Did you know you can read Kindle books with or without a Kindle device? If you don’t own a Kindle, you may want to try downloading the free Kindle app for your smartphone, computer, or tablet, including your iPad. (Be warned. This app will take up a lot of storage on your phone.) If you do own a Kindle, you might still want this app to read your books over the cloud on your laptop over lunch when your Kindle’s at home. Besides purchasing books from Amazon.com, try downloading their free classics and limited-time free eBooks.
What if you want to read books not offered on Amazon? Project Gutenburg offers over 42,000 free eBooks, many in a Kindle-friendly version (you can also download their books to Dropbox or Google Drive). And, as you know, many bloggers offer free eBooks, which may or may not be available in a Kindle version. And, of course, your local library probably offers electronic books, but this could take us off on a whole other topic. This post should still help you add a lot of great content to your Kindle device or app.
Which Formats to Build Your Kindle Library
eBooks come in any of a dozen or more formats. Hopefully, this simple list will help you obtain the right eBook file type for your Kindle.
- .azw and kf8 are Kindle Fire formats (they should work on your older Kindle, but might not)
- .mobi and some .prc files should work for all Kindles (follow the link for instructions)
- .epub should work for all Kindle Fire HD (follow the link for instructions)
- .pdf files work everywhere because they’re basically created from photographs of the pages in the book
- and many other formats which actually won’t work on your Kindle, but will work on a Nook or other device
Steps to Add eBooks to Your iPad
See WikiHow’s step-by step instructions with four options to choose from for downloading eBooks.
Steps to Add eBooks to Your Kindle
If you’re not obtaining your book through Amazon, follow these steps for downloading a book to your computer before uploading it to your Kindle. If you want to download directly from the internet on your Kindle Fire, skip to option #4.
I don’t recommend simply clicking on a link in your Silk browser to download an eBook because it will go to the Downloads folder as a .bin file. Save the eBook on your computer and then, using a USB cable, drag it to the Book folder of your Kindle. You’ll keep the right file format and the eBook will be in the right folder.
After you find an eBook on a blog or website, you’ll either
- right-click and then choose where to keep the file, using “save as” or
- you’ll click on a “download” button which also saves the eBook on your computer. (If you don’t know where your eBook is stored on your computer, you should see a “downloads window,” after the file is saved, which lists your recent downloads. Right-click on the file and choose “open containing folder” to go to the folder where your eBook file is waiting for you.)
You should be able to read your book using one of the following options. Follow the first instructions if the file you’ve downloaded is formatted for a Kindle. Otherwise, follow the second or third set of instructions.
- For files formatted for Kindles (.azw, kf8, and some .prc):
- Using a USB micro cable, connect your Kindle to your computer.
- Approve on your Kindle that it is now connected to your computer.
- Your Kindle device will appear in the same location as external USB drives usually appear in the “Computer” or “My Computer” menu.
- Open the Kindle drive in your “My Computer” window. Look for the folder named “books” for Kindle Fire and “documents” for an older Kindle.
- Locate the downloaded file on your machine (probably in “My Downloads”) and copy it into the folder on your Kindle.
- Safely eject your Kindle device from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content is in the books area of your Kindle.
- For PDF files (or use option 3):
- Find out what your Kindle eMail address is by logging in to Amazon.com.
- Click on Kindle / Manage my Kindle in the left side bar.
- Under Your Kindle Account, click on Manage Your Devices. Your Kindle and “youraddress at kindle dot com” should be listed under Registered Kindles.
- Send an eMail to “youraddress at kindle dot com” and attach your downloaded PDF file (only one).
- Amazon will send the PDF file to your Kindle. Check after about 10 minutes or so and you should see it on your Kindle.
- For files (.mobi, some .prc, et cetera):
- Follow the same steps as option 1.
- Your content is in the documents area if it was a PDF file or in the books area for other files.
Are you ready to try out what you’ve learned? Go to Books by Judy to download Judy Douglass’ free eBooks.
If the eBook Doesn’t Work on Your Kindle… and More about PDF files
Any device can read a PDF file, so you always have that option open to you. One disadvantage to PDF files is that the pages do not re-size for reading easily. If you’d like to try a variation of option #2, you can eMail a PDF file with “convert” in the subject line and Amazon.com will convert the PDF file to an eBook format and send it to the books folder; however, the eBook might look a little messy.
If you want to organize and read non-Kindle version eBooks, download Calibre or check out the Aldiko app for your computer, tablet, or other mobile Android device. (Here’s easy steps to get you started with Aldiko.) You could put these apps on your Kindle, but that gets complicated, so just read these books elsewhere.
If you want to take an advanced step, download Calibre to convert non-Kindle eBook file formats to a Kindle version and then follow the steps in option #1).
One Last Word from Amazon
Before starting this post, I thought I’d see what Amazon wrote about adding books to Kindles. I found a great page in their help section with information about:
- browsing books, magazines, blogs, and best seller lists
- downloading a sample before purchasing
- free trial or current issues for magazines, not just subscriptions
- using gift cards
Is this post exhaustive? Well, I’d like to think so, but hopefully, I’ve covered most ways you can add more awesome content to your Kindle. As you know, technology changes rapidly, too!
- This article is about building a library through Kindle. For instructions to download for most other eReaders and eBook formats, read my post, How to Find and Download the Right Version eBook. I include instructions for iPads.
- I updated this post in June of 2015.
- epub is the new non-Kindle standard for eBooks. This article explains the earlier versions, .mobi and .prc.
- On Mac systems, use a USB cable to connect your Kindle. Open a new “Finder” window. Double-click the “Kindle” drive to open it like an external drive.
- You might want to read The Best eBook Format for the Kindle HD is EPub and check out other advice from The Digital Reader.
- A list of eBook devices and formats from the Library of Congress.
- This image of the Kindle 3 and the Kindle Fire logo are available on Wikimedia Commons.