Amazon Kindle 3GThe Amazon Kindle is a fantastic piece of kit, with lots of great features and an immense and growing library of available resources. Check out my other post HERE to read more about the Kindle and find links to some great resources.

However, one of the things that I’m not overwhelmed with is the selection and quality of news sources that are available for subscription through Amazon. Not only are they quite pricey which, for a digitally delivered item, seems to be exploiting the new device and the growing market of people with ebook readers. But there is a solution, if you want to take a little time and effort to set it up properly. That solution is CALIBRE – download available HERE.

I’ve read around various sources and have outlined a relatively simple process for setting up Calibre to automatically fetch and send news to your Kindle. (If you’ve not got a Kindle yet, you can click HERE to buy yours now)

So, first of all, it’s important to know that Calibre can send downloaded news automatically to email addresses. It’s one of the setup options that any ‘fetched’ news can be automatically emailed to the designated device. In the preferences, it’s really easy to set up the email delivery too – especially if you use Gmail. Remember though, to ensure you don’t pay anything for this, be sure to use your @free.kindle.com address, so that the documents are delivered free via wi-fi or next time you attach your Kindle with the USB cable to your PC or laptop.

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Sending news from Calibre automatically

Some quick instructions on how to set up Calibre to deliver emails automatically

  1. Open the calibre application
  2. Click on “Preferences” in the top toolbar and then select the Email Delivery icon
  3. Enter an email address from which calibre will send your news.  To use your Google Mail or Gmail account, enter your address in the “Send email from:” field, and then click the “Use Gmail” button. You’ll need to also enter your gmail address again in the “Username” field as well as your password.
  4. Add the @free.kindle.com email address to which you want to send your news and make sure you choose the right format (e.g. Kindle = MOBI)
  5. Check that there’s a tick in the “Auto send” box for the email address to which you want calibre to send to
  6. Click the “OK” button

In order to ensure your Kindle accepts email from Calibre, you need to make sure that the email address you specify in Step 3 is on your Kindle Approved Email list on Amazon’s ‘Manage your Kindle’ section (link HERE).

(If you’ve not got a Kindle yet, you can click HERE to buy yours now)

Scheduling your PC to wake up

Most people don’t want to keep their PC running all the time, it not only can cost a lot but it’s bad for the environment. An alternative approach is to put your PC into sleep mode (apparently sleep mode can use as little as 1 to 6 watts per hour on modern PCs and probably less on laptops) and then wake it up when you want Calibre to fetch the news and send it to your Kindle.

This sequence of steps is for Windows users only.

  1. Download the free application – Wake Up On Standby (HERE – only 409kb). The program doesn’t install itself to your computer, so just copy the extracted files to a desktop folder.
  2. Run the program by double-clicking on the program file: wosb.exe
  3. Fill in the boxes to specify the time you want your computer to wake from sleep
  4. In box 3 where it says ‘specify what to do next’ I selected Simply Wait – and then specified about an hour, figuring that any of the scheduled calibre tasks will be completed within this period.
  5. In box 4 – you can choose the frequency of this task. Calibre doesn’t seem able to recognise new feeds and only download the latest additions, so it’ll download all items from a specific feed, so often daily feeds might not be necessary. Re
  6. Once you have done all of this, click the Start button and that’s it, your wake timer is now set. You just need to make sure your version of Windows is set up to allow it to be woken up by one of these Wake Timers now.

(If you’ve not got a Kindle yet, you can click HERE to buy yours now)

How to ensure Windows allows wake timers to automatically wake up your PC

  1. Go to Start Menu >> Control Panel
  2. Open Power Options. On my Windows 7 machine, I needed to search for ‘Power’ once in the Control Panel to see the right set of options.
  3. Click on the ‘change plan settings’ against the power plan you want to set.
  4. In my PC, this was against the Balanced (recommended) option – click on ‘change plan settings’
  5. Then click on ‘Change advanced power settings’
  6. Then click on the new link that appears ‘change settings that are currently unavailable’
  7. Scroll down to where Sleep is listed, and there should be an option for ‘allow wake timers’. Make sure that this says Enabled next to it.
  8. Press OK to save the changes and exit out of this setup area

[Note: for laptops, you do not need to leave it unfolded–the program will wake the computer and run calibre even with the screen in the down position.]

(If you’ve not got a Kindle yet, you can click HERE to buy yours now)

Scheduling Calibre to fetch your news

Calibre comes with around 300 news sources already identified – but the good thing is you can also add your own. For those without any programming knowledge (Python is what’s needed here), you can just add RSS feeds – and although it won’t be packaged up as prettily as the existing feeds, you’ll still get the information that you need in a usable format for your ebook reader or Kindle.

So, to schedule Calibre to fetch your news – do the following:

  • In Calibre, click on the icon called “Fetch News” on the top menu bar
  • Use the list of publications to find something that interests you. The BBC News (fast) is particularly good, as it’s fast to download without the images and comes neatly ordered into the topics that are used on the site.
  • Click on the “schedule for download” box and then select the frequency
  • You can repeat this action for each publication or news source you want
  • Then click Save – and that’s it, your done!

Some people use the wake timer to launch Calibre after the PC has been woken from its sleep, but I find it easier just to leave Calibre running. That way, when your PC wakes up, Calibre will already be running and ready to fetch your news at the allocated time.

NB: Remember to set your PC wake up time to just before the scheduled tasks in Calibre. Once your PC has completed fetching and sending the news, it’ll go back into sleep mode after a period of inactivity.

This is a great solution for those away from their PC or that don’t want to leave their machine on all the time – and it’s certainly a lot cheaper than subscribing to the various news sources.

(If you’ve not got a Kindle yet, you can click HERE to buy yours now)

Paid subscriptions

However, many people either won’t want to get involved with setting up a program like this – or want the convenience of using Amazon’s Whispernet 3g delivery to make sure they get their news every morning/day, without fail and in a format that is mostly designed for Kindle.

So, you can currently subscribe to the following newspapers quickly and easily:

  • Times and Sunday Times for just £9.99 a month (click HERE to find out more).
  • Or, if you prefer, the Daily and Sunday Mail for £8.99 a month (link HERE).
  • The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph is £9.99 a month (HERE)
  • The Independent and Independent on Sunday is £13.99 a month (HERE)
  • Or the London Evening Standard at £3.99 a month (HERE)
  • The Financial Times UK (Kindle) edition is £17.98 a month (HERE)

There are also a number of periodicals that you can subscribe to. It’s important to stress that the versions designed for the Kindle are text-heavy, without much fancy graphics or diagrams and certainly no videos or animations as might be seen on the corresponding web sites or the iPad versions – if it’s the text that you’re after, then these periodical subscriptions are receiving some excellent reviews.

  • The Economist at £9.99 a month (HERE)
  • PC Magzazine £0.99 a month (HERE) – NB Received poorly reviewed, as out-dated and too US centric
  • The Spectator at £2.99 a month (HERE)
  • Science News at £2.99 a month (HERE)
  • Asimov’s Science Fiction £1.99 a month (HERE)

And if you haven’t got your Kindle yet… you can buy yours HERE directly from Amazon.

Calibre News Sources

At the time of writing, Calibre has some good news sources already available. A quick list of the main ones is given below:

  • BBC News
  • BBC News (fast)
  • BBC Sport
  • Digital Spy
  • Glasgow Herald
  • London Review of Books
  • Mac World UK
  • Nursing Times
  • Telegraph.co.uk
  • The Daily Mail
  • The Guardian
  • The Independent
  • The Observer
  • The Scotsman
  • The Times Online (no longer working now The Times has gone behind a paywall)
  • Wired Magazine UK edition (didn’t work when I last tried this)

There are also a total of 273 other English news sources available – and the number’s growing all the time. Many are US based news sources, but there are some UK or international sources in there that might be of interest to some. A quick summary list of interesting titles includes:

  • Accountancy Age
  • Al Jazeera in English
  • Business Week
  • CNET News
  • CNN
  • Discover Magazine
  • Engadget
  • Esquire
  • Fox News
  • Gizmodo
  • Harvard Business Review (subscription required – which you can enter into Calibre)
  • Lifehacker
  • NASA
  • New Scientist
  • Newsweek
  • Popular Science
  • Slashdot
  • The Economist (free and subscription versions)
  • The Houston Chronicle
  • The New York Times (subscription required)
  • Time magazine
  • USA Today
  • Wired magazine
  • Yahoo News
  • ZD Net news

(If you’ve not got a Kindle yet, you can click HERE to buy yours now)

Conclusion

With a little more time, I’m sure that setting up custom news feeds won’t be too difficult. I can imagine all sorts of things developing from this… such as daily recruitment newspapers, for example – with the latest jobs sourced from job boards and compiled into an accessible ebook format. Creation of your own custom newspaper, delivering the news that’s of interest to you and leaving out the bits that aren’t. Tailor made newspapers are entirely possible now.

Local newspapers, government publications, advice booklets, timetables, etc… they’re all easy to create and very much a possibility using Kindle, Calibre and other ebook software and hardware. All that’s needed is the time and inclination to set something up and promote it adequately.

Ultimately, what I would love to see is a web based version of this application so that I don’t even need to leave my computer on, or in sleep mode – and so I could schedule news to be collated automatically and sent to my Kindle wherever I am, whenever I want. News on demand… just like video on demand… but available in ebook format.

(If you’ve not got a Kindle yet, you can click HERE to buy yours now)

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Automated free news for Kindle using Calibre, 9.5 out of 10 based on 15 ratings

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