Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kindle Fire for Genealogy

Yesterday's blog post was about my first experiences with the new Kindle Fire. Based on reader comments and the fact that this is, after all, a blog about genealogy, today's post will focus on genealogy uses for the Kindle Fire.

At this time, genealogy-specific apps do not appear to be available for the Kindle Fire. I expect that will change in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Kindle Fire users have access to all of their favorite web sites, such as,, FindAGrave (and for me, about 300 more). The sites appear just as you are used to seeing them, just on a 7" screen. However, you can turn the device to landscape mode or use your fingers to make the type on the page appear larger. This technique does not work on mobile-enhanced pages. Bottom line is that once I have become accustomed to managing my viewing space, I am able to read any web site fairly easily.

The Home Screen of the Kindle Fire
Books, documents and apps apear
on a virtual bookshelf  with most recent first.
Amazon is completely honest when they talk about ultra-fast web browsing with their "Silk" browser. Surfing the 'net is much faster than my laptop or netbook, which makes it my new device of choice for surfing and reading. As I mentioned yesterday, the mobile views allow me to scan through blog posts in Google Reader, Facebook, Twitter and check email in much less time than ever before.

Access to the internet also means that I have access to all of the files in my Dropbox folder whenever I have WiFi access.

As with the Kindle 3 that I've been using for more than a year, the Kindle Fire also serves as a large capacity USB drive. I'm able to transfer files to my Kindle Fire via drag and drop.

I recently created an Adobe PDF file of my ancestors from Family Tree Maker, so I dragged and dropped it into the documents folder of my Kindle Fire. It's nice to have some of those reports and other resources available if you're on a spur of the moment library or cemetery trip and don't have your mountain of paper with you.

You'll also see in the photo that I have the Kindle version of the Family Tree Sourcebook. More genealogy titles have become available for the Kindle in the past year, including books by Megan Smolenyak, George Morgan, and others. When I first got my Kindle 3 last year, only a handful of genealogy titles were available; now a search has more than 1,000 titles. Many of these are self-published eBooks and family histories. And just this month, Amy Coffin of the We Tree genealogy blog published her excellent resource for bloggers, The Big Genealogy Blog Book. Even if you don't own a Kindle device, you can order and read these books right on your computer.

As a teller of family history stories, I always have in the back of my mind the publishing of a family history ebook. Just get the information "out there" and available to other family historians. With electronic publishing so easily available, anyone can publish their genealogy books with little overhead.

I've also test driven the Kindle with Legacy Family Tree webinars. The sound and video quality is great. The wealth of instructional genealogy videos available on YouTube is at your fingertips. Anything you've accessed on the web is readily available for viewing on the Kindle Fire.

Catch up on your genealogy reading
PDF files transfer easily to the Kindle.
Recently, I made use of an incredible sale at Family Tree magazine, where I purchased four years of digital issues on CD. The CDs arrived this week and I've placed the PDF files on my computer. With the simple drag and drop feature, I have now moved the magazines to my Kindle. What easier way to catch up on my genealogy reading than to have all of these back issues in my purse?

As I mentioned in last year's post, you can also use the Kindle to house those 800 page county histories that you find on Google books and other web sites. At 14.6 ounces, the Kindle weighs a lot less than those dusty old books. And without that "old-book" smell!

Speaking of the weight, the Kindle Fire weighs more than my Kindle 3 at 8.5 ounces. This was an adjustment, since my older model is very lightweight. Even though under a pound, I'm finding the Kindle Fire is becoming easier to hold. It's just something to get used to.

Will I be sending my Kindle 3 to the Technology Graveyard? Not anytime soon. In a future post, I will address the differences between the two devices and how there is still room for them both in my life.

Related posts from

Kindle Fire - Tablet or eReader? First Look

Kindle for Genealogy

Kindle for Genealogy Redux

Disclaimer: links to are via my affiliate relationship with the site.


  1. I have the second version of the Kindle. You really caught my attention when you mentioned watching Legacy webinars on the Fire. Looking forward to the rest of the series. I might just have an addition to my christmas list.

  2. Thank you again, Susan. Your articles are of great help to us as we consider buying the Kindle Fire. I have a very stupid question. When you drag and drop your files, you drag to the K Fire from where? Are you able to hook up the K Fire to your computer via USB? I'm missing something in my tired ole brain. You're really convincing us that this is the way to go. Keep up the great posts.

  3. Okay, you have inspired me. I have an Android phone with Adobe, and had never thought of creating an Adobe file of my ancestors to have on the phone when needed...

    Thanks so much for that tip.

  4. Becky, yes, I hook up the Kindle Fire to my computer via USB cable. Please note - this cord did not come with the Kindle Fire - I'm using the one that came with my Kindle 3. These are available separately on Amazon for less than $10.

    I'm enjoying the Fire more and more everyday. Yesterday I watched a full-length feature film (Larry Crowne). Didn't think I would ever last through an entire movie, but I had to try it out. Will be addressing both Amazon videos and Netflix in a future post.

  5. Thank you, Susan. I'd just gone back to one of your previous posts about the kindle and saw that it was connectable to the computer via USB. I sure hadn't known that. Now I know to buy the USB cable separately too. We got iPhones last Spring so I've used it for many of the things you've written about, but now the docs will be easier to read on a larger screen. We'll particularly love it for re-viewing the webinars, YouTube videos, and other training videos. We're loving the Ancestry and Family Search videos on their own You Tube channels. Keep up the great work, Susan. I'll be waiting for the rest of your posts.

  6. Great ideas. You can also e-mail docs to your kindle via the address for the device. That seems to work well for PDF's. I don't have the USB cable, so that's what I did for now. There is no google docs app in the amazon app store, but the mobile version of google docs using the web browser seems to be usable for pdfs when in wifi range.

  7. Santa, AKA as hubby is buying me a Kindle for Christmas. The Fire is not available her in the UK yet. Thanks for such a useful post. Regards Julie

  8. Great post! Now if only I can find a place to hole up and try the webinars and copy my family pdf to my Fire. So many possibilities and so little time....I can't wait for your next update!

  9. I am loving this series. It's really helping with my purchasing decision. Thank you for mentioning my book as well. :)

  10. Thank you for your wonderfully informative posts. It is great to hear the potential genealogy uses of the Kindle Fire.

  11. As one of the zillion people who got a Kindle Fire for a gift last month, I thank you for all these suggestions on using it for genealogy. I'm so excited at all the possibilities :)

  12. Hi Susan, Do you have a 1-2-3 steps on how to use the Kindle Fire.. I am in a nursing home - with no intent of being able to return home and genie stuff is my FIRSt life now.. ;) keeps me going...... I just got back on about 2-3 weeks ago after being off since prior Sept.

    If you do I know it would help as one of my situations has made it hard to focus well.