EPUB TO KINDLE – Example: Free Google BooksI’m updating an older post on converting free ePub booksfrom Google to work on the Kindle.  (The earlier blog article was updated often for Google-book changes and lost its basic focus.)The conversion is actually easy to do, and although we can now easily get free Kindle-versions of these Google books, it’s good to know how to do this for any ePub book that doesn’t have a form of digital-rights-protection or management (DRM) placed on it.Google now combines its free Google books with the ones they sell in the the newish Google Book Store.  If you’d like to see how easy it is to convert a free ePub book, go to Google’s “Best of the Free” page and select one.

You can use Calibre to easily convert any free ePub file to Kindle format.
You can also use the Retroread.com site to have it done for you for free but only for the free Google books.

HOWEVER, almost a million of these free Google books are already in Kindle format and ready for simple downloads, thanks to Internet Archive, which will be covered right after the “Convert ePub to Kindle” section.

Google offers over a million free e-books in EPUB formatas well as in PDF format.  (Many don’t know that the Kindle 2, 3 (“Keyboard”), DX and of course coming Touch models can read PDFs direct — but this isn’t ideal on the 6″ screens.)The added ePub versions of the free Google books are better to work with than PDFs because they involve text-reflow capabilities instead of a focus on keeping a page exactly as originally laid out, giving us words too tiny on small screens.

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

The ePub file converted to Kindle Mobi format will also allow the Kindle features of highlighting, note-adding, font-size adjustments and a better book-Search process, and the converted book will be included in search results when the full Kindle is searched for key words.

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 organizing computer records of their Kindle books or for retrieving combinations of newspaper feeds for their Kindles (not as easily navigated as the paid subscrptions).
This blog article focuses on converting the ePub file-format to a Kindle-readable one (Mobi or Prc).

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

GETTING THE FREE GOOGLE BOOK IN EPUB at Google’s “Best of the Free” page.
If you have a Kindle DXG, you might prefer to just get the PDF.  If the words on the PDF are too small or if you want to use the Kindle features mentioned, then get the ePub file.  IF you download an ePub file, then it’s time for

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.  But there’s no need to do any of that.

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.

Also, Calibre gives you the option to optimize your converted file for a specific Kindle model.

So, yes, despite news stories and story commenters who still post that the free Google books are not accessible on the Kindle, they are, with this one 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.

and ready for download, thanks to an amazing resource:

THE INTERNET ARCHIVE’s Free Google Books – downloadable in multiple formats (direct to Kindle too).

You’ll see, on their main Google Books page, lots of interesting features.   At the top center is a box with the title “Internet Archive’s Google Books” and the number of items currently available for that set, currently 903,273.

There’s an advisory that the files have been downloaded from the Google site and uploaded to the Internet Archive by users…and that they’ve been made text- searchable as a finding aid.

Then you’re given a link to “All items (most recently added first).”

From that, select an e-book, like the one in the image above.  After I saw one I wanted to download, I got my Kindle 3 (UK: K3) (“Kindle Keyboard) and:

1. I pressed “Menu / Experimental Browser” and pressed “Menu /EnterURL” and then typed in the URL, using the Sym key, which brings up a number/symbol box that can stay up while you enter alpha characters and forward-slashes as needed, etc.

2. Then I asked it to Go and it took me to the book’s page, which loaded almost instantly (it’s all text).

3. On a 6″ Kindle, the full page is set to fit the width so the characters are small, but the Kindle then displays a movable zoom box with a “+” sign. (When you don’t see a zoom box but you want one, you press the ‘Aa’ key at the bottom.)

4. Then, using the 5-way controller, I went to “Kindle” on the Internet Archive’s book page, left column, and clicked on it, which brought up a dialog box asking if I wanted to download the book and I clicked on “Yes.”

5. It took only about 7 seconds to get the half-megabyte file to my Kindle since my Comcast is fast and therefore my WiFi is too.

That’s all it took.  Might add a screenshot of the Kindle downloading but this blog entry is already image heavy.  You can also save the Kindle file to your computer and then move it to the Kindle’s “Documents” folder via the USB cable that’s a part of the Kindle power cord.

IF a free google book is not available from Internet Archive and you don’t want to convert on with Calibre, then try RetroRead’s Automated Free-Google-Book Conversions.The Kindle is covered well, with Calibre, Internet Archive and Retroread.
Via A Kindle World Blog


  1. You left out what is perhaps the easiest way to convert an epub to kindle format: email the epub to yourkindle’sname@free.kindle.com.
    You will get a email with a link to an mobi formatted file where Amazon has done the work. (I assume that that are using Kindlegen–the successor to mobigen–but all the work is done for you.)

  2. You can also drag ‘n drop an ePub into Kindle Previewer and it will convert the ePub (using KindleGen) and also let you see what the book will look like on various Kindle platforms.

    @Steve Millman, something must have recently changed as ePub hasn’t been supported by the Kindle personal document conversion service before and according to the documentation on Amazon still isn’t. Good to know they’re doing it now.

  3. Steve and Brian,

    Kindle Previewer — can those who are not members of digital text publishing area at Amazon use the Kindle Previewer?

    ePub conversion via free.kindle.com is totally undocumented, in the latest Amazon personal doc announcements. Very interesting. Thanks for the info that you’ve had it done. We’ve requested it and not seen that they at all implemented it before your note. When were you first able to do this?

    – Andrys

  4. Steve,
    I just sent an ePub to my Kindle and got this bounce from the Amazon servers:

    “The following document, sent at 02:19 AM on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 GMT could
    not be delivered to the Kindle you specified:
    * James Cameron AVATAR-Jon Landau.epub

    The Kindle Personal Document Service can convert and deliver the
    following types of documents:
    Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
    Rich Text Format (.rtf)
    HTML (.htm, .html)
    Text (.txt) documents
    Archived documents (zip , x-zip) and compressed archived documents
    Mobi book

    Images that are of type JPEGs (.jpg), GIFs (.gif), Bitmaps (.bmp), and
    PNG images (.png).
    Adobe PDF (.pdf) documents are delivered without conversion to Kindle DX,
    Second Generation and Latest Generation Kindles. ”

    Are you sure it was an ePub you sent? PDFs, yes (if you specify “convert” in subject line) and Word Doc files. But … ?

  5. Brian, another question

    Re the DTP conversion in Kindle Previewer of an ePub submitted, into Mobi (which leaves the [hidden] original ePub in the converted file that DTP people see), is there a Mobi file you can download then and can you get one without the full ePub source also in it?

    And once more, can non DTP members even use Kindle previewer? Or should you be one who is submitting a document to Amazon publishing for publishing?

  6. Actually, Calibre is not the only choice to convert epub books to kindle mobi. i guess Savrory is the better option. Savory is a native ebook conversion package for the Kindle 2. It lets you download and read PDFs and ePubs on the Kindle without a manual conversion step. It runs natively on the Kindle. While it doesn’t add anything that you couldn’t do from a desktop, it streamlines the process, allowing you copy epubs and PDFs to your Kindle over USB or download them from the web, and immediately read them offline.

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