Kindle Format Conversion Guide

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This article outlines how to convert EPUB files and other file types into a format compatible with a Kindle.

One option is to use the Kindle Personal Document Service and have Amazon convert the files into their proprietary AZW format. The downside is that only certain formats can be converted. For other file types you’ll need to learn how to convert them yourself using the instructions below.

Once you have the proper software installed, converting PDF, EPUB, LIT, and other formats into a Kindle-compatible format takes a few quick steps for any non-encrypted ebooks and documents.

To begin, skim the format list below to see if the format you are trying to convert is supported by the Kindle conversion service. If not, skip down to the next section to learn how to use Calibre to convert formats.

Amazon’s Format Conversion

When using the Kindle Personal Document Service to convert formats, you can have the converted files sent to your Kindle wirelessly for a delivery fee or have them sent to an email address for free and then transfer them to the Kindle via USB or have them delivered via WiFi for the newer models.

Amazon will convert and wirelessly deliver the following format types:

  • Microsoft Word (.DOC) and (.DOCX)
  • Structured HTML (.HTML) and (.HTM)
  • Rich Text Format (.RTF)
  • PDF (.PDF)
  • Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP

To make converting multiple files easier, the above formats can be packaged into a single ZIP file and sent to the Kindle conversion service.

Setting Up the Kindle Conversion Service

Go to Amazon’s Manage Your Kindle page and sign-in to your Amazon account. Then click on “Edit Info” under the Kindle section. Change the Kindle email address to whatever you want or leave it as is—then memorize it or write it down, save changes, and close the pop-up.

Paid Delivery: If you want to pay to have the converted documents delivered to your Kindle wirelessly via Whispernet, scroll down to the section labeled “Your Kindle Approved E-mail List”. Add the email address from the previous step to your Kindle’s whitelist, (your-choice)@kindle.com.

The delivery fee is 15 cents per MB in the US and 99 cents per MB outside the US. A typical ebook ranges from 1/3 to 3/4 of a MB.

Free Delivery: To avoid wireless delivery charges, you can have the converted documents delivered to your primary email address to add to your Kindle via USB cable, or have them delivered to a Kindle with WiFi so that you don’t get charged a delivery fee for using the 3G wireless. Just send the files to this address instead of the paid delivery one shown above, (your-choice)@free.kindle.com.

If you are having trouble with any of this, see Amazon’s format conversion help page.

Converting Formats Using Amazon’s Conversion Service

  1. Open a new email.
  2. Put (your-choice)@kindle.com into the address line for paid delivery to your Kindle, or put (your-choice)@free.kindle.com to have the files delivered to the primary email address associated with your Amazon account.
  3. Attach the files you want to convert to the email (25 max and 50MB each max).
  4. Send email—no subject or writing needed unless the file you want to convert is a file type that is supported, such as PDF, in which case you’ll need to type “convert” into the subject line. Otherwise it will just send the PDF to the Kindle as is, instead of converting it.

Conversion typically takes anywhere from a few seconds to 5 minutes.

Using Calibre to Convert Formats for Kindle

Calibre eBook Management

Calibre is the most comprehensive, easy to use ebook managing tool there is. If you haven’t downloaded and set up Calibre yet, visit this other post on how to get started with Calibre eBook Managemant.

During the Calibre setup process, make sure to select Amazon Kindle when the wizard asks for a default device. This will ensure that EPUB and other formats are automatically converted to MOBI for optimal viewing on the Kindle.

Converting Formats With Calibre

According to the Calibre manual, the following format types can be converted to a Kindle format (MOBI): CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, LRF, ODT, PDF, PRC, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, TCR, TXT.

Some file types convert better than others. EPUB to MOBI and vice versa usually works really well. You can also try applying some advanced code and settings for complex conversions of specific formats as outlined in the Calibre conversion manual.

Once you’ve got Calibre installed and up and running and have added some ebooks to the library, you can start converting the documents and ebooks one at a time by highlighting them and clicking the “Convert eBooks” button. Highlight multiple documents by holding down shift or control while clicking to convert them all at once. By selecting one at a time you can edit the books metadata (title, author, series, etc) and description.

An easier way is to just plug the Kindle to the computer’s USB, let Calibre detect it, and then click on the ebooks you want to send to the Kindle and click “Send to Device”. Calibre will automatically convert them to MOBI as it sends them to the Kindle.

Free Wireless Delivery

One last thing to note, Calibre has a built-in web server that you can setup to access your ebook collection using the Kindle’s web browser. Calibre can also email your books, news, and documents to a Kindle using a free gmail account. These can be set up in the Preferences menu.

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30 Responses to “Kindle Format Conversion Guide”

  1. Your statement:

    “Paid Delivery: If you want to pay to have the converted documents delivered to your Kindle wirelessly via Whispernet, scroll down to the section labeled “Your Kindle Approved E-mail List”. Add the email address from the previous step to your Kindle’s whitelist, (your-choice)@kindle.com.

    The delivery fee is 15 cents per MB in the US and 99 cents per MB outside the US. A typical ebook ranges from 1/3 to 3/4 of a MB.”

    does NOT apply to Canadian Kindle Owners. WhisperNet delivery of documents over 3G that are converted is not available in Canada.

    Instead the @free.kindle.com address allows the document to be converted and then download via WiFi.

  2. Hi there, i have been playing with the Calibre today, and converted a 3 MB pdf, to MOBI so i could read it on my kindle 3, but it appears that the converted file is 277MB, is that possible?

    how can this be? did i do somehting wrong?

  3. I don’t know why this is never mentioned but the best way to convert a PDF to MOBI is to first convert it to LIT an than, convert it to PDF.

  4. To use Amazon’s conversion service, you must put “Convert” in the subject line, or else it will not convert them to AZW… it will just send you the same unconverted documents to download onto your Kindle.

    I’ve been having issues with calibre freezing on my Windows computer. This was never an issue on my Mac. I am guessing it has to do with my computer, but does anyone else have these issues when using calibre on Windows?

  5. What about the text-to-speech feature? Will books read aloud on Kindle if they are converted through Calibre and if so do they have to be a certain format to work? What if they are not converted through Calibre? Will they work that way?

  6. My Amazon set up does not allow a (choosename)@free.kindle.com at setup, how do I set up that? It only allows me to choose the handle @kindle.com

  7. fb2mobi – light converter from FB2 to Kindle.
    http://code.google.com/p/fb2mobi/

  8. Nathan – I’ve just bought my first kindle (keyboard 3G). Is it possible to transfer the kindle format books I downloaded from the Gutenberg Project for free onto my kindle for mac, onto my kindle reader?

    I can’t see any way of doing this. Thanks for any help.

    • Yeah, the easiest way to transfer them would be to follow the directions above for emailing the ebooks to the Kindle over WiFi. You could also use the drag and drop method.

  9. I tried the drag & drop method, but the files became scrambled and didn’t work on my kindle.

    • That’s strange. If they are Gutenbergs then are PDs and are available in the Kindle Store anyway. Guess you’ll just have to redownload them.

  10. I went back and re-downloaded them without a problem.
    Thanks.

  11. on the other hand, just in case if you wish to convert kindle to PDF (or word) format, you can find free online tools such as http://clippingsconverter.com very useful. :)

  12. sir, how can i convert microsoft word files into kindle format?

  13. @arun: save the word doc as html in Word, then use Calibre to convert to mobi.

  14. It’s great posting to this site Nathan – I have enjoyed reading your reviews and watching your videos for quite some time now! I should like to offer a word of advice to fellow readers who wish to read and annotate PDFs on their Amazon Kindle: in case you want to ANNOTATE your PDFs, your only option is to convert them to the mobipocket format (resulting in a .prc file). Well, Calibre is really bad at doing that, so you need to download and install the freeware Mobipocket Creator that excels at converting PDFs to mobi (.prc files) that may be loaded, read and annotated on your Kindle. I even have an extra workaround for you: in case you want to REMOVE images from the resulting mobi file, you CANNOT do this with the Creator, because (amazing as this may sound) it just does not offer such an option. BUT here is what you CAN do: go ahead and let Creator convert the PDF to a mobi file, THEN open the folder where the converted file resides and you will see that in addition to the .prc file the Creator has also created an html file WITH graphic images. DELETE all images manually, then open Calibre, import the html file (NOT the .prc ebook) and get Calibre to convert the html file (which Calibre will call a “zip” file, but don’t mind it) to the mobipocket format, which you may finally upload to your Amazon Kindle! In my case, this has proven to be a real boon especially in the case of SCANNED PDFs which also include OCRed text – while Calibre alone fails to convert most of these PDFs, the steps I described above will get you a nice .prc file WITHOUT the useless scanned page images but with ALL the TEXT! Enjoy and best from the University of Piraeus in Greece!

  15. My public library has ebooks but the formats are:
    iso2709
    ISO
    RIS
    Bibtex

    How are these converted for Kindle? Thanks

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