As many now know, since Sept. 30 and with the Kindle Keyboard software update to v3.3 on Oct. 13, Amazon has made notable, long-requested improvements to the Personal Documents feature, upgrading personal documents that you send to your Kindle, from 2nd-class status to having the regular features that Kindle books have.

See Update with email from Customer Svc.

Those first-class features include sync’g your reading between devices, having them archived at the Amazon servers, and showing their titles in your Kindle’s Archived Items folder when the personal document is no longer on the Kindle, for future re-downloading to any of your Kindles as needed.  (You can also disable the archiving & sync’g features.)

Personal docs are, generally, any file that is not a Kindle book and they’re usually files we’ve personally put on our Kindle — either by transferring them from computer to the Kindle, via the USB cable that comes with our Kindle’s power cord or by using our email to send the file to our Kindle (which is given a “Kindle email address” for that purpose, in the form  [your nickname] .

For example: My Kindle 3 address is — and no one can use it to send documents to my Kindle unless I approve that person’s email address for doing that.  Approval for others to send docs to your Kindle  can be registered by you at your page.

Any file that we send to our Kindle by email goes to the Amazon servers where it is converted to Amazon format before Amazon gets it ready for download to the Kindle.

Once you’ve made that special nickname-email address for your Kindle, you can specify that you want to send a personal file to your Kindle email address WITHOUT using the “3G” cellphone network feature.  Why? – because there is a 15c per megabyte fee to use 3G for sending personal docs to your Kindle.  (See ‘What are “3G” and “WiFi?“.)

Amazon pays for 3G cell-phone type data-access and they charge back 15c per megabyte of a file for that reason.
Sending files via WiFi networks doesn’t incur a fee, as WiFi is local to us, in our home, or at work, or at a cafe or other public place that allows access to one, and Amazon doesn’t have to pay for that.

The new Basic Kindle with No Keyboard and No TouchScreen is WiFi only, so there’s no way to incur a fee with that.

When would you find yourself using 3G instead of WiFi?
The Kindle 1, Kindle 2, and larger DX models use ONLY 3G  wireless access for downloading books or for going to the web.  The Kindle 3 (UK: K3) (“Kindle Keyboard“) uses both 3G and WiFi.

Making sure you send the file for free
The TWO ways you can get the file to your Kindle without using 3G are:

  1. Send it to [your nickname[ (note the “free” part in the link) which will let you download the converted doc file or book using a WiFi wireless network at home, office, or a place like McDonald’s or Starbucks instead of using 3G wireless  OR 
  2. When Amazon notifies you that your converted emailed-file is ready for download but you have no WiFi network access, download it to your computer at the manageyourkindle page and then transfer the file to your Kindle by using the USB cable.  In the past we’ve been able to download it from the link given in the Amazon email-notice that the converted file is ready.

In both cases, you’ve emailed a personal document file to Amazon for conversion to Kindle format so that it can be on the Kindle.  That sending of the file:

  1. makes your personal doc eligible for the regular features which include sync’g between devices, archiving on the servers, and
  2. you can choose to download it to the Kindle via WiFi or to your computer via USB cable, specifically designated for your Kindle, as mentioned.

Instead of doing a PR release on the newer Personal Document features,Amazon sent an email on Oct. 14 to anyone who was “a past user of the Kindle Personal Documents Service”

‘Your documents are now automatically archived in your Kindle library (you can control this from the Manage Your Kindle page at ‘

That means that Amazon will back it up on their servers — and this will be on a Kindle Cloud that can hold up to 5 gigabytes of your personal documents so that you can re-download them as needed at any time.

‘ Archived documents can be re-downloaded from your archive to the all-new Kindle and Kindle Touch devices, as well as Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3rd Generation–requires the latest software update v3.3 from — you will be able to find and download your documents from any of these devices that are registered to your account. ‘

I did see that a personal file I sent to my current Kindle Keyboard IS sendable from the manageyourkindle page, personal-documents section, to my Kindle 1, 2, and DX-Graphite as well as the later ones although the file doesn’t show up in the “Archived Items” folder on those older Kindles nor do they seem to do sync’g (they’re not said to be included for new features at this time anyway).

It’s good that we can download the personal docs to each and every Kindle though.

‘ Now (just as with Kindle books) Whispersync automatically synchronizes your last page read, bookmarks and annotations for your documents (with the exception of PDFs) across devices ‘

They did not specifically mention Kindle 1, 2, or the DX for the whispersync’g or for downloading from those Kindles’ Archived-Item folders rather than doing manageyourpage-sending to those devices.

‘ We expect to extend these features to Kindle Fire and Kindle apps (such as Kindle Cloud Reader, Kindle for Android, Kindle for iPhone, Kindle for PC, and Kindle for Mac) in the coming months ‘

That is definitely good news.

‘ You can control these new features from the Manage Your Kindle page at where you can see a list of your archived documents, re-deliver documents to your Kindle, delete any document from archive, or even turn off archiving for your account.

Learn more about the Kindle Personal Documents Service from our help pages at ‘

Examples of personal documents
I often highlight items from webpages and copy them to Word docs and then send them later to my Kindle so I can read them offline.
These will now be archived and redownloadable as needed and sync’able with my newer Kindles.

Also, non-DRM’d *.mobi or *.prc books that you download from various free-book sites will be considered personal documents also.

Question I have:  Is an instapaper, sendtoreader, sendtokindle, or readability document sent to your Kindle also kept on your Amazon server area?
I haven’t tested it.  Maybe some of you have and you can add your personal findings to the Comments area.

But I read one paragraph that I don’t quite know how to interpret.  It mentioned that all this does not include documents that involve automatic distribution to your Kindle. (I’ll have to find the wording again later.)

These will get the benefit of the features ONLY if a copy of a PDF is converted to an Amazon format, losing its original-layout but usually more readable if it’s not a document with complex layouts.
You can just send these to Amazon as you would any personal document BUT, for PDFs, you need to put the word “Convert” into the subject field or Amazon dosn’t convert the PDF file to Amazon format but instead will let it through as is, since we often want to just have the original PDF and layout.

At “Managing Your Kindle Content page’s Personal Document Settings, you’ll see Whispernet delivery options.

CURRENTLY, I was taken to this page for “Kindle Keyboard” options because right now it was the link used for costs incurred with current models — the Kindle Touch models aren’t released yet.

The Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) has 3G (as well as WiFi) and, as we’ve noted, there are fees for that, although this page doesn’t mention that there are NO fees for WiFi use instead, and this omission has confused people who felt they could find no free method.

On that Kindle Content page, you’ll see “Whispernet Delivery Options (for 3G Kindles only)
They use “Whispernet” on that page to mean 3G wireless sending.
There they add:

‘ Whispernet delivery is disabled by default.  You can change your preferred Whispernet delivery option for personal documents by clicking “Edit” under “Whispernet Delivery Options” and enter preferred settings. Click “Update” to compete[sic] complete change. ‘

They show an example of (un)checking the box for
“Enable delivery to my Kindle over Whispernet.  Fees apply.”
REMEMBER that, here, “Whispernet” is used for the 3G use although they often say instead, “Whispernet with 3G support” — so it is all quite confusing as the Help pages are going through changes.

But you’ll note that you can ALSO, if you enable 3G sending, LIMIT the cost to you by specifying the maximum amount to be charged for a delivery. A normal novel can cost 15c but a large Pdf could be many times the size and cost.  So, those without WiFi in their area or with older Kindles that have “only” 3G wireless can still send over the air but it will cost you unless you DISABLE 3G-sending or “Enter a maximum allowed per document delivery charge” to equal $0.00 or whatever you feel is reasonable.

Kindle Cloud storage space in addition to Amazon Cloud space
Note that while all Amazon customers are given general Amazon Cloud space of 5 gigabytes for storage (and streaming, if in the U.S.), Kindle customers get an additional 5 gigabytes for personal documents.
Kindles are able to store anywhere from 1.5 to 3.2 gigabytes of books, but you can keep most of it on the Kindle Cloud and the performance/speed of your Kindle will be better.

Those who prefer privacy of their personal docs can just DISABLE personal document archiving on the manageyourkindle page.

Personal docs that you put on your Kindle without sending them via email to Amazon will not be archived on the servers and they won’t, then, be sync’d either, when you’re reading them on various devices and apps.

Let me know where I’ve not been clear here or if you have personal experiences with sending personal docs that you’d like to share.  Many of us have long wanted to be able to sync our non-Kindle books and other personal docs and now there’s free backup also, so this is all very good, although there seems a mountain of info about what’s involved.


– I had written Amazon that the personal doc pages were confusing and got some interesting replies – the first one saying it would take them a couple of days to look at it to do a summary and then a reply by another person who gave some clear answers that confirmed my understanding.

Commenter Joe G, was hoping the interpretation was right (so was I) so I’ll include most of what Amazon’s CS emailed reply said.  (BOLD facing to highlight a point is done by me, not by the writer.)

‘ Hello,

I’m sorry for any misunderstanding regarding how our Kindle’s Personal Document Service works.

To avoid a fee, ensure your Kindle is connected via Wi-Fi.

…Download of your personal documents from Archived Items is currently only supported on Kindle Keyboard [Kindle 3], Kindle and Kindle Touch… ‘

As Joe said, many regulars found that they could not tell from current Help documentation what the fee situation was, as the clarity that was there before has not been there on the new pages, re how one might avoid fees via WiFi. This customer support statement is clear though.  Caution: It’s from one customer rep but Janice V was unusually clear in her statements and I’ve no reason to believe that there is any fee associated with WiFi accessing of personal documents.

Janice V. added the following, which I’ve seen on the help pages but which also may be of interest to readers here:

‘ Documents must be 50MB or smaller.  No more than 25 attachments can be sent in one e-mail. If you’re sending multiple files, you can compress them into a single zip file.

If you choose to not archive your documents and your Kindle is not connected wirelessly, we store your document for 60 days and attempt to deliver to your Kindle once it restores wireless connectivity.  Personal documents not delivered within this time period will be deleted. ‘

Via A Kindle World Blog


  1. Warning!! My Iphone just wiped out an evenings worth of work on my Kindle 3 keyboard by burning all the notes I had made on the kindle with the previous day’s version of a personal document that is now set up to sync between the Kindle and Iphone. Amazon has no idea how this set up works. We’re all beta testers to them so beware. Don’t try to use version 3.3!!!

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail