The Amazon Kindle is a great eBook reader, but it ties in tightly with the Amazon ecosystem. If you have a Fire tablet or smartphone, you can download other e-reader apps to expand your library, but with Kindles E Ink (including the Paper blank and Oasis) you’re pretty much tied to getting your content straight from Amazon.
Well, sort of. Using a bit of free software, you can take ebooks in EPUB, Mobi, and PDF formats and transfer them to your lickety-split Kindle. Here’s how to do it.
Find your Kindle email
The easiest way to put books on your Kindle is through email. To get your Kindle’s email address, go to amazon.com/myk using your PC’s web browser (or Account> Your devices and content> Manage devices). Make sure the Devices tab at the top is selected. From the list below, find the appropriate Kindle device and click on it. In the drop-down window, click [your name’s] Light up.
On the next page, you’ll see a device summary that lists your @ kindle.com email address. (This is a default address, but you can change it by clicking Edit.)
Save at the top, click on the Preferences tab and scroll to Personal document settings. Click the down arrow on the right and scroll to Approved Personal Documents Email List. The email attached to your Amazon account should be listed here. If that’s the email address you’ll use to send eBooks to your Kindle, you’re good to go. To use another email address, click Add a new approved email address and enter the address you want to use. Remember that your Kindle must be connected to a Wi-Fi or 3G network for this to work.
Choose your eBook format
Now that you know how to send an eBook to your Kindle, the next step is to determine your eBook format, which will determine the best way to send it.
While Amazon not anymore supports Mobi format for news and updates rejectionable (aka, where you can customize fonts etc.) eBooks in Mobi format, existing eBooks in Mobi format are still readable by Kindle. Attach the file to an email, send it to your Kindle’s email address (with any subject, and nothing in the body of the email), and it should appear on your Kindle shortly. You can also drag and drop the file to your Kindle if you connect the device to your PC with a USB cable.
Amazon can automatically convert PDFs to Kindle format, but you have two formatting choices. If you want your Kindle to display each page of the PDF as if it were a graphic, simply send the .pdf file to your Kindle’s address without a subject line.
This will retain the formatting and graphics, but the font size may be too small to read. If you are ok with this type of formatting, you can also drag and drop the file to your Kindle if you connect the device to your PC with a USB cable.
Your other option is to attach the PDF file to an email and have the subject line “convert” – just that word. Send it to your Kindle email address and your PDF will be converted to a Mobi file, where you can control the font size and formatting. The graphics will still be there too, but you will lose the layout of the original PDF.
EPUB is a popular e-book format on the web, but Kindle cannot read it natively. Its good; you can convert .epub files to Mobi files for Kindle to read.
The key is free software called Caliber. Available for Windows and Mac, it can reformat almost any type of eBook for most eBook readers, although breaking copy protection is prohibited on books purchased from Amazon or some others. stores. When you set up the software, it asks for your eReader model, and a pop-up offers to send the books by email. Fill in your Kindle email address and the authorized email address you set up to send documents to your Kindle with.
Once Caliber is configured, click Add books and choose all the free ebook files you downloaded. They will appear in the Caliber library. Now click on an entry in your Caliber library and choose Convert Books from the top bar.
In the top right corner, make sure to set the output format to Mobi. Click OK and wait for the job number at the bottom right of the main screen to change from 1 to 0. Now select the title again and click Save to disk.
Choose the folder where you want to save it. This will create a subfolder with the author’s name. In Explorer or Finder, explore this folder until you find the Mobi file it contains, which you can email to your Kindle or drag and drop it using a USB cable.
Also, keep in mind that text files, blog posts, Word documents, etc. emailed to your Kindle, too much. Just send them to your Kindle’s email address and enjoy.
Where do my ebooks appear?
Once you’ve sent your ebook, go to your Kindle and tap Home> Your library. It may take a few minutes, but if your Kindle is connected to Wi-Fi (or 3G), it should update automatically and the ebook will appear.
In the screenshot above, you can see that I emailed myself a random PS5 related PDF. This is the version with “convert” in the subject line; without it, the text was indeed very small.
Want to get rid of the ebook? Tap the three dots at the bottom right of your ebook in Your Library and select Delete download to remove it from your Kindle or Permanently deleted to remove it from your Amazon account.
So where can I get free eBooks?
There are many places to get free ebooks. Caliber actually has a good metasearch function, and you can click Get books to search by title or author. It’s not the most navigation friendly, however, so it’s best that you know exactly what you’re looking for.
If you belong to an American public library, try downloading Overdrive. Available for Windows and macOS, it connects to public library catalogs and lets you download Kindle books through Amazon. You can find your local library and OverDrive has instructions for sending to Kindle for each type of device. OverDrive Libby and Hoopla offer similar services.
If you want classics, a good place to start is Gutenberg Project. Project Gutenberg, which has been around as long as the Internet, has nearly 60,000 royalty-free ebooks. Here’s how to get ebooks from there.
Open library has even more downloadable books. The classics are available for download in PDF format, which you can then email to your Kindle using the PDF method above.
For historical and academic texts, consult archive.org.
ManyBooks.net mix of classics and self-published titles, with over 50,000 in its library.
Find more classics and self-published books at FeedBooks.
Free-Ebooks.net has a large collection of self-published ebooks, but also a fair amount of classics too.
If you like science fiction, the editor Baen also has a set of free ebooks.
BookBub has a free ebook section filled with romance novels and other casual readings.
Some bookstores use copy protection that does not work with Kindle. Unfortunately, this is the case for Google Books, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.
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