Thursday, March 05, 2009

Kindle 2: Update

Well, I've found new reasons to like my Kindle, and one reason to not be quite so happy.

First, battery life continues to be outstanding. I hardly ever read more than a couple of hours straight and so far that has posed no problem. And even when I leave the machine running between reading bouts, it has a sleep mode that protects battery life.

Second, and most wonderous, the process of "Kindlizing" many of the ebooks I've already downloaded from the public domain has been virtually effortless. You sign in at Amazon, go to your kindle page, where they have already assigned you an email address based on your registration email address. For example, if the email you registered at Amazon was, your kindle address would be

You then type in any email address you want kindle to recognize as acceptable, such as a home or work address. You attach files to an email from that address and send it to They kindlize it and return it to you. This happens within a minute or two. You can have the kindlized version returned to your computer, or sent directly to your kindle. There is a 10 cent charge for having it sent to your kindle. They add this to your credit card and charge you after you run up $3 bucks worth. It's free if you have the file sent to your computer but then, of course, you'll have to download directly through a USB cable.

Note, however, the kindlizing process is not perfect. It will not, for example, except docx (vista) files. It will recognize MS doc files, and text files. Regular MS.doc files translate almost perfectly to Kindle, although the table of contents for Swords of Talera was formatted with some broken lines. Other than that the formatting was perfect. Text files also translate very well into Kindle, but the kindlizing process seems to take out line breaks so you don't see a break between chapters. I fixed this for my text files by typing in a ----- after each chapter, before uploading. Kindle translated this as a line, thus giving you a break between chaps. Paragraph indents work fine in text and doc files

The one frustrating thing involves PDF files, of which I have a lot. Although the "words" from PDF files translate just fine, the formatting is often screwed up. Paragraph breaks sometimes don't show up, and page breaks are non-existent. This can affect the reading experience and for me it means I won't be routinely uploading PDF files to my kindle. Is there any way to convert PDF files to text or word?

Fortunately or unfortunately, last night, instead of writing, I spent my evening uploading public domain text and word stories to my Kindle. Project Gutenberg has a lot of public domain stuff, including some old horror, fantasy and SF that you can download to your computer as text only, then upload to your Kindle. (Remembering to type in the -----, of course)

But now I have some very cool old fantasy novels to read by the likes of David Lindsey and Lord Dunsany, and some more modern stuff by Hamilton and Carr, and even some "Spider" stuff by Norvell Page. These are things that are hard to find in print, or if you do find it you don't want to read it because the book is falling apart.

Read on!


Lisa said...

I had (and lost) the original Kindle. Now you're making me want to replace it :)

Miles McClagan said...

If someone had bought it for you and you weren't expecting it, it'd be a Kindle Surprise

I'm amazed that joke hasn't caught on yet!

Lana Gramlich said...

You're so cute with your new toy, hon. I'm glad it's turned out to be such a worthwhile purchase for you. May you get many years of enjoyment from it! :)

Miles; You must be from Canada. I don't think I've seen Kinder Surprise since I left Ontario (but maybe it's just me...)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

I wonder if you couldn't save those docx files as doc files and then do the Kindlizing. Making sure, of course, to keep the original docx and make a second copy doc.


Lisa said...

I have wanted a Kindle since they came out... or actually a little before they came out. It was supposed to be my xmas present a few years ago, but I never had the chance to get one. :(

Now I really really want to get me a Kindle. It's got to be the coolest gadget ever invented.

Steve Malley said...

Gots to get me one of those!!!

Steve Malley said...

Or something like it, I guess. Since all those clever Kindlefeatures wouldn't work here....

Barrie said...

I'm going to start using Miles' joke!

Shauna Roberts said...

The only thing I dislike about my original Kindle is that it can't handle PDF files. Based on your description, the Kindle 2, despite the ads, can't handle most PDF files either.

I was glad to be reminded of how Amazon will convert files to Kindle format. I forgot about that and have never used the service.

steve on the slow train said...

Lord Dunsany, eh? I remember "The Two Bottles of Relish," and "The Hashish Man." Happy reading.

Sidney said...

Sounds like the Kindle is going to do a lot to move us a step further toward more acceptance of e-books.

laughingwolf said...

glad someone's having fun with ebooks... i still prefer mine the old fashioned way

but yeah, find old texts no longer in book form is a blessing...

Clare2e said...

Charles, I'm still Kindle 1, but-

When I send myself professionally book-formatted pdfs, they convert fine after sending to my Kindle addy. Cool! However, when I send my home-made pdfs, they look like le crap, and lose the breaks and other weirdness. Also, occasionally even pro files go wacky, like sideways manuscripts from Tor and some other oddities, like one negative black/white file I got. I haven't tried sending MS docs and will now, tx.

I also hear tell that the new iPhone Kindle app will allow you to Kindle-ize files, so I may see if there's a wacky and inconvenient way to do that by sending a file through 500 iterations before I can read it.

Glad you're liking it!

JR's Thumbprints said...

The irony--I've been converting my stories to PDF files.

As for obtaining text files from Gutenberg, typing "---" for each line break seems like a helluvalotofwork!

Erik Donald France said...

Good critique. I'm also looking spcifically for an easy way to "convert PDF files to text or word." I have no interest in rekeying anything already in some kind of e-format if there's a way around it.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Charles - you can download Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage from the Public domanin - think I had my copy from Gutenberg. That should be cool on The KIndle.

Oh and you're making me jealous - I've got to get a Kindle.

J. L. Krueger said...

Ever since my barber showed me his before I deployed I've wanted one. Unfortunately, Kindling doesn't work in Afghanistan so I'll have to wait until I get back home.

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Heavily Babe oriented, I guess it's mostly for men.
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Miladysa said...


I want one LOL

Charles Gramlich said...

Lisa, I’d hate to lose mine. That is one disadvantage of the Kindle over books. If you lose it or break it you’ve lost a lot, as compared to the relative ease at present of replacing most books.

Miles McClagan, hum, I don’t know what Kindle Surprise is. Apparently it’s a British commonwealth sort of thing, as I see Lana commenting on that as being Canadian. I’ll get her to explain the joke to me this evening. ;)

Lana Gramlich, I’m glad you think I’m cute. I think Miles is from England.

Don, Yes, actually my word processor will let me do that easily. I forgot the first time and sent a docx file in and it wouldn’t read it. But when I converted it to doc it took it easily.

Lisa, It’s pretty cool. I’m looking forward to more time to read on it.

Steve Malley, hum, I didn’t think about that. In your part of the world. All though they have an Amazon Australia I think so maybe it would work through there.

Barrie, I’m still trying to figure it out. Lana will help me.

Shauna Roberts, yes, the PDF transference is a disappointment. I’m trying to figure out if there’s any way to improve it. I love the kindle conversion thing because I’ve got lots of old public domain stuff I want to read but I don’t want to read it on a laptop or have to print it out.

steve on the slow train, “The two bottles of Relish” is a masterpiece, one of my favorite stories ever.

Sidney, it’s definitely going to do that for me, although it’ll never replace paper.

laughingwolf, that’s really the only reason I got one. Wanting books that I’ll never see in print.

Clare2e, hum, the two PDFs I tried were formatted either by individuals or by a small press publisher. Maybe I’ll have to try some professionally published ones. Maybe that’s the key.

JR's Thumbprints, No, I just typed the ---- between chapters so that I didn’t get something like:

“and the werewolf ate the silver bullet.”
Chapter two

Erik, I found out last night that I can save some pdfs to text only and it seems to kindlize OK, but I’m still feeling my way in the dark.

ARCHAVIST, thanks for the tip. I definitely want to get that one. I’ve actually never read it. I saw some old Max Brand books on Munsay’s last night, and downloaded Brand Blotters by Raine.

J. L. Krueger, yes, I guess there would be a bit of a problem there.

Kraxpelax, My lovely wife does all my wallpaper.

Miladysa, They are a bit pricey.

Chris Benjamin said...

i've never read an ebook. seems like it would be too hard on the eyes.

ivan said...

I must get a kindle.

Meanwhile, a little pimping.
I wonder if Amazon has my copy of "Light Over Newmarket", the old Magnum Opus.
Ah, the Scarlet Pimpernell.
They seek him here. (on Kindle?) They seek him there.
That elusive Pimpernell. :)

I spy with my little eye?

Out, out brief Kindle.</em

L.A. Mitchell said...

Sounds like you have a lot of reading to catch up on :)

Cloudia said...

amazon should pay you, Charles!
Don't you feel strange when people who you know have read one of your books never mention anything about whether they liked or disliked it? I assume they didn't enjoy it and are being kind. So folks: when an author knows that you've obtained their book - please say something about it later or they will assume the worst. Signed, Neurotic Writer ;-) Aloha!

Charles Gramlich said...

benjibopper, I think the earlier ebook readers were because they were back lit, but the new ones are better, and the ability to change font size can actually ease eye strain.

ivan,I don't know. I know the Taleran books aren't available on Kindle at the moment. Maybe give it a look see and let us know.

Cloudia, I don't know. I guess I don't think about it that much, unless I made a particular point of giving them a book that I know they read. And, BTW, I have your "Aloha" book but haven't read it yet.

Leon said...

.docx is not peculiar to Vista. It is the new format that came with MSWord 2007. I have it but usually save in "compatability mode", i.e. .doc because most Word files that arrive my way are still in that format.

Merisi said...

I can only image what I could do with a Kindle at the Library of Congress.

The possibility of reading material otherwise not easily accessible could make a Kindle worthwhile even for me. I shall always prefer printed text on paper to any kind of screen, not only for the tactile pleasure but also for my eyesight.

Charles Gramlich said...

Leon, I didn't know that. I thought it was just on Vista machines. I almost always use compatible mode too, because I move files between three computers, two of which don't support docx.

Merisi, I'm thinking too I might find some interesting reference material that way. I read a bunch of Darwin's stuff in ebook on my laptop. I sure would have liked to have had my Kindle then.

laughingwolf said...

once you have em, you CAN print em, charles ;)lol

then put em in 3-ring binders... or something

laughingwolf said...

lana, miles is a TAZ... almost a canuck! :O lol

kinder surprise is all over canada, and my younger daughter's fave, still, at 24 ;)

BernardL said...

Your update is very promising. Do you think the PDF problem may be a version problem?

BIBI said...

Hmmm... sounds more intriguing every time you share your experiences with us all. Have to purchase one!

jodi said...

Charles, I must be soooo old skool. Just not interested in any more new technology. I still love the smell of bookstores and libraries and the feel of holding a book in my hand.

Travis Cody said...

Hmmmmm. Your enthusiasm for your new toy, and the apparent ease of operation, is making me think I want one too.

Charles Gramlich said...

laughingwolf, I've got some printed like that, but man they fill up some room on my shelves and are harder to read than on a kindle.

BernardL, I don't know. I'm using adobe acrobat 7.0. I have found that you can save PDF's to text only and upload 'em, but the formatting is still not that good.

BIBI, as soon as I get some mid-term grades turned in I'll be doing more kindle reading.

jodi, oh I'll never want to give up books. If I could have gotten these volumes in paper format I certainly would have.

Travis, I'm definitely enjoying so far.

Maalie said...

"Info dump"! Brilliant! I recognise the concept so well, and now I can give it a name! Thank you Charles Gramlich!

Maalie said...

Kindle is one of two bits of computing jargon that I have encountered in as many days - the other being dongle!

Thank you for an interesting read, as always!

Charles Gramlich said...

Maalie, "dongle?" I've not encountered that one yet.

Spy Scribbler said...

Have you been to They have nicely formatted public domain works.

There is a trick to weirdly formatted text where the line breaks are odd: if you adjust the text size, generally you'll find one that's perfect.

I haven't had much problem at all with the .pdf files, though. I do everything where they send it to my Kindle automatically.

You know, I'll have to check, but I'm fairly certain they've never charged me for that. Unless I haven't reached the $3 limit or something!

Rachel V. Olivier said...

Thanks for the continued update on the Kindle. I still want one, but I think I'll have to wait. I just don't have the resources for now. Good to know about the PDF files though. I have a number of ebooks in PDF that I hate reading on the computer and I was thinking I could use the Kindle for reading those.

Charles Gramlich said...

spyscribbler, No I haven't. Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out. I hope they don't charge me. I do see that font size certainly makes a difference. I like to read on the bigger size, though.

Rachel, well, spy scribbler suggests there isn't so much trouble if you change the font size up and down. I'll have to have a look at that.