Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kindle and ePub: A Million Free Google Books in ePub - UPDATE4

UPDATE2-4, on 2/6/11
- Original posting was 8/27/09, Update #1 was made 4/22/10.

This explains how to get and use Calibre to easily convert any free ePub Google file to Kindle format OR use a conversion site to have it done for you if the book is in the public domain.


The below blog article below is now outdated and has too many off-topic sections due to chronological updates about Google Books, not particularly germane to the topic.

Original Posting on How to Convert free Google ePub books to Kindle format

Aug. 27, 2009 -- Yesterday Google offered over a million free e-books in EPUB format as well as in PDF format.  (Many don't know that the Kindle 2, 3, and DX Kindles can read PDFs direct -- but this isn't ideal on the 6" screens.)

  These ePub files are easier to work with than the PDF ones because they involve text-reflow instead of keeping a page exactly as originally laid out and therefore with words too tiny  on small screens.

  Also, Google has done, in that ePub file, the text-reflow for us, which should bring more reliable to-MOBI conversions for books with complex layouts .

  This will also allow the Kindle features of highlighting, note-adding, font-size adjustments, and will be included in search results when the full Kindle is searched for key words.  We just need to convert them to MOBI files.

  Some newspapers have reported that the million+ free Google files are not usable on the Kindle.
  They are.  They just need a simple conversion.

  There are currently at least three popular free tools that can convert ePub files to Kindle-compatible MOBI files:  (1) mobigen.exe (not intuitive);  (2) Mobipocket Reader 6.2  (loses some of the styling); and (3) Calibre, which has a nice interface, is easy to use, works with pc's and Macs, and gets the best results.

So, Calibre it is.  Many use it already for organized computer records of their Kindle files or for retrieving combinations of newspaper feeds for their Kindles (not as easily navigated as the paid subscrptions).
  This blog article focuses only on converting the ePub file-format to a Kindle-readable one.

  If you don't already have this free software, created and maintained by Kovid Goyal, download Calibre here.

  To get a free Google book (most written before 1923 but there are some nice older magazines there as well), go to Google's "Best of the Free" page and select one.

  To find a free book (they are all mixed with $$$-books), click on "Full Preview" as those tend to be the free ones.  Then do a search for what you want.

  At the top right, once you choose a book, you'll see "Download" which will be a pull-down menu showing a choice of PDF or ePub.
(See update of Feb. 6, 2011, above.)

  If you have a Kindle DXG, you might prefer to just get the PDF.  If the words on the PDF are too small though, then get the ePub file.  IF you download an ePub file, then:

  Open and run Calibre.  On the LEFT will be your choices for set-up when you're converting a document.  Hovering over anything will usually bring a help tip.

  Accepting defaults is fine.  The ability to change the "meta information" is nice - so you can have names and authors as you like them.  If there is no Table of Contents you can 'force' Calibre to create one.

  At the top are choices to "Edit meta information: as well as "Convert E-books." Follow the instructions, and then press the 'OK' button and the conversion will take a few minutes.  I did one and moved it to the Kindle DX and it looks great.

Oh, Calibre gives you the option to optimize your converted file for the Kindle 2 or the Kindle DX.

So, yes, those million+ free Google books are fully useable on the Kindle - it just needs this added step, but it's also great to be able to customize so much of the layout if you want.  Play with the software a bit.

Also see:
  Read foreign-language Google-books in English online
  Google describes the book conversion process
  How to download any of the 30,000 Project Gutenberg books to your Kindle, direct. -->

UPDATE1, 4/22/10 - Original posting was 8/27/09
I've added, below, a section about a new service that will convert a Google Book for you (using the method below) and send it to your Kindle if you want (Amazon charges 15 cents per megabyte of a file if 3G Whispernet delivery is used to send the file) OR will send it instead to the email address you use for correspondence with Amazon (no cost involved). That's RetroRead.

RetroRead (BLTC Press) offers free conversion of any free ePub Google Book to Amazon Kindle format for delivery to your Kindle or to your computer via your normal email address.  As RetroRead's David Eyes describes in his Blitzes at BLTC blog you will be able to create an account through which you may upload any free Google ePub book (but ONLY Google book files), and have it converted and forwarded directly to you.  He adds that the quality of the converted book can vary greatly depending on the quality of Google’s optical character recognition (OCR) conversion.  The site is self-explanatory.

  Once you've registered and read the Terms of Use, you can go to and choose a free Google book to read, downloading the ePub version to your computer, at which point you're given the option to have that downloaded file automatically uploaded to Retroread for immediate conversion to Kindle format (using RetroReadhelper -- Windows for that though) and then either sent to your Kindle* or to your email address or linked at the Retroread site where you can download the converted file and then move it to your Kindle via the USB cable.

* If you do want the direct-to-Kindle option, you need to have created earlier a special address for files to your Kindle -- [you] ...
  So be sure you've set up a [you] address first.  This setup is done at your Amazon "Manage Your Kindle" page.  Here's a guide for using that management page.
 This would involve letting RetroRead have your [you] address and, as mentioned, the Amazon fee for whispernet delivery would apply (15 cents per megabyte of a book -- with most ePub books under 1 megabyte -- but the one I uploaded tonight was over 2 megs because some pages were image scans).  However, you can also choose to just get the converted file and move it to the Kindle yourself.  Read his blog for the additions he's made to the site's capabilities.  Lots of good things.

 You can also choose recently converted Google books that are listed as available for download on the left side of the RetroRead page.

For those looking for interesting less-seen free books, it's hard to do better than David's list of the Latest Converted files.

 At any rate, this is a quick intro.  I tried it last night and it works well.  The book I converted for this blog article was used at Retroread, and the results were the 99% the same, since RetroRead uses Calibre also, although the last half of the final page, which happened to be the Table of Contents page at the end, was missing.

  Many will find this service very convenient.  But the service is not offered for any ePub books other than the Google books.  However, you can use this blog guide to do that yourself as needed.  Your own conversion from ePub to Amazon format should take about three minutes after you've had a chance to work with it.

After Google combined its free Google books with ones they sell now in a general Google Books store, and the earlier instructions (above) on how to find downloadable, free files no longer apply, I used "strikeout" for those.  The rest of it remained the same, however.

Google now may require you to  (1) have a Google account for downloading Google e-books as well as  (2) a credit card even to download a free book *IF it's not a public-domain book* (corrected information from @mikecane).

  I had a credit card with Google already because I had experimented with buying a web-version of a paid Google Book when the Google web Bookstore was launched, and I was asked for it when I tried to download "The eBook Insider" - which is free but is NOT a public domain book.

  I used it to 'buy' a $0.00 Google eBook to test whether these are still easily convertible to Kindle format AND uploadable to Retroread (see details below), who will convert free *public-domain* Google files for the Kindle community, at no cost.  If someone else has already requested a particular free Public Domain Google eBook, it'll be listed on the Retroread site as downloadable by everyone else for their Kindles.

The basic steps when I 'bought' this currently-free NON-public-domain book:
. Click on a book you want and it'll give you the option to 'buy' it even if its $0.00 AND if it's NOT a public-domain book.  It'll give you the option to "Get" it if it's in the public domain, and you can then click to download it.
. After 'buying' it, I received these alerts:
    "This book has been added to My Google eBooks" and
    "Access all your Google eBooks at"
. After clicking on "My Google Books," you can see the books you've downloaded, both paid and free.
. Click on the book you just received and you're given options to
    "Read now" (which would be in web-browser version) OR
    "Read on your device" (Nook, Sony, Kobo etc but not Kindle)

Google then offers you the following choices to be able to read the new book:
1. Installing a Smartphones app (Android) or a Tablet app (iPhone & iPad)
2. Laptop and computers (reading in web browser)
3. eReader and other devices
    a. ePub
    b. Adobe PDF (*IF* included)
Choose "ePub"

*NOTE*:  Retroread could NOT convert my free Google book because it isn't a public-domain book and is therefore not successfully searchable on their site.  I then converted it via Calibre as described below.

  Again, when a Google eBook IS public domain and free, you are given the option to "GET" the book without purchasing it.  When you click to accept that option, the eBook winds up in your Google library.

(End of Updates)

Kindle Fire  7" tablet - $199
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $79/$109
Kindle Touch, WiFi
- $99/$139
Kindle Touch, 3G/WiFi - $149/$189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189, Free, slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £89
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi, UK - £169
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $109
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi - $189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. Not sure exactly where all these "million free books" are, but I just did a search for Science Fiction books and got a whopping list of 31 books. It sure looks like Gutenberg's smaller collection may actually have a considerably better selection than Google.

  2. Elmo, they have a 'Science Fiction' category at the left. When I clicked on that category AND chose
    "Full view only"
    (to limit it to free books)
    I got a listing of 42 books.

    When I clicked on the category and instead chose
    "Limited preview and full view"
    - WHATEVER that means!
    the listing was for 592 books.

    When I clicked on the category and chose
    "All books"
    the listing was for 1,331 books.

    Go figure what that all means (!)

    But at least one can plow through the book covers and text.

  3. I did what you said Andrys, and then when I clicked on page 9, that is, the last page of the Science Fiction category, it reported only 252 books. Strange numbering, to say the least!

  4. Please keep us posted on upgrading firmware for Kindle 2 to work internationally.
    Does Amazon really expect us to buy a new Kindle rather than offer a firmware upgrade? why? Fuggetaboutit!


  5. Anonymous,
    Internationally? I think this was put under the wrong topic, but I don't think they do expect us to upgrade.

    The international model's radio modem uses a different type of wireless access than Sprint's CDMA, which doesn't work in Europe.

    Sprint actually has wider coverage in the U.S., as it shares some area coverage with Verizon in some way. AT&T is good in some areas, not as good in others. I'm not about to upgrade, in my case.

    When away from the U.S. I'd use my netbook anyway to download any books or subscriptions I need and would then transfer them to my Kindle, with no Amazon fees that way.

    Even file conversions could be done when abroad via Amazon for free if you just send the file with the email you use to correspond with Amazon on orders etc. Then they send the converted file to that address.

    - Andrys

  6. Those interested in Sci-Fi should explore There are many more in the BaenBooks but of course they are not free. I highly recommend "1632" by Eric Flint to Alt-History fans. There are many follow on books that sprang from that one. That is the one book that got me started on e-books, reading on my Palm T|X to start and continuing on my Kindle 1 and then my Kindle 2. I would use my name but it will not accept my "Google Account". Al in Bardstown, KY

  7. Al in Bardstown, KY

    Thank you for the recommendation of and "1632" - much appreciated!

    - Andrys

  8. To Andrys and BettyR - I saw something like this reduction of number of pages and results on some search engines in the past. Since I was a regular Internet techie, I asked some super techie search guys I knew. They said that the search engine spit out the number of total results, including DUPLICATES. Then, as you page through the results, it knows what is displayed earlier and removes those duplicates.

    If you look closely, as you progress through the results, the pages at the bottom also reduce from 9 pages of results to 7 to 6. I suspect dups being removed is what is happening, though Google usually does such a good job I'm surprised at this. Anyway, that is my best guess based on past experience.

  9. Anonymous,
    Re the reduction of number of pages and results, that makes a lot of sense.

    Thanks for the help there!

  10. Any idea if these converted Kindle ebooks could then be uploaded to the Kindle iPhone app?

  11. ende,
    The Kindle iPhone app is tied to the Amazon Kindle book store and is able to access your Amazon-purchased items.

    The converted Google book won't be on the servers for iPhone to get, so you're hoping to get them on the iPhone. But the conversion made is to Amazon's "MOBI" format (essentially Amazon's format w/o digital-rights-management) and the Kindle app isn't programmend to 'see' those.

    However, one doesn't have to have a Kindle to read Kindle apps for iPhone -- so it seems that other e-readers who have apps for iPhone and which use the ePub file Google puts out might allow you to get that book in the way Amazon allows non-Kindle owners to read Kindle books (including the free ones from Amazon).

    I don't know. I do read that other e-readers are making deals with iPhone and that their packages will include the Google books in ePub format.

    Good luck on this. If you find out anything, let me know.

  12. Courtney,
    That's right. I'd forgotten. They call it the "Internet ______" and I need to include that and will add it in later this week, with a reference to your note here.


  13. two notes: Google's "category search" for public domain books at is imo, very weak. There really are millions of books there, it just takes a knack to get interesting results. Try random searches on keywords, you'll see there is a ton of stuff there.

    as far as conversion to Kindle goes, check out -- automates Calibre conversion process online and ships directly to your Kindle.

  14. odreamsgivenday, or, David?

    Re the conversion to Kindle, I did check out your company because people would be giving you their private Kindle device addresses.

    I found that BLTC Press is involved.

    All I could find otherwise on retroread, though, was your note to mobileread forums but no one there reported on trying it (Dec '09).
    It could be that they're heavy calibre users and can do it themselves in 3 minutes.

    At the time, your service was in beta, you said, and experimental, with focus on scalability.

    David Rothman of Teleread told people about it and said he'd try it but never reported back about it that I can find on Google.

    Every other entry on google is quoting David's post that you were offering the service but there's no follow-up.

    In google there isn't one review or report on how it works (even in cached results), which is odd, since there is so much interest in ePub to Kindle, as you can tell from google searches.

    I was also interested that, at mobileread forums, you didn't want to send the converted file to a person's ... could you give us your reasons? Why would you need to limit it to a 'device' ?

    I think it's a Great idea since you say it's a free service though cautioning we'd need to pay Amazon's 15c per megabyte -- and epub files are small. I'm just stymied that in 2 months there's not one report by a user. There are many people who would prefer not to do it themselves.

    Thanks for any added info and for reassuring people that private kindle addresses will be kept private.

  15. Just wondering how the text is from google books. I tried to read one a while back and there were more errors than if a second grader had written it. It definitely left a bad taste in my mouth for google books.

  16. Bob, it varies.

    All ereaders can read PDFs direct these days, so I just did the conversions of the ePub files and I could see no real differences from good copies I had in MOBI format. I chose books about Egypt.

    If the original was clear, you get very good results. If not, then the optical character recognition would have a hard time interpreting many of the characters and then you have a mess of typos. With no proof-reading crew apparently, it really depends on the state of the original.

    You can preview them before downloading them, and the free ones are full-preview.

  17. Andrys,

    Sorry not pick up a response on your post last month re: RetroRead. Regarding the free account -- there is not benefit in this conversion wise, but I think your question is rather, why can't it just be emailed anywhere?

    I've recently extended the features to allow one to (by editing your profile) to check an option to send converted ebooks to your "notification email address" -- ie, your normal email address. If this route is preferred always, it's possible to provide a fake Kindle address if this is a concern (which shouldn't be because you can always control who has access to your device anyway).

    Additionally, once a book has been converted, it is also available for download; that is, the most recent 100 titles are -- there isn't a search implemented yet, although that is on the list.

    As for lack of comments -- well, hard to say, although I originally restricted the access to the beta site -- it is open for anyone to register now.

    Please give it another peek.


  18. David, it's a very nice feature for anyone who'd just prefer not to have to convert the file, but I think there's a reason there's still not one review by anyone from actually using it.

    I think people are less keen to allow access to their Kindle download email address because of the Amazon fee that is unknown, based on the size of the file.

    ePub files are seldom more than 15c as the average book size is under 1 meg. But it opens up the Kindle address to unknown companies being able to send things direct to the Kindle and so we would have to change our addresses if we were getting things we didn't want.

    But since you're offering an attractive service for people who would like the conversion done and sent FOR their Kindles,
    why is it you just don't do a simple pull-down menu of whether we would like this sent to our Kindle-address (which you don't have to have) OR to our regular email after which we can transfer the converted file ourselves to the Kindle?

    Is there some reason? Trying to think on it, I guess you wouldn't want the converted file to be easily used by someone to just send out to 100 people or so? But then it'd be a load off your servers, AND your converted copy could have a front page saying it was converted by your site and giving a link.

    At any rate, if that's not the reason, why is that any harder to offer a choice of one or the other than having us make one "fake" Kindle address?

    I like your making the converted books downloadable, the last 100, and it'll be a boon when you do have the search process (which is really easy and free to do with an external utility like Atom or Google or a few others.

    Yah, we'd have to see a couple of ads but I wouldn't mind. Hard to beat the Google search and it's free.

  19. i do think project gutenberg ( should have been mentioned in text of the article, since it was the first (if not one of the very earliest) to begin archiving public domain works.

    Gutenberg also has both .epub and .mobi formats of most works, and the latter of those is understood by the kindle without needing translation by calibre, etc.

    Also, tho' it has less works, the Gutenberg project works are much higher quality since they are checked word by word, and by multiple volunteers. so IF you can find the same work stored there, it will be a better .epub than the one found on Google.

    Finally, the effort by Gutenberg is clearly non-profit and community driven (they're always looking for more volunteers) whereas if you find mistakes with a Google scanned book, it's not exactly clear from the page itself how you could volunteer to re-submit this back to Google.

    Upshot: While I personally support the .epub format above all others, if I were a kindle user, I'd check out Gutenberg before Google whenever I need something, since the quality is higher and the extra .mobi format is also offered, and since it's a community effort.

  20. Anonymous,
    Project Gutenberg gets its own focus at

    I very much agree with you on what you say about it vs Google's free bunch.

    However, this article was to show people how to convert the newly avaliable free google books offered in epub format.

    What I could do is an extra line at the bottom to refer people to the Project Gutenberg books.
    On the right hand column, always, you'll see under "Guides, Tips, Tutorials" a link to "Project Gutenberg to your Kindle."

    And, since people now access this older article directly (via links), people will see your note and that'll help too :-)

    I'll probably add the Project Gutenberg article link under "Also see..." at the bottom of the text though.


  21. Hi, me again ...

    On my list of things to do -- allow registration of Kindle device name to be optional. (It's kind of baked in at the moment as part of what makes a user account unique.)

    Meanwhile, have added search of all converted titles, available to anyone to download (without registration). Converting a title means contributing it to the library available to everyone.

    Additionally, the search is available directly from the Kindle browser in a "Kindle Browser friendly" (as friendly as that can be ...) experience. So you can go to on your browser, and download (free -- no Amazon charges this way) any already converted title. (You can't download and convert because the Kindle doesn't allow download of epubs in the first place.)

    So, from a one to one service, retroread is morphing to a community library of converted epubs. If someone doesn't see what they want, they can get if from Google, convert it, and at the same time make it findable by others.

  22. David,
    That's a really nice set of features.

    Could you let us know when you have the optional registration of Kindle address ready? I'd like to do make sure people know about it once that's done.

    Many thanks.

  23. Andrys,

    It's done -- when you register, you are only required to provide your email address (like any other site); you can then select your delivery method: email, Kindle, or to the library for subsequent download.

    You are only required to register you Kindle and approved sender email if you choose Kindle as delivery method. You can edit your profile settings at any time and change your delivery method.

    We'll see ...

  24. David,
    Thanks very much for this! Will try it out and do an entry on it this week.

  25. Thank you for pointing the way to Calibre and Retrofeed. I just got my Kindle 2 and am really excited with both products. Your blog just earned Calibre creator $10 :)

  26. Mehul,
    Congratulations on your new Kindle and -already- finding your way to Calibre and Retroread, and it's neat when people are able to reciprocate when they find a free utility that offers quite a bit.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  27. Hi -- thanks for the notice about Calibre! I downloaded it, and the Welcome Wizard has a place for me to fill in my gmail account info. But it has two fields, one that says "Kindle email" (which I assume means the email account I use with Amazon), and then "send email from." I don't know what that second one means. Help?

  28. Leslie,
    The "Kindle email" is the [you] email address that, when you send a file to it, it goes to Amazon who will convert any Word doc file, or simple HTML file to a normal Kindle type file so that it can be read on the Kindle and then it will send it to your Kindle via Whispernet.

    Other files such as 'pdf' files will just be sent to your Kindle, but you might want one of those converted to a Kindle file (losing the original layout but allowing use of Kindle-style searches, highlighting and notes, text to search and inclusion in full Kindle device text searches of the Kindle rather than just the book.

    If you want to convert a PDF to a Kindle format, losing original layout as mentioned, you'd put 'Convert' into the subject line.

    If you want to not pay for a direct-send of a converted file to your Kindle (15c per megabyte in a file -- pdfs can be large -- you can instead send the file to [you] instead and you'll get an email letting you know the that the file has been converted (if you asked for that) and is ready for download (with a link) and then you can move it to the Kindle 'documents' file yourself with the USB cable that is part of your power cord.

    Your 'Kindle' email address is made by going to your "manage your kindle" area of Amazon -- here's a link to get there from this note. Press 'back' on your browser to return here. That's in the upper left hand section of the manage your kindle page. It gives permission for certain email addresses to send direct to your Kindle if you want that.

    The one address you want in there is the email address you use for correspondence with Amazon on orders etc. That's your official Amazon email address.

    Now, to give a trusted outfit your Kindle address so it can send your Kindle converted files (such as Retroread), you'd need to add a permission for their email address to send files ot your Kindle also (at the manage your kindle page linked above). This is to prevent spam going to the Kindle and having to pay 15c per megabyte for that :-).

  29. Thank you for this. I downloaded several books in PDF format, and wanted to read them on Kindle for PC. Calibre's PDF -> MOBI conversion worked beautifully.

  30. catester,
    Calibre is terrific software.

    If you can ever stand to read it on a speedy PDF reader on your computer w/o a conversion, maybe try the free version of

    It's handled well some PDFs which Adobe Reader read very slowly.

  31. I am really in awe of the amount of helpful information you've researched and posted. I'm a fellow blogger looking for inspiration... This has been educational. To your continued success..


  32. Tony, fellow blogger -

    Thanks very much for the nice feedback!

  33. Hi Andrys,

    Great blog. May I bother you with a rookie Calibre question?

    I've converted an EPUB format to Mobi for my Kindle but words are cut off at the end of lines and after a few pages it gets annoying.

    Is there any way to fix this in the conversion process or do I need to just learn to deal with it?



  34. RHM, I missed this comment earlier, sorry for the delay.
    The Calibre maker is the one to ask about this problem, which I'd not heard of before. Koyal. He'll be at a conference I'm going to be at the next 2 days, but will likely be too busy for me to ask this type of question.

    Here's the URL for Calibre support for this kind of question though:

    They link you to places you can get Calibre questions answered. Mobileread has the most technically-inclined users in one place and Calibre is known for giving good support there.

    Good luck!

  35. RHM,
    I was sitting in front of Kovid Goyal (apologies for the misspelling the other day) on Friday at te meeting and asked him your question.

    He said you should try something like "linearization table" or option. Did you ask in MobileRead where they would also know? Did it work for you?

  36. Hi Andrys,

    I didn't get much help from MobileRead and I just tried selecting the "linearize tables" option under "Look and Feel" in the Calibre conversion settings. No dice.


  37. RHM,
    Re-post it for new eyes or expand on the original and say that Kovid had recommended using the Linearized Tables option but that this didn't help either.

    As if anyone has any ideas. I'd also write the contact at Calibre besides. Good luck on this.

  38. I am thinking about getting a Kindle and the biggest thing that was holding me back was that it didn't support the ePub format. Now that I see there are converters out there that pretty much makes up my mind for me. My only question is this: I was going to get the Kindle (Wireless Only version, because it's cheaper and I'm a poor college student!)Can I still convert files and transfer them to my Kindle without the 3G connection?

  39. jaymie,
    Yes as long as you've access to a local WiFi network (and in college you probably have many), you can do what's needed with that.

    You can use the USB cable to move a converted file to your Kindle OR use WiFi to get it to the Kindle.

    Before you decide, read the article at

    Good luck :-)

  40. I just placed an order for the Kindle, but am now concerned about whether or not I am going to be able to use e-books from the library. They said the format does not work on Kindle, but can the Calibre software convert those books so that they are readab le on my Kindle? I thought the Calibre software was only for non-copy protected books. Would best sellers, etc, loaned from the library be able to be read on the Kindle?

  41. Anonymous,
    The Kindle doesn't have access to public library books.

    It does have over 20,000 free books that are downloadable, and also you can read 30,000 (downloaded direct to your Kindle, one at a time) from Project Gutenberg, and then there are the over 2 million free texts you can download in Kindle format at Internet Archive

    (You can search any of these terms at the top right hand part of the blog to see the details).

    But if it's contemporary books from the public library that you want, and your library has a lot of them and they are not checked out for months at a time, then you would do better with the Nook, the Sony, or the Kobo as far as getting public library books.

    You can cancel your Kindle within 30 days of the shipment date to you and get a full refund from Amazon. Call them at 866-321-8851 when you decide and they'll arrange for that.

    Good luck in whatever you decide.

  42. What an amazing blog! I bought my wife a Kindle as an early Christmas gift and she's wild about it. This site is an invaluable resource.

  43. Blazer,
    How great that you chose it for her, your wife already has it and, is really enjoying it !

    Thanks for letting me know you're enjoying the blog :-)

  44. Just to let Americans know: my American friend came to Europe with her Kindle 3, and there was no trouble at all logging in to wifi; she was online in minutes.

  45. I have an epub with beautifully formatted tables. The shading and borders are defined in the CSS. Is there a way to convert the epub to mobi and retain the formatting? I couldn't find a way to do this with Calibri.

  46. Anonymous,
    That's how it should be, so thanks for confirming it. Also, she should be able to use her 3G there as well.

  47. My university library has links to text books online, Would I be able to read them on a Kindle?

    Thanks, Martin

  48. Anonymous at 6:19:00 AM PST
    Text books online at our libraries are read through the web browser.

    The Kindle does have a (slow) web browser but the 6" screen would not be at all ideal.

    You can get a textbook ONto your Kindle only if the publisher sells them in Kindle format or another format without copyright protection which means you could convert the text for your Kindle.

    I'd tend to read the online versions via my 10" netbook or desktop.

  49. Just today I took a Kindle3 back to Target because I found there was no good way to read e-pub library books, even trying to convert using the Calipre program. Bummer, as I thought the Kindle was pretty sharp. Wonder how long Amazon will keep up this insanity?

  50. Am I doing something wrong, or is it in fact impossible to convert commercial books from Google Books via Calibre? I have had no problem with free public domain books, but any of the paid books come up in Calibre as 0.0 MB.

  51. Anonymous,
    You're not doing anything wrong. Calibre converts only non-DRM'd books. One would have to remove the DRM to convert the paid book, and it's illegal to remove the DRM.

    If paid ePub books are important to you and your Kindle was shipped within 30 days ago, you can still get a refund if you call them and if it's in good shape with the box still available.

    The Kindle doesn't handle Library ePubs for the same reason, at this time. To do this they'd have to pay Adobe for the license to use Adobe's DRM method instead of their own.

  52. Thank you for that response. My Kindle is new, but I am in love and would not even consider returning it as this point. I have only ever *paid* Google for one book, but have a number of commercial books that were free for one reason or another. Oh well. I can read those on the trusty old laptop.

  53. Anonymous,
    Glad you're enjoying it (hard not to). I'll say one thing. This reader -functions- in general much better than the main one you could get at close to the Kindle price.

    Good luck with future book wants :-)

  54. I don't think there is a "Download" button anymore. I'm looking at the original source of Benford's Law ( which is free but there's no download button.

  55. human mathematics,
    Thanks for the alert.

    I need to update the free google ebooks entry, as they combined everything and now they want a credit card before you can easily download a free file.

    It's all connected with having a user connect receiving Google books via a Google account, building up Google member numbers and customer info.

    The free files don't still don't require ADE as do the other ePubs.

    Once you download it after 'buying' the book for $0.00, it is easily convertible as before, via Calibre, and you can also, instead, upload the file to Retroread (any of the free Google books) if they don't have it already (in which case the converted copy would be there ready and waiting).

  56. Another epub-to-azw conversion option is to download the free Kindle Previewer application (mac or windows) from:

    You can drag-drop the epub file into the Previewer app window and it will perform the conversion on the spot (if it can). You also get to see what the converted book will look like on your Kindle.

    You can also use the kindlegen command line tool, of course, if comfortable with command line tools.

    Downside is that the conversion doesn't always work, and in particular, Google ePubs have a high failure rate.

    Also, a free web based conversion service is available at It will convert just about anything to anything, including most ebook formats. I have only tried it on a few epub files, and don't know how conversion quality compares with calibre.

    Amazon does, in a sense, offer library ebooks via Overdrive, since they own mobi format and there are some titles in that format in many library collections (not readable on kindle without some bit hacking). So amazon would not need to license Adobe DRM, a more likely scenario would be that they would extend the mobi support to include azw (license OD to do this), and get publishers to offer books for lending in azw format.

    Note that the recently enabled Kindle lending feature leverages the same DRM features needed for library lending, and these features have obviously been there since the beginning of the Kindle platform (which is based on the mobi platform).

  57. Just so I am understanding this correctly, if I pay for a Google eBook (In this case "Economics for Real People" by Gene Callahan. Link: and it is downloaded to my computer, I would not be able to convert it to the Kindle format using Calibre, correct?

    Thanks for the help!

  58. Nate, you're correct.

    Although, if you have purchased a book and you want a copy on another e-reader you own, there are DRM tools that you can google. But the paid google books: there are utilities to convert them to PDF once you have purchased it and Google shows you a full web version of it, but I don't know more than that. They are in ePub but unless they use Adobe's standard DRM (they are possibly Google's own DRM), they wouldn't be easily convertible to another e-reader format.

  59. DRM, Calibre, Kindle, Google eBooks, MOBI and EPUB.

    Question: Can I read a Google eBook on my Kindle?
    Answer: No. Not always. Sometimes yes, if it's a free book and you can convert it, which you cannot do if the file is DRM protected, even in Calibre.

    I have a Kindle. I love it but I'm not evangelical. I find it annoying that it does not read EPUB format. It's also annoying that DRM'd EPUB files cannot be converted to MOBI despite what lots of folks are saying. That means I can't use my Kindle to read certain books. Which is dumb.

    I read a novel on the Kindle, loved it, wanted another story by that author. I discovered that not all of his works are available for Kindle and that there was a title I wanted that I could not get via Amazon. It was available as a Google eBook, though, and I learned that I could buy it from my local awesome bookstore

    I researched the question above: Can I read a Google eBook on my Kindle? The internets suggested that Calibre could bridge the gap. Buy a book, process it through Calibre, read it on your Kindle. Unfortunately, this is not true.

    I went to the site and bought the Google eBook version of Chronoliths, by Robert Charles Wilson. Downloading it to my computer meant I needed to download and install Adobe Digital Editions. Whatever. I also downloaded Calibre (version 0.7.46) and then added the EPUB file to Calibre. Easy enough. When I tried to convert the book in Calibre from EPUB to MOBI, I got an alert message explaining: "Cannot convert The Chronoliths. This book is locked by DRM. To learn more about DRM and why you cannot read or convert this book in calibre, click here.(" I repeated this process by going directly to my Google ebookstore library and downloading the EPUB file, and again downloading the PDF file. Same DRM result.

    The link led here: You should read it. It plainly states that Calibre cannot convert DRM'd files. Period.

    If anyone out there is wondering if they can read a Google eBook on their Kindle, consider this: Are you paying money for the book? If you are, then the book is probably DRM protected, which means you cannot convert it to a Kindle-friendly format. If you are not paying money, then yes, probably you can convert it (you may also be able to download the same free book from Amazon.)

    So, how do you know if the download you're buying is DRM'd? I don't know. Ask. It is not clear.

    Disappointed in the Kindle's refusal to use EPUB format and for all these jokers to come together on a file-format and a DRM that's fair for all. Idiots.

  60. pdxNat,
    Officially, everything you say is correct. Also, removing DRM even on a book we've purchased, in order to read it on one of our other ebookreaders is, by the letter of the law, illegal. Not fair, I agree.

    Calibre itself doesn't offer conversions of DRM'd books for that reason.

    But the laws need to be changed or publishers need to get real about the problems with DRM and its effect on people who do pay for their books.

    There are others (not Calibre and not affiliated with it) who have made plug-ins for Calibre so that, say, a Kindle book one has bought, can be read on that person's Nook or vice versa.

    It's not "recommended" because it's not legal. It's just a possibility that's out there. If you google the two words:
    epub perplexed
    you'll see what's out there and the writer has said tools like this are not to be used for anything but your own purchased books for your own personal use. The problem is that too many do pirate books.

  61. Why does Kindle push the mobi format rather than the open source ePUB format? Why do the e-book reader manufacturers and e-book publishers get together (Amazon, Sony, and Google included) and come up with an ISO standard for e-book format (preferably one that is open source and supports formating features needed by textbook and scientific journal publishers). This was done with HTML or web pages in the early days of the internet. All browsers had to support HTML vs 3.2 at one time. Perhaps e-PUB and PDF seem to be the best formats to have all e-book readers to support. Possibly Open Doc format could also be included. Please let me know why Amazon choosed to support mobi and not the ePUB format?


  62. Anonymous,
    Mobi was actually the leading open source at one point. Amazon bought Mobipocket. It's very limited in features though for all I know they are updating that the way ePub is moving to version 3.

    It's a very complex thing and also involves DRM or digital-rights-management on top of the ePub formats even. Can't read iPad ePub on any other reader, but you can read other reader books on a myriad of devices.

    Go to forums or Amazon Kindle forums or to ask this question to get probably an interesting assortment of responses.

  63. Project Gutenberg has a wide selection of free eBooks that you can download for your kindle. Some of them even comes in .mobi and ePub format aside from the popular PDF eBook format.

  64. Crissy,
    Sure. See from this blog... The Magic Catalog can be placed on your Kindle and you can browse and search it and then click to download one directly to your Kindle.

  65. Thanks for pointing the features of these books.

  66. Nice and Informative post! I was looking a good utility ePub to Kindle conversion and for this I had gone through hundreds of sites, but no good result so far  I really did not know that the Kindle 2, 3 and DX Kindles can read PDF directly. I am very happy with the information provided by you here. Thanks buddy.

    1. Glad it helped, though at the top I have a link to a later, updated (for its time) blog entry on the topic. But you're right, they were given the ability to read PDFs direct about almost 3 years ago now.


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