Sunday, July 13, 2008

PDFs and Free Conversions

PDF is typically considered a 4-letter world in the land of Kindle. When my Kindle arrived awhile back I remember thinking about converting all the PDFs I print/read throughout the day and loading them on the device instead. Wrong. In fact, I made a mistake early on and tried to use Amazon's free service to convert a PDF -- I was greeted by a short reply saying PDFs aren't supported. In fact, if you search for "PDF" in Amazon's Kindle User's Guide (version 1.1) you'll find the only occurrence of the phrase is when the guide tells you about itself; IOW, you can't read a PDF on the Kindle, you can't convert a PDF for a Kindle, but Amazon tells you how to use the Kindle via a PDF file. Ironic, no?

Apparently something has recently changed on this front. I remember reading a blog post a couple of days ago about how to use Amazon's service to convert PDFs for the Kindle. I immediately thought, "no, this person obviously never tried it...it doesn't work!" I got curious though and e-mailed a small PDF to my Kindle address. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later, there it was on my device! No error message. No rejection. Very cool.

Now that I see it actually works I've been sending myself all sorts of simple PDFs for conversion. This is way better than printing them out or trying to read them on my computer. If you've got a bunch of PDFs to convert, just zip them together and send them as one file; Amazon's service will split them up and deliver them individually to your Kindle. And btw, I also recall reading about two different ways to convert files for the Kindle. One method would cost 10 cents per conversion and would all take place wirelessly. I talked with Amazon's customer support and they said they decided to not charge for this service after all, at least not for now. So all you need to do is e-mail your files to yourname@kindle.com (where "yourname" matches the account ID for your Kindle service registration) and you can start enjoying free wireless conversion services too! Let's just hope Amazon doesn't rethink that 10 cents per conversion fee...

5 comments:

Shelley said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'm off to dime it at Amazon.

Mr. Spit said...

You can also download Mobipocket's free Mobipocket Creator software and convert your own PDFs to a mobi file, which reads fine on the Kindle.

http://www.mobipocket.com/en/downloadSoft/ProductDetailsCreator.asp

FRANCIS said...

Yep. I've had my Kindle for about a month and have sent in dozens of PDFs, including complete books for conversion with no problem.

Anonymous said...

So, Joe, do you find it keeps the formatting better than sending a Word file? The problem I have sending Word files is they sometimes come out with surprising tabs and line breaks. If I convert documents to pdf will it prevent that?

Joe Wikert said...

Mr. Spit, I've tried Mobi's Creator program a few times now and I can't get the darned thing to run at all! I posted a question about this on their support forum and never heard a peep from anyone.

Francis, wow, whole books...interesting. I haven't tried much beyond some pretty short and simple PDFs. Good to know!

Anonymous, oh, you'll find some surprises, that's for sure. Even the simple PDFs I'm sending don't always look just like the original files once they're converted. I suppose it's yet another one of those "experimental" features of the Kindle, which might also help explain why Amazon is willing to do this for free for now.