The Kindle for Maps?

April 28, 2011

Friedel Grant's guest post last week - The Kindle: Perfect for Bike Touring - generated some good conversation about using the Amazon device as a way to bring books to read while on tour. In addition to its intended purpose of reading, it was also suggested as a way to view maps. A commenter recommended the resource is a map browser optimized for eReader devices including the Kindle platform. You can view a street map of a city as well as get directions for travel between two addresses. There is a search function allowing you to look for specific kinds of businesses. It appears to be a handy tool for someone on the road, especially if they didn't bring a GPS unit or were out of cell phone coverage, rendering smartphones useless. All you need is a wi-fi connection.

kindle in action

An example of using the 'get directions' function of

What about the Kindle as a navigation device? As a result of the comments from my post on Mobile Maps in our Future, it seemed clear that traveling cyclists weren't terribly interested in using a Kindle for that purpose. However, a Kindle can read pdf files and, as such, any of our downloadable maps could be viewed. To test this scenario, I asked a Kindle user to load up the Green Mountains Loop on his to see what he thought.

kindle with Green Mountains Loop pdf

The photo above shows the map at 100 percent. It would have to be scaled down in order to fit an entire map panel and its narrative on the screen. This is not really a viable solution at this time, as the type gets too small. We would have to reformat our pdf files to make them more legibly viewable on the Kindle screen. Also, the map would have no locationally aware features, making it no more useful than the paper map in that regard.

All that being said, we are going to keep an eye on this tool and see what develops down the road. Who knows? Maybe one day you will navigate the TransAmerica Trail on your Kindle.

Top photo by Derek Gallagher. Second photo courtesy of Steve Spindler.

GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.


Peter Fogarty May 11, 2011, 7:42 PM

A new, just launched site, called will tell you where to find all the free Amazon Kindle books you want.

If you look in the reference and technology sections, you can check out the available mapping sites. Bing does a nice one for Kindle.

It will also tell you where to find hundreds of more websites perfect for looking at with the Kindle browser. Just think - never again needing to change the font size or the screen settings! You will love it.

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