Kindle does NOT restrict you to Amazon ebooks

Hat tip to Kindle World for bringing this up – Almost every Kindle article/post has a comment from someone claiming that the Kindle does not let you use ebooks bought from anywhere except Amazon.

This is just false – The Amazon Kindle supports ebooks from a lot of stores. It does NOT restrict you to buying just Amazon ebooks.

Part 1: The Kindle Store is usually the BEST choice for buying eBooks

In Part 2 we’ll look at how you can get paid and free ebooks from a lot of different sources onto your Kindle – including via Kindle’s wireless. You can jump to Part 2 if you prefer – Part 1 just points out that you’ll usually not want to get ebooks from other stores because they’re either more expensive or not available.

Which Store has the most range?

Public Domain Titles

Sony and B&N have 1 million free books from Google. They include these when they make claims of being the biggest ebook store and having the most range.

However, here are a few things to consider –

  1. Kindle Store has 14,000 plus free public domain titles. This probably covers 75% of the public domain titles you’d be interested in.
  2. You can also convert all of the million free Google books for your Kindle
  3. There are sites like Gutenberg and Many Books that let you get 25,000 or so public domain titles. Manybooks has a mobile site that works from the Kindle’s browser itself.

Most of the time you can get public domain titles you want wirelessly on your Kindle from the Kindle Store or from ManyBooks Mobile.

New Books

The Kindle Store has over 300,000 new books. That’s much more than either Sony or B&N’s eBook stores.

B&N and Sony never break out how many new books they have because without Google Free Books their numbers would be weak – only around 100,000 titles. This might change as B&N has claimed it’ll have half a million new ebooks – at the moment they don’t.

Which brings us to the question of price. 

Which Store has the best prices?

Amazon pioneered the $9.99 price and they continue to have the best prices.

A study by Inkmesh found that for the 11,604 best-selling ebooks the Kindle Store had the lowest price 75% of the time.

What does this mean? 

It means that the Kindle Store has the best range of new books and the cheapest prices on new books – most of the time the book you want will be available as a 60 second wireless download straight to your Kindle.

If you want a public domain title not included in the 25,000 plus titles at the Kindle Store and ManyBooks Mobile you will have to convert a Google free book using Calibre. It’s more work – however, you will be able to get those books on your Kindle too.

That brings us to Part 2.

Part 2: You can get eBooks from a variety of stores on to your Kindle

Contrary to the misinformation being spread you have choices other than Amazon.

Any store that sells books in Kindle format or sells books in PDF and other Kindle supported formats without DRM ought to work. Please confirm with the store before buying ebooks – leave a comment if you run into problems.

What formats does the Kindle support?

Kindle supports these formats natively i.e. you can just transfer them from your PC to your Kindle’s documents folder via the PC to Kindle USB cable –

The 2 Kindle Formats – .azw and .tpz.

PDF, Mobi, PRC, TXT.

Audible audiobooks, MP3 audiobooks.

Kindle also allows for conversion of these formats –

HTML, Doc.


Any books that are in these formats and not protected (i.e. restricted) by DRM will work on your Kindle.

What sites can we get Public Domain Books for the Kindle from?

Please check out this list of sites for free books for your kindle.

All these sites provide unrestricted ebooks in formats your Kindle supports – choose ‘Kindle format’ (or Mobipocket or .mobi or PDF or .prc) as your format choice.

The best options are the Kindle StoreManyBooks, and Gutenberg. The first two work straight from your Kindle.

What sites can we get paid books for the Kindle from?

There are a lot of sites from which you can get books that work with the Kindle –

  1. Baen Books.
  2. Fictionwise offers some of its ebooks in Kindle compatible formats.
  3. Harlequin.
  4. Harper Collins.
  5. Some Lulu books.
  6. Smashwords. 
  7. Some BooksonBoard books.

Make sure to avoid protected Mobipocket and protected PDFs as those do not work on Kindle – only unprotected Mobipocket and unprotected PDFs work.

It’s worth noting that there are some big sites whose books definitely do not work on Kindle – Shortcovers, Sony, Barnes & Noble. This is due to their restrictions – not anything done by Amazon.

On the flip side Kindle Store ebooks only work on Kindles, Kindle for PC, and Kindle for iPhone. They do NOT work with other eReaders.

It’s easier to buy from Kindle Store than any other Store

One complaint that you could make is that Amazon makes it easier to buy from the Kindle Store than anywhere else.

That’s a valid one – However, so does every other eReader. So does the iPhone.

For that matter – every company makes it easier for its customers to buy additional products and services from its own stores than from competitors’ stores.

Where does that leave us?

In a world that is far from ideal and also far from the terrible picture some people would paint.

  1. You can get public domain books from a ton of sites on your Kindle.
  2. You can get paid books from a large number of eBook stores on your Kindle.
  3. Buying from the Kindle Store is most convenient thanks to the free wireless.  

Most importantly, paid books are usually available straight from Amazon at lower prices than anywhere else.  

People are spreading the misinformation that Kindle restricts you to buying only Amazon ebooks. It is due to ignorance or malice and simply not true.

What formats does the Kindle support?

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Updated now that Kindle Touch (for $99) and other new Kindles are available.

Formats Supported by Kindle natively: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, Audible (Audible Enhanced(AA,AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC.

Formats Supported by Kindle after conversion: HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BM.

Formats Supported after converting using Calibre: ePub, some others.

Please Note: DRM Protected ePub is not supported. ePub is also not supported – However, ePub that is not DRM protected can be converted using Calibre and then will work on Kindle.

Earlier version of ‘What formats does the Kindle Support’ –

[ Down the line I want to change this into a ‘how to get different formats onto the Kindle post – however holding off on that for a bit]

(from Computerworld) The Kindle can read only four text-document file formats:

  1. .AZW (Kindle-specific)
  2. .TXT
  3. .MOBI; and
  4. .PRC.

In addition, every Kindle gets its own e-mail address for receiving Amazon-converted documents for $.10 for wireless delivery to your kindle or free for delivery to an email address. Here’s how it works

  1. For Free Conversions – Send email to and the attachments will be converted and sent back in a reply email for free. They will be sent back to your email address and not to your Kindle.
  2. For .10$ Conversions that are sent wirelessly to your Kindle – Send email to and attachments (including PDF) will be converted and wirelessly transmitted to your Kindle for $0.10.  You set up your email address when you set up your Kindle; it has a whitelist of addresses that may send to it.

The supported document formats are

  1. PDFs – This is Experimental.
  2. Word
  3. HTML
  4. TXT
  5. JPEG
  6. GIF
  7. PNG; and
  8. BMP files. for 10 cents per document. You send the original to your Kindle’s address and your device receives the converted document (only e-mail addresses you authorize can send to your Kindle).