Manage your E-Books Library

kindleI love neat and useful gadgets. On my wish list is the iRobot Roomba robot that can clean floors while I am away at work but who am I kidding. TIA (this is Africa) and the dust in my neighborhood will make the motors in that thing pack up in one week max. My uneven floor wont help much either. Anyhow, I do own dust averse clever gadgets though, and this one I love. It’s my Kindle!

It’s a second gen Kindle Keyboard (curses all you Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire owners) but it works like a charm and for as long as it keeps doing so (or somehow gets lost), Amazon can keep releasing newer ones – I will not be deterred to buy another one. Though the $79 ad supported Kindle is quite tempting.

Now, the problem of owning some of these gadgets down here is how to get them to work! It is a 3g Kindle and luckily, Amazon has a deal with some players in Kenya so the 3g cards works here in Nairobi. In Kampala on the other hand, it did not work for me for reasons known to… . Anyhow, after fiddling with it for a while, I think I have a perfect solution for all those who may have Kindles and want to be able to side-load them, and even convert your existing e-books into Kindle format and automatically load them onto the device! Think of it as the iTunes for your Kindle! So, here is how to put any type of e-book on your Kindle.

calibreThe big thing you’ll need is a copy of Calibre. Calibre is free software that runs on Windows, Macs, and Linux. It’s the Swiss Army knife of e-book software. It’ll manage your entire library if you want, and the most important feature in this case is that it can convert e-books from one format to another. Amazon’s proprietary Kindle format (.azw) uses a modified version of the Mobipocket format (.mobi or .prc), so that’s the format you’ll convert to when using Calibre to side-load a Kindle. Calibre’s frequently-asked questions has an entire section on converting an e-book to different formats.

Please note that in as much as Calibre is good at managing your e-books, and it can also manage books you buy off Amazon, it will NOT handle DRM books apart from being able to side-load the books onto and off the Kindle. DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a scheme where the e-books are locked so that they can only be opened by a specific e-book reader or piece of software. I suppose it will take a while to win the DRM war on e-books just like it took long enough for Apple to offer DRM free alternatives for music from their music store but the day is coming people.

So, do the books you Kindle e-books you buy from Amazon have DRM? Simple answer…YES! Calibre in this case can only basically help you in management and side-loading.

But all is not lost. You can buy or acquire a book in nearly any format from any source (even Amazon) and as long as it does not have DRM, you can then use Calibre to convert it into Mobipocket format and load it on your Kindle. So, if you have a DRM free ePub, PDF or even HTML book library that you have been struggling to get on your Kindle….or vice versa…Calibre is the software for you.

If your library if full or DRM books, well, that is a story for another post. For now, you know the best way to manage your e-book library.

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