A few years ago, probably around the beginning of 2011, my husband bought me an American kindle.  (At that time, Japanese kindles did not yet exist.)  I love to read, and have used my kindle really quite a lot.  I like it for books for myself, of course, but even more for English read alouds for my son.

They came out with the Japanese kindle  a while back, although it is only available to the people who live in Japan (due to copyright issues, I think.)   I was sort of thinking in the back of my mind, “I wonder what a Japanese kindle would be like…  Would it help me study Japanese?”

Well, a couple of weeks ago, my American kindle met with a tragic accident involving the sofa and my son’s butt.  It was my fault though.  I was being a careless kindle owner.

I tried to get a new kindle through Amazon.com, but since I live in Japan they forced me to buy the Japanese kindle.  It does all the English books that I could do before, plus does Japanese content.

So yeah, I was pretty stoked.

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Here it is in the box.  Kindle Paperwhite.  Not the cheapest.  Not the most expensive.

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Advertisements accost me immediately.  That’s different from my old kindle

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Got this free public domain book.  Not planning to read it, just playing with the kindle.

One thing I was wondering about if I could easily look up the reading of a kanji.

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Clicked on a word.  A dictionary is not included with the dictionary.  However, I bought a Japanese-English dictionary very cheaply (like three dollars?) and it’ll work using that dictionary.  (not pictured….I did that after I took these photos.)

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This is a kids’ book.  You can see the furigana there.  Kind of unnecessary on an electronic device, where you can click.  Amazon needs to do a better job with this.  Basically, you should be able to just click on any word–kids’ book or adults’ book–and get the hiragana reading and definition.  The regular book way isn’t necessary.   However, it is pretty obvious that the text for the regular book just gets inserted into digital format, hence the furigana.

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Clicking on a random word.
So here are some of my thoughts:

  • I was really interested in its selection of Japanese kids’ books, and there is NOT a good selection in my opinion.  (However, when I first started on the American kindle in 2011, there was also not yet a good selection in English.  That has since changed.)
  • So, so far I don’t plan to use it for Japanese study, just for English books.  It’s not that I don’t have the desire to use it for Japanese study, it’s more that I already have plenty to study.  (Kanzen Master and Chyukyuu Kara keep me busy.)
  • Once Japanese people realize the potential of ebooks, they will really take off here.  I am sure of it.  Not only can you change the font size (a big plus!), but an ebook will give the ability to click on a kanji and check the reading of it.  The kindle (so far) is crap at clicking on a kanji and checking the reading.  Once Amazon realizes that this is a wonderful point, the ebook will be a gold mine for them.  Amazon is run (basically) by Americans who obviously don’t know the intricacies of the Japanese language.
  • They REALLY need to find a way to get them available outside Japan.  I realize that this is not Amazon’s fault…it has to do with copyrights?  But one of the big plusses of a kindle is that you can get material outside your home country.  I don’t think I would want/need a kindle for books in English if I were living in the U.S.
  • My husband requested a kindle for his birthday.  He wants one!  My husband is weird and doesn’t borrow from the library, but he enjoys reading and rather enjoys technology.  I have NOT seen kindles around Japan though.  Usually I see a lot of smart phones or tablets…but ereaders?  I have yet to notice one.
  • I realize that one can use a tablet for ereading, but I prefer my kindle.  Spoiled, yeah, I know.  I just like MY BOOK.  When my son sees me on the kindle, he knows I am reading a BOOK.  Not checking out the latest kitty pushing another kitty down the stairs video.  (I know that sounds obvious, but in his younger days, I would explain to my son:  I am reading a BOOK, not playing around.  See the screen?  Those are words.  This is a BOOK.  This is very important for him to know, because my son is not the “reader” that I always have been.  He’s more of a screen/video game person.  I am more of a book person.  It’s important for a child to see his parents reading books, according to all the parenting advice.)

Basically it’s been more than two  weeks since I took those pictures posted above, and I still haven’t bought a Japanese ebook and haven’t seriously investigated buying one.  I have plenty of material to study (textbook, kodomo shinbun, Jpod 101 and library books), and no money to waste on Japanese ebooks.  I definitely will not rule it out in the future, though, if there is a book that I want to read.  Probably for Japanese study, a kindle would be smarter for me than a regular book since I can 1.) click on kanji to find their readings and 2.) increase font size.

Found this link for those living outside Japan…have no idea if it is correct.  http://nihonjon.com/how-to-download-japanese-books-for-kindle/

This is a good article about the Japanese kindle and its paucity of reading materials:  http://www.thebookseller.com/news/amazon-kindle-finally-hits-japan  (Isn’t “paucity” a good word? paucity paucity paucity)