The Amazon Kindle is one of the best e-readers around, but you don’t have to rely on the Amazon store to fill your device with content. There are a few other easy ways to get eBooks and documents on your Kindle, and Amazon will even help you do that.
Everything mentioned in this article is free, and there is a way to transfer content from almost any device to your Kindle. Some older devices or file formats may require an extra step to move, but nothing here should be complex enough to trip you up.
Amazon has no problem with its customers uploading documents to their devices. The company itself manages two of the three methods described below. There’s also a ton of copyright-free material available, which means sideloading can be guilt-free and legal hassle-free.
Why you might need to download a book
Amazon offers a wide selection of books suitable for Kindle. Their Kindle Unlimited plan provides access to thousands of books and magazines for $10 per month. There are several reasons why you might want to download something to your Kindle.
You might not want to pay Amazon $140 a year or pay what they charge to buy books and think you can get a better deal elsewhere. The Kindle is a fantastic range of e-readers, and side-loading means you can always use a Kindle with all the e-books you own.
Classic novels are a good example. Copyright in books, novels and journals expires 70 years after an author’s death, so thousands of works are freely available. Websites like Project Gutenberg offer classic works for free download. You can then download these files to your Kindle without much effort. Of course, if you want to waste some money, you can always pay $4 for your digital version of Pride and Prejudice instead; there is absolutely no logical, legal or moral reason to pay for a digital copy of something without copyright.
For copyrighted works, there are still cheaper options. Amazon is not the only bookstore in the world. Humble Bundle has regular eBook deals, and there’s no reason you can’t read these eBooks on a Kindle.
And if your work or study involves going through document after document, you might find the process easier on an eReader. Just load what you need and save yourself the trouble of carrying a heavy sheaf of papers. Kindle’s search, dictionary, and annotation features can even make your job easier.
You can email books directly to the device
If you have a small number of files and a Kindle connected to a Wi-Fi network, simply emailing the file to your device is the easiest way to load it. Open your Kindle, go to the settings menu and select “your account”. At the bottom, there should be a “Send to Kindle Email,” which looks like [email protected] In most cases, just attach the file to a blank email and send it; Amazon will do the rest. You can send up to 25 files, provided the total size of the email is less than 50MB in total. This method is the easiest way to transfer documents between iPhone and Kindle.
But it can be a little more complicated, depending on your situation. Note that the email address you are sending the file from must be whitelisted; if you use the email address that your Amazon account also uses, it will automatically be whitelisted. Otherwise, you must register the email address you will use on the Amazon website before sending files.
Only certain file types will work with this method, but just know that you’re not limited to Kindle formats (MOBI and AZW). The full list of formats is available here, and it includes popular file types like Microsoft Word (DOC and DOCX) as well as PDF. There are a few notable omissions, including the EPUB format, but free online converter sites are available to turn your file into something your Kindle can use.
Amazon will even convert documents from PDF to Kindle format if you type “convert” in the subject line of the email. Conversion comes with positives and negatives. You will be able to use all Kindle features such as adjustable text size with the converted files, but you may also see errors in the text.
If your Kindle doesn’t have Wi-Fi, you’ll need to take an extra step. Since your device cannot connect to the internet and extract files directly from emails, you will need to open the Kindle app on your phone and receive the file there. Once the file is linked to your account, sync it to your Kindle via Bluetooth, then your eBooks should appear.
Using one cable is better for multiple files
Although you can email up to 15 files, the total file size generally cannot exceed 50MB in total; Additionally, your email provider may limit the number and size of attachments you can send beyond. If you have hundreds (or even thousands) of books to load at once, you should use a cable. This method will work with all versions of the Amazon Kindle.
Side-charging via USB cable is as simple as plugging the charging cable that comes with the Kindle into the device and one of the USB ports on your PC, laptop or Mac. From there, open the Kindle as you would any other removable device, then select the documents folder. Drag and drop your eBooks into this folder, then go about your day while your laptop does all the work. Large transfers may take some time. Remember to properly eject your Kindle when it ends, just like you would a thumb drive or other storage device; there is a risk of file corruption if you don’t.
However, this method has significant drawbacks and difficulties. First of all, Amazon will not convert any of these books for you. So if you’re using a format that Kindle doesn’t support, like EPUB, or want your PDF to be in Kindle’s preferred format, you’ll need to convert them first before dragging and dropping them.
Secondly, there are organizational problems to be solved. Amazon lets you organize your Kindle files into individual folders or “collections,” which makes life a lot easier when you have a lot of eBooks. Unfortunately, these folders do not appear in the device’s internal storage, nor can they be created. You will need to add all your books and then sort them on the device itself.
You’re also limited to devices with USB ports, and you’ll need a device where dragging and dropping is easy. In short, you’re stuck with a PC, laptop, or Mac for this method.
There is also a versatile app you can use
Send to Kindle lets you send documents to your Kindle from a browser, PC, or Android device, and it’s our favorite option. Unlike dragging and dropping directly into the Kindle itself, the app will convert files to one of the Kindle formats for you if desired. As with the email method, EPUB files will not work and you will need to convert them before uploading them.
This method does not require any cables. Use your Amazon login in the app, and if your device has a way to connect to the internet or sync with the Kindle app, the files you drop will appear on your eBook reader. There’s little that can go wrong once you’re signed in, and Send to Kindle provides a great middle ground between the two methods discussed above.
If you have files on your phone or tablet that you want to share, the Android app adds a Kindle option to the share button you’ll find in most apps. Along with the option to send documents via email or a messaging app, you’ll be able to send them to a Kindle.
The browser app works on any Chromium-based browser (Chrome, Brave, Microsoft Edge, etc.) and provides a unique service. You can even convert and transfer entire web pages to your Kindle. If a news or magazine website has a long article you want to read later, click the extension, and it’ll wait on your Kindle when you’re ready. You can also use the extension to archive articles you enjoy on your Kindle. Once downloaded, they are yours forever.
Any pages you send to your Kindle through the browser app will be available offline. So if you’re going on a long trip and an internet connection isn’t guaranteed, you can still browse the day’s news or your favorite magazine articles, as long as you load them onto your Kindle before you go.