Kindling Tarot

By Sheri Harshberger

--From my journal...

Friday March 13, 2009  

My body is electric with excitement. I've been hearing the buzz, reading the reviews—since the thing was first available a year or so ago. I have been wanting one of these for a LONG time. I was supposed to get one for Christmas, but they were sold out and I didn't want one bad enough to pre-order and reserve one. So I waited. Finally, now in March, I can get one. They are in stock. I have money received as a bonus from work... enough that I splurged on Next Day Air, which will have me gratified tomorrow sometime. I can't wait.

Saturday March 14, 2009

Turns out, I didn't have to wait for very long. My order was on my doorstep by 8A.M. on a Saturday, no less! After running inside with the boxes (I got a couple of other things, too!), I went through what I can only call the “Russian Nesting Doll” version of packaging, and the truth hit me...  

I was now the owner of a KINDLE... a KINDLE 2 to be exact.

For what I expect are the very few in the world who don't know what a Kindle is, it is a new electronic device—a.k.a eReader---roughly the size of a steno pad of paper but less than a third as thick, that allows its owner to download and read books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, and other textual items in a variety of supported file formats. Not only is this convenient, but also frugal, as the electronic file versions of many of the print media available are less expensive to purchase and don't require recycling at their end life. They also don't fill my desk and space in my office. Its size reminds me very much of the pads that characters in Paramount's Star Trek: The Next Generation would carry around (although not as colorful).

There are other eReaders out there, but what really sets this one apart is its autonomy.  No computer is required to use it at all. It has its own wireless (3G no less) connection to the Kindle Store where reading materials can be purchased or subscribed to. There is also a way to transfer personal documents to it through special email accounts that are active when a Kindle account is activated.

Now this sounds all fine and dandy, but what does it have to do with Tarot?

First off, to use the Kindle just as it was intended, that is buying books from the Kindle Store. Amazingly, a search on “tarot” returned 533 results! I immediately thought that all of them couldn't possibly be available... and then realized that they were because the digital versions don't “sell out.” Among those results were:

Mary K. Greer's 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card

Understanding the Tarot Court by Mary K. Greer

The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present by Janet Boyer

Pictoral Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite

Pictoral Key to the Tarot (Illustrated for the Kindle) by Arthur Edward Waite

Tarot Journaling: Using the Celtic Cross to Unveil Your Hidden Story by Corrine Kenner

Tarot Made Easy by Nancy Garen

The Tarot by S. L. MacGregor Mathers

Several other books by S. L. MacGregor Mathers

BUNCHES of books by Aleister Crowley

Any book that is currently not available in the Kindle Store has a link “I'd like to read this book on Kindle” which sends the message and book title to Amazon who then send it to the publisher. Each time I check, there are thousands more books available and that's just through the Amazon Kindle Store.

Not to say that you can only download from the Kindle Store, but it's the only place that you can autonomously download from (no computer necessary).  The Kindle 2 supports file types of .AZW, .PRC, .MOBI, and .TXT for direct download from websites (more about web browsing later).   From what I can tell, if you want to download other formats, such as .PDF, .HTML, or Microsoft Word, the Users Guide has information on how to have these files converted either by Amazon or by yourself on your computer and then loaded onto the Kindle 2. From my own experience with working with the Kindle 2 on websites with downloadable content, such other online ebook sources, for your own peace of mind it may be necessary to download to computer first, then to the Kindle. On the computer, the Kindle shows up like a flash drive or external mass media storage device that files can be copied to. Amazon offers two conversion services that are associated with the Kindle name/email address associated with your Kindle account. For $.10 a file, attachments sent to <your kindle name>@  The Users Guide suggests that multiple files to be converted be zipped into one, and they will all be converted for one $.10 fee. Believe it or not, Amazon also offers a FREE conversion service. Send the files as attachments to email sent to <your kindle name> I sent the new ATA Quarterly Journal in PDF format to the free address and had the converted file back within 5 minutes! It was a bit rough to look at because the graphics are large, but it was all there and totally readable!  It would be very convenient to have the ATA courseware in Kindle format, too!  

The Sacred Texts website, is currently publishing Kindle titles via a publishing division, Evinity Publishing Inc. The site lists the books available, but clicking on them forwards you to the Amazon site for purchase. provides downloads in PDF format and recommends using Adobe Acrobat to read (from computer). They mention something about formatting for iPhone, but I found nothing about Amazon's Kindle; however, PDF format is one of the file formats that is identified as being supported through the file converter, even if only in beta testing (development speak for it might work or not). 

You can also subscribe to newspapers, magazines and blogs to be automatically downloaded on the Kindle. While I am happy to have access to some “big city” newspapers on a daily basis that I miss living where I do (where it is logistically impossible to get a daily paper from a big city other than Seattle or Portland (Oregon), it is somewhat disappointing to not have Tarot-related newspapers or magazines to make available to the Kindle, let alone download. Right now, none of the blogs available are Tarot-related, BUT, and this is the exciting part, there IS a form that a blogger can fill out to have his or her blog added to the list of blogs available for subscription. We DO have Tarot bloggers out there!

The Kindle comes with a connection to Wikipedia, and the New Oxford American Dictionary is embedded so that unfamiliar words can be easily looked up while reading.  The user manual is also loaded along with a letter from Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of There is also an archival area where items previously read or no longer immediately useful can be archived.

Some additional and exciting features that extend the usefulness of the Kindle 2 are: Basic Web, MP3 and Text-to-Speech. These features are still in beta test, and the notes with the listing encourage feedback to Amazon on whether they should continue development on them. I say “absolutely yes!” The Basic Web feature turns the Kindle 2 into a tool for basic web browsing. Some sites don't display correctly as the web browser doesn't support plugins like Flash or Java apps... like forum sites such as Aeclectic Tarot, but other sites do. Usually the sites run with a primarily text display and a “page” format seem to be the best. Links might work, but logins and other objects that require interaction between the site and the connection device (computer) don't seem to... which makes sense as the Kindle 2 is primarily geared toward one way communication. Of course, the Tarot Reflections site shows up nicely! :o)  You can extend the functionality of your Kindle 2 by taking advantage of some Google features such as Gmail and Calendar. You just need to set up a Google account.  I'll be exploring these applications in future articles.

The MP3 feature allows a Kindle 2 to function as an audio player, so a user can listen to podcasts or music on the Kindle 2. One can also buy and listen to audio books, too, but because of the size of the files, it is recommended to use a computer to download them and move them to the Kindle 2. You can play your favorite music as background music as you read.

The Text-to-Speech feature lets the Kindle 2 read the text displayed to the user, which may come in handy during road trips.  The voice isn't the same as one gets when purchasing and listening to an audio book, it is a synthetic voice—not as bad as Stephen Hawkings' but synthetic none the less.

The Kindle 2 is no replacement for books. I love the feel of a wonderful hardcover book myself. However, it does help manage a reader's collection... there are some books I am interested in reading but do not necessarily want to keep long term, and there are some books that I will buy a hardcover edition of to have forever just because it is a favorite.  The Kindle 2 makes it possible for me to carry documents and files and books all on one little, convenient device. While I would be hesitant to mark up a valuable first edition, I can make notes on an electronic version! I might have several books I am reading plus documents and other things that I am working on at the same time, and if I had to travel, it would be difficult to carry it all around with me... and probably expensive, too, given current baggage policies of most airlines! But I could load everything or most of it on a Kindle 2 and take it with me in a fraction of the space.

One more thing I wanted to mention has to do with Amazon's Kindle program. Amazon has a program for authors who wish to publish their books as Kindle books. I am sure it is more difficult than this, but it looks like you upload your book, set a price and BOOM you are published. I am not a publishing author so I could only go so far into the process before I had to bail out, but maybe someone who reads this and has published their book as a Kindle book could contact me and let me know what the process was like... I'll pass the info along as I get it or we might make an article about it!

All images shown are used with permission.

All submissions remain the property of their respective authors. 

Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2009

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