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Rick Steve Kindle editions

I'm trying to lighten my suitcase (which I want to fill with Rick Steves guidebooks) and wondered how user-friendly the Kindle editions of the guidebooks are. What's your opinion?

Posted by
8499 posts

I have used them. I did not feel they were that user friendly for me. It is most likely the fault of my technology experience vs the design of the ebooks. I stick with portions of guidebooks. I buy used one from my library for 50 cents and then ripping them up for a map or walking tour doesn’t bother me.

Posted by
4828 posts

I just bought a copy of the Rick Steves Istanbul guidebook, Kindle edition. Before I made the purchase, I was able to download a generous sample of the book from Amazon. It seemed like enough that you could get a feel.

There is a Table of Contents that allows you to navigate to specific chapters. And as with any Kindle book, the Kindle reader allows you to bookmark pages, add your own notes and search for words/phrases. So it will seem very familiar to Kindle book readers.

I like that I'll be able to bring the entire digital edition, while selectively bringing hard copy sections, such as the guided walks.

Posted by
6610 posts

I used the Kindle book on a trip to France years ago and found it much less convenient than paper because it was difficult to retrieve particular pages or items "on the fly." Since then I've bought the physical books and, when necessary, torn them apart to bring along the relevant chapters. Our host helpfully sells little plastic covers to hold these excerpts while displaying his logo, and I, God help me, have actually bought and used two of them on several trips. This system has worked well for me. It would work better if I could get the books for 50 cents, though when I take a RS tour the book is supplied.

I love Kindle for general reading and bring mine on trips, loaded with books (including sometimes references for the trip), and available to download newspapers and other things. Potentially a tremendous amount of info and entertainment for very little weight. But the retrieval of a description of a particular place, or discussion of a particular topic, even if bookmarked, is much harder when you can't leaf through actual pages. It helps if some of the pages are marked with a humble paperclip.

Posted by
4286 posts

It all depends on your normal usage for books, I think. I actually love the Kindle editions, but I love them for all my reading. I think others are right that sometimes a paper clip in a real book is a little faster, but for me that doesn’t outweigh the issue of carrying extra paper, even if I took a book apart. I have access to the entire book on my trip in case I change my mind about a destination. And with bookmarks, it’s not that hard to find a place. Even when trying to follow a walk (which I have figured out I am bad at), I like just having my phone to follow along with. But that’s just me.

Posted by
15640 posts

I use them because hard copies aren't sold in Israel. If you learn to use bookmarks and highlights effectively they're fine. You can use the self-guided tours easily on your phone, so you don't have to schlep a book or even a Kindle all day. Print out maps at home to take with you - that's a drawback, trying to see a map on a tiny screen. I also use Lonely Planet guidebooks Kindle editions. I find them harder to use, mostly because of the layout of LP books, not as user-friendly as the RS books.

If you're going to rely on your phone, make sure you have enough memory.

Posted by
9766 posts

But the retrieval of a description of a particular place, or discussion of a particular topic, even if bookmarked, is much harder when you can't leaf through actual pages. It helps if some of the pages are marked with a humble paperclip.

Exactly this. I tried once to travel with an electronic copy of a guidebook but found it annoying.

I love to read them on line and would certainly like to ditch the weight, but I do NOT like being on the fly and not being able to find what I want easily.

Posted by
2768 posts

I find them ok on the phone app. I don’t like them as much on the kindle. Luckily if you buy the kindle book you can have it on both the app and the actual kindle to see what you prefer.

Using the index and bookmarks helps. That’s where the phone app is better - you can access your marks and the index easier. Plus it’s full color, vs the actual kindle. The actual kindle is great for reading straight through, but not as good for flipping around like you want for a guidebook. So I bring a kindle for reading books in the hotel or train but use the kindle app for guidebooks.

It’s not ideal but carrying a book is worse. Carrying it on the trip in your suitcase might be ok, but not if you are going to multiple places with separate guidebooks. And for me it’s a hard NO to carrying it around while touring. Too much weight, would require me to bring a bigger purse. So I either use the physical book at home and make digital notes and maps, or buy the kindle book. Sometimes I’ll take a photo of an especially relevant guidebook page or couple pages, like a map or walking tour, to have on my phone if I don’t have the ebook.

I just bought a Rough Guides book for Crete - physical book - and it came with a free electronic copy! Not kindle, I open it in iBooks, but it’s great to have both versions.

Posted by
6801 posts

I love the Kindle editions of all guidebooks, including Rick Steves. I find them invaluable when researching, because you can immediately link to a sight, a map or a hotel you are interested in to get more details. You can also find the table of contents very quickly, making it easy to jump to a certain point, and the search feature is also very good. The biggest benefit, of course, is the fact that you can get so many more books on your Kindle app.

Having said that, like Travelmom, I use the Kindle for almost all my reading so I'm very used to it. And just an FYI, I bring a Kindle with me for reading fiction while flying, riding the train, and so on, but I use the Kindle app on my phone for reviewing guidebooks - it's in color and it's easier to use there.

Posted by
4286 posts

Yes - what Mira said about using about using the app! I haven’t used an actual Kindle in years - I have the Kindle app on both my phone and iPad and it is so much easier for me to read.

Posted by
4828 posts

I also read - novels and guidebooks - using the Kindle app on my tablet.

Posted by
127 posts

I also like having the Kindle edition, and I don't have a Kindle. I just use the free Kindle app on my phone. I especially like being able to zoom in on the maps, and I find it easy to search for what ever information I need. I use the actual book for planning at home, but do not take it with me once I'm traveling.

Posted by
301 posts

Hi Claudia,

My (somewhat) limited experienced with RS guidebooks on Kindle is that they're well-produced and organized but, as many others have commented, it's just not that convenient to have to poke through the interface in the middle of your day.

Depending on how you plan on using the info (do you have specific pages that you know you'll be referring to a lot, such as a language guide, or a page dedicated to a walking tour, etc.?) what I've found useful is to just take a screenshot, "favorite" it, and then access it as needed. And, of course, you can do this with pictures of physical pages as well. It doesn't totally solve the problem of poking through your devices, but it's no more inconvenient than hefting a book around, and probably less conspicuous in public.

Plus, if you're like me, you'll forget to delete a lot of it and then, months after your trip, you'll get a laugh when your phone's photo app makes a random travel video for you and, in the midst of gorgeous landscapes and museum pics, they'll be a blurry shot of a "helpful words to know" page!

Hope this helps!

Posted by
247 posts

I have many of the Kindle editions. (and am an experienced Kindle on ipHone user)

if you want to read and plan before the trip, the printed books are better. its easier on the brain. they are like novellas, you can enjoy reading them and planning as well. but i hate dragging them around they take up space and weight and I don't care about "reading books" while I am on the road, walking around, viewing.

On the road, recently in Portugal and Spain, I used the Kindle editions all the time. its great to search for specific pieces of info but as others point out, "retrieval of bookmarks is much harder when you can't leaf through actual pages." but I did the "audio tours" when available. I selected pages in Kindle > Translate and the ipHone would convert it to audio - which I put in my ear as I followed Rick on the walks and tours. it was awesome.

the Pocket guides on Kindle are better - the links are well updated (audios, links to google maps!) and they are really designed for use on Kindle. the other regular guides are not as polished for kindle use. the maps become useless - but who uses paper maps when one has google maps.

Posted by
993 posts

I bought Rick steves Spain in 2020. It still worked when I finally got to travel in March 4 weeks ago. The kindle edition worked fine for me. I was able to look up places in Rick steves suggested walks and then flip back and fourth between the Kindle book on my 10 inch Samsung device and Google maps on my phone. The Kindle edition was totally worth it versus dragging around a paper copy. I have read Rough Guides in Kindle format too. The menus help you navigate the book. You don't have to always flip page-by-page. Rick's lists of sites have links to other pages with more detail. I will be using guidebooks in electronic format in the future when possible.

Posted by
11437 posts

Chani nailed it! If you take some time before arrival to highlight and bookmark, your experience will be better. I will do anything to avoid carrying the weight of books on trips. Be sure, also, to download the books to your phone, iPad, or Kindle before you leave the US. Then even when you don’t have a connection you can retrieve content.

Posted by
4828 posts

This is the first time I've bought a Kindle edition of a Rick Steves guidebook and I'm already so glad I did.

With the great sale prices on Amazon, I bought the electronic copy ($3.99 sale on Best of Istanbul) of the book that I also have in hard copy for my tour. I've already realized the additional value.

I keep my trips organized electronically in OneNote and it's been a real bonus to copy snippets of maps, walks and other bits of information into my electronic itinerary and notes. I think I'll also work out a system to simply create a reference/link in OneNote to the page in the digital book.

I can see making good use of the digital version on the tour bus, since I don't plan to bring the entire physical copy.