Friday, 3 August 2012

Getting the best from your Kindle

I recently read a letter from someone in the UK who moaned that he couldn't get library books in ebook format suitable for his kindle. If he had bought a reader such as the Kobo which uses epub format he would have been able to do so. The writer went on to complain he couldn't afford to keep buying ebooks from Amazon.

It struck me that this was a reader who wasn't using his Kindle to best effect. He may not be able to borrow Kindle library books in the UK (That service is available in the US) but there are a huge number of free ebooks available on the Kindle, some from Amazon, but many more from other sites. With the addition of the free Calibre e-book management software you can install these books on your kindle, convert them from other formats and even make your own books from a word processed file or web page. Email the file to your Kindle e-mail address or use your Kindle power lead to connect it to your computer and use Calibre's Send to device button. Not know your Kindle e-mail address? You can find it from  the Home screen using menu > Settings > Send-to-Kindle E-mail (2nd page).

So where do you get all these free e-books? Let's start with an easy one - Amazon itself. Amazingly many people can't find the freebies because Amazon don't make the links obvious. Here's a start:

Notice the 'Top 100 Free' at the right? Check also the links at the left which allow to refine your search for free ebooks.

If you want an older 'classic' book there's no need to buy it. Look for it at Project Gutenberg. This site aims to make electronic copies of all out of copyright books. For most countries that means more than 70 years old books. Their books are available in multiple formats including the Kindle .mobi format. If you find a book not available in .mobi format get it in another format (though preferably not as a .pdf) and use Calibre to convert it to Kindle format.

Smashwords is another source of free e-books. Look for the 'Free' link at the top of the page in the Price row. Again at the left you'll find a menu allowing you to select the genre and there's a search box to find a specific book or author. Once you've found a book you'll need to register at the site but Smashwords won't ask for payment details if the book is free.

Is that enough? No? Try This site allows you to download free ebooks direct to your Kindle - no sending by wire from your computer needed

Still not enough? Then do a search for 'free kindle ebooks' and find more sources.

Now for some things you may not know about the original Kindles.

  • They work on a limited version of the Linux operating system and some of the original Linux items are still there. On a Kindle Keyboard, press Alt Shift M on the home screen and you'll get a game of Minesweeper; If you are in Minesweeper press G and the game will change to GoMoku; In the search box you can get the Kindle to act as a calculator. Just type in what you want it to evaluate; 
  • Want to read in the bath, on the beach or at a pool? Put your Kindle in a ziplock plastic bag. In the UK Tesco sell a small bag pack of 25 which are perfect. If you are concerned about the zip leaking, use two bags, one inside the other with a bit of kitchen towel between them at the back. Your standard Kindle or Kindle keyboard and Kindle Fire will work just fine but to get the Touch to work you'll need to blow in a bit of air to keep the bag away from the screen. No more soggy paperback books!

1 comment:


I've taken off the CAPTCHA from this blog because I think they are pretty useless at preventing spam and an annoyance to genuine people.

If you're a spammer - you're wasting your time - I won't visit your site and no-one else will see it.