pass the time. Of course, I still have a lot of paper books as well, and my survival materials are in both forms.

  11. Jo

    January 22, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    I, for around $50, got from Amazon a Pocket Socket, that you can crank to charge the battery of any battery operated item. One person said as a long time survival a kindle would be of no use. True. BUT, as a distraction during a BO or, perhaps later, as things settle down, as a luxury it would be fabulous to a person who loves to read, as I do. I don’t see keeping books in the clouds a good thing because wtshtf what good will that do you? I keep all my books on the kindle, although the only drawback is when non fiction books display photos in the text they are not often large to really see or enjoy. They may have devised a way to overcome this in later editions, I don’t know. I was lucky. My kids gave me the first edition of kindle way back for C’mas. I hope the Pocket Socket is of interest and useful to others out there

    • Roma

      January 22, 2013 at 7:26 PM

      Agree with you Jo. My Kindle has a lot of survival medicine books and other info that could be very useful, I can’t cart all of those books around with me. I consider the Kindle to be very important. Also, having something comforting and entertaining from your life can go a long ways in an unpleasant situation. Books on survival talk about how important the psychological issues become in drastic situations.

  12. Jan

    January 24, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    First of all, what a cluttered mess to have all those books around the house and you get pennys when you sell them to the half price store.
    I purchased the second version of the Kindle when it came out Feb. 2009. I upgraded in 2012 to get the longer run time. I read a lot so I have downloaded over 300 books to be prepared. I purchased a Solar Panel and Inverter/Generator in 2012 from Solutions from Science (1800) for $2,000. I wanted to be sure I could recharge my Kindle, IPOD, etc. I can run a 40 watt light bulb for days, a large stand fan, etc off this generator. The Kindle and solar generator are the best things I have purchased in the past five years.

  13. cindy

    January 28, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    My husband got me my Kindle Fire last May for my birthday. At first I was upset he’s spent THAT much $$$ for something like that..I’m not fond of techy stuff and love to mark up all the books I read. But I learned to like it, and now have a huge library of books that would’ve cost way more had I bought the hard copies. Also, the older public domain type books (for me, Church history and theology) are .99 – love that! It’s a bit clunky using it for Facebook, but I do when others in the home are using the computer. Didn’t want another email address, so I never used that app. It comes in handy for travel and car trips; but I do miss having a book to mark up, which helps me learn the material better.

    • Joe

      January 28, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      Hi Cindy,

      As far as marking up’ your books, the kindle fire allows you to highlight sections and jump to them at a later time so that you can come back to them whenever you want.

      Also make sure to look carefully at the public domain books, the majority of them should be free as they are public domain.. most of the free ones will have a simple cover that is either red or green with a beige text box.

      I am also a huge fan of you can check out digital books, audio books, etc from your local library, keep them for 2 weeks then renew it or they automatically return to the library. all for free! you just have to have a library card from a participating location

  14. John

    February 1, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    I understand people want their toys – even in times of distress – like survival. But a paperback or leather bound book is more useful for survival.

    They are solar powered – as long as the sun is shining (or a full moon with clear skies), you can read it.

    If you run out of toilet paper, a few pages can be used – use the pages you don’t need anymore – like the preface and dedication pages.

    If you need a fire starter – use pages you’ve read already.

    IF the soles of your shoes are worn out, you can use the book cover, if its leather bound. Just rip off the cover from the books spine, set your shoe over the cover and trace the outline on the cover, then cut the cover and glue or stitch to the sole of your shoe. Can also be used as an insole if you don’t have glue or stitching material.

    You can’t use the Kindle for any of these things – including kindling. And they don’t burn easily either. Which makes the “kindle fire” an oxymoron 😛

  15. JuneUSA

    February 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Lots of info given. Thanks everyone. I have been so confused on what is best to buy, a Kindle Fire or ipad. I’m not really a computer person and have lots of trouble. Right now, my head is going in circles. (Forgive me, I’m elderly). What are the differences? I have a room just for books but they don’t stay there for some reason,I think they develop legs. I never go anywhere without my bag of books. It would be nice to just have one device to pack. Can anyone help? Thanks

  16. Sandy the Swede

    February 11, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    I owned an iPad, but sold it after approx 6 months. I should have purchased a notebook which I now have. I’m sure part of my frustration with the iPad was that I used a PC for the past 30 years and “lived” in a Windows environment. However, my take on the iPad was that it is more of an entertainment device than a serious computer. Word, Excel, pdf’s – forgetaboutit. For the life of me, I could never figure out how to attach documents to emails (old fart syndrome?). Yes, it has two cameras, but taking photos with it was very clunky vs a compact digital camera. Based on the comments above, I do, however, look forward to trying out the Kindle Paperwhite. Just having emergency medicine and survival guides loaded would be a great advantage in a SHTF scenario. From the comments above, it appears that the Kindle has an advantage over my notebook computer in the time between battery charges. I also wonder which device would be more robust in a SHTF scenario. Your comments would be appreciated.

    • JJM

      February 11, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      Started with PDP8 and IBM for scientific uses in the 70s, acquired TRS80 in 80, worked with MS-DOS (Grid) laptops thru the 80s, set aside my Windows desktops in 2007 and have been satisfied with laptops and notebooks since. Problem is the power required to charge & run a fully programmable computer, thus my desire for an energy efficient reader that will display my SURVIVAL files saved as DOC, XLS, PDF and WEB page formats. Large enough screen to read without magnifying glass.

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