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Dear Jane: How Do I Sideload eBooks onto the Kindle?

Dear Jane-

I  was a nook fan/user until a few days ago when I ran into some really poor Tech Support from B&N. Never had that problem before, but it's been a month since I've used them and it's degraded a lot to the point of hair pulling. (customer service seems ok still). Never got my question resolved and had to use another source.

I have the new Kindle3 pre-ordered. I was sold on the global coverage, and some of the new experimental features it's sporting. Some drawbacks is that it doesn't utilize page numbers so I can't cite material. Another drawback is no library ebooks since Amazon doesn't support EPUB yet. I'm hoping that will change.

(Assume everything is DRM free)
The Amazon rep said that I had to email all files to be converted by them for use on the Kindle. That's a pain. Can get around this using Calibre to convert it myself then sideload? The rep couldn't tell if the files get converted to AZW or not. I'd like to know what they are converting them to.

Has anyone successfully converted a EPUB (no drm) to AZW? Or do you have to convert it to Mobi then to epub? Too many steps there.

Does anyone else besides Amazon sell Kindle format so I'm not stuck with Amazon as my only buying option.

Finally, should I wait and see what other ereaders become available before getting the K3?

Thanks Jane.
BH

Dear BH:

1. You can sideload books onto the Kindle in the mobi format. I do this all the time. Sideloading is accomplished by attaching the Kindle to your computer with the included USB cord. The Kindle mounts as a drive on your desktop (Mac) or look under “My Computer” for the PC.

Then dropping and dragging the file onto the Kindle and placing in the documents folder.

OR if you are using Calibre, you can use the “email to Kindle” option or the “send to device” option.

email to Kindle

2. You can email mobi books to the Kindle and Kindle will convert it to the azw format.

3. Calibre does a great job of converting epub to mobi.

4. No one else sells Kindle but a lot of companies sell Mobipocket and there is a great plugin for Calibre that strips the Mobi DRM* as you add the mobi file to Calibre. (all automatic)

*This may or may not be legal depending on whether the ebook falls within the recent library of congress exemption.

5. If you don’t have to have an ebook device right now, I would wait.   Sony is due to announce its new devices; Kobo is going to be $99 before Christmas; I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a $99 Kindle and/or nook by Christmas; there will be a subsidized Google Android tablet released on Black Friday; and Apple is rumored to have a 7″ iPad.   So yes, waiting until October or later makes a lot of sense.   BUT! If you can’t wait (as I could not), don’t feel guilty about your purchase.   You’ll have gotten some good months in with your device before the price drop or something else comes out.   (At least this is what I tell myself).

Best,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

29 Comments

  1. Statch
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 07:09:18

    Thanks so much for these always helpful ebook posts. I hadn’t heard of the Mobi plugin for Calibre before. I have a Sony reader. Is there a similar plugin for ePub? (I do it outside of Calibre now, but of course a plugin would be much easier.) I tried searching but didn’t find anything.

  2. lazylfarm
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 08:02:32

    The Kindle natively supports the following formats: .prc, .mobi, .azw, .txt and PDF. No conversion is needed–you can either copy the file to your Kindle via the USB cable or email it. I like emailing for the convenience factor. You can email .doc (Word) and HTML files and they will be converted to a format that will be readable on the Kindle.

    I regularly buy books from All Romance, Dreamspinner, LooseId, Torquere, and AmberQuill. They all have formats that work on my Kindle, no conversion needed. In fact, I haven’t manually converted a file in ages–more than a year, I would guess. All Romance has a nice setup–if you authorize them to email files to your Kindle, when you buy the book, you just click the little envelope and the book will appear when you turn Whispernet on. Super convenient and easy to use.

    KindleBoards is a good resource for current and potential Kindle owners. Lots of friendly folks who like to answer questions. http://www.kindleboards.com

    L

  3. Jane
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 08:14:02

    @Statch No, I haven’t found a comparable epub plugin. Would love that myself.

  4. BH
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 10:12:29

    @Jane-Thank you so much for the information. I could wait until October or even later to see what turns up in tablets and ereaders, but I think I'm leaning towards the Kindle. The mobi plugin for Calibre is a big plus for the Kindle. I'm not into computers so much that I want to become a fulltime Python programmer just to read my ebooks. If the Calibre developer would provide plugins to remove DRM from the BN, Sony, Amazon, and other ebook formats, I'd gladly pay him for the program. An android tablet is tempting since I could put apps on it to read ebooks I already purchased. The LCD screen is a slight drawback since you can't read in the sunlight. That's why I didn't go with the Sony or iPad.

    @lazylfarm. Thanks for the info. I'm impressed with the email option AllRomance provides for Kindle. (I'm just impressed with them in general). I've been under the impression (from Amazon), that you had to email everything non azw to them to convert to their format in order for reading, or for a better quality read.

    Jane thanks again. It's a tough decision, but I think I'll keep the K3 on order and try it out. They are so backordered right now I might not get it until Thanksgiving at the holiday $99 price. Yeah, right. It would be nice if the Kindle had support for the library books like my Nook and android phone.

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  6. Jessica
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 10:39:10

    I buy a lot of ebooks from Baen (www.baen.com) – all their content is available in all formats and can be downloaded in multiple formats. It can be emailed directly to the kindle but I generally prefer to sideload it as Jane described above.

    I only email files for conversion when they are pdfs. The kindle can read them without conversion but the screen is on the small size for regular size pdfs and while the zoom works well, I’d rather have a text file so I can play with font sizes.

    I email files for conversion all the time and it is very easy. You can attach multiple files to a single email and you usually get the converted files back within a minute or two. Just make sure to to type convert into the subject line and first line of the email to make sure you get the kindle formatted files back.

  7. becca
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 12:18:23

    I side-load almost all my books to my Kindle; I rarely buy books from Amazon. Calibre does a great job converting to mobi, and then loading them directly onto the Kindle. I don’t see any advantage to emailing my books to Amazon. Sure, that’ll back them up on the Amazon server, but I back up all my books to my computer anyway. I don’t want Amazon drm on my non-drm’d documents!

  8. lazylfarm
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 13:06:45

    My understanding: when you email a document (of whatever format) to your Kindle via Amazon, the document is not backed up on the Amazon server. The only documents/books that are archived at Amazon are those that were originally purchased from Amazon. I say this from personal experience. I have emailed dozens of documents to my Kindle; none of them are in my Amazon archive.

  9. brooksse
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 13:08:11

    I have both the sony touch and pocket editions but am thinking of trading the sony touch for a kindle K3. I use reading apps on my iPod Touch & Android phone and would really like the Kindle for syncing between devices. Plus the ability to download ebooks to mobile devices without having to jump through hoops.

    It would be nice if Sony’s new readers would offer syncing between devices and downloading from places other than just the sony store, but I think that’s too much to hope for.

  10. Brian
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 15:27:46

    2. You can email mobi books to the Kindle and Kindle will convert it to the azw format.

    No point in emailing them a Mobi file for conversion as they really aren’t converting anything. AZW is just Mobi with a different file extension.

    Sure, that'll back them up on the Amazon server, but I back up all my books to my computer anyway. I don't want Amazon drm on my non-drm'd documents!

    They aren’t backed up on Amazon’s server. No DRM is added to emailed documents.

    My understanding: when you email a document (of whatever format) to your Kindle via Amazon, the document is not backed up on the Amazon server. The only documents/books that are archived at Amazon are those that were originally purchased from Amazon.

    This is correct.

    It would be nice if Sony's new readers would offer syncing between devices and downloading from places other than just the sony store, but I think that's too much to hope for.

    You’ve always been able to buy from places (Books on Board, Diesel, Fictionwise, Harlequin, pretty much any small pub) other than the Sony store(at least since they started supporting ePub a few years ago).

  11. brooksse
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 17:08:11

    @Brian:
    “You've always been able to buy from places (Books on Board, Diesel, Fictionwise, Harlequin, pretty much any small pub) other than the Sony store(at least since they started supporting ePub a few years ago). ”

    I wasn’t referring to simply buying ebooks from other places. I know you can buy elsewhere, download to your computer, and then sideload onto your Reader. That’s what I’m currently doing; very few of my ebooks came from the Sony store.

    What I meant was the ability to download *directly* to your Reader from places other than the Sony store.

    I’ve read Overdrive is working on an app that will allow you to download directly to mobile devices from a variety of stores and libraries powered by Overdrive. It would be nice if Sony would offer that same capability of downloading directly to your Reader from more than just their own store. That’s what I think is too much to hope for.

  12. BH
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 18:07:32

    @brooksse: The android Overdrive app is out and on my phone. I’ll try it out this week. Check the Android Market. It would be nice to have a BooksOnBoard, AllRomance, Carina, eHarl, Baen apps since that is where I get the majority of my books.

    I checked with Amazon, and they think my Kindle3 will ship in two weeks. I’ll leave it on order for now.

  13. Jane
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 18:40:11

    @BH The iPhone Overdrive App doesn’t allow books, I don’t think. I’ll be interested in hearing whether the Android App is different.

  14. Jane
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 18:40:42

    @Brian Thanks for the correction, Brian. I knew that (given you could sideload mobis but didn’t make the connection re: emailing).

  15. Jane
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 18:41:17

    @brooksse LOVE the synch ability and love the email ability on the Kindle. Those are two things that you don’t realize how much you love until you have them.

  16. YetAnotherJenn
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 19:04:13

    When emailing from Calibre is there a fee?

  17. becca
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 19:08:46

    Thanks all for correcting my misapprehension of what happens when you email a document to your kindle.

    I was in Borders today, listening to someone try to return a Kobo – it’s not allowed, only exchanges for damaged items. One area where I think the Kindle really shines is Amazon’s customer service and return policy.

  18. brooksse
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 21:24:41

    @BH:

    The last couple times I’ve checked the OverDrive app in the Android Market earlier today, it looked like it was audiobooks only. And I couldn’t find any other app for Overdrive in the market.

    There’s a press release on OverDrive’s website from May announcing the integrated app (OverDrive to Release eBook Reading Apps) but I haven’t found when it will be released.

  19. brooksse
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 22:06:14

    @Jane: Yes, it’s the syncing more than downloading that interests me. I really like my Sony PRS-300, and Stanza & Aldiko are great for reading epubs, just wish there was some way to sync the epub books across devices.

  20. BH
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 22:25:54

    @brooksse: Since Overdrive is audio only, I won’t be interested in using it.

    The sync across devices will be great with the Kindle.

  21. AM
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 22:35:04

    @BH: Kovid (the developer for calibre) has specifically stated that he will NOT automatically create or bundle plugins that remove DRM. This is because of the legal issues with doing so in the USA.

    It is really easy to add in plugins you find elsewhere to do what you would like.

  22. Brian
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 08:17:18

    @brooksse:

    I wasn't referring to simply buying ebooks from other places. I know you can buy elsewhere, download to your computer, and then sideload onto your Reader. That's what I'm currently doing; very few of my ebooks came from the Sony store.

    What I meant was the ability to download *directly* to your Reader from places other than the Sony store.

    Got ya. The 900 is the only Sony model right now that allows downloading directly (wirelessly) and I forget that some times. It would indeed be nice if a reader could buy and direct download from multiple stores. At least I’m guessing that’s what you mean. Most Sony owners have to sideload even things bought from Sony.

  23. Brian
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 08:21:47

    There are no Overdrive eBook apps out for Android or anything else yet.

    Speaking of that, Jane have you heard anything on their timeframe on those? They’re supposed to be doing the book apps for Android, iPad/Phone/Touch, Windows, Mac, Win Mobile and Blackberry, but I haven’t been able to find anything since they announced them on May 19th. They were supposed to preview them at BookExpo America, but no reports I’ve seen from that event have had anything to say.

  24. Jane
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 08:37:36

    @Brian: No word. I think the problem is the ADE authentication bc it runs on Adobe Air platform which is flash and flash is not allowed on iPhones and (correct me if I am wrong) runs only in limited fashion on Android.

    I am not sure how Txtr is supposed to get around it.

    Copia is also supposed to be releasing Apps with ePub encryption. Also Blio. But currently it’s kind of a wasteland for ePub with ACSM encryption.

  25. maritza
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 00:13:15

    @Jane:
    LOL
    wow, this is a great thread!
    Jane, I understood about 10 words in the last post. Is there an EBOOKS and DEVICES for dummies? bc I need that.

  26. Jane
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 05:44:51

    @maritza: You may want to check out this post reading ebooks without a reader

    or

    What format to buy

    or

    What ebook reader to buy

    or just email me jane at dearauthor.com with any specific questions.

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  28. Stuart Whitmore
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 21:22:00

    This is a very informative and useful post and thread of comments. (Yes, I know I’m arriving a year late!) I found this via a Google search, as I wanted to learn more about “sideloading” a Kindle. I don’t own one yet, but I wanted to know more about how it works, because as a self-published author I’m looking for easy ways to share free copies of my books with reviewers (since looking for promotion opportunities seems to be a more-than-full-time issue now).

    Reading the information here really helps. It sounds like I should be able to ask for a reviewer’s Kindle’s email address and then email a .mobi file directly from Calibre. If it really works that way, that’s very convenient — perfect for my needs, really. (I know I can “gift” my book to a reviewer, but I’ve also read that the reviewer could take those funds and use them for something else…)

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