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French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

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 Message 1217 of 1317
03 June 2015 at 9:18pm | IP Logged 
I've been able to buy legally from the Portuguese Nook ( I know espejismo has also bought something in Spanish through them.
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 Message 1218 of 1317
03 June 2015 at 11:29pm | IP Logged 
I suspect you're well aware of this, but even with an account, your Kindle can
only be associated with one amazon account- so you'll have to wipe it clean if you want
to switch from one to the other.

I'm sure Calibre can help get around this, but it does add another hurdle. Perhaps the
thing to do (assuming the card and everything works out) would be to keep the Kindle
linked to your account, and transfer English books manually.
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 Message 1219 of 1317
04 June 2015 at 12:03am | IP Logged 
...or just buy a next one (used ones on ebay are fairly cheap right now) and have it in a similar name to yours, maybe with an initial.

Edited by iguanamon on 04 June 2015 at 12:04am

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 Message 1220 of 1317
04 June 2015 at 10:25am | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:

BTW: I noticed that FNAC takes Paypal payments, not sure if you need a French billing address with the Paypal account, or if a normal Paypal account plus a French billing address would suffice.

That's definitely worth a try. I've not tried with FNAC but I've successfully used Paypal (with a UK billing address) on a site that only accepted Italian credit cards. However, maybe I was just lucky and other sites are more strict.

Still, emk says his goal is to make access to French media as easy as possible, which is the main argument for using Amazon. The initial setup seems painful, but afterwards, their one-click purchase is so much more quick and convenient than obtaining, downloading, converting, and transferring an ebook from any other source. Okay, ten minutes of work isn't a big deal for a book that'll keep you busy for hours, but most people including myself will take the easy option if it's there. Plus there are other advantages with Amazon-bought books like easy access to highlights and being able to sync reading progress across devices.
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 Message 1221 of 1317
04 June 2015 at 1:08pm | IP Logged 
Thank you to everyone for your advice!

garyb wrote:
I agree that this is the most difficult part - you're talking to the guy with the "TACtivation" log ;). I have all this great knowledge, now if only I could actually use it.

I need to catch up on everybody's logs again. :-)

There's actually two different meanings of the word "activation":

1. Turning good comprehension into speaking skills.
2. Having the language in the forefront of your mind.

My problems are mostly related to (2). I read a study a couple of years ago which took classrooms full of language students, and gave them standard skills tests. But before taking the tests:

- The control group had a 45 minute discussion of an article in their L1.
- The "treatment" group had a 45 minute discussion in their L2.

The treatment group performed noticeably better on the skills assessment. And the effect was robust—they flipped the groups around and tried again with the same results, and so on. I wish I could find the study. It was no better than the typical language learning study, but it demonstrated an interesting phenomenon very nicely.

So I guess another way of putting it is that 80% of my problems have to do with being "warmed up." I need to get my brain into French mode, so that it starts thinking spontaneously in French, generating things to say automatically without being asked to do so. That's the only way for me to pull off really fluent, rapid speech.

My "household" French is always turned on. But my "discussing books/movies/work" French actually needs a good warmup and a bit of luck before it feels fully automatic. I am not aware of any way to "turn on" those portions of my French permanently other than constant, intensive use over a long period of time.

Jeffers wrote:
If you set up an independent account with, and connect your kindle to that account, then it doesn't matter where in the world that kindle is when it makes purchases. My parents use their US based kindles when they are all over the world and have no trouble making purchases.

I suspect this works because they probably have a US credit card and US address on file, and Amazon has a strong reason to believe they are US customers travelling abroad. You can certainly set any Kindle to believe it's located in France, and you can even purchase 3–5 books if you do so quickly. But then Amazon sends you a polite but firm note asking you to either (a) stop, or (b) send them copies of your major identify documents. I mean, my wife actually has copies of those documents, but I can't imagine that photocopying them and emailing them to is a good idea.

patrickwilken wrote:
One interesting comment (don't know if it is true) is that actually doesn't have the best selection and you'd be better off looking at FNAC. Though I am not sure if Calibre converts nicely from FNAC format to Mobi (assuming you don't want to buy a FNAC reader).

I've tried buying from FNAC in the past, and I've never actually managed to wind up with a readable ebook. They have wonky DRM and IP-based region restrictions. And their selection did not appear notably better than Amazon's.

sctroyenne wrote:
For getting some kind of debit card or pre-paid card from France - from my experience this is very hard to do outside of the country. Even for pre-paid cash cards you need to send copies of your ID/passport with proof of your address and all that to get it activated. I'm thinking it's not really possible to do from abroad. Does your wife have family/friends in France who'd be willing to help (maybe in exchange for getting some American content)? Otherwise maybe getting a gift card from would work.

I'm sorry to hear that pre-paid cash cards are so annoying to set up in France. AFAIK, it's pretty easy in the US—there are plenty of companies who advertise such cards. It would be really nice to have one.

sctroyenne wrote:
Another option is to take advantage of your local Alliance française. In addition to their onsite library which should include audiobooks, AF membership now gets you access to their digital collection Culturthèque. It includes ebooks, audiobooks, scholarly journals (I think just in social sciences for now), video, etc.

Thank you for this really cool link! Unfortunately, I don't think it's the ultimate solution to my problems. My current litmus test is "Can they sell me the newest ebooks by Stéphane Beauverger with a single click?" And as usual, the Alliance Française is better stocked for high-end French culture than they are for science fiction.

Criteria for success

I want this, but for ebooks:

Specifically, I want to have one device which offers me:

1. Personalized ebook recommendations.
2. One- or two-click purchasing.
3. The same ebook selection I'd get in France.
4. Highlighting, pop-up French→French dictionary, etc.

After all, I already know how to buy ebooks from and read them on my phone. It's just that doing so takes an hour or two spy-versus-spy shenanigans, and in practice I say, "Oh, screw it, let's just buy some trashy beach reading in English." It's like Khatzumoto says: In the long run, people follow the path of least resistance.

The ideal solution

At the moment, the ideal solution looks something like this:

1. I set up a second wifi router in my home named "France."
2. I configure the wifi router so that it permanently routes all traffic through VPNVision or a similar service. Cost: ~US$60/year.
3. I buy a new Kindle reader, attach it my French-only account and configure it to always use the "France" wifi.
4. I set up an easy-to-use and easy-to-recharge payment system in France.
5. I say, "Hey, that Stéphane Beauverger book sounds good," and "Oh, look, Amazon is already recommending it to me," click, and start reading.

The only part I don't know how to do is (4), and I know how to work around that with gift cards. Personally, I'd pay up to US$200 to set this up, and US$60/year to run it. The payoff would be that French ebooks would offer me just as much variety and instant gratification as English ebooks.

This is all about integrating French into my life for the long haul, without it being a second-class citizen in terms of media, and without needing to join a challenge every year. I just want it to happen by default.
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 Message 1222 of 1317
04 June 2015 at 2:18pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

4. I set up an easy-to-use and easy-to-recharge payment system in France.

If you don't mind paying upfront, then this is a once a year effort: upons/

I think you need a French IP though in order to get to the right shop.

Edited by daegga on 04 June 2015 at 2:18pm

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 Message 1223 of 1317
04 June 2015 at 3:52pm | IP Logged 
My point was only that if you have a kindle dedicated to a account with a French credit/debit card, you wouldn't need 1 & 2 for kindle books. You might want your France wifi for other reasons, of course, such as watching internet TV.

I certainly know that people living in the UK have US kindles and can purchase without hiding their location.
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 Message 1224 of 1317
04 June 2015 at 6:48pm | IP Logged 
A lot of these issues are due to differing copyright laws making geo-blocking the easiest method to avoid infringing on another country's laws. If it's of any consolation, the EU is looking to tackle the situation to make the laws uniform across EU countries which could open up distribution to those of us outside the EU as well (maybe).

A recent debate I listened to on the topic from France Culture, Le grain à moudre : Le droit d'auteur est-il un frein au marché européen du numérique ?

I did find out that there exists some ebook stores based in the US selling French books (I won a gift certificate to a children's bookstore at a dictée at the Alliance française). I just found this one for adults (not sure how good this scifi section is) : Ebookez-vous.

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