Kindle 2 PDF FAQ + Conversion Video

Kindle 2 PDF Update: Great News! Amazon has added PDF support to the Kindle.

  • PDF support, landscape mode, bookmarking pages, and searching PDFs is supported.
  • Changing font size isn’t. You can view PDFs in larger size in landscape mode and it crops margins too (only in landscape mode).
  • You cannot add notes and highlights.

Take a look at my video discussion of the new Kindle PDF feature.

You can convert PDFs to Kindle format to get the ability to change fonts and add notes and highlights.

Kindle 2 PDF FAQ

This post covers how to use PDFs with the Kindle 2, and how to do kindle pdf conversion.

May 7th, 2009 – Kindle DX has an in-built PDF reader with technology licensed from Adobe (so you know PDFs will work).

Thanks to W. Neff for pointing out that Kindle 2 and its purported PDF support (aka converted PDF support) is not well documented, and that it was holding back people from making a Kindle 2 purchase decision. This Kindle 2 PDF FAQ should answer your questions and help you determine whether you will buy Kindle 2.

Q1: Does the Kindle support PDF format files?
A: No, the Kindle 2.0 and Kindle do not natively support PDF files. They do however support conversion from PDF into a Kindle 2.0 compatible format.

Q2; How do I get PDF files converted into Kindle format?
A: If you want the convenience of getting files sent straight to your Kindle 2 -

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.

Q3: Can I get conversion done for free?
A: Yes, you can also get free conversion done in the following manner -

send attachments to “name”@free.kindle.com to be converted and Amazon will convert and e-mail the documents back to your computer at the e-mail address associated with your Amazon.com account.

 Q4: Can I do conversion on my own?
A: Yes, you can use Stanza on the Mac, and MobiPocket Creator on the PC. 

Q5: How do I convert PDF Files using Stanza?
A: Open the PDF file using Stanza, then plug your Kindle 2 to your PC using the USB wire, then in Stanza select the File->Export Book As->Amazon Kindle option. In this file dialog, browse to the Kindle (it’ll show up as the name you gave it when you registered).

Q6: How do I convert PDF files using MobiPocket?
A: There are a few steps -

  1. Get the Publisher Edition of MobiPocket Editor.  
  2. On the main screen, choose Import from Existing File -> PDF.
  3. In the file dialog choose the file to import.
  4. Now select Build from the top menu, and this will create the file and also open the folder in which the file is contained.
  5. Find the .prc file in the folder and copy it to the Kindle’s document folder.  

Here is a video showing how to do this, and also showing the effect on formatting of the PDF (please just watch the first 7:43 – it loops once after that) –

.

 Q7: How do I convert files using Microsoft Word?
A: (Courtesy The Dude – an appropriate alias given the awesomeness of his solution).

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.

Q8: How do I convert files using AutoKindle Project Software?
A: AutoKindle takes PDF, Lit, PDB, CHM, and HTML files and converts them to .mobi. Please look at the AutoKindle Page for details.

Q9: Is there a way to get perfect conversion?
A: No. none that I know of. Certain PDFs that have DRM are difficult to convert (or impossible even). There are usually problems with PDFs that have a lot of charts, tables, images.

Q10: Is Amazon’s conversion better than this?
A: Not that I know of.

Q11: Why doesn’t Amazon support PDF conversion on Kindle 2.0?
A: No Idea.

Q12: Will Amazon ever support PDFs on Kindle 2.0 or a later model?
A: No Idea.

Q14: I really need PDF conversion support – what should I do?
A: Look at Foxit’s eSlick Reader. Foxit is a company that specifically creates PDF conversion and PDF related software. They are building and selling an eReader that ought to (and is claimed to) have great PDF support.

Q15: I have another PDF related question. Can I leave it in the comments?
A: Yes, of course.

Thanks for reading through all of this – please let me know if this helped you decide on whether or not to buy Kindle 2.

71 Responses

  1. Thanks, Switch11, for your detailed FAQ and other reviews on Kindle 2. I have ordered it now. Thanks to you. One more question: How is the editing of a book or document different on Kindle 2 (than Kindle 1)?

  2. Thanks, Switch11, for your detailed FAQ and other reviews on Kindle 2. I have ordered it now. Thanks to you. One more question: How is the editing of a book or document (that is, making notes such as highlighting paragraphs) different on Kindle 2 (than Kindle 1)?

  3. glad I could be of help.
    Let me check on that. Most people have only had a chance to play around with a Kindle 2 for a few minutes so the details aren’t very clear.

    I do know that the new 5 way joystick/button control is ‘supposed to make things easier’ – easier to move around a book, and a newspaper, and should make adding notes and doing copy/paste easier too. The faster refreshes help too.

    I’m not sure if there are any other changes in how notes and highlighting is done. I’m currently going through a ton of reviews and there’s no mention of any new capabilities or improvements for notetaking and highlighting apart from the supposedly easier to use 5 way controller.
    With Kindle 1 you can copy/paste text to ‘My Clippings’ and then move to your PC – you can also transfer your notes to your PC.

  4. Why on earth DOESN’T the kindle support PDF? Let me guess: Amazon wants people to have to buy stuff. What foolishness. In case anyone cares, I’d go out and buy one right now, if not for that. And no, the fact that you can do free conversions by email does not make me happy.

    • The Kindle has natively supported PDF files since the last auto-update back in December. PDF files no longer need to be converted and can be read fine straight away.

      • “The Kindle has natively supported PDF files since the last auto-update ”

        Which Kindle? DX, 2 or both?

      • Both. Kindle DX supported PDF natively since launch.
        Kindle 2 supports PDF natively since end of last year.

        Kindle 2.5 update coming out at the end of May will support Zoom in PDFs.

  5. There’s an error in the FAQ — the charge isn’t ten cents per document, it’s ten cents per email. or, per _batch_ of documents.

  6. I do appreciate your effort — though I think you’ve convinced me the Kindle is not for me. I tried out the MobiPocket creator, and it does more than butcher tables and misplace images. Mathematical symbols and the like are completely hit or miss — even when the intermediate .html file seems to have got them right! (Though that *could* be a fault with the reader software and not with the generated files… though I sure wouldn’t count on it.)

    (Probably a turn off for Richard too, if that’s the Richard Heck I’d guess it is.)

    And it looks like eSlick won’t be available to order until April… and I need to make a purchase soon or I’ll lose the funds from my employer . I’ll probably go with a Sony Reader and hope it really does support .PDF in a robust way.

  7. Kevin – glad it was helpful. My aim is basically to help people make a good decision – as long as it’s the right decision for them, it’s good.

  8. Good info!

    Yeah the lack of PDF support is causing me from purchasing a Kindle. I’d figure Safari Bookshelf + Amazon.com + Kindle would be awesome, but most my reading isn’t for pleasure so they’re all PDFs like spec sheets, development guides, and basically stuff that’s not found on Amazon.

    Cheers,
    JB

  9. Simple decision. No native PDF support, no memory card, no Kindle for me.

    I really don’t think I need a robot-like voice to read me to sleep.

  10. Stanza PDF conversion doesn’t seem to work — ‘selected item could not be opened on my K2

    • I haven’t tested Stanza conversion for the Kindle 2. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you at the moment. I’m checking around and will update if I find something.

  11. Switch11 – thanks and particularly really big thanks to “The Dude” – s/he is truly awesome. I am a professional film producer and I read loads of scripts as well as books to evaluate as possible projects. I also travel all over the place all the time. It’s exhausting carrying so much stuff. I have a lot of it on PDF and tried to read on my laptop but glowing screens, limited battery life, in crowded airplanes is not the best reading condition. I bought Kindle 2 to help relieve the burden. I sent Kindle/Amazon a script (that I own) to convert and after three days, I still haven’t got it back! So The Dude’s solution is fantastic and I’m recommending it to all my friends in a similar situation.

    BTW Stanza (I use a Mac) was simple to use but it turned everything into book format (I know that’s it’s primary aim) which is no good for scripts (dialogue and descriptions get rolled into book type paragraphs) and possibly other non-book type stuff. THANKS!

    • Moses
      i was looking at the kindle 2 for the same thing. i have multiple scripts all the time, fortunatly most are pdf. have you gotten around the formating and transfer issues? i bought a laptop/tablet to try to reduce the paper load i must carry but it is a bit clumbsy and the batterie life is an issue.
      how does the bookmark and notation functions work with the k2? are they any use for script notes, i understand you can export your notes , that seems ideal for me for breakdowns.
      any insite would be helpful

    • I just got a K2 and was wondering if you ever got those converted pdfs back. I just emailed a pdf to my @kindle.com address, but I can’t find any info on how long this is supposed to take!

      • it’s supposed to take half an hour or so.
        Sometimes I run into problems – not sure if it’s because I also have a kindle dx and they get confused.

  12. I was all set to buy it.
    Ive been researching the K2 and the lack of PDF
    support is stopping me from buying it too.

  13. Moses-
    How did you deal with transferring .PDF’s that were scanned in scripts, not native .doc to .pdf transfers?
    I’m having trouble converting scripts that have been scanned to .txt.

  14. Thanks Switch11, that was good amount of info on the finger tip.

    I’ve a question: Can one export books from Kindle on to a PC or Mac?

    Thanks
    xobil23

    • no. at the moment you can’t read Kindle Edition books on a PC or Mac.
      One option worth trying is seeing if you can preview a kindle edition book in mobipocket. Try the Mobipocket reader and see if it can open up Kindle Books and lets you see them. I’m about to sleep and will check later.
      Actually, you can’t use MobiPocket. Amazon uses their prorietary .azw format that doesn’t open up in MobiPocket Reader. I guess unless Amazon releases a Kindle for PCs reading app we’re out of luck.

  15. I did buy the Kindle 2 on the basis it supported PDF. I work as Tech Writer with a number of clients, so I like to carry a lot of files as reference with me when I need them.

    For study I also scan a lot of articles to PDF.

    The Amazon marketing blurb misrepresents the device and what it can read.

    I do like the Kindle but purely for reading the read books I purchase through Amazon. But I wanted so much more, and looking for work arounds is a stupid waste of my time. I guess the Kindle and other devices like it have spawned a whole industry on conversion tools.

  16. Just bought a Kindle 2 – if you are someone who had high hopes of decent-quality PDF conversions using Amazon’s conversion or manually forget about it…I am returning my Kindle 2 for this reason – if it cost $150 I might have considered keeping it just for literature I purchase through Amazon but the conversion for PDF’s (I wanted to plop all my programming reference on it) is so lousy that it doesn’t warrant the hefty price tag. Also, just went to a Sony Style store to go test out the PRS-700BC and while the OS is WAY better than Kindle’s (including PDF support) the glare reviewers mention everywhere is true…with any kind of light source behind and the glare is horrific…makes the device completely unreadable – I guess I’m still waiting for the next generations to come out…:-(

  17. [...] can get all your questions on PDF conversion for Kindle 2 answered at this post on Kindle 2 PDF conversion. There’s a video included to make things easier to [...]

  18. [...] There are a lot of free books being released which you can peruse on your Kindles (some might need PDF conversion) [...]

  19. [...] the PDF to Kindle Conversion post for details (there’s a Kindle 2 PDF video walkthrough too) – [...]

  20. So much for pdf conversion by Amazon:

    The following attachment(s), sent at 02:05 PM on Sun, Apr 19, 2009 could not be
    converted and delivered to your Amazon Kindle account:
    * PAYBonAppetit040007.pdf

    The following document and image types are supported as attachments:

    Personal documents: Unprotected Microsoft Word documents (*.doc), HTML documents
    (*.html, *.htm), and Text documents (*.txt)

    Images: JPEGs (*.jpg), GIFs (*.gif), Bitmaps (*.bmp), and PNG images (*.png)

  21. Thanks very much. Great help!

  22. Thanks for a useful article – I have been considering the Kindle as an ebook reader but the majority of items I want to read and carry for reference are existing PDFs I have – the necessary conversion to Kindle seems like far too much of a faff. I can see why Amazon might want to keep the format propietary but they will lose out on a lot of Kindle sales for this reason. 2 lost sales in this household for a start! I’ll probably buy the Sony reader – the screen glare is a minor inconvenience compared with no PDF support.

    • Kelly, you might want to consider the kindle dx. It has in-built pdf support licensed from Adobe, and a bigger screen, and landscape mode. This allows for much, much better PDF reading than Kindle 2, and much better PDF readability than Sony’s Reader.

  23. I publish trade magazines that are free. What is the easiest way to convert them to Kindle format? I can start from Quark, InDesign or Acrobat.

    • John, don’t really have experience with converting trade magazines.
      Would recommend checking at kindleformatting.com.
      for general conversions, Acrobat PDF format to Kindle format via Mobiocket creator works well. And the Kindle DX supports PDF natively.
      Amazon also has an automatic conversion from PDF you can test out.
      If you have a pdf file you can let me know and I can convert if on my PC and send you a video of what it looks like on a Kindle 2.

  24. Thanks for the enlightening tutorial. As someone who has not yet purchased a Kindle 2 (price just dropped to $299), I would like to be able to preview the Kindle appearance of sample PDFs on my computer screen. Do any of the solutions provide this sort of preview, so that I can try it with a few journal articles before taking the plunge?

  25. I just received my kindle 2 today. I purchased an ebook in pdf format the other day (not from amazon) and I used the free service to transfer it to my Kindle with no problems. It is a straightforward documents with table of contents links, and no pictures. The document look great, and was a easy transfer. I don’t know about more complicated docs though.

  26. Excellent FAQ on PDFs.

  27. I ended up going with the Sony eBook Reader due to native PDF support. I also am still not comfortable that the Kindle conversion will get me the same results as the native reader. Sony’s new pocket version is only $199 so for me this is the choice.

  28. [...] Just found a nice blog about the Kindle 2.0 and .pdf. Turns out in order for Kindle to use .pdf you have to go through a [...]

  29. Greetings, and thank you so much for all the information. I am very glad I stopped by.
    I have a question though: From what I understand, you CANNOT take notes on .pdf files on your Kindle 2, nor DX?
    It seems to me that I understand that you can only put bookmarks on a .pdf on both machines.
    I am very curious, because I am a scholar, and I am interested in buying either / or, and I live off of .pdf! It would be very bad if I cannot take notes on these files and ruin my interest in the Kindle.
    Could you enlighten me, please?
    Thank you in advance.

    • kindle 2 – does NOT support pdf.

      for kindle dx
      it supports pdf straight.
      for these pdfs, notes don’t work.

      for both kindle dx and kindle 2,
      you can convert pdfs into kindle compatible formats. for kindle dx this ONLY works using conversion software or using the free.kindle.com option.

      after converting these PDFs, you can do anything you want to the new converted files i.e. add notes, highlights, etc.

      • Thank you so much for your answer.
        Another one (I’m sorry!): What about if you already have a PDF? Can you send it to free.kindle.com in order to make it Kindle Compatible, and thus be able to take notes and highlight passages?

  30. yes. you can email them and have it converted.

    you would have to use yourkindleemail@free.kindle.com and add the pdf file as an attachment. the file would be converted and sent back to the email address you had sent out your email from.

  31. I wanted to add something very helpful to the list. I did a lot of reading around on the net, and there was a very simple yet not mentioned way of converting all of your pdf’s into .prc format (mobi format):

    Drag and drop all of your PDFs you want into Mobi Reader (not creator), and it will start automatically converting all of your files without hitting any more buttons. All of your PRCs get put into your “My Documents” > “My eBooks” Folder. You can only do one conversion at a time, but you can drop as many PDFs at a time as you want, but once the conversion process starts, you can’t drag anything else in there until it’s done.

    Hint: Ctrl+Click all of your files you want to convert, once you have about 30 or 40 of them, just drag them into the Reader window, and it will just go on it’s own. This fixes the need to manually convert every single file through Mobi Pocket Creator.

    Please put this in one of your steps as an easy way to convert. I’ve double-checked the files, and have had no issues reading the content, and the pictures even get converted.

    -Dale Harris

  32. [...] – think 10 to 20 pages usually) available at low to free prices. Around 400 are free. See my Kindle PDF conversion video for how to convert to kindle [...]

  33. Great info, thanks.
    Pdf’s very important to me, will not buy Kindle 2 and wait for the nook.
    thanks.

  34. Thanks for the info, was almost buying the kindle until I saw your pdf conversion demonstration. I tried it out for myself on a few mathematical PDF files that I wanted to read and sure enough they looked like crap after conversion. So I need to wait for some better pdf support….

  35. OK, now I’ll be interested to see the appearance of some PDFs using the latest Kindle software which supports PDFs.

    I’m still on the fence …

  36. I am interrested in the kindle but I really need a PDF support since PDF reading is fully part of my profession. I will then wait until that is possible.
    Thanks

  37. We got a Kindle 2 for xmas and it does support PDF out of the box. However, it’s not very useful for reading more than a page or two because it uses the original page layout/font size of the PDF, and that generally means it is going to be made VERY small in order to fit on the K2’s screen. I did however have good results by taking a PDF and using Lexcycle Stanza to convert it to .azw format. This gives you a normal Amazon format file, with adjustable font size.

  38. Native support for PDF on the Kindle 2 is a new feature from a firmware update if I’m not mistaken. It’s a big step forward.

    jsd, for any PDFs that don’t convert well given your process, you might have luck making them easier to read on the Kindle just by stripping the margins and possibly cutting each page into two chunks. There’s a nice tool for this (origianlly designed for Sony Readers) called “sopdf”, which you can find if you search for it at the MobileRead forums. Here’s a link

    http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32066

  39. Why not from a computer to be able to transfer pdf files to the kindle 2 directly. I used to buy books from amazon and I will be interested to keep buying e-books from them but for that I need an easy to use e-reader to carry over my pdf files. It is understandable that the interest of amazon is to sell its e-books formatted for kindle but my interest is to be able to have my textbook, my leisure books and my work text together on a same device. I am then looking for a device that can do that for me.
    And along with the kindle formatted books, PDF easy to handle files (scientific papers) should be as easy to transfert with 100% format guarding as possible from a computer to kindle device.
    Thanks

    • Oswald, you can transfer PDF files from a computer to the Kindle. Just drag and drop them to the ‘documents’ folder on the kindle.

      Formatting is now carried over. However, the smaller size of the Kindle’s screen means you’ll have to use landscape mode and even that will sometimes be too small.
      The only option is to format PDFs to have larger font sizes.

      • Thanks for sharing re: formatting PDFs to have larger font sizes. I have a number of free books I’ve dl and you’ve helped and saved me some time with this information. Nice work you’ve shared here.
        Lora

      • you’re welcome.

  40. Question, I was trying to get info on the pdf difference between the 2 and the DX. Mostly the small fonts on the 2. My son wants to be able to zoom in on the pdfs but I can’t seem to do that on the 2. Can you do that on the DX?

    • Lisa, you can’t zoom on Kindle DX either. Just that the screen is bigger – around 2.5 times that of the Kindle 2 in surface area. It has landscape mode just like Kindle 2 now does. So landscape mode on Kindle DX is pretty good for reading PDFs. There is no PDF.

  41. i solved my problem by ‘manually’ cropping pages on preview [mac], this can also be done batched.

    If the pdf is a scanned book after cropping all left pages and all right pages i used pdf lab to ‘interleave’ the two documents and spit it out as a single pdf.. . . .

  42. I am an author; my book is in a pdf format for printing. Is there software that will allow me to convert my pdf into Kindle?

  43. to clarify, I use a Mac.

  44. Can you read a pdf that is not OCR, just a scanned version of a page (Like are often handed out by teachers.)
    and is it easy to read after version 2.5.3 of the kindle 2

  45. I keep getting a runaround trying to answer a simple
    question. I am writing an e book in MS Word 97 form, which I intend to convert to PDF, if needed to publish
    it in E Book format. (I just bought an E Book, which is a CD full of “vanilla” PDF files.)

    Can I transfer MY OWN book to a Kindle E Book Reader? And move it from PC or CD to Kindle?

    (that does not look like too high tech a question. Nobody seems to want to answer it. I need to know that before buying any E Book reader.

    TkS
    bobvandev@juno.com

    • Amazon supports conversion from Word to Kindle format. You’ll need to use their conversion service. It might not work with Word 97 (not sure if that format is compatible with the newer one) so you might need to get a newer version of word.

      If you can export it as Text or PDF then both those formats work natively on the Kindle. On your kindle 3 move the text of pdf file to the ‘Documents’ folder of the Kindle 3 and then it’ll show up on the home page.

    • “(that does not look like too high tech a question. Nobody seems to want to answer it. I need to know that before buying any E Book reader.”

      You seem to be under the impression that this is the Amazon.com support forum, manned by employees who are obligated to answer your question about an Amazon product. Why?

  46. To answer your first question, yes, you can transfer your own files to the Kindle.

    Amazon can convert older Word files as is, but if I were you, I wouldn’t put into their hands what you can do yoursself. Export the Word doc to either RTF or filtered HTML and then use calibre to convert to the MobiPocket format which you can read on your Kindle. (Google calibre if need be ; it consists of free and open source ebook conversion and library software.)

    (Or if you are really fussy you can export to PDF, but then you’ll need to make sure the page size and formatting are exactly what you want because you won’t be able to reflow later.)

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