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Managing Personal Documents on the Kindle

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Kindle’s Personal Documents Service (PDS hereinafter) is Amazon’s version of sideloading.  Using their servers, Amazon would accept documents mailed to a kindle.com address and convert them into a format readable by Kindle devices. According to the help page, PDS is not available for Canadian users. I have no idea why. I am sorry Canada!

In the past, these documents would be saved only on the Kindle device itself so that if you traded up or your Kindle needed to be factory reset, you would lose those documents unless you saved those via a USB transfer. Not anymore.

PDS In the Cloud

PDS is now in the cloud.  Any document you email to yourself will be archived in your Kindle cloud.  This feature can be turned off at “www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle.”  From the “Manage Your Kindle” page, click on the “Personal Documents” link on the left side.  This will pull up the documents that have been archived and can be sent to supported kindle device that is linked to your account.

Archived documents can be re-downloaded from your archive to the all-new Kindle and Kindle Touch devices, as well as Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3rd Generation–requires the latest software update v3.3 from www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates) – you will be able to find and download your documents from any of these devices that are registered to your account.

These personal documents also feature Whispersync which will synchronize your last page read, bookmarks and annotations from device to device.  Let’s assume you have a Kindle Keyboard and a Kindle Fire.  This means that you can read a document NOT PURCHASED AT AMAZON and still enjoy the Whispersync and Cloud storage features.  Right now, this is available from Kindle device to Kindle device which isn’t super useable but according to Amazon this feature will be coming to the Kindle Fire and ALL KINDLE APPS.  Updated December 21, 2011, the PDS is now available for Kindle App for iOS.

We expect to extend these features to Kindle Fire and Kindle apps (such as Kindle Cloud Reader, Kindle for Android, Kindle for iPhone, Kindle for PC, and Kindle for Mac) in the coming months.

This means that books you have purchased from Fictionwise, Baen or All Romance eBooks, will have the whispersync and cloud features not to mention the epubs you might purchase from a website and then convert.  I have sometimes waited from purchasing a book from a third party because I wanted the archiving and whispersync capabilities. Now I don’t have to wait or buy just from Amazon.  If you have sent yourself documents, you may want to either resend them via email so that they are preserved in the cloud.

Tips and hints for using PDS:

  • To deliver documents to yourself for free, use [email protected] instead of [email protected]  You can then transfer the document to your Kindle using your USB connection or download them via WiFi.
  • You can change your “username” at “Manage Your Kindle” and then “Personal Documents Settings”.  Your kindle email address can be whatever you set it so long as it ends with “kindle.com”.
  • Don’t forget “convert” feature.  When you are emailing yourself a PDF, you can add “convert” (without the quotation marks) and Amazon will convert the PDF to azw format which is the special Kindle format based on the Mobi format.
  • You are limited to 5GB of PDS storage.
  • Set a limit on your Whispersync charges.  At “Manage Your Kindle” and then “Personal Documents Settings”, you can limit how the fees for delivery of the documents.  The fees are the limit for one document, not overall.   The charges are generally $.15 per megabyte for US users in the US or $.99 for worldwide delivery. If you set this to $0.00, the documents will only download via WiFi.
  • You can send up to 25 documents in one email and up to 15 Kindle addresses.
  • You can use PDS and then transfer the files via USB cord.
  • PDS service accepts: “Doc”, “Docx”, “Html, Html”, “RTF,” “PDF”

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

25 Comments

  1. carmen webster buxton
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 08:47:16

    This is great for those of us who send our manuscripts to a Kindle to proof! I lost a lot of ms annotations once because the cat nudged the Kindle in such a way that it reset (can’t figure out what he did!). Great to know that annotations will be backed up!

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    Oct 16, 2011 @ 08:51:33

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  3. Estara
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 08:58:41

    Scary, scary. Facebook, Google and Amazon are turning into giant data spiders. I wonder where all that data will end up and what it will be used for – and how far hackers will go to get all that data (see Sony Playstation Network).

    I don’t want my Kindle for PC to be cloud-based. Ah well, less ebook shopping at Amazon.com, I guess.

  4. CourtneyLee
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 09:23:57

    Fully half of the ebooks on my Kindle (the keyboard version, 3rd Gen) are books I bought DRM-free from other sites and emailed to my device. I’ve always loved this feature–except the two times my Kindle had to be replaced and I had to resend everything I wanted on there still. What a pain that was. It’s good to know I won’t have to do that anymore. Well, not after I resend everything again to get it in the cloud. Third time’s the charm, right?

  5. Jane
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 09:28:13

    I did have to update my Kindle Keyboard manually. The update never came down over wifi.

  6. RebeLovesBooks
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 11:38:47

    After reading over the email from Amazon, it sounds like the 1st and 2nd Generation Kindles won’t have this feature. Am I reading this incorrectly? I’ve got a lot of books and docs that I’d love to have backed up in the cloud, but if I’m reading the email correctly, the new PDS won’t work with my 2nd Generation Kindle, and I’ll have to continue using it as I have in the past.

    Also, Estara’s point also occured to me. If all my docs are available in the cloud, Amazon has access to them as well. Of course, they’ve always had access to them, since they’re converting the docs.

  7. lisabookworm
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 11:54:15

    Will the personal documents show up in my archived items?

    I see the one document I sent listed on my Manage Your Kindle page, but when I do a test and try to delete the document from my kindle it still tells me that I’m deleting it permanently.

  8. Tabitha
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 12:44:48

    I don’t understand the difference between emailing the document to your kindle versus connecting the kindle to your pc (via usb) and adding the document to the “document” folder. Wouldn’t that be faster and easier? Or is the emailing just so you can have the files backup in the cloud and for syncing across devices?

  9. lisabookworm
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 15:39:36

    @lisabookworm: I don’t know what happened before, but the items seem to be in my archives now.

  10. CourtneyLee
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 18:11:54

    @Tabitha: I use the email feature primarily to convert documents (books I bought in pdf, usually) to Kindle format and send to my device in one step. I also find it more convenient to email instead of manually connecting my Kindle to my computer, but that’s just me; anytime I pull my USB cord out of it’s hiding spot, my 2 year old manages to get a hold of it and tries to hogtie his big sister with it. LOL

  11. Jane
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 19:11:31

    @lisabookworm Your Kindle needs to be updated to 3.3.

  12. Jane
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 19:13:56

    @Tabitha: When you email to your Kindle, word docs, html docs,rtf docs get converted to a Kindle readable format. If you drag those over via USB, you won’t be able to read them unless you convert them first.

  13. Gwen Hayes
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 09:12:00

    If you convert your pdf rather than just sending it, does that make it easier to read? I’ve been trying to send knitting patterns and the pdf format is yucko.

  14. Amy
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 14:55:49

    This is good to know!

  15. Anne
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 15:06:33

    So the new update with archiving of personal documents isn’t available for Canadians? This isn’t what I was told by Amazon customer service on Friday, but I guess I’ll have to follow up with them.

  16. Tabitha
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 21:21:03

    @CourtneyLee and Jane: thanks for answering my question. I guess I always thought it would be easier and quicker to convert the files yourself and transfer to the Kindle rather than wait for the email conversion. No one said, it was just my impression that it takes time for the files to be converted and to come through. Ah, that’s what I get for assuming! lol. Another thing – when pdf files are converted via the email conversion, are the texts easier to read? If I recall correct, the last time I transferred a pdf document to the Kindle (without converting) it reads on the Kindle but the font is tiny and I have to increase font size greatly which I dislike!

  17. Jane
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 21:24:44

    @Tabitha: It really depends on the PDF. Some convert nicely and others (I suspect Gwen’s knitting patterns, frex) might be problematic. If the PDF was created from a Word doc with a ton of embedded code, the end result is likely to be a mess however if your book has tiny font with an unconverted PDF, what is the harm? You can send yourself two emails. One with the uncoverted PDF and one with “convert” in the subject line.

  18. Tabitha
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 20:13:30

    You’re right, there is no harm. I’ll have to check out the email conversion sometime then. Thank you!

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  21. Amanda Jeanette
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 18:38:04

    Though Amazon’s faq still lists the steps for setting a maxium fee per document or aggregate, neither option appears to be available. Under “Personal Document Settings” there are options to change email address, add approved email addresses and enable/disable archiving.

    Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place? Or it’s not allowed for my new touch? I admit I’m confused and would very much like this feature. I hope it’s still available.

  22. Brian
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 20:11:15

    @Amanda Jeanette:
    If you go to http://www.amazon.com/myk and click on Personal Documents Settings the fee thing should be under Whispernet Delivery Options about halfway down the page (right above the approved email list).

    Note: Does your Touch have 3G or WiFi only? I’m not sure if the payment options show up if you don’t have any 3G devices registered since the potential fees only apply when using 3G.

  23. Max
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 17:35:22

    Folks, if all you want to do is manage ebooks or content that you did not purchase from Amazon, I would strongly suggest you take a look at a “freeware” product called Calibre: http://calibre-ebook.com.

    It is like itunes for ebooks. I like to get most of my books in ePub format because my wife has a ipad and it is easy to read and modify. Calibre allows me to store both the ePub format and can convert it to mobi (it will not translate DRM books). Amazon purchased a company called MobiPocket a few years ago and used it as the base for their own ebook format. Mobi is fully support by all kindles.

    In any case, calibre can auto recognize your kindle when you plug it into you computer, it reads the content and allows you to add or remove whatever books you want to your kindle, while maitaining a copy of all your books on the PC. It is a great product I have been using it since the kindle 2 and now on my touch. It took longer to sync my Amazon books then it took me to sync my own.

    Again this product works with many readers, it can store any books including amazons, but it will not convert purchased books with DRM encoding. It will also use the title and author to scan online book stores and retrieve book covers, reviews, publication information etc. Very handy and makes your collection look good on your pc.

    Hope this helped.

  24. Boris
    Nov 17, 2012 @ 14:33:29

    Thank you.

    Max, it’s quite useful to be able to syncronize personal docs and highlights/notes between iPad and iPhone (no support for Cloud Reader and Mac/PC so far) even being on the go. You cannot do it with Caliber.

  25. Rob
    Jul 11, 2013 @ 04:46:29

    What I can’t figure out is how to view the notes I’ve made on the personal document from my PC. I can see all my other books with notes on kindle.amazon.com, but not my personal docs… :{

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