This interesting Kindle trick could unlock millions of free e-books


There are millions of free books on the internet, many of which are stored in PDF format. But reading PDFs on a Kindle eBook reader is a dismal reading experience. There is, however, a quick, easy, and little-known way to turn these PDFs into Kindle format, making them much more readable and able to take advantage of many key Kindle features.

What’s wrong with PDFs on Kindle?

It’s perfectly possible to send a PDF to your Kindle using Amazon’s email service (I’ll show you how shortly) and read the book. However, when you open a PDF on a Kindle ebook reader, all you get is a facsimile image of the page. The document is not reformatted for the device.

This robs you of several key Kindle features, such as the ability to change the font size of text. If you find the font too small to be readable, your only option is to pinch and zoom the text, but that means dragging the page across a slow e-Ink screen, which is a terrible reading experience.

Reading in PDF format also means things like indexes don’t work, preventing you from skipping to the relevant chapter in non-fiction books. The search functionality is also very reduced, making it less easy to find specific words or phrases. You also cannot highlight passages of text or make annotations.

In short, if you have a book in PDF format, you should really convert it to Amazon Kindle format to make it more readable. Here’s how to do it.

How to Convert PDF to Kindle Format

It’s usually easier to do from a PC or Mac, but it can also be done from tablets and smartphones.

  1. Find your Send to Kindle email address. If you don’t know, click on this link to manage your Amazon devices (you will need to sign in to your Amazon account), then click on your Kindle device and the email address should be printed there.
  2. Now on that same screen click on the Preferences tab, scroll down to Personal Document Settings and click the down arrow next to it, then scroll down to the Approved Personal Documents Email List. Make sure your usual email address (not your Send to Kindle email address from step 1) is stored here. Otherwise, click the link to add it.
  3. Now open your email software. Put the Send to Kindle email address in the To field and – here’s the key bit – put the word “convert” (without the voice tags) in the Subject field. If you don’t add a conversion, it will just send the document to your Kindle as a PDF.
  4. Attach your PDF to the email in the usual way (usually by pressing the paperclip symbol) and send the email.
  5. Open your Kindle eBook reader, and as long as the device is connected to the Internet, the converted book should appear in your Kindle Library.

It should be noted that there is a Send to Kindle app for mobiles, PCs and Macs, but once configured I find the email method to be the easiest.

Does it work for all PDFs?

Most PDF eBooks need to be converted to Kindle format using the above method. This works both for books you have purchased in PDF format and for those available on library sites that have billions of non-copyrighted books for download. However, this will not work with password protected PDF files.

This method tends to work best with lightly formatted books. Texts with a lot of special formatting – like programming textbooks with indented computer code – can be problematic, but it’s definitely worth a try.