Illustrated “David and the Phoenix” by Edward Ormondroyd for Kindle

I’ve been pretty happy about the quality of eBook purchases so far. There’ve been a few rough edges but nothing major.

That changed when I bought a Kindle version of “David and the Phoenix” by Edward Ormondroyd a few weeks ago. This is a classic children’s storybook which is no longer in copyright. It is also beautifully illustrated by Joan Raysor.

Unfortunately the version I bought did not have any of the illustrations. Instead, everywhere there was supposed to be a picture there was instead just the text “[ILLUSTRATION].” To their credit, when I complained to Amazon about the problem they immediately refunded the purchase.

That still left me with a problem. I still wanted an illustrated ebook copy. I set out on my quest and unfortunately all the Kindle-compatible versions I found were either without illustrations or were very poorly formatted.

I came across a free version with illustrations in HTML and was able to reformat the text, table of contents and images such that it would display nicely on the Kindle. After much toil I got a beautifully displayed Kindle version with all the original illustrations.

Since the source I used was freely redistributable, I opened up a publishing account with Amazon and published my version with them, which you can now get here:

David and the Phoenix (Kindle Edition)

Using Kindle 2 Internationally

(NOTE: I believe most if not all of this applies to Kindle 1 as well but my experience is with Kindle 2. Whenever I use ‘Kindle’ below I am describing my experience with the Kindle 2.)

The biggest question I had to answer when deciding to buy a Kindle 2 was whether I could use it in Taiwan, and if so how and what limitations would I face? The information I found via Amazon and other sites was a bit muddled. Yes, I could use it outside the US, but the details weren’t quite clear.

First the basic requirements:

  • You have to ship the Kindle to a US address and have it reshipped to you
  • You have to use a US issued credit card with a US billing address to purchase content
  • You have to download content on the “Manage My Kindle” page and copy it to the Kindle via USB

You will have to meet ALL these requirements to be able to use Kindle outside the US. If you meet those requirements and aren’t interested in the details, you can stop reading here. Otherwise, read on…

Let’s take these one at a time:

Amazon currently only ships the Kindle 2 to US addresses, so you cannot have it sent directly to your international address. Here are some alternatives: Send the Kindle to a friend or relative and have them reship it to you or carry it with them next time they visit. Send the Kindle to a forwarding company and have them reship it to you (I use US Global Mail). Send it to your hotel or residence next time you are in the US.

To buy and download content you will need to have a credit card issued by a US bank with a US billing address. There are reports that you can get around this by using gift cards or gift certificates but I haven’t verified it. If you are an American moving overseas you can keep your credit accounts active by changing the billing address to a friend or relative’s address or use a forwarding company as mentioned above. If you also keep an open bank account you can pay the credit card bills easily over the Internet.

The wireless service for Kindle is currently only available in the US, so you won’t be able to take advantage of buying books on your Kindle and start reading right away. Instead, you will have to log on to Amazon’s web site and buy books from the Kindle Store. The purchasing process will automatically send the purchase wirelessly but we can just ignore than and proceed to the “Manage Your Kindle” page. Down at the bottom your purchases will be shown. In the last column there is a pull down menu. Just select “Computer” and the file will download and you can copy it to the Kindle over USB. It’s not quite as convenient but not a big hassle either.

Now for more details:

No special download program, sync program, document management program or driver is needed to get books from Amazon onto your Kindle. You don’t need to use a proxy to make it look like you are in the US. The files download as regular files in your web browser. When connected to a computer, the Kindle appears as a generic USB storage device, which should automatically work with any modern OS: Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc. Just find the “documents” folder on the Kindle and copy the files you downloaded there and the book will be ready to read as soon as your disconnect from the computer.

Downloaded books are tied to the serial number of your Kindle. If you get a new Kindle for any reason you will have to download new copies of all your books for the new Kindle. You can also have up to 6 Kindles registered at a time to a single account and share books between them, but you will have to download separate copies of books for each Kindle you want to use them on. Amazon keeps copies of all your books for you to download again indefinitely.

For newspapers and magazines the situation is a bit different. This content can only be downloaded to a single Kindle at a time. Amazon only keeps online for re-download the most recent 7 issues of any periodical. The Kindle also automatically deletes issues older than the most recent 7 unless you flag an issue to keep. You will have to do that for each individual issue. If you get a new Kindle for whatever reason you can change your subscriptions over to the new one but you will only be able to download the latest 7 issues. This is probably not a big deal for newspapers, but I was considering subscribing to the Kindle versions of the sci-fi magazines “Analog” and “Asimov’s” if not for this restriction, as it is sometimes nice to be able to go back and re-read these stories. I hope that the publishers will revisit this restriction. (UPDATE: You can get a more flexible subscription for these two magazines through Fictionwise. Cheaper too!)

One thing I was worried about was if there would be any problems with the copy protection scheme if I didn’t register the Kindle over wireless. It turns out not to be a problem. Normally if you buy a Kindle it will be registered to your account and the first time it connects to the wireless system it will automatically become registered. So there are two pieces here: 1) Your Amazon account has a registered Kindle and 2) Your Kindle is configured to use your Amazon account. It turns out that if you never use the wireless service, the second part doesn’t matter.

Once your Amazon account knows about your Kindle, downloads are tied to the Kindle’s serial number and will work even if the Kindle has not registered itself to your account. Your Kindle will show as not being registered and will not show your name in the upper left corner, and you won’t be able to use any wireless services (duh!), but everything else mentioned here will work fine. If your Kindle was purchased by someone else you can register it on Amazon by entering the serial number on the “Manage Your Kindle” page. (The purchaser will need to de-register it first on their “Manage Your Kindle” page unless it was purchased as a gift.)

Alternatively if you have a friend or relative in the US receive it they can turn it on to get it registered wirelessly before reshipping it to you, but the only practical result of this is you’ll have your name in the upper left corner.

Now it may be obvious to state, but none of the wireless services will work outside of the US. Because it won’t work, the first thing you should do is TURN OFF THE WIRELESS as soon as you get your Kindle. Press “Menu” then use the “5-way” joystick thingy to select the option to turn off wireless, then press in the “5-way” button. You should then see the word “OFF” next to the battery indicator in the upper right corner instead of the signal strength bars. If you don’t turn it off you cut your battery life by more than half for no reason.

You will also need to do things differently if you use the document conversion system. The normal way of doing things is you would mail a document to your Kindle address (it will be listed on the “Manage Your Kindle” page) and the document would be wirelessly delivered to the Kindle and 10 cents charged. You will need to instead use the free conversion service. If your Kindle address is, instead mail your documents to Amazon will mail the converted documents to the email address you use as your Amazon login. You then download the file in your mail program and copy it to the Kindle via USB.

There is one thing for which there appears to be no workaround currently, and that is the ability to update your firmware. Currently that appears to only be possible wirelessly. UPDATE: At this writing Amazon does not publicize the download location and manual upgrade directions for Kindle 2 like they do for Kindle 1. Fortunately my old buddy Bruce has posted the details here.

If you have your Kindle reshipped, it can get expensive. Just as an example of the “full cost” I paid:

Kindle $359.00
UPS US 2-Day $11.98
Fedex Intl Priority $55.94
Insurance $3.00
Customs Duty $18.43 (TW$645)
Total $448.35

The cost could have been reduced if I had chosen free shipping for the US leg and slower international shipping. You can avoid the international shipping and customs fees if you pick it up during a US trip or ask a friend to carry it for you when they come to visit. The shipping and duties will vary by country, but this should give you an idea what you may have to pay to have it shipped to your international address.

UPDATE: I left out an important factor for many international users which is power compatibility. Taiwan and US both use the same voltage and outlets (though grounded outlets are rare in Taiwan), so I didn’t really think about this issue. The good news is that the Kindle power adapter supports 100-240 volts, so you just need a cheap and common plug converter and not a transformer. Even more conveniently is that the power cable is also a standard USB cable so you could recharge via any standard computer USB port, or you could buy a standard AC-to-USB adapter using the local plug type. It is nice to see so many devices move to USB charging as it sure simplifies these matters. Now if they could all decide on one connector type on the device side… Kindle 2 has Micro-USB, but my HTC Touch Pro uses Mini-USB, and iPod Nano uses the Dock connector. I’m down to only needing one power adapter now but still need 3 different cables! (UPDATE: Make that two power adaptors. My Nano won’t work with my Kindle charger and my Kindle won’t work with my Nano charger. Standards!)


OK, I usually don’t do this meme crud but this list looked interesting.

Top unread books from LibraryThing: Bold what you have read, italicize what you started but couldn’t finish, and strike through what you couldn’t stand.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Actually I’m reading it now but I will almost certainly finish it.)
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22 (In my to-read pile.)
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights (I finished it and didn’t hate it, but thought it was terribly disjointed and poorly written.)
The Silmarillion (I will have to try again but I just couldn’t get into this one though I really like LOTR and Hobbit.)
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses (Joyce) (Does Joyce really make sense to anyone?)
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice (In my to-read pile.)
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books
Memoirs of a Geisha (In my to-read pile.)
Middlesex (66)
Quicksilver (This one took a while to get through. OMG two more!)
Wicked : The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : A Novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead (Atlas Shrugged is better.)
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : A Novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist (In my to-read pile.)
Gulliver’s Travels
Les misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Surprisingly good.)
Dune (I seem to recall this one being hard to get through too.)
The Prince
Angela’s Ashes : A Memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-Present (In my to-read pile.)
Neverwhere (Really liked this one!)
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : A Novel
Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (In my to-read pile.)
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion (In my to-read pile.)
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye (In my to-read pile.)
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : An Inquiry into Values (In my to-read pile.)
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow (You’d think this would be a miss since I don’t like Joyce but I did like this one.)
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island (In my to-read pile.)
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Now that’s a nice response…

Occasionally I will register with or want to order products from a website only to find that they list something called ‘Taiwan, Province of China’ in their country list. Last week I got a newsletter from the Mises Institute about their new Bastiat Collection, a two volume set of the complete English translations of Frederic Bastiat’s writings. I was eager to order a set, as his writings have long been on my wish list but were a bit inconvenient to get previously. I was surprised to find that the Mises Institute also listed ‘Taiwan, Province of China’ in their online store. I sent a complaint to them and got back a very positive response a few days later, and quite emphatically at that:

Thank-you for bringing this matter to our attention. We have finally isolated the file and changed the Taiwan entry in our new e-commerce software’s database. We at the Ludwig von Mises Institute for Austrian Economics do not support the government of People’s Republic of China, or their policies, either directly or indirectly. Having Taiwan listed as “Taiwan Province of China” was nothing more than an oversight on our behalf as we continue to fix and customize our new software to our specific needs.

I couldn’t help but to support such a response by immediately ordering the Bastiat Collection as well as Freedom Under Siege by Ron Paul.

The Kanye West web site also lists ‘Taiwan, Province of China’ in their registration system but they have not responded to or corrected this after two weeks.

Harry Potter Movie

Last night Maggie and I finally got around to seeing the new Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix movie. We went to see the IMAX 3D version at the Miramar in Dazhi. As usual the experience of seeing a film in IMAX is pretty incredible. Only the big finale, from when Harry, Hermione, Ron, Luna and Neville fly off to the Ministry of Magic to the end of the fight with he who shall not be named was in 3D, but that 3D part itself was pretty cool. They use a polarized light system for the 3D so you have to wear polarized glasses to see it. I highly recommend going to see it in IMAX 3D if you have a chance, even if you’ve already seen the normal film version.

Afterwards we went to the Lailai Soy Milk shop near there for snacks. I remember going there ages and ages ago when that area was no more than a cluster of buildings at a big intersection. Now the whole area is filled with new tall buildings.

More Updates

We also had a 40 minute power outage at my first restaurant tonight. Dunno what happened but that side of the street was all dark. The good thing about this was that I found out some of the emergency lights were not set right, so got them working correctly. suspended my new account about two hours after I redirected the Robert Anton Wilson site to their servers. I guess they don’t like accounts getting quite that much traffic shortly after being created. Fortunately I noticed right away and after a quick call they ‘verified my credit card’ and reactivated the account.

The site is doing about 1gb an hour in traffic and NewsGator pegs it at the #5 most blogged about topic today.


It’s been a bit hectic, so here’s some updates.

Maggie’s shop got broken into in the middle of the night last Saturday night/Sunday morning. They popped open the two back doors. They had crappy deadbolts where the bolt was only about 3cm long and the rest of the mechanism was just a slender rod. Suckers popped right out. She has security through Tokai so the alarm went off and guards responded fairly quickly, but the burglars were gone by then. They didn’t manage to get anything for their trouble though. The security company also called Maggie and then she dragged me out of bed at 2am to go over to check things out. The security guard was covering the back door when we arrived but hadn’t gone in and hadn’t called the cops. Maggie insisted the cops be called before going inside. A second security guard showed up and decided he was brave enough to go in to check things out. A bit later the cops showed up to take a report. In case you are wondering, it’s about impossible to get a door replaced on a Sunday.

The new shop is going well. We need to work on a more efficient work schedule, but this is also the slow season for Subway in Taiwan. Also need to work on some store marketing because the old owners didn’t do anything in that area. However the store paperwork system the old owner designed is some hot stuff and makes the weekly reports a breeze. Need to implement that in the new store. I promised to keep everything the same for one month so just planning now what to do. We also decided to close for three days for Chinese New Years and work a reduced schedule for one week.

Today I found out that one of my favorite authors, Robert Anton Wilson died on Thursday morning in California. If you recall from a previous post asking for financial help, this was not unexpected. Thanks to everyone who donated a few months back, he was able to stay at home and get good medical care through the end.

I also host the Official Robert Anton Wilson Website on my computer, so one hint I got that something had happened was seeing my poor little SDSL line pegged to the limit with 99% of the hits for that one host. I temporarily redirected the main page to his blog on Blogspot, but it turns out that he uses some of his site’s images on his blog, so that didn’t really help any.

I was able to temporarily move the host to a free trial account I had through but that only has a 5gb/month traffic limit which would only last at best 12 hours with the traffic it was getting. I was thinking of upgrading the account there, but they don’t have the best reputation for reliability. Later I found a good deal on a hosting account through and setup on there. They seem to get good reviews, and have good rates. Also they have a promo to take $9.94 off the first month when using promo code ‘whreviews’ and since the account that I was looking at was $9.95 per month that means the first month is 1 cent with no obligation. If they work out OK I’ll probably move most of my stuff there after I shut down at the end of next month.