Weather Helmed

an adventure in renewing the spirit and living the dream…on a sailboat

Weather Helmed

Re-Kindle-ing our library

August 9th, 2010 · 7 Comments · About Money, Cruising Must-Haves, Life on the Boat, Random Thoughts, What I'm Reading

Matt and I are what you might call “voracious” readers. We each can devour a decent size book in a day without interruptions. 400 pages? No big deal. Granted, I’m talking about the kinds of books we’ve been reading lately, the kind that you can read in a day because they take little to no intellectual energy. It’s not like we’re reading Crime & Punishment. Anyway, after months of reading some of the worst books ever written and currently having access primarily only to books in French, we decided to take matters into our hands.

We broke down and got a Kindle.

Our moms brought out the Kindle last week and since we got it working, I think we’ve spent a few hundred dollars on kindle books. Ok , maybe only a hundred dollars so far, but I’m trying to decide whether this was such a good “gift” for ourselves…

So, now we have the Kindle and one nice thing is that just about all books published before 1923 are in the public domain and are free! You can download them from Amazon and *poof* start reading the classics in less than a minute. But who wants to read a boring free book written in the 1800’s when we can pay $10 and read something modern and exciting?? and pay another $10 and another and another… Ok, ok, I know I’m going to appreciate being able to read better books on our next couple of passages, but, wow, are we spending a lot of money on books!!!

The downside of reading while cruising is that the only books most people are generally willing to give away/share are the bad ones. So while there are always lots of books to go around, very few of them are really worthwhile. Every once in a while you come across people like us who are so desperate for SOMETHING to read that we will give you all our good books and our first born child in exchange for some decent reading material. The great thing about “hard” books is that you CAN give them away. You can trade them with others, donate them to a library or school, or leave them at a yacht club, confident that someone somewhere down the line is going to be grateful to see them. So, when you spend $14.99 on that book at Barnes and Noble, you know you’ll get a little mileage out of it. Not the same for the Kindle books.

But, something that the Kindle does offer that normal books can’t is that it’s less than an inch thick!! On boats, space is at a premium and most people simply can’t devote several shelves or cabinets to books like we do. We have two “long” shelves jam-packed with books, 2 rows deep (fiction stuff & non-fiction boat books). We also have two smaller shelves at the nav station housing some books, a bin for books “to give away” and both Jon and I have additional shelves in our respective berths where we keep a handful of books that can’t fit in any of those other places. It’s a bit excessive.

Right now, our Kindle holds over THIRTY books and can live inside the nav table, inside our camera bag, between our sugar and flour canisters, or underneath my pillow. It really is the answer for cruising-readers with limited space. BUT – if you’re BOTH readers, well… for us, there’s only one Kindle… and it has almost all the “good” books. So, unless you want to schedule Kindle time, you may just have to get two or three, or one for every member of your reading crew. We’re not at that point {YET} but that’s mainly because I thought ahead and had my mom order *me* several other HARD books at the same time that she got us the Kindle. I know. I’m brilliant. Actually, I just know my husband.

One other thing for cruisers to keep in mind is that the Kindle isn’t waterproof!!   Salt water isn’t particularly good for regular books, but when your whole library is on a little techie gadget, you’ll want to be extra careful while reading on watch 🙂

I do have to say, though, that it is sooooo awesome to have access to good books again!! But, like I said above, it could be way too easy to hit the download button a jillion times and take a hefty chunk out of the cruising kitty before you know it.

My suggestions for future cruiser-readers?

* Buy yourself(selves) Kindles/Nooks and then share your “wish list” of books with friends and family so they can wish you a true “bon voyage”

* If you like to read, make sure you include “buying books” in your cruising budget!

They say that reading is the most popular activity among cruisers and for good reason – it’s an excellent way to pass the time at anchor or underway, can educate or entertain, and can be very relaxing. BUT – be forewarned. If you don’t plan a little, you could go broke out here looking at the thousands of miles of ocean to be crossed and how many hours you’ll want to spend with a good book in hand!

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • cheri

    oh karen, i’m so glad you wrote this post! that was the first question i had when i first read about your adventure…”how can they possibly fit enough books on that boat to last them the entire journey!?!” lol i have to say, i’m pretty envious of the endless hours you have to read….but then i’m pretty fond of dry ground too! 😉

  • Verena

    Love this post as I’ve been considering buying a kindle for our boat library. Here are a few decent looking titles I found for $2.99 or less written recently!!
    Bumfuzzle (love their blog)
    A Scattered Life (gets lots of praise)
    It’s Not About The Cookies (mmmm… cookies)
    Waiting For Spring (only 99 cents!)

    And here comes the shameless plug… if you go to and submit some of your boat recipes you get a FREE book!

  • Karen

    Oh Cheri, you have no idea what scum books we’ve been reduced to reading. I mean, i’m too embarrassed to even discuss some of them on here, let alone mention any titles. ha!! we started out with some decent books and then at first trading them with people was quite easy and there was good stuff out there, but the farther we travel, the worse and worse the books seem to get. i really can’t wait to get back to the days of sitting in B&N for hours reading all the books I can’t afford to buy. haha YOUR blog kills me. Everytime I read about your Laura Ingalls life, I wonder, wait, is THIS really the Cheri I knew??!?!?! but, did you know I went to grade school with Jason?? Small world. Well, not really, I guess. It *is* Bako…… 🙂

  • Karen

    Verena! You’re awesome!!!! thank you so much for the book info! I’m definitely going to go online and try and download those. will have to check out your book too 😉 thanks so much!

  • Livia

    Congrats on your e-reader!

    The Kindle is very sexy but consider a Barnes and Noble “Nook” for your second one. Great for cruisers because you can check out current books from public libraries when you have online access and keep them for 3 weeks FOR FREE. Unfortunately Kindle doesn’t play nicely with DRM protected/library books.

  • Livia

    PS – if either of you are sci fi readers check out Baen publishing’s free e-book site:

  • Sandy

    Karen, Tell Matt I knew he should have kept the Nook! Sandy

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