ebook conversion

How to Convert PDF files into Kindle Ebooks

The Kindle can display files in four different formats:

  • .TXT files (HTML files can be viewed if you change the extension to .txt as well)
  • .AZW files – Amazon’s own exclusive ebook format for the Kindle
  • .MOBI files – content formatted for the MobiPocket Reader
  • .PRC – These are the exact same format as .MOBI but were designed to be compatible with Palm PDAs

Odds are, though, that the bulk of the documents you have on your computer that you might wish to read on your Kindle are in PDF format. If you’re like me, you’ve got a lifetime of reading stored up in PDF files that you’ve been meaning to get around to “some day soon.” Adding them to your Kindle library would be a good way to make them more accessible, and make it far more likely that you’ll get around to reading all those files at one point or another.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can convert your PDF files into formats accessible to your Kindle.

The first is by emailing your PDF file to your Kindle account email address. If you want the resulting ebook to be sent wirelessly, send the PDF as an attachment to yourusername@kindle.com (replacing yourusername with your actual Kindle username, of course). You’ll be charged a fee of 15 cents per megabyte for having the file delivered this way.

If you want to get your converted file without a fee, send the PDF as an attachment to yourusername@free.kindle.com. The converted file will be sent back to you via email for free, and you can then transfer it to your Kindle via USB connection.

This method is not foolproof. Some files come out somewhat mangled, and you can’t use this method to convert any file that is very large or that has a password or DRM securing it.

The other method to convert PDF to Kindle-compatible files is the one I use most often. It works with some DRM-enabled PDFs — I use it with NetGalley files, for example — and does a pretty fair job of keeping the content, including images and tables, intact.

To proceed, you’ll need to download and install the MobiPocket Creator Publisher Edition from the Mobipocket.com website.

Once you’ve started the program, there’s an option to import a PDF file. After running the import feature you will have generated an HTML file which you can then “build” into a .prc file immediately, or you can choose to add a cover image, a table of contents, or metadata to the ebook first.

Once you’ve built the file, it’s a simple job to drag it over to your Kindle over a USB connection.

MobiPocket creator does a great job of reflowing the layout and removing headers and footers which would otherwise mar your newly created ebook.