Sunday, May 3, 2009

Instapaper extracts web articles for your Kindle

This is a really effective free utility that picks up the text-body of an article while ignoring the side links and ads all around it and then gets it ready for reading later and for delivery to your Kindle if you want (there's a 'pro' version that lets you do tilt scrolling if using this for an iPod).

 It does best when you use the webpage's option to 'print' an article (easier to determine the text you need) or to choose a 'single page' version if that's offered by the website.

So far, I've received really nicely formatted versions of the articles without any of the stuff to the sides.  But there are times when a page can confuse it, I read.  TIME gave it a Top Ten iPhone App for 2008.  Here are some press reviews.

If you sign up at Instapaper, it'll display a form to add the URL of a page but, much better, gives you the option of just using a "Read Later" bookmarklet that you can move to your browser's Bookmarks toolbar.  When you click the icon, it will automatically pick up the URL of the web-page you're on and then set the article up for reading later and delivery for your Kindle when you're ready for that.

You're given your own Instapaper page, which will hold the article(s) and make a 'digest' of articles in one file, with a choice of least 1 or 5 or whatever number of articles to include in the one digest-file-send (the digest will tend to cost no more than 15c with Amazon's new email-to-Kindle fee) or you can choose to send just what is there, manually, to the Kindle.  You just have to make sure that your Amazon ManagerYourKindle page includes the approval to accept Kindle mail from the special Instapaper From:email address given on their page.

To 'manage' your setup, you click on the "Account" option at the top of the page and choose to send, daily or weekly, a digest of articles that have been saved for reading later, or just manually send one instead.

They don't want you to send Feeds though. For that, they (and I) recommend Kindlefeeder.

It's worth the time to read Creator Marco Arment's Instapaper FAQ and check out his blog for plans and features.

Also see CutePDF for an interesting alternative utility. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. I am interested in the instapaper approach. I understand from your article that if you send a digest it costs 15c? (I thought it was 10c). But if you send what is there directly does Amazon have a fee. This was not clear to me from your article. Thx

  2. I am interested in the instapaper approach. I have been seeking a way to get web content and PDF files on my Kindle effectively. Based on your article, it was not clear to me whether doing the what is there now approach requires a small fee from Amazon. Could you please clarify.

  3. Mark,
    Below is a link to the blog article about Amazon's pricing change for sending a document to [you] via Whispernet (Sprint's wireless network) which causes the document {sometimes converted to Kindle-readable format if needed] to be downloaded to your Kindle when you have Wireless 'On.'

    What I meant was that if you send a document to [you], it normally costs 15c per document to have that sent by Amazon to your Kindle.
    Instapaper allows you to place several web articles into a "digest" and then have that digest sent to your Kindle. This way you can have, say, 5 articles in the digest but the digest is just one file (like a small booklet).

    That then costs 15 cents to send to your Kindle, as long as the total size of the digest is under 1 megabyte and it likely is.

    It's another 15c for each subsequent megabyte of a document file, rounded up.

    To get an idea, the average Kindle book is about 800K -- 200k less than a Megabyte.

    Text-based books just aren't that large. PDFs can be a different matter.

    If you prefer to send documents to your Kindle without the Whispernet charge from Amazon, you can instead designate that they go to [you] instead, which is the Amazon e-email address for getting a document into Kindle-readable formt.

    Amazon sends the document back to your everyday e-mail address that you have given them. There's no charge for that.

    Then you use the USB cable that was included with the Kindle and which is part of your power cord, to just link the Kindle with your computer and move the file over.

    It's one extra step but is money saved. In my case sometimes I prefer to pay the 15c to save time.

    Let me know if that's still unclear.

  4. There is a way to get content from the web onto a Kindle that is sort of like Instapaper but doesn't need a USB connection or a 15 cent charge: Google Reader Mobile.

    The basic idea is that you can set up Google Reader's "Note to Reader" bookmarklet on your computer(s). This allows you to clip any web content into your "shared" items of Google Reader. You can then easily access all your "shared" (or "starred") Google Reader items on the Kindle using Google Reader Mobile.

    I explained this in further detail in ways that I think a beginner could understand as a section of a longer post, here:


  5. Thanks for pointing out the Instapaper web site. My Kindle won't arrive until mid-September, so I am getting things ready to get the things I normally read on-line into my new Kindle.

    I read a fair amount of material that's on password protected websites. I have tested articles to see what Instatpaper does with them, and so far, having added an article to my list, it does not convert these pages to text when I click on the "text" link.

    I have devised a work-around that works. For password protected sites, I save an html copy of the page on my hard drive. I then use the File Sharing feature of Opera Unite to create a unique URL for this document, that I use to open the document in my browser, and then use the "read later" bookmark on my browser to add it to my reading list in Instapaper. Then it works perfectly.

    The option to using Opera Unite is to use FTP to upload the saved html file to a server to which you have access, and which can provide a unique URL for the document that your browser needs to load the page into Instapaper. If you need information about Opera Unite, you can find it here:


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