Amazon’s Kindle e-reader has stood the test of time. And if you want to buy and read books from Amazon then everything goes smoothly and without problems. But what if you have a collection of (legally acquired) ebooks on a USB drive? How can you read them on your Kindle? Here we explain your options and how to transfer files to Kindle.
What formats does Kindle support?
In addition to two Amazon-exclusive file types, .MOBI and .AZW, Kindles can also read the following types of documents and images:
- Microsoft Word (.DOC, .DOCX)
- HTML (.HTML, .HTM)
- RTF (.RTF)
- JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG)
- GIF (.GIF)
- PNG (.PNG)
- BMP (.BMP)
- PDF (.PDF)
You can connect your Kindle to your laptop or PC using the included USB cable and then use it like any portable USB drive to drag and drop files onto the internal storage. The name of the folder you see when viewing your Kindle in Windows’ File Explorer will vary depending on the exact model, but should be something like Documents or Internal Documents.
This is a quick and easy way to get documents onto your Kindle, but keep in mind that text may be too small to read on your Kindle screen when you transfer PDFs.
Of course, you may have noticed that the popular ebook format Epub is not on the list of supported formats. And you shouldn’t be surprised by it: Amazon wants people to buy ebooks from its own store.
There’s another problem: Digital rights management. Yes, you may remember DRM from a few years ago when it was common to protect MP3 files by making them unplayable on unauthorized devices. That’s largely gone now, but it’s still valid for many ebooks, even the free ones.
That means you can’t convert them to a format your Kindle can read, so you’re in luck if some or all of your ebooks have DRM.
How to convert Epub files for Kindle
Assuming that you have an Epub file that is not DRM protected, you can use the free Caliber software to convert it to a .mobi or .azw file that will work with your Kindle.
First, download Caliber and install it. Choose your language and other options when the app first starts. One of the easiest ways to send files to your Kindle is by emailing them. Caliber can do this, but it requires you to enter a valid email address which it can use to send files are fromand recommend setting up a free GMX account for this purpose. You can do this at www.gmx.co.uk.
You should also enter your Kindle email address, which is the unique email address each of your Kindles has set up. You will find this by opening a web browser on your computer and going to https://www.amazon.co.uk/mycd
You will have to enter your Amazon login details and then Click on Options in the menu that runs across the screen.
Scroll down until you see Personal document settings and click it. This expands the view so you can see your devices and their associated email addresses.
Copy the email address for your Kindle and paste it into Caliber where it says ‘Kindle email:’
Return to the Amazon website and scroll down further. You’ll see a section titled Approved Personal Document E-mail List. Your Kindle address and the email address you use for your Amazon account will be here. But if you’re using a GMX email address or something else, you’ll have to add it to the approved list, otherwise any email coming from this address will be blocked by your Kindle.
With the email addresses entered, you can continue with Caliber’s setup wizard, choosing a folder on your computer to store your e-book library.
You should now see Caliber’s main interface. Click Add Book in the top left corner and navigate to where the Epub file is stored on your computer or a portable USB drive.
As long as the file is DRM-free, it will be added to the library and displayed in the list in the center of the screen. Click on it and then click Convert Books from the menu at the top.
By default, Caliber converts to the .mobi format, but you can click the Output Format: drop-down menu in the upper-right corner and choose a different format. There are plenty of other options you can experiment with if the defaults don’t work for you, but in most cases you shouldn’t need to change anything.
To transfer the converted file to Kindle, you have several options. Click Connect/Share from the top menu and select the option you want. Connect to Folder allows you to transfer files via USB to your Kindle. There is a wireless option that uses Wi-Fi and finally an email option.
Send to Kindle
If you don’t need to convert the Epub file, you can skip Caliber altogether. As long as your e-book is in one of the formats that Kindle already supports, you can email it to the Kindle’s unique email address (explained above).
Just open your regular email client or website and create a new email. Enter your Send to Kindle email address and attach the file to the email.
No need to write anything in the content, but you can type Converted into in the subject line. Doing this will cause the file to be converted from a PDF, DOC, or other supported format to the Kindle’s native .mobi format. This will make the text easier to read.
If you need to buy a new e-reader, check out our guide to the best e-readers.
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