Kindle PDF conversion – View PDF on Kindle

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Nov 24th Kindle PDF Update: Kindle now supports PDF natively.

What is included –

  1. PDF Support.
  2. Landscape Mode.
  3. Add bookmarks.
  4. Note: You can still convert PDFs to Kindle format.

What is not included –

  1. You can’t add highlights or notes.
  2. You cannot change the font size. For that you’ll have to do pdf to kindle format conversion (see below).

Here’s a Kindle PDF feature video review. You can also read up on all the changes at Amazon.

You can still use the details below to convert PDF files to Kindle format to get benefits like changeable font sizes.

Kindle PDF Conversion

PDF support on the Kindle is experimental and via conversion of PDFs to Kindle format. This post covers how to do kindle pdf conversions for Kindle 1 and Kindle 2.

Amazon also has the Kindle DX which has in-built PDF support (licensed from Adobe). Check out my Kindle DX PDF FAQ for details.

Kindle PDF Conversion using MobiPocket Creator

There are a few ways to convert PDF files for the Kindle. One is by using the MobiPocket Creator – MobiPocket Creator – a free software from MobiPocket. In addition to PDF you can easily convert Word, HTML, and .txt for the Kindle. If you do not use the link above and go to the MobiPocket Software page, then you will get a choice between Home edition and Publisher edition, choose MobiPocket Creator Publisher edition. The Home edition does not have the PDF option.

Here’s a video walkthrough (The first 7:43 – then it repeats) – [wpvideo 6X0UYxju].

Another option is to use Stanza, which lets you ‘read eBooks on your Mac or PC and share with your iPhone, iPod Touch, & Kindle.

Kindle PDF Conversion via Amazon’s PDF Conversion Service

Finally there is paid and free conversion to Kindle format. For PDF files this is ‘experimental’.

Paid Conversion (10 cents per file) –

An attachment sent to your Kindle’s e-mail address (“name”@kindle.com) will be converted and delivered wirelessly to your Kindle for a charge of only ten cents per document.

Free Conversion – instructions from Amazon’s page (the ‘converting your personal documents’ section is what you should look at) are

If you are not in a wireless area or would like to avoid the ten-cent fee, you can send attachments to “name”@free.kindle.com to be converted and e-mailed back to your computer at the e-mail address associated with your Amazon.com account. You can then transfer the document to your Kindle using your USB connection.

If the lack of PDF support was holding you back from buying a Kindle you should see that you can either use MobiPocket Creator or Stanza or Amazon’s experimental conversion and PDF support on the Kindle is no longer as much of an issue (some files still don’t convert well). Combined with all the other Kindle benefits it makes sense to order an Amazon Kindle Now!.

Detailed PDF Conversion Steps for Mac and Windows

How to Use Stanza to convert pdf files for your Kindle on the Mac –

“Simply open the book in Stanza, plug in your Kindle to your computer using the USB cable that was supplied with the device, select File->Export Book As->Amazon Kindle, then browse to the Kindle on the save file dialog. The Kindle will appear in the dialog with the name you assigned to it when you first registered it.”

How to use MobiPocket Creator to convert pdf files for your Kindle on the PC (see video above for actual walkthrough) –

  1. Make sure you have the Publisher Edition.
  2. When you start MobiPocket Creator, the main screen has on the right ‘Import From Existing File’ options – one of which is PDF.
  3. Choose the file(s) to import. And import it.
  4. After that select Build from the top menu.
  5. This will create the file + by default opens the file folder.
  6. In this folder, look for a file with .prc extension and copy it to the Kindle’s Document folder.

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0 thoughts on “Kindle PDF conversion – View PDF on Kindle”

  1. Not all PDFs can be converted. There are DRM issues, plus any PDF that is mostly graphical in nature (pictures, diagrams, charts, tables, etc.) will probably not convert well. This is why Amazon says their conversion process is experimental.

    Another issue with conversions where MobiPocket is great: when you email a text file, Word doc, PDF, etc. to Amazon for conversion, the author’s name doesn’t get listed on the Kindle home page – instead, your email address displays. But if you use MobiPocket Creator to do the conversion, you can add the book’s author and cover artwork, etc. in the setup, and it will load to the Kindle.

  2. Well – i couldn’t find anything to convert pdfs to kindle format on the mac. So you have two options
    1) use the free or paid pdf conversion service from amazon.
    2) use the MobiPocket software via a virtual machine (parallels, Fusion) or use Boot Camp.

    hope this helps.

  3. I did a little searching around and a program called Stanza can convert pdf files to the kindle format if you are using a mac. From what they say on their website the pdf function can be a little hit or miss. I have not bought a kindle yet but I use a mac. If I do get one I’ll let you know how well the program works for me.

    For the time being, I’ve downloaded the program and I tested opening some pdf files (text only, no graphics) and Stanza opened them fine. I copied the instructions below from the Stanza website.

    “Simply open the book in Stanza, plug in your Kindle to your computer using the USB cable that was supplied with the device, select File->Export Book As->Amazon Kindle, then browse to the Kindle on the save file dialog. The Kindle will appear in the dialog with the name you assigned to it when you first registered it.”

    Hope this helps out the Mac users.

  4. I imported a PDF into mobipocket creator and it “converted” it into a subfolder. however, there were no files with .prc extension. The kindle could not “see” any of the files that were created. So what good is this?

  5. Craig managed to resolve this.
    Step 1: Import a pdf file into mobipocket creator.
    Step 2: USe the ‘Build’ button/feature to create the actual book.

    drop a comment if you have any questions.

  6. I tried the conversions using both Stanza and the Amazon service. If the pdfs are heavily formatted they are not going to work that well. I have a bunch of development books I purchased in pdf and they are very difficult to read on the kindle. Formatting is off and the TOC doesn’t work and in many cases is not properly aligned. I am going to keep trying. My overall impression is that this is only good as a last resort. If the books you want are available in the kindle format, as much as I hate to suggest it, re-purchase them!

    1. @brf123 when you say development books, i guess you would mean IT related. is this correct. what i wanted to know how to the pdf convert. are they ok to read or are they useless. TIA

  7. The MobiCreator software creates html files. You can edit the Html file to fix any formatting issues, etc, before you build the .prc book.

  8. I do have a Kindle, and I also do use the mac. And Stanza does work as a converter.

    Thanks to Jeff’s very helpful comment (thanks!) I checked out Stanza. After downloading and opening the program, I took me less than a minute to export my book-length PDF as a Kindle .azw file. Brilliant! I’ve only done this one conversion so far so I can’t say how well Stanza will work in all circumstances.

  9. Has anyone used KINDLE to display scientific articles that contain figures? I am a MAC user and would need to convert from PDF. There are always figures, often in color. Any idea how these would convert and appear in B&W? Can a Kindle handle this?

  10. Try this out, it worked for me.

    open your PDF document
    do a “save as” to a Word Doc format – for 800 pages it took about 2 minutes
    Open the new Word document
    do a “save as” to a Plain Text TXT format – took about 1 minute
    connect your kindle to your computer and put the new TXT file on your kindle.

    and now you will have the document on the kindle to read.

    seems too simple, but it is working for me.

  11. It sounds like if it’s a PDF file that has been scanned (i.e. we get a lot of reading from books that are scanned as pdf filesso we don’t all have to have every book) then the conversion is not going to go so well? The conversion only works for PDF files that are CREATED as such, like, with the original text rather than a scan of a page? Does anyone understand what I am trying to ask?

  12. Megan – yes – i get what you are saying, and yes, it does make a lot of sense. Intuitively i’d say that’s exactly what the problem probably is –

    1. PDF files that are mostly scanned images don’t convert well to Amazon Kindle format.

    I think we need to experiment a little bit, perhaps ask people to send in PDFs that don’t convert well, and see whether they really are mostly scanned images.
    people – please send in any pdfs that don’t convert well I can take a look.

  13. Hmm… well, does anyone know if Kindle 2.0 is supposed to support this? I saw a lot of speculation on what people would LIKE to have for 2.0 but not so much for what it will actually have. I suspect Amazon that not moving along so fast with their development or not having a lot of success…

  14. My old scanner actually converted scanned docs to word files. Just because something was scanned doesn’t mean it won’t work.

    Don’t bet on it though.

    I put a scientific paper with a heck load of graphs on my kindle. It’s okay. Not great, but workable. 3 stars out of 5.

  15. I wrote a windows app a couple of months ago now that handles all these formats including PDB files using some of the stand alone converters listed here. The app figures out the filetype from the extension and then figures out the correct workflow itself making this a 2 step process. Select your source file and select where to save it. It is still beta and I update it once or twice a week but I myself and some others have found it very useful so far.

    Here is a link to sourceforge
    http://sourceforge.net/project/platformdownload.php?group_id=248415

  16. I’ve dropped my Kindle a few times already (not on purpose of course) and it seems to be working without a hitch; so they’re durable at least

  17. If you send your pdf to be converted what is “name”@free.kindle.com
    “name” what do I put there my name or what ?

  18. Wow, that Stanza is brilliant. I can download any large-sized document directly to my Kindle, whereas before I was hampered by docs under 5 MB! Thanks so much for the tip.

  19. Nice site….informative. DX is the one for me however, Regarding annotating….is that useful or not really designed for it? regarding PDF/Newspaper/Book reading…..are we able to copy and paste text into the email app and summarize things and perhap print it? Will the lack of folders (mind boggling) we addressed in a software update or would that require buying a new device? thanks, Jerry

    1. Jerry,
      1) annotations are useful, although they’re a little difficult to do. Thye do not work with PDFs on the Kindle DX. You have to convert PDFs to Amazon format to be able to add annotations and highlight and do clippings.
      2) email app? there is no email app. you can email from the browser – yes. i’ll have to check on whether you can copy paste. will update in a bit.
      no option to print from kindle.
      3) lack of folders. don’t know if/when that will be addressed. Its been ongoing since the first kindle came out in nov end 2007.

  20. ok thanks. I am just trying to determine…if i am making annotations, how can i have some kind of output that i can see if my kindle is off, hence copy and paste into email and send so i can print. or save it to a format that i can transfer to usb and then print. it has a lot of cool features, but it is missing a lot of no-brainers too. it feels like a great idea that is half way there. Without this site…..i would not have considered buying it. Now i am half-way there…..

  21. Jerry,
    here’s what’s possible –

    1) All annotations are saved in the My Clippings File.
    2) You can transfer that file to your PC. And then use it, or better still …
    3) here’s a macro for word that extracts all the notes and clippings specific to a book from the MyClippings file – http://theprofessornotes.com/archives/543/comment-page-1
    4) then you can print it out.

    Agree with you that these are things which should be options from the kindle itself.
    Perhaps its an attempt to prevent outright piracy?
    perhaps something else.

    1. I don’t understand your question.
      If you’re asking whether you can scan in a newspaper, create a PDF and read that – yes.
      Not sure what your question is.

      1. I live at Sunset Beach, NC. I subscribe to a newspaper (Charlotte Observer) which I read on the internet. The subscription is through Newsstand, and I log on there to read the paper each morning. Can I log on with a Kindle DX or down load some way to read newspaper.? Thanks for quick reply!!!

        1. ok – i found this page that is in russian (i guess) and lets you download the charlotte observer.
          http://vedomosti.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

          if your newsstand lets you save the file to read offline, then you can take the file it saves and see if its a non DRM’ed PDf that can be read on the Kindle DX. if you can save the offline version and tell me what format it is and whether it opens in adobe reader, I could tell you whether it would probably work.

          also, call up kindle customer support –

          6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific Time, seven days a week. You can also reach us by calling one of these numbers: Inside the United States: 1-866-321-8851; Outside the United States: 1-206-266-0927.

  22. Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.0 seems to have the ability to “Save as Text” (under the File menu). Doesn’t that solve most of these problems? (aside from the notion that images aren’t converted)

    1. use MobiPocket Creator.
      if you’re having problems even after using MPC
      leave a comment with a link to the file and i’ll see if i can do a white space free conversion for you.

      1. My Experience with Mobi was that though the conversion went OK it had two big problems:

        1) titles lead with Microsoft word Document witch essentially hides the title so you cant tell one book from antother
        2) Kindle does not remember position in document. This is HUGE I dont know if it is fixible but if you dont have a bookmark it is useless.

        Dan going to try stanza and calibre next.

  23. I’m a Mac – and Kindle DX User. I heavily rely upon calibre (open soure; available for mac, win, linux). It is a ebook Library manager on first sight. On second sight it can import, export and convert a wide range of formats (pdf, lit, ltf, azw, prc, mobi, html, doc, …). It even can load rss feeds and build complete subscriptions (full news article, not just the intro) and send it to your kindle account mail address (or just copies it via usb to your reader). It auto detects your reader (not just kindle) and can be set to sync subscriptions automatically when attached. There is a lot more to this. It’s version 0.6.11 right now. Still a way to go but already usable on a day per day basis. Especially if you’re outside the US and want make use of your Kindle device in a effectively manner.

  24. I want to use the Kindle for tech books. Some of which have CDs available with the paper version. Is the content of the CDs available with the ebooks.

    1. Sonja, you might want to get in touch with the author/publisher about that.
      or kindle customer service.

      not sure how amazon and publishers handle tech books with cd content.

  25. What a drag I got this Kindle 2 and can only read the crap that Amazon puts in the kindle format. Will dump the Kindle the minute an open e-reader comes into the market. Now I only get books for the kindle that I would not want in my bookshelves.

    1. Don’t understand your question. Could you point me to the page for this CD.

      Do you mean a CD that has PDF files on it. That would work – you could just drag and drop from the CD to the Kindle’s documents folder and the PDFs would show up.

      1. Thank you Switch.. I want to put the NYPD Patrol Guide which is sold on a CD (Pdf format) onto my Kindle. It’s 40 bucks so I want to make sure that it can be done so I don’t waste my money.

  26. Does the new kindle ( Global Wireless, Latest Generation) “let you drag and drop PDF files from your computer to your Kindle (when connected via USB)”, as it says everywhere?
    I have just bought one and I am trying and while I can drag and see the pdf file is in the kindle when connected to my computer, the kindle doesn’t display the pdf file in the home menu. I think the pdf reader addition is one of the reasons why I decided on the kindle. please let me know if the pdf file needs any type of conversion or if the file can be accessed in some other way in the kindle. THANKS!

        1. Did you buy a protected PDF – where did you buy it?
          Password protected and DRM protected PDFs will not work.

          Could you try a normal PDF file (something available freely online) ?

  27. I was able to figure it out using the Mobipocket Creator. My PDF was too big to send over email, and the Mobipocket Creator worked perfectly to convert my PDF to a file my Kindle can read. Worked great, and now I can read my PDF book with the comfort of my Kindle rather than an LCD screen. Thank you so much for your article.

  28. HELP! Ok so i got it all converted well and good. But I use the kindle for my pc with the intent of having them transfered over to my Itouch. But for some reason the ones that i converted wont show up on my Itouch?!!? Any ideas on how to get them to trans to that??????? Help!!!

  29. If you email a PDF file to Kindle and place the word “convert” in the subject field of the e-mail it will be converted to a format that allows you to use the “Aa” button on Kindle to change font sizes.

  30. Hi, I purchased a Sony Reader, does not read protected PDF files. Will a Kindle read a protected pdf file that is password / user name protected granted I have those passwords? All of my textbooks for school are ebooks and htis presents a problem as they are the only reason I would get a Kindle…

  31. So there are some of my books in PDF form that will not convert to the Kindle format. I see above that ithas been a problem some DRM or something? Is there anyway to still makes these PDF files convert to kindle format? Thanx

  32. Can you get a kindle email address to convert PDFs with if you don’t own a kindle? I have the iPhone, Mac, and PC applications and would love use the PDF conversion service so I can read some other documents on the iPhone, etc, but not have to buy a kindle in order to do so.

  33. I have a Kindle DX and would like to use the text to speech feature to read a movie script. I imported a pdf and used amazon’s conversion to make the pdf “amazon compliant” but the auto speech function is still greyed out. Is there a way to get the Kindle to read a movie script aloud?

    1. Jake, PDF files don’t have text to speech. If you have a kindle dx and send a pdf for conversion it usually doesn’t convert. Is the converted file a PDF? If it is then it isn’t converted – Please use Calibre or Mobipocket Creator Publisher Edition to convert PDF to mobipocket and then text to speech will work.

  34. I accidently bought some ebooks in LIT and ADOBE DIGITAL EDITIONS format but need to convert to PDF so I can download to Kindle. Please help to advise best and easiest way to convert.

  35. I found that you can get a converted ebook onto a blackberry device in the blackberry kindle application.

    What I did was, I converted it like in the steps way above. Then I emailed the kindle content version it made to myself on the email I receive on my bb. I then proceeded to download the file. I clicked download attachment and clicked yes for the warnings. It then asked me where to download it.

    I clicked “kindle” then when I clicked “ebooks” I scrolled up to open folder and it downloaded straight to my blackberry.

    It may be different for different devices. I’m not sure. I can’t bookmark it like normal so that I can switch between my blackberry and my pc but I just try to remember what page I’m on. I hope this helps.

  36. Hi,

    I just downloaded Stanza to convert pdf file to azw file, it was successful. However, my kindle did not allow me to open the book; It says

    “The selected item could not be opened. If you purchased this item from Amazon, delete the item and redownload it from Archived Items available in Home.”

    I’m not sure what to do now. Is there a possibility that kindle 3 doesn’t support this kind of conversion anymore? Amazon does provide the service to convert pdf file,but it’s not free.

    Hope you can help me on this.

    1. Kindle supports PDF natively. Do you want to convert it to Kindle format for a specific reason?

      If You do need to convert PDF to Kindle format please use Calibre as it’s more reliable than Stanza. Try .prc or .mobi format instead of .azw

      1. So are you saying that there would be a software update that would add the functionality???? Or will I need to buy the new Kindle for get the function????

  37. Can you use text to speach option for PDF and WORD files on this Kindle or only audio books? It’s the feature that interests me the most, due to long driving hours, but I want it to read to me my work (PDF and Word documents) and not some novels. Can it do that?

  38. Another alternative for PDF on a small reader is k2pdfopt, which converts PDFs into multiple smaller-sized pages. It is free and fully automated. Google it and look at the example PDF optimizations.

  39. Mobi pocket creator is awesome! I use it when ever Calibre can’t quite fir the bill. Of course in the end, ebook formatting comes down to html. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, check out my website. I offer $20 ebook formatting and conversions and back it up with unlimited free revisions. I was shocked that other services were charging $150 to $300 dollars a book and they don’t even show you their previous work.

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