More on My New Kindle 2 – Using it with Public Domain Books

My new Amazon Kindle 2
My new Amazon Kindle 2

There has been a lot of interest in my Kindle 2 since last night’s post here. Harry Smeltzer from Bull Runnings has asked some great questions that have led to a little experimentation on my part. You’re welcome to follow in the comments on the original post but here’s some information many of you will find helpful. Also, I made a correction to my original post. Amazon doesn’t convert files you upload for conversion to PDF but rather to Kindle (.AZW, .AZW1). This is what it sends to your Kindle wirelessly or that you can download from the site and move to your Kindle via USB. Read below for more details. I have the same interest Harry does in reading public domain books on the Kindle.

—Snip from comments—

—Harry said—

It sounds like I should be able to download pdfs into the device myself, and would only need Amazon if I wanted something converted to pdf. Or would I need to go through Amazon anyway to get it into a format compatible with Kindle? The reason I’m so nagging about this is that I would love to be able to read these public domain books (thousands available for free from various sources, including Google) on something other than a computer.

—My reply—

AHA! This is COOL.

OK Harry – so here’s the scoop. The Kindle will read the following file formats:
Kindle (.AZW, .AZW1)
Unprotected Mobipocket (.MOBI, .PRC) (Without DRM)
Audible (.AA, .AAX)
MP3 (.MP3)

So I just downloaded saved an ASCII text version (.TXT) of “The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, Complete” (i.e. both volumes) from Project Gutenberg. I connected my Kindle via the USB to my MAC and simply dragged and dropped the .txt file into the Documents folder on the Kindle. I disconnected the Kindle and VOILA, I have published the entire work to my Kindle.

Now you can also upload to Amazon for conversion files in the following formats:
PDF (this is experimental)
Structured HTML (.HTML, .HTM)
Compressed ZIP (.ZIP)

They will convert it to Kindle-speak (see formats above) which appear to be UNIX-based and wirelessly send it to your Kindle for $0.10 like I mentioned before. That said, I sent the same book as above in Word (.DOC) over and hour ago to be converted and it hasn’t happened yet. But it’s a BIG HONKING file to be sure. So it may just take some time for really big stuff.

It goes without saying, but I will, that this is not intended to be used for copyrighted materials. I recommend that you review the copyright rules for any site you get ebooks from. Project Gutenberg has some excellent guidelines here. They have some books which are, for example, licensed for use on their site but that license does not allow readers to distribute it. Those in the Public Domain can be used IF you remove the Project Gutenberg trademark and license (which I did for the Sherman Memoir).

Another nice feature is that the dictionary constantly runs at the bottom of the page. So if you run the pointer down the page, it automatically looks up the words and provides a definition at the bottom. I need more text books in this format!!!

Very cool.

Finally! Tocqueville's Democracy in America


I have finally purchased my own copy of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, as translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Tocqueville’s works rank near the top of the the most frequently quoted in a great many of the books I’ve been reading this term and in previous terms for that matter. I decided on The Library of America version because, as was the case with my purchase of Frederick Douglass Autobiographies (see post here), I like the look and feel.

You can read some of Tocqueville’s work, including both volumes of Democracy in America at Project Gutenberg here.

Alexis De Tocqueville