How A Trip to Cappadocia Taught Me To Use My Nook Simple Touch for Language Learning

This past week my kids enjoyed their spring break from the rigors of second grade and kindergarten.  We took the holiday as an opportunity to explore a bit more of this country we have come to love and so ventured east to central Turkey and the magical Cappidocia region.

Not being familiar with the region, I began with our trusty Lonely Planet guide to Turkey which is filled with useful information and great suggestions.  It covers everything!  Looking for a more focused guide though, I turned to Captivating Cappidocia, a blog by Duke Dillard, a resident of the area and a great storyteller.

Duke’s blog is a wonderful mix of the personal stories of life in the small Turkish community of Çavuşin, informative book reviews about Turkey, interviews with locals and is a traveler’s treasure trove of quality information.  His top 10 posts were especially helpful for our family whose planning for the trip consisted of a conversation on Monday about whether we should go or not – we left on Tuesday.

Posts with names like these were exactly what we were looking for.

The problem of course was that we wouldn’t be able to just pull up Captivating Cappadocia at the stop light as we wondered if we should go left or go right.  And so I solved the problem and discovered at the same time a great new resource for finding and creating target language reading materials as a language learner.

In about fifteen minutes time, I transferred all of Duke’s articles that seemed helpful (about six articles in all) to my Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch.  With a battery life of nearly two months, we were set. My wife read through all of them on the drive down and then we pulled out the Nook over and again as each day we wondered where to eat or where to find ice cream or where to find a good potter to visit so our kids could throw their own clay pot.

Enjoying my new Nook Simple Touch.

Duke and the Nook came through every time.  I’ve known Duke for a while now and if you’ll remember he wrote a great guest post here back in December. (Read Christmas Cookies in Cappadocia)

My Nook Simple Touch on the other hand is relatively new.  And up until this point, I have been a bit disappointed that I couldn’t do more for my Turkish with it.  Unlike Amazon, Barnes & Noble’s search functions are fairly limited and they don’t seem to have nearly as much in the way of foreign language reading material.  Amazon doesn’t have a ton either but it does have more.  They both have lots of phrasebooks and grammar books, but little in the way of fiction or non-fiction and next to nothing is free.  But I want interesting reading – in Turkish – and I’d love for it to be free.

(learn more about the Nook and the Kindle)*

In my article, 9 Ideas For Find Target Language Reading Materials I shared some great ideas for finding reading material, but much of the online suggestions left learners reading from their computer screen.  Not ideal when you are on the go.

Our trip to Cappadocia though helped solve this problem to some degree and I am excited to begin to explore adding loads of reading material – in Turkish – to my Nook.  And I’d like you to be able to do so as well.

Most of the e-readers that are on the market use either the epub or mobi format for their books.  Kindle uses mobi and most others use epub.  Using a free program called Calibre, I was able to copy all of the text from Duke’s blog posts into a word document, convert them to pdf and then to epub format and then move them onto my Nook Simple Touch.  I could very well have done the same if I had a Kindle.  It worked great and we were glad to have been so easily able to create our own reading material for our own use.

Here are the four steps for adding target language reading materials to your e-reader.

Step One: Find Material

The first issue is to find interesting reading material that you would want to read.  Using google translate you can find articles from blogs, online newspapers, Wikipedia and online magazines.

You can also search for PDF files of entire translations of books or short stories.   I was able to find a Turkish translation of Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck in this way.  Experiment with your search terms and you will be surprised at what you will find.

Hint:  Search for topics you are passionate about and about which you may have not yet found reading materials.

Step Two: Copy and Paste

When you find what you want, save the pdf file if that is an option or copy and paste the material into a word document.  You will probably want to remove pictures and other parts of the article that won’t be necessary.  Save this document into a special folder just for your own created reading materials.  I call mine “My Turkish For My Nook.”

Hint:  Copy multiple articles about the same topics onto the same word document.  Make sure and title each of these and later you can bookmark each.

Step Three: Import and Convert

In order to convert this new document into something that you can read on a Nook or Kindle, you will first need to do two things:  Download Calibre and convert the word document to a pdf file.

Calibre.  Calibre is a free program that does a lot of different things but for our purposes here the most important function is found in it’s ability to convert pdf files to epub or mobi files for reading on your e-reader.

(visit and download Calibre here)

Add books, Convert books, move them to your e-reader.

Calibre won’t convert a word document and so you must first convert your word document to a pdf file.  On my Macbook Pro this is as easy as clicking on File and then clicking on export.  I am sure it is as simple on a PC and perhaps someone who knows can share how in the comments below.

Once you have your document saved as a pdf file, simply click ‘Add books’ in Calibre to add it to the library and then click the ‘Convert books’ button and chose which format you want to convert to.  This will add the new version to the Calibre library where it is easy to find for our next step.

(Note: If you own a Mac and an e-reader that uses epub files, you can simply export straight to epub format using the export function.  File->Export->epub)

Step Four:  Add It To Your E-reader

The final step is to migrate your new reading material to your e-reader.  To do this, simply find the file in the Calibre folder, copy it and then paste it into your e-reader folder.

With the Nook Simple Touch, books can be organized by “Shelves” and so I have created a Turkish Shelf where I keep all of my Turkish reading material.  This makes finding it a cinch which leads to more reading.  I am sure all e-readers have similar functions and I’d encourage you to create a system to organize your files for easy access.

Add as much quality reading material as you can find and consider making your own handcrafted reading material as well.  This will allow you to dramatically increase the amount of reading material you have in the target language, the vast majority of which will be free.

(read about using handcrafted audio here)

With my new Nook and the Internet, I am excited to begin to add new, interesting reading material to my daily reading of Turkish.

Happy reading!

I am in no ways an expert in the use of the Nook or the Kindle.  If you have other ideas or more efficient methods of finding and adding target language reading material to your e-reader, please add to the conversation in the comment section below.  Thanks for helping us all out!

And here are a few photos from our time in Cappadocia. It truly is a magical place and one we hope to visit again.  Be sure and stop by Captivating Cappadocia to get a real taste of the regions wonders.  (visit Captivating Cappadocia)

*Disclosure: Links to the Nook and Kindle are both affiliate links.  If you should chose to buy one, the price won’t change for you, but I will get a small commission. (I love my Nook!)

The front of one of hundreds of ancient cave churches found throughout the region.

Knowing the language always opens up new relationships with new friends.

Emerging from one of thousands of tunnels leading to underground homes, churches and even whole cities.

Enjoying a little R & R while mom and dad feast eyes on Turkish rugs.

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7 Responses to How A Trip to Cappadocia Taught Me To Use My Nook Simple Touch for Language Learning
  1. Roman D.
    April 11, 2012 | 9:41 am

    Hey, Aaron!

    Great post! I have always been an advocate for using e-readers and could say without doubt that Kindle is the best piece of technology I ever owned, as well as my most useful asset for language learning.

    I want to suggest a trick that I use routinely every day to deliver the content quickly to my Kindle. It is done via web-service called Readability (http://www.readability.com/), which strips any web-page of all the useless information and presents the primary content (essay, article, blog post, etc.) on a clean page with good typography.

    For us, Kindle users, the service has a neat feature of sending the processed piece of content straight to Kindle via special e-mail address. This makes adding new content a simple, two-click operation that takes less than a minute.

    Unfortunately, Readibility cannot send articles straight to Nook (to my knowledge), but you can still use it to strip a desireable piece of content off all the garbage quickly.

    Hope that helps!

    Cheers,
    Roman D.

    • aarongmyers
      April 11, 2012 | 2:05 pm

      Thanks much Roman! I’ll have to look into Readability. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. Justin
    April 11, 2012 | 4:20 pm

    We used Calibre to convert Turkish OT/NT from texts to an .epub format. When you put a request out for Turkish material in epub a while back I forgot we had that. Let me know if you want it. (We just use an iOS app for it now). Kindle can also read PDFs somewhat decently.

    • aarongmyers
      April 11, 2012 | 4:41 pm

      I’d love a copy. I tried to find the NT last week and downloaded something, but it came out as gibbrish and code.

  3. Carlos
    April 12, 2012 | 2:22 am

    A nice feature in Calibre is download newspaper and convert to a format and import in smartphones, tablets, etc…
    If you go to buy a tablet with gps you can also download maps and guides to locate some points, really a nice tool for trips. Like Samsung 5″ player or Samsung Tab 7″.
    Great article :)

  4. Gail
    April 12, 2012 | 3:18 am

    Calibre is a great find, Aaron! Thanks for sharing. Downloaded it and looking forward to using it in my Italian language learning adventures.

  5. Darcey
    April 13, 2012 | 1:44 pm

    I love my Kindle, and Calibre. One thing to note with Calibre, Kindles, and .pdf files…

    They don’t always get along. Depending on how a PDF is formatted, it can display well or poorly. Aaron’s products display middling-well (I threw them on this morning), because of the format – tending towards small, squished, and a bit difficult to read. PDFs which are set up as full-size pages often show in a tiny resolution, and asking it to increase font size then means not all of the page is visible.

    If you convert a PDF to .epub format, you may run into a problem – if the PDF was full-size (i.e. to print off on 1 letter/A4 page), it may break up the lines–which can make for frustrating reading as you only have a line
    like this and then it keeps going,
    maybe if you are lucky. Or it then continues for a full line and
    breaks off in the middle again.

    I love my Kindle like crazy – I use it here in India, and it can display Devanagari easily. I found a few Panchtantra stories that I read once in awhile on it. :)

    So… be aware when you start playing with that format. Converting a .pdf to an .epub often yields similar results,

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