Have a Kindle or eReader question? We're here to help.

In planning to re-read all the Sherlock Holmes books, I hoped to find a beautifully formatted, complete version at zero cost. Here are the options I uncovered.

The complete Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories can be downloaded for free from several websites. Sites such as Project Gutenberg, Standard Ebooks and others. There are also free books available in the Kindle store itself. The method of sending it to the Kindle depends on its file format.

Exhibit A. Sherlock Holmes novels on the Kindle. And a puzzle about the highlighted text below from A Study in Scarlet. Clues are marked in this post with {!}

We don’t want to sacrifice our precious time trying to scour the internet for high-quality free copies. And then filter those with the features we are looking for. So we’ve done the research hoping to save you time.

The following sources vary in the file formats offered and also have differences in the actual content of the ebook. The features we’ll be looking for include:

  • Completeness (4 novels and 5 short story collections in the official canon)
  • Having covers
  • Having a table of contents
  • Chapter breaks
  • Paragraph indentions
  • Straight quotes vs curly quotes
  • AZW3 vs MOBI file formats (affects how we send to the Kindle)
  • Is the book searchable?
  • Can we highlight and export notes?

100% free sources for Sherlock Holmes eBooks

All the ebooks in these websites are searchable, can be highlighted, and notes exported. Most of them though are inconsistent with displaying covers in the Kindle’s home screen.

Most of these websites will require you to download the file to your computer and send it to the Kindle. See this article for detailed steps on how to send files to the Kindle. It’s the same for PDF and non-PDF files.

{!}

Project Gutenberg

This is one of the most popular and comprehensive sources for free ebooks. It’s also the oldest. Founded in 1971, it currently hosts over 60,000 free ebooks. 

As of this writing, all 4 novels and 4 short-story collections can be downloaded from the website. Only the last short-story collection, “The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes” isn't available.

This version shows a table of contents both as the first few pages, and in the Kindle’s Go To menu. 

It doesn’t seem to display italics compared to the others in this list.

Most of the ebooks are in English, but there are also quite a few in different languages. 

Project Gutenberg lists down different versions, including some with illustrations embedded inside. This is the only one on the list that explicitly indicates whether illustrations are included.

Here’s a shortcut to the Arthur Conan Doyle books from Project Gutenberg.

Sherlock-holm.es

This is a website dedicated solely to the complete canon of Sherlock Holmes. As of this writing, all 4 novels and 5 short-story collections can be downloaded. They have a single file version of the entire canon, as well as individual files per story.

This version looks well formatted, including curly braces and italics. Also, the page margins and chapter breaks look similar to the print edition.

The table of contents doesn’t appear in the first few pages. And the Kindle’s Go To menu shows fewer entries, instead of a way to jump straight to a chapter.

Click here to visit the Sherlock-holm.es website.

StandardeBooks.org

This website has one of the most well formatted ebooks available. Their goal is to produce ebooks that rival commercially available books in typography and formatting.

They even have a dedicated page describing how StandardEbooks is different.

There is a way to download thumbnails of the cover so it will appear in the Kindle’s homepage. However, I have not been able to get this to work consistently. Nonetheless, the cover is not really the original one, nor is it precisely relevant to the story. So not much loss there.

The table of contents don’t use up the first few pages, and instead is easily accessible via the Kindle’s Go To menu.


Formatting is beautiful, including curly braces, italics, page margins and chapter breaks. Such attention to detail is demonstrated here: https://standardebooks.org/manual/

Perhaps the biggest challenge with Standard EBooks is the fact that they only have the newer .azw3 file type for the Kindle. Not the older, albeit more popular .mobi file type. Strangely, Amazon won’t allow us yet to send .azw3 files to the Kindle via the usual send to email method. We would have to connect the Kindle to the computer and manually upload the files.

More details about how to upload .azw3 files here.

And here’s a shortcut to the Arthur Conan Doyle books from StandardeBooks.org.

GlobalGreyEbooks.com

According to their website, they have over 3,000 quality eBooks available. This includes all Sherlock Holmes’ 4 novels and 5 short story collections. 

Amongst the other sources listed above, I’ve only been able to show the covers from GlobalGreyEbooks.com on the home screen consistently. 

Table of contents are displayed both on the first few pages and the Kindle’s Go To menu.

However, formatting doesn’t have the same chapter breaks and paragraph indentation. Italics and curly braces also don't show.

Here’s a shortcut to the Sherlock Holmes series in GlobalGreyEbooks.com

100% Free from the Kindle Store

The Kindle store itself also has some free copies of Sherlock Holmes stories. However, it’s quite limited. As of this writing, only the Valley of Fear novel and the short stories of The Last Bow collection are available.

You can find them by going to the Kindle store and clicking on Advanced Search.

Enter “Sherlock Holmes” in the Keywords field and “Arthur Conan Doyle” in the Author field.

Then select “Price: Low to High” under “Sort Results By.”

Hit Search.

Here’s a shortcut link to the search results page in the Kindle store.

The results page will show you a list of Arthur Conan Doyle books starting with a price tag of $0. 

Kindle Unlimited books will show up as well, though not technically free because you have to pay for the subscription.

The advantage of these books compared to other sources is it's very easy to download them straight to your device. No issues with the covers not showing up, and the formatting is guaranteed to look good on the Kindle.

{!}

Near Free from the Kindle Store

Continuing the search that you did above, you’ll find that there are several Sherlock Holmes books priced at $1.99 or below. 

The prices are always changing, but here are a few examples as of this writing:

Hopefully that saves you time so you can get started reading right away. As always, if you have other Kindle questions you need investigated, please do not hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S. Here's the answer to the puzzle in Exhibit A.

Having a tendency to shy away from social obligations and instead read on the Kindle for hours non-stop, I wanted to learn if the Kindle has blue light.

The Kindle Paperwhite emits a small amount of blue light. However, it is front-lit, directing light towards the screen not straight to our eyes. We can also reduce its intensity and there is a dark mode option to further reduce the amount of light reflected to our eyes.

The common reasons we are concerned about blue light are the possible effects it has on our eyes and sleeping patterns. Let’s begin with a summary of various blue light theories and their effects.

What is Blue Light and what is wrong with it?

If you are outdoors on a sunny day, you are practically bathing in blue light. This is because the sun is the biggest emitter of blue light on the planet. 

Exhibit A. Blue light in the sky. Photo by Gonard Fluit.
And a question: Why is the sky blue? (Answer at the end of this post).

Remember that light is a spectrum of colors, from red to green to blue to violet. Blue light is part of that spectrum. And each of these colors varies in the energy that they contain. With violet being the strongest, blue next.

So blue light is basically a part of the light spectrum that emits a higher amount of energy. 

Some blue light is beneficial. It boosts alertness, helps with memory functions, and elevates our mood. It signals to the body that it’s daytime, thereby regulating our circadian rhythm. The problem is when we get too much exposure and exposure well into the night.

Studies indicate that too much of these high-energy rays can lead to eyestrain, headaches, and blurry vision. It also interferes with our sleep cycle, causing us to have more difficulty falling asleep.

People also tend to blink less when reading. Which further increases the light shining to our eyes.

On the other hand, some studies like this and this, says blue light itself doesn’t adversely affect sleep. So it’s useful to keep a healthy skepticism before drawing any conclusions.

Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt to manage exposure to these light rays. And there are several ways to do so. More on that later. 

First let’s look at how much blue light the Kindle expends compared to other devices, including non-digital ones. We’ll use data from fluxometer.com.

Comparison between Kindle and other devices 1

DeviceBrightness compared to daylight in %Phase shift in minutes
Kindle Paperwhite half brightness00
Kindle Paperwhite full brightness710
Galaxy S5 Active2540
iPad Mini Retina2845
Surface Pro 34063
Nexus 7 Gen24267
iPhone X5485
iPad Pro6196

DeviceBlue light (weighted power)
in µW/cm2
Kindle Paperwhite half brightness0.122
Kindle Paperwhite full brightness0.98
Galaxy S5 Active2.58
iPad Mini Retina3.7
Surface Pro 35.13
Nexus 7 Gen25.8
iPhone X5.47
iPad Pro10.1

The metrics displayed in the table are:

Brightness compared to daylight: Indicates how big an effect on your body clock as being outdoors in daylight. For example, if you see 25%, it means that if you spent 4 hours in front of the device; it has approximately the same effect on your body clock as spending 1 hour outdoors in daylight.

Phase shift: shows how much you can move your body clock in just one night if you see it for long enough (a few hours) typically before bed.

Blue light (weighted power): this is an estimation of irradiance in microwatts per square centimeter. Irradiance is the light energy (or power) received by a given surface.

All of these figures were taken using the default parameters in fluxometer.com. 

Please do not take these numbers as exact conclusions on how much blue light each device will produce. There are so many arbitrary factors that would affect blue light in your actual situation. Including distance, angle, light bouncing on the walls, etc. 

Rather, we can use these numbers and pay attention to their relative differences to each other. This way, we can have a reasonable estimate on the level of blue light that the Kindle emits compared to other devices.

Comparison between Kindle, common light bulbs and others 2

Light SourceBrightness compared to daylight in %Phase shift in minutes
Full moon00
Ordinary candle00
Kindle Paperwhite half brightness00
Kindle Paperwhite full brightness710
Christmas tree2946
Philips Ambient LED3045
GE Incandescent bulb3555
LED 5000K5485
Philips TL950 fluorescent tubes5892

Light SourceBlue light (weighted power)
in µW/cm2
Full moon0.0131
Ordinary candle0.0929
Kindle Paperwhite half brightness0.122
Kindle Paperwhite full brightness0.98
Christmas tree1.71
Philips Ambient LED2.13
GE Incandescent bulb2.38
LED 5000K5.71
Philips TL950 fluorescent tubes6.64

Front lit vs back lit

This is one of the major differences of the Kindle Paperwhite compared to other devices. Instead of having LED bulbs shining from the back of the device pointing towards you, the bulbs are recessed along the sides pointing at the screen. 

In this way, it's closer to a reading lamp than the back lights of mobile devices. This results in much softer light reflecting to the eyes while keeping the screen properly illuminated. 

Options to reduce blue light being reflected to us

Still, despite the Kindle emitting much less blue light, and being front-lit, there are several ways we can reduce the blue light even further.

  • Reduce the brightness of the front-light.
    You can do this by tapping on settings in the top menu. This also has the side benefit of reducing battery usage.

  • Dark mode
    This option inverts the screen so that most of the display is dark and the text is white. This would reduce the amount of light reflecting towards you. 

    You’ll notice this clearly when you adjust the brightness level while in dark mode. Observe that there is less difference between brightness levels, because there’s much less white on the screen.


  • Blue light blocking glasses
    Check out the reviews in Amazon.com and you’ll see many testimonials of how effective they are in alleviating eye strain (from reading on screens in general, not specifically the Kindle). And there are studies that back them up.

    However, note that there are also some studies like those mentioned earlier, that present a different conclusion. I suppose we’ll just have to see for ourselves what works for us.
  • Blue light blocking screen stick-ons
    These are like screen protectors that you would have to stick on top of your device. Note that it's a rather permanent fixture. And you need to be very careful in applying it evenly to avoid “air bubbles”.

  • Kindle blue shade
    This is only for the back-lit Kindle Fire tablet, not for the Kindle e-Ink devices. I only included it here to remove the confusion.

  • 20-20-20 Rule
    A common guidance on preventing eye strain, the rule recommends looking at an object at least 20 feet away, every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds.

  • Deep Breaths
    This is my favorite method. Not just to protect from excess blue light, but also to reduce eye and body strain in general. The challenge here is how to remember to take those breaths. For that, we can use a trigger. 

Breath Per Page


This has been tremendously helpful to me, I’d like to propose an acronym for it: BPP.
As in “Breath Per Page” or DBPP “Deep Breath Per Page.”

Often when busy, we only take shallow breaths and might even forget to breathe altogether! 

The idea is to train the body to close the eyes and take one full breath every time we turn a page. You’ll have to think about it at first, but after a while, it becomes automatic like muscle memory: Turn page -> Breathe. Turn page -> Breathe.

This method lends itself well to turning a page in the Kindle. Because you don’t have to think much about it. You know exactly where to position your eyes once you reopen them.

Deep breathing relaxes not just the eyes, but also the head, neck, shoulders and the entire body as well. This means we can go on reading longer without being tired. Before, I used to have very tired eyes after reading just for a few hours. Not anymore.3

Being less tired also means we can focus more. And although counterintuitive, it might even speed up our reading over-all. 

The duration of each breath depends on how much time you have. Deeper and longer breaths naturally lead to more relaxation. And something else too:

This method has had a remarkable effect on my comprehension. In those few seconds that my eyes are closed, I can almost see what I just read. I can see it being organized by my brain. As if “saving” it to my old cranky, hard drive.

As a result, I can follow the train of thought more efficiently. 

In summary, the Kindle does emit a small amount of blue light. But it’s much less than most digital devices, and even less than common light bulbs. 

While it’s good to consider the effects of blue light on our sleeping patterns, I find that personally, my level of interest is what keeps me up at night. More than any blue light could.

Do you have other methods to take care of your eyes? I’d love to learn from you! Please let me know

P.S. Here’s the answer to Exhibit A, on why the sky is blue.

Resting the eyes from all these blue light. Photo credits: Bigbird3

TECHNICAL NOTES 

1 Details about the instrument and measurement models can be found in the specific fluxometer page for each device.

2 For light bulbs, no wattage was indicated as the readings were scaled to 100 lumens. So the readings can be interpreted as, "if you were exposed to 100 lux of this type of light, it would produce this much phase shift".

3 I’ve been experimenting on using this method for the computer as well. The trick is to use the Page Down key as much as I can, instead of scrolling with the mouse. And then train the body to take a breath every time I hit that key.

Incidentally, perhaps this is another plus point for the Kindle not being able to scroll.

Like many book lovers, I continue to debate this question with myself. Here’s my attempt at finding a balanced answer.

As a whole, the advantages of the Kindle are in portability, speed of finding & buying books, custom font sizes and reduced environmental impact. Paperbacks excel at appreciating book designs, feeling, smelling, and personalizing books. Paperbacks are also better with tables, charts and illustrations.

In this 2-part article, we will discuss 70+ factors highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of the Kindle vs. paperback books. I’ve organized them into over a dozen categories, including gray areas that are more about personal preferences.

Exhibit A. Kindle and paperback. And a puzzle about the highlighted text above from Sherlock Holmes. Clues are marked in this post with {!} 

I intentionally refrained from including a running tally of scores. As I believe these factors have very different degrees of importance to each of us. 

Suppose I said that the paperback wins on 40 factors to the Kindle's 30. Well, if those 40 factors don't really matter to you, then such a score is, at best, irrelevant.

Another way to analyze these criteria is to keep asking, “Is this really important to me?”. As Sherlock Holmes says in Exhibit A: “Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth”. 

Carrying Books

1 - All around portability

Kindle:

The Kindle can hold thousands of books. So you will always have your library with you. The light weight makes it convenient to carry wherever you go, indoors or out. And if you need to look-up a book on a whim, they are all readily available.

Paperback:

Sometimes having too many options causes inaction. With paperbacks, you have to decide which book will be with you for a given time. This way, you'll cherish this book very deeply.

Winner:

Kindle. The portability makes for a lot more reading opportunities.

This reminds me of the question: which is the best camera for me?

Answer: Most often, it is the one that you will have with you. The most expensive DSLR cameras won’t return more value than the iPhone, if it’s mostly sitting on the shelf accumulating dust.

2 - Packing for travel

Kindle:

Packing multiple books is a quick way to exceed baggage allowances, and the book’s rigid rectangular form isn’t the easiest to fit into compartments evenly. 

Upon arrival at your destination, a luggage loaded with many books becomes more difficult to handle. Especially if you need to navigate planes, trains, and buses. Aside from being heavier, the center of gravity tends to be uneven. With the Kindle, you don’t have to worry about luggage space or weight.

And what if you need to move houses altogether? There is no need to spend a lot of time packing boxes and boxes of books.

Paperback:

Unlike the Kindle, physical books can go into airplane check-in luggage and won’t cause any delays with X-ray machines. And no need to set them to airplane mode on take-off or landing.

Winner:

The Kindle makes it a lot easier to travel.

With Kindles, no need to worry about luggage space or weight

3 - Casual short trips and errands

Kindle:

When going on quick trips to the supermarket or the bank, etc., no need to spend time thinking about which book to bring. You can bring them all. Long lines become less frustrating when you have the Kindle with you.

Paperback:

You can leave a book in your car or bag, so you will always have something to read. The book can even become part of your routine for these short trips.

Winner:

The Kindle makes for an excellent companion when running errands.

4 - Weight on the wrists

Kindle:

Weighs less than most paperbacks. The Kindle makes it easier to read and turn pages with one hand. Wrists feels less cramped than when reading heavy books. 

Paperback:

Some like the “gravitas” that comes with the heavier weight. 

Winner:

Wrists less tired, can read more. I’ll go with the Kindle on this one.

5 - Holding while lying down or standing up.

Kindle:

The light weight and ease of holding with one hand allows for easy reading in various positions. Including reading while standing and reclining in the bed or sofa. 

No risk of dust (and dust mites?) or other particles from old paperbacks going into your bed. And if you fall asleep and the Kindle falls on you, it won’t be as painful 🙂

Paperback:

If the intention to read in bed is to fall asleep, then the paperback could be slightly more effective due to the complete absence of blue light (more on this below).

Winner:

Kindle. The agility and ease of holding with one hand opens up a lot more reading opportunities.

Reading books

6 - Illustrations, tables and charts

Kindle:

The Kindle itself isn’t designed for illustrations, tables, and charts. There is a zoom function, although it’s a bit slow. Also, most ebooks would allow you to sync to your computer and peruse them on the larger screen.

Paperback:

Paperbacks would show those illustrations exactly as the publishers intended. It is much easier to read; the size is just right and can come in color.

Winner:

The paperback simply does a better job at this. For more details, see this article about the Kindle showing pictures.

Diagrams, charts and tables are better shown in paperbacks than in the Kindle.

7 - Flipping pages back and forth

Kindle:

The Kindle offers bookmarks, and a quick GO TO option. It can quickly show the table of contents without leaving your current page. As well as a list of your highlights.

Paperback:

It’s still easier to stick one finger on one page and another finger on another page and then flip back and forth. Flipping through the Kindle bookmarks is very slow in comparison to this. It’s also easier to recall more or less how far along in the book you want to go back to.

Winner:

I’d go with paperbacks for the unbeatable finger flipping method.

8 - Font size customization

Kindle:

Font sizes, font styles and boldness can easily be adjusted. Also can be saved as a theme to quickly switch between settings later.

Paperback:

Some books are printed with unique fonts that look great on print. The Kindle can only display fonts pre-loaded on the device.

Winner:

The ability to adjust the font size wins it for the Kindle. It affects most other aspects of the reading experience, including fatigue, comprehension, and whether you need eyeglasses.

{!}

9 - Margins, alignment and line-spacing

Kindle:

These layout options can easily be adjusted and saved as a theme. Like font sizes, it can have a significant impact on the entire reading experience.

Paperback:

Some books are printed with unique layouts similar to magazines. These layouts are better read in print. Also, some people like that you can easily write on the margins of paperbacks.

Winner:

Kindle takes this one for ease of customization.

10 - Visual on progress

Kindle:

There are progress indicators showing percentage of completion for both the entire book and individual chapters. This can also be hidden if you prefer not to see how close the ending is, setting yourself up for a bit of a surprise.

Paperback:

You can physically see how far along you are with the book. There is a tangible sense of progress, as you see the remaining pages become thinner and thinner.

Winner:

This one is largely dependent on personal preferences. 

11 - Reading in dim light

Kindle:

Has its own adjustable front lights, making reading in not so bright conditions possible. Very useful if you are mobile and do not control the lighting situation. The Kindle also has a sleek-looking dark-mode.

Paperback:
Obviously no built-in lighting, so you’d need a steady external light source. 


Winner:

Kindle for versatility.

Kindle on dark mode

12 - Blue light

Kindle:

Still has some blue light, but much less than tablets and mobiles. Light is directed to the text, not to your eyes. But if you really are concerned about this, some options include reducing the front-light brightness while using an external light source. You can also try stick-on filters and non-prescription computer glasses. 

Paperback:

No artificial light, therefore no blue light.

Winner:

If the goal is complete elimination of blue light, then paperback wins.

13 - Dictionary and pronunciation guides

Kindle:

Can lookup words instantly. Won't slow down your reading pace too much. You also have the option to choose from different dictionaries. The convenience could also encourage more frequent dictionary lookups, therefore learning more vocabulary.

Paperback:

You’d need to refer to a separate dictionary, which would be much slower. However, in doing so, you would get to know your dictionary very well.

Winner:

Kindle wins because of convenience.

{!}

14 - Foreign words

Kindle:

Can quickly look up translations of common foreign words. 

Paperback:

You’d need a special dictionary or use the computer.

Winner:

Kindle takes this again due to convenience.

15 - Highlights

Kindle:

With the Kindle you can highlight as many lines as you wish without the reluctance that you might damage the book or run out of highlighter ink 🙂  

Then you can easily consolidate and review all of those highlights. You can quickly jump back and forth, as well as print them. And there is no risk of losing them, as they will be saved in your account online. 

Paperback:

For the paperback, highlighting could be a very intimate way to personalize the book. You can also highlight vertically across lines if you wish.

Winner:

The Kindle makes highlighting more efficient. 

16 - Notes

Kindle:

With the Kindle, you can quickly add text notes without writing on the actual books. As with highlights, it’s easy to consolidate, find and jump between notes. 

The notes are  automatically backed up in the cloud and synchronized across devices. Allowing you to organize them on your computer.

Paperback:

Writing on the actual books personalizes it. You can annotate on the margins, underline passages, even draw little diagrams. 

Winner:

For most books, the Kindle provides more value in note taking. Please see this article for more about copy pasting notes.

17 - Find words inside a book

Kindle:

You can search the entire book easily. Or you can search just your notes and highlights. Jumping between search results is painless, and you can quickly go back to your starting point. Previous searches are saved for easy reference.

Paperback:

The paperback doesn't have any clear advantages here.

Winner:

Kindle. There is no “find” equivalent with paperbacks.

18 - Find words across all books

Kindle:

The Kindle enables you to search for words across your entire library. Very useful If you forgot which book had that particular word or phrase. You can even use it to check unread books for mentions of a specific word.

Paperback:

The paperback doesn't have any clear advantages here.

Winner:

Kindle. For more info, please see this article about searching in the Kindle.

{!}

19 - X-Ray and index feature

Kindle:

The Kindle’s X-Ray feature Gives you an index of key people, characters, terms and images in the book. You can see how many times a particular character was mentioned  with a nice little timeline graphic. This provides another way to find passages if you do not recall specific words but do remember which characters are involved.

Paperback:

Many books come with indexes at the back. You can easily flip back and forth using your fingers.

Winner:

Kindle. For the additional information provided by the X-ray tool.

20 - See Popular Highlights

Kindle:

There is an option to mark lines that were commonly highlighted by other readers. This could give you hints about what many people are paying attention to. It could be quite useful if you are new to the subject matter. 

But if you think this is a distraction, you can easily turn it off. 

Paperback:

There is no equivalent to the paperback.

Winner:

I’d say this is largely personal preference.

21 - Fixed text and spatial memory

Kindle:

There is no fixed placement of text on pages because you can change the layout, fonts, and orientation of the screen. But using themes can help somewhat in providing consistency.

Paperback:

With paperbacks, each word will always be at the same spot, on the same page. Some say this aids recollection because we can associate the word to its location on the page.

Winner:

Paperbacks due to consistency of word placements.

22 - Citing a specific page

Kindle:

Because there is no fixed placement of text, you would have to use chapters or other contextual headings to cite locations.

Paperback:

With paperbacks you can cite the page directly, making it much easier for others to locate.

Winner:

Paperbacks are easier for everyone to cite and locate pages.

23 - Reading multiple books at a time

Kindle:

There is no added weight to carry, regardless of many books you read at the same time. 

Easier to tackle multiple long books by reading one chapter at a time. Without the Kindle, you probably wouldn't be lugging around those heavy books with you otherwise.

Paperback:

Can give you tangible reminders of the books that you have yet to complete.

Winner:

The convenience of the Kindle enables you to read more books. 

24 - Cross-referencing multiple books at a time

Kindle:

You can have different books open on different devices. Even open different sections of the same book. For example, your Kindle can be on Chapter 1, while your tablet can display the Appendix of the same book.

Paperback:

Can have multiple books physically open in front of you. Books won’t turn to screensaver every few minutes. Very easy to turn your gaze from one book to another.

Winner:

Paperback is more efficient here. Specially for books with tables and charts.

25 - Intimidation due to size 

Kindle:

A heavy tome in ebook format looks much less intimidating. And therefore it’s more likely that we can get started reading and completing it. 

Paperback:

Finishing a particularly thick volume can add to the sense of accomplishment. For some, this challenge could be a motivator.

Winner:

The number of words is the same, so the reading challenge is there for both. But the Kindle makes it a little less daunting. 

26 - Organizing books

Kindle:

The Kindle makes it easy to find titles, organize by collections, group by series, sort by dates, etc. You can also use the Amazon website to organize books using the much larger computer screen. 

No need to spend time DIY’ing your bookshelves when one section becomes full (those shelves can’t expand by themselves). With the Kindle, you have virtually unlimited shelves that are self-adjusting.

Paperback:

With paperbacks, it could be amusing to constantly tend to the shelves of your personal library. Perhaps even implement your own mini Dewey decimal system.

Winner:

Kindle. For convenience and time savings. I’d rather spend that time reading than constantly organizing. 

27 - Audiobooks

Kindle:

The Kindle can easily switch between reading or listening to an audiobook version. These audiobooks are professionally produced and complement the reading experience very well.

Aside from switching to audiobooks, there’s also a text-to-speech option that does a good job of dictating any text. More importantly, it enables our visually challenged friends to hear the books.

Paperback:

Lucky for you if you’re still a kid. Your parents or guardians would likely enjoy reading books to you. And both of you would cherish those memories —and those books— later. 

For the rest of us no-longer-kids, perhaps it’s our turn to read to others, family or not?

Winner:

The Kindle opens up a whole new immersive experience with audio. And as for parents reading to kids, that can be done using the Kindle too. Though less sentimental, it can give more choices to the one being read to.

For more details, please see this article about listening to Audiobooks using the Kindle.

Feeling and personalizing books

28 - Texture of reading books

Kindle:

The Kindle screen has a slight grainy texture to somewhat mimic the feel of paper. The surface is smooth but is a little grainy. It feels like the pages of a high-quality hardcover book. 

Unlike paper, there is no risk of fingerprints affecting the pages, no papercuts, no accumulation of dust or other particles.

Paperback:

Paper remains the gold standard. And with paperbacks, you have that distinct tactile impression to accompany the reading experience.

Winner:

For the sensory feel of paper, nothing beats the Paperback.

For more details, please see this article about feeling the Kindle as paper.

Observing a fake-paper-kindle. Paperback wins paws down.

29 - Sound of reading books

Kindle:

The Kindle doesn’t have that cozy page-turning sound, but it can offer much more in audio features. Foremost of which is switching between reading and listening to the audiobook version. There is also that Text-to-speech feature for dictation.

Paperback:

There is something quite comforting in hearing the gentle rustling of the page. Perhaps signaling a cozy memory or a subtle progression in reading. The crinkling sound can also help build up emotions as you are turning the pages.

Winner:

Paperback for the natural rustling sound.

30 - Smell of reading books

Kindle:

The Kindle has no-scent of its own, but this isn’t too bad specially for those who are hypersensitive to airborne particles springing from old books.

You could also experiment with “Paperback colognes” to try to get that bookish scent. Click here for more details about smelling the Kindle.

Paperback:

Many people love the scent of books. The distinct vanilla-like fragrance reminds us of people, places, and even emotions. We can’t help it. The olfactory bulb which processes the sense of smell, also plays a role in emotion, memory and learning.

Winner:

The paperback, effortlessly fragrant.

31 - Taste of reading books

Kindle:

With the waterproof nature of modern Kindles, we can enjoy our favorite beverages or snacks without fear of spillage or crumbs. 

Paperback:

Some people like to occasionally lick their fingers when turning pages. I suppose this helps in quickly progressing through the book, while incidentally feeding taste data to the brain.

Winner:

I’d say this is largely personal preference.

32 - Emotional attachment

Kindle:

Though the books aren’t physically present, the Kindle’s portability allows these books to be a much more consistent and readily available companion. And the consistency can create associations with memories and feelings.

With the Kindle, there is no attachment to the physical book, so there is zero reluctance in wearing the books down by constantly re-reading them. Hence, making them even more visible by your side.

Paperback:

The combination of sensory impressions, book design, and actual physical presence creates a much more tangible object to which we can associate memories and feelings to.

Many people relate to some books like old friends. 

Winner:

By its very nature, emotions are very much of personal preference.

One option is to get both the Kindle and paperback editions for your most liked books. 

33 - Scribbling

Kindle:

You can highlight and make notes without risk of damaging the books. There is no hesitation in marking the pages permanently. As a result, one might be highlighting and taking more notes as they would otherwise do.

Paperback:

You can easily scribble on margins, encircle or underline words, draw shapes and arrows. Writing by hand is way faster than using the Kindle’s clunky on-screen keyboard. 

You can also write personal dedications on the front and back pages.

Winner:

With the paperback, you can scribble faster and with more flexibility.
You can even put upright smiling faces (not just sideways like this --> : )

In Part II, we’ll cover other criteria such as finding & acquiring books, book cover design, reading outdoors, durability & maintenance, environmental impact and many more.

I was thinking of giving away most of my paperback mini-library. But first I wanted to make sure that reading on the Kindle wasn’t too unlike reading on paper books. Here’s what I discovered. 

Among digital screens, e-Ink devices like the Kindle comes closest to the feeling of reading on paper. The e-Ink screen mimics paper very well because there is no backlight unlike LCD screens. Despite that, it’s still not exactly like paper. It has its own type of sound, smell and texture.

In this article we'll talk about the feeling of reading on a Kindle as it compares to reading on paper. We’ll talk more about the sensory impressions and less about the general pros and cons of the Kindle versus traditional paper books (We’ll cover those in another article).

Since we are talking about feeling, let’s use the five senses as our gauge. Elementary, as they say. And who better to guide us than Pepper, our usually sensible cattle dog friend.

Exhibit A. Pepper scrutinizing a fake-paper-Kindle. And a little pop quiz: What’s another word for “detective” that came from bloodhounds?

1 - Seeing the Kindle like paper books?

When compared to reading on paper, my experience with the Kindle is almost the same, if not slightly more comfortable. This is largely because I can reduce the whiteness reflecting from the screen. 

(Compared to reading on a computer monitor though, I’ve noticed a big difference. On the Kindle, my eyes do not get tired as easily. And much less compared to a tablet or phone.)

The Kindle’s screen size matches the length and width of pocket books, making it very familiar. A lot of research went into the optimal screen size of the device.

Also, the monochrome-only display has a simplicity to it that alludes to reading a  traditional paperback. No distractions, only printed text on a white page.

Scientific research published in PLOS ONE confirmed some of my subjective observations, which I link to below. 

“The absence of differences between E-ink and paper suggests that, concerning visual fatigue, the E-ink is indeed very similar to the paper.”

From: Research titled E-Readers and Visual Fatigue.

The researchers observed a group of participants while reading a novel. They then measured 4 types of variables.

Between paper and the Kindle Paperwhite, The research found no significant difference in two variables. Namely, Eye Blinks and Visual Fatigue Scale (VFS). 

LCD screens however, showed a significant reduction in Eye Blinks, and an increase in Visual Fatigue Scale. The remaining variables either showed no marked differences or were largely subjective.

Details such as the duration and frequency of reading sessions, and how the measurements are collected, are described in the research paper.

"[E-ink and Paper] both the devices generate a very similar blink behavior."

From: Research titled E-Readers and Visual Fatigue.

E-Ink: Easy on the eyes

The Kindle doesn’t use a backlight to project light straight to our eyes. It relies on light in front or on the sides to illuminate the screen. And the Kindle also does a good job of hiding this light source so you never see any harsh bulbs.

In this way, only a soft reflection of the light reaches the eyes. Not unlike the reflection of light on paper.

In fact, if you have plenty of ambient light, like when outdoors, you can even reduce the front lights to zero, and you will still be able to read comfortably.

E-Ink screens can do this because it does not depend on lights to display text on the screen continuously. It only consumes power when the screen refreshes. You can observe this when you have a screen saver enabled. The Kindle will consume little to no electricity and yet display the image for hours on end.

Some visual advantages over paperbacks

I prefer reading large fonts with wide margins and line spacing. I can change this easily with the kindle, not so with paperbacks. 

Depending on your reading light, it's possible for the Kindle to have even less brightness than paper. This could make reading more comfortable under intense desk lamps, for example.

The newer Kindle Oasis can have a warmer yellowish light. This can have the effect of reading on those high-quality papers that have a bit of a creamy off-white color.

And then there is neck posture. The Kindle is lighter than most paperbacks. This makes it easier to hold with one hand and in different positions. Including closer to eye level, such that you can keep your neck straight at a natural position instead of stooping down. 

2 - Smelling the Kindle like paper books?

Pepper smelling a fake-paper-Kindle.

Many people, including myself, love the scent of books. The distinct fragrance reminds us of people, places, and even emotions. We can’t help it. The olfactory bulb which processes the sense of smell, also plays a role in emotion, memory and learning.

The appealing scent comes from wood pulp that comprises most paper books these days. Overtime, the wood pulp interacts with heat, light and moisture and releases organic compounds such as vanillin. This smells like, as the name suggests, vanilla.

Well, there ain’t no wood pulp in them Kindles. So no vanillin either.

Instead, for the Kindle we get a no-scent. Which isn’t that bad, specially for those who are hypersensitive to airborne particles springing from old books.

But if you must really have that scent, blessed perfumers have concocted various fragrances to mimic the smell of paper books. Here’s an example from Amazon.com:

Demeter Cologne spray, Paperback.

On this note, given that the Kindle does not produce a scent of its own, we could theoretically apply any fragrance to accompany the reading experience. Maybe use scents that could accentuate the genre being read? 

I would be curious to find out if such an exercise could aid in comprehension, and even enrich the writing.

3 - Touching the Kindle like paper books?

Since 2012, the new Kindles have a slight texture on the screen. The surface is smooth but is a little grainy. It feels like the pages of a high-quality hardcover book. This is more apparent when you flip pages and feel the surface underneath your fingertips as you drag across the screen. 

Unlike paper though, there is no risk of your fingerprints discoloring the pages. I was one of those who refused to touch the edges of paperbacks out of fear that moisture from my fingers would ruin the pristine look of the book. Instead, I will only allow my fingers an inch inside of the margins. 

Still, despite all my care, nature altered the paper throughout the years and they still got the discoloration. In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have been as reticent to touch those pages =) 

Another tip to get more tactile impressions from the Kindle, is to remove the case if you have one. If you are not on the move, holding the Kindle in its bare form allows you to feel the nice matte back and keep its very thin profile. 

As the Kindle is thinner and lighter than most paperbacks, it’s easier to hold the device with one hand. Even when turning pages. 

On the flip side, paper books are still easier to jump between pages. The Kindle has bookmarks, which can get the job done. But it's not the same as inserting one finger on page A, another finger on page B, and flipping back and forth. 

My alternative to this is to highlight sections that I need to refer to often, and print them. See this for more details on how to print kindle notes and highlights.

Pepper feeling a fake-paper-Kindle.

4 - Hearing the Kindle like paper books?

My former boss told me he prefers reading paper books because he loves the “crinkle” sound of paper. I too love that sound. 

There is no crinkling in the Kindle, although you could hear your fingers swiping through the slightly textured screen. And when you gently graze the matte back surface. 

Perhaps this is a feature that Amazon can consider in the future. The Kindle can already connect to an external speaker via bluetooth. All that is needed is a trigger to play a page-turn sound clip.

Still, the Kindle offers much more audio features, more than making up for the lack of a crinkling sound. The device can play audiobooks and seamlessly switch back to reading mode. Continuing where you left off. It’s like having a very patient person read the book out loud to you when you want to. And abruptly shut up so you can read in silence when your mood changes.

See this article for more details on how to listen to audiobooks.

5 - Tasting the Kindle like paper books (that sounds a bit strange)

In the classic mystery novel The Name of the Rose, a friar in a medieval monastery plans to murder the other friars because he doesn’t like their philosophy. Since the victims like to read books in the library, he laced the pages with arsenic. So when they lick their fingers to turn the pages, they got knocked-out. Mission accomplished.

I guess people have been licking their fingers while reading books for a long time. I can imagine this would give a very palpable taste of paper books. Which might add to the “feel” of the book?

Needless to say, there’s no finger lubrication needed for the Kindle. So with respect to “taste”, the Kindle will diverge significantly from the experience with paper books. (Not to mention added protection from poison by a deranged friar. Or more aptly these days, Covid.)

However, one can more freely taste something else while reading on the Kindle: We have less to worry about if we want to enjoy our favorite beverages or delicacies while reading books. Thanks to the waterproof  nature of the newer Kindles, fear of spillage or crumbs won’t be holding our taste buds back.

Reading on the Kindle feels remarkably similar to reading on paper books. But there remains notable differences. And I foresee that we shall continue to read on both Kindle and paper books. Neither one will replace the other completely.

Pepper agrees. He doesn't mind either so long as they don't interfere with his snacks.

As for my paperback mini-library, I am reading almost exclusively on the Kindle now. And I did give away at least 50% of my paper books. The others will probably take a longer time to let go of, if at all. 

And if you have other Kindle questions you need investigated, please do not hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S. Here’s the answer to the question in Exhibit A. 

Sometimes I just want to sit back and listen to books being read. Fortunately, the Kindle can read aloud audiobooks quite well. Here’s how:

Steps to listen to Audiobooks on the Kindle Paperwhite

  1. Connect your Kindle to a bluetooth speaker.
  2. Open the book and tap on the headphones icon that appears at the bottom right. Not all books will have this icon.
  3. The audio player will appear, allowing you to download and play the audio version.

In this article, we’ll discuss the details of the steps above. 

kindle and external speaker

Exhibit A. Kindle connected to a bluetooth speaker. And a puzzle about the highlighted text above from Sherlock Holmes. Clues are marked in this post with {!} 

How to connect the Kindle to a bluetooth speaker

The Kindle Paperwhite does not have built-in speakers, and would need an external device to connect via bluetooth. It’s a quick and easy process.

  1. First, set your bluetooth speaker to pairing mode.
  1. Then  on your kindle device, go to Settings > Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 
  1. Make sure that Bluetooth is enabled. Then tap on Bluetooth devices. You should see the speaker listed here. Tap on the speaker to connect.

    If you do not see the speaker, try turning it off and on, and make sure it is on pairing mode. Tap on the Rescan button on the Kindle device to try again.

Check as well if the speaker is already connected to another device and try to turn off that connecting first.

After a successful pairing, you will see the speaker in the list of bluetooth devices. You can un-link anytime through the settings.

kindle connect to bluetooth

You can also turn off the connection quickly by tapping on the bluetooth icon in the top settings menu. The Kindle will remember the device next time you wish to connect and will not require you to go through the same pairing process again.

Note that not all Kindle devices support audio. Here’s a table that lists support for various devices.

DeviceGenerationAudio Support
Kindle Paperwhite10th generation (Released 2018)Yes
All previous generations of Kindle PaperwhiteNo
Kindle Oasis10th (2019),
9th (2017),
8th 2016)
Yes
No previous generations of Kindle Oasis-
Kindle basic model10th (2019),
8th (2016)
Yes
All previous generations of the basic Kindle device.No

Note, generation numbers don't always increment by 1. For example, the Kindle Paperwhite 10th generation (2018) is preceded by the 7th generation (2015).

Download audiobooks to the Kindle Paperwhite

Not all books have audio versions. In the Kindle store, you can identify those that do by checking the search filter "eBooks with Audible Narration."

Then on the book page, you should see an option to "Add Audible Narration."

Find eBooks with audible narration

{!}

Add audible narration

{!}

Once you purchase the book and download it to the Kindle, it would show a headphone icon like this.

Kindle with audiobooks

Other ways to find audiobooks

You can also browse for Audiobooks by tapping the Store icon in the top menu of the Kindle eReader. As of this writing, this option doesn’t have a search field though, and you’d have to go thru the categories one by one.

Another way is to go to the Audible “matchmaker” page here:
https://www.amazon.com/hz/audible/matchmaker

Kindle find matching audiobook

This will scan all the Kindle books in your library and list down those that have matching audio books. Pay attention to the `Load More` button at the end, which would appear if there are a lot of matches.

And yet another method is to select the “Whispersync for Voice” category on the Amazon website. This will allow you to search for titles that should have audio versions. 

https://www.amazon.com/b?node=5744819011

I recommend still selecting `eBooks with Audible Narration` filter on the left side, to be certain.

Whispersync for Voice

Occasionally, some books would download a separate Audible book. And won’t allow for quick switching between reading and listening. I have not been able to find a solution to this yet. But thankfully, it doesn’t seem to happen very often.

Use the Audible player in the Kindle

Once you have an audiobook downloaded, open the book and tap on the headphones icon on the bottom menu.

Kindle headphones icon

{!}

The screen will change to the Audible player where you will be asked to download the Audio files of the book if you haven’t already done so. This might take a few minutes depending on the length of the book.

At about 5%, you can begin listening already by tapping on the large play button.

You can skip forward and backward by 30 seconds and adjust the speed and volume. I find that setting the volume to 50% and increasing the speaker’s hardware volume gives better sound quality. The Kindle will remember the volume settings the next time you open the book.

Perhaps the most useful feature of the Audible player is the ability to quickly switch between reading and listening. You can do so by tapping on the `Reading` link at the bottom right.

Kindle switch to reading icon

The screen will switch to the book’s text and display the location that you were just listening to. This is an excellent way to alternate between reading and listening modes. It feels quite seamless.

You can also add bookmarks and notes by tapping on the `Add bookmark` option near the bottom right. These bookmarks would be accessible when you switch back to reading mode.

I find this very effective in reviewing passages from the audiobook. When I want to examine a paragraph more carefully, I create a bookmark and switch to reading mode. Here, I read the text again (even several times), and make additional notes if necessary.

I can also just add the bookmark and review them at a later time. 

Though it’s quite convenient, playing audiobooks from the Kindle consumes more battery than normal. Don’t forget to disconnect the bluetooth when you are no longer listening. Lowering the screen brightness would also help reduce battery drain.

Another thing to consider is storage. audiobooks take up a lot of space. This book for example, takes up about 130 MB at just 250 pages.

Sync with the Audible app on mobile

The Audible app can play the same audiobook that you purchased from Amazon. The app has a lot more options, including a sleep timer and adjustable forward and backward jump duration. These options are not available in the Kindle’s Audible player.

Listening via the Audible app can also sync locations with the Kindle so you can alternate between reading and listening. However, there is a noticeable delay and sometimes it even takes minutes to sync. Switching between reading and listening is not as seamless compared to using the audio player in the Kindle.

I use the audible app when I do not intend to switch between reading and listening in real-time. Such as when in transit. This way I conserve battery on the Kindle. 

Audible app

Text-to-speech VoiceView vs. Audiobooks

Aside from playing audiobooks, the Kindle can also read aloud many books using a feature called VoiceView. This is an accessibility feature using text-to-speech technology. It's inside the menu Settings > Accessibility > VoiceView Screen Reader.

Using VoiceView has a bit of a learning curve. But once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty straightforward. There is an excellent tutorial right on the setup screen.

Kindle VoiceView

Once VoiceView is enabled, navigation of the entire Kindle screen changes. You will have to use a set of tapping and swiping gestures to operate the Kindle. Not just for reading the book itself, but also for selecting menus, searching for books, etc. You will not be using the Audible player for VoiceView.

More information about the gesture commands can be found here.

The key thing to remember with VoiceView is you tap on the screen once to select an action, and tap twice to execute it. It’s like single-click vs. double-click on the PC. And double taps can be done anywhere on the screen. 

For example, you don’t have to double tap the home button. Instead, single tap the home button and double tap anywhere in the middle of the screen to proceed.

VoiceView can read text reasonably well, but it does not have the production quality of audiobooks.

Listening to audiobooks can be a very immersive experience. You’ll find emotions becoming more vivid, actions more striking. And for humorous books, the voice can propel the punch lines even further. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend giving them a try. 

Another benefit: Audiobooks can let the eyes rest for a bit, knowing that the Kindle can continue without skipping a beat.

As always, if you have other features you need investigated, please do not hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S. Here’s the answer to the puzzle in Exhibit A: 

While scrolling on the Kindle app for mobile, I was asked if you can scroll on the Kindle eReader device as well. 

The Kindle Paperwhite does not allow scrolling because it will consume too much battery. Like most e-Ink devices, the Kindle Paperwhite only draws power when the screen changes. And scrolling will need to refresh the screen every time you move up a line, thereby draining the battery very quickly.

My cousin Wilson claims he grew up reading on mobile devices (he didn't). And because of that, he prefers scrolling the screen rather than turning pages. He's baffled why the Kindle Paperwhite cannot scroll. 

Here’s why.

Exhibit A. Scrolling option doesn’t exist on Kindle eReaders. And a question about the highlighted text from Benjamin Franklin. Clues are marked in this post with {!}

The e-Ink technology isn’t built for continuous refresh

“A single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours.”

This is the popular advertisement for the Kindle devices. It can achieve this thanks to advances in e-Ink technology. While on standby, the kindle can display text on the screen with little to no extra power consumption other than the LED lights.

This is very apparent when the Kindle turns to screensaver mode. Here, images are displayed on screen for long periods of time with very little battery drain. 

{!}

Only when the screen changes does the kindle draw electricity. And herein lies the problem. Scrolling will require the whole screen to refresh for every line of text that you read. This multiplies the refresh rate by a significant factor.

Take for example reading a full page at font size set to 7 of 14. This gives you at least 12 lines of text per page. If you are to scroll through these 12 lines smoothly, the Kindle will have to refresh at least 12 times more than if you were just turning the page once.

You can see how this will quickly add up and prevent the Kindle from reaching that impressive battery usage.

Aside from that, the e-Ink screen has a quality called “ghosting”. These are little traces of text that remain on screen even after turning pages. They usually go away once the device has had a chance to fully refresh the screen. It's part of how the Kindle manages its battery use.

Unless the screen is refreshed constantly, scrolling would heighten ghosting. 

As an example, take a look at the experimental browser. From the home screen, tap on the options button and then ‘experimental browser’. Then open a long page such as https://ebookdetectives.com .

Notice what happens to the screen as you scroll down. Not only is it slow, you can see previous lines carry throughout the page.

For these reasons, scrolling isn't likely to appear on e-Ink devices anytime soon.

But are we missing out? By not being able to scroll, are we being deprived of anything? To explore that question, let's take a look at why many people do like scrolling.

Common reasons why people prefer scrolling

  • For some, scrolling requires fewer hand movements.

    This is more apparent when reading in bed or in a crowded train where motion is a bit constrained.

    Still, if you hold with the left hand, you can easily turn pages forward and backward with a single tap of the thumb.
  • Scrolling allows you to fix your eyes on relatively the same spot.

    It's the page that moves, not your eyes. If you turn pages, your gaze will have to travel from the bottom of the previous page back to the top of the next page. 

    For some this could get confusing, specially if a paragraph was split between two pages. Also, dialog quotations from the previous page might be a bit harder to follow.

    Scrolling will allow you to keep the entire paragraph visible at all times.
  • You do not risk accidentally turning pages.

    Given the narrow margins on the sides of the Kindle, it is not uncommon to inadvertently tap the screen and turn the page without intending to. Sure, you can always go back, but it breaks the flow. With a scrolling screen, the worst that can happen is a slight screen movement up or down.
  • Similar to social media, scrolling can be more captivating for some.

    “Only 5 more minutes...”

    And before we know it, an hour has passed. Because scrolling can be such an automatic and less committal action than turning a page, we are arguably drawn to spend more time doing it. Some say that this behavior induces curiosity and a sense of discovery.
  • Auto-scrolling can be even more captivating

    Automatic scrolling can help text move along at a steady pace. It removes most physical action and instead enjoins the user to focus entirely on reading the text.
  • Images can appear gradually

    Scrolling allows you to move images gradually on and off the screen. Unlike turning pages where the entire image is shown right away. This often causes inconsistent white space between images and text. Especially if the images are of different sizes.

Displaying an image with lots of white space.

In the next section, let's discuss why many people prefer turning pages instead. 

Common reasons people prefer page turning over scrolling

  • Page numbers on the footer are a good measurement of reading progress.

    It is easier to gauge the progress in a book by knowing what page you are on and doing the explicit motion of turning to the next page. Compared to scrolling where the footer is usually removed and the concept of a distinct page is less apparent. 
  • Bookmarks are meant for pages.

    Scrolling makes bookmarks less recognizable. When you return to a bookmark, you'd expect to see the page exactly as you left it. However, you might already be looking at a paragraph further down the page, but a bookmark would link to the top paragraph still visible on the screen.

    This could be a bit confusing.

{!}

  • Turning pages can give more spatial landmarks and some kinesthetic feedback.

    Having a predictable page layout can give distinguishable characteristics of how the text is placed on the page. For example, we can recall how far a certain paragraph was from the top of the page. Was there a lot of white space surrounding it? Was it a series of short one liners on the same page?

    If we highlight the text, we’d also have a general impression on which part of the screen we touched. What was the position of our hands and arms? Did we shift our body in order to make that highlight?

    All these could aid in recalling passages later on.
  • Avoid momentary disorientation

    With pages, you’d always have a strong sense of where you are in the book or chapter. This minimizes the risk of losing a sense of location.

    Turning pages is also a more committal action than scrolling, and could compel the reader to be more conscious of how far along they are going.

  • It’s easier to start and stop.

    The page layout is usually very distinct specially for breaks and chapter endings. This makes for natural stops throughout the book. Whereas scrolling might blur these transitions and could lead to scroll fatigue, having no clear end in sight.
  • Turning pages follows the design of printed books.

    Aside from being closer to the reading experience, some books have intentional layouts that are integral to the text. For example, one page might have a question followed by the answer on the next page. And if you do scrolling, you might end up showing both on the same screen.

{!}

Creative alternatives to scrolling

Even though we can’t scroll on the Kindle Paperwhite, there are some experiments we can take to replicate some benefits from scrolling.

In order to conserve hand movements and minimize the risk of accidentally turning pages, we can try using external devices. 

This video shows one such solution called Kindle Lazy. It will allow you to turn pages and even adjust lighting using a wireless dongle and a USB receiver. It would require jailbraking the Kindle though.

Another example is this remote control project that uses a small robotic arm to simulate a screen tap. (On this note, my cousin Wilson might actually start reading on the Kindle if only to see this robotic arm in action).

Automatic page turns, an alternative to auto scroll

Aside from the accessibility benefit, the text to speech or VoiceView feature can automatically turn pages at an adjustable pace.

You can easily adjust the volume, possibly even turn off the sound completely if you don’t need it. And if you have to manually turn pages, you can do so by swiping with two fingers towards the left or right. 

Learning the command gestures requires a bit of patience, but once you get the hang of it, it gets quite intuitive. For more details, check the Guide to VoiceView Gestures from Amazon.

Text To Speech has gone a long way, and the voice translation is much more accurate now. However, it still cannot capture emotions the same way that audiobooks do. 

As always, if you have a Kindle or eBook question you need investigated, please do not hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S. Here’s the answer to the question in Exhibit A.

Having accumulated tons of Kindle notes throughout the years, I wanted an easy way to review them on printed paper. Here's what I found.

Kindle notes can be printed by exporting them through the Kindle eReader device or the Kindle app. Another way is to print directly from the Kindle notebook webpage. More customizations are possible by using the exported .csv file, such as filtering, fonts and page formats.

Printed notes and Exhibit A: a puzzle based on Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie. Clues are marked with {!}

In this article we'll talk about the common ways to print Kindle notes. Their limitations, and an alternative method that provides increased flexibility and formatting controls.

Print with the Kindle cloud reader

This is one of the easiest options available. It's fast and available across all platforms. However, it only works for notes and highlights on Kindle books, not on personal documents.

To begin, open your favorite browser and go to:
https://read.amazon.com/notebook

Select a book on the left side, which will make your notes appear. 

{!} 

To print, hit Ctrl + P to trigger the browser’s print function. Or you can also click on the Print option from the browser menu. 

The print dialog will open, and you can select common printing options. But there's not much customization you can do regarding the content format itself.

All your notes and highlights should appear on the page. If you recently added a note and it is still not appearing, try manually synchronizing the Kindle device. You can do this by tapping on the top menu, then Settings > Sync your Kindle.

With the Kindle cloud reader, you can also add notes and highlights directly without the need to open the Kindle device. You can also edit or delete them. But to star or un-star items, you would have to use the Kindle app on your mobile device or PC.

If you need to find a specific word within your notes or highlights, hit Ctrl+F and use the browser’s find tool. The search bar on the left only searches the book titles.

Export Kindle notes to .pdf and print

To Export notes, tap near the top of the Kindle eReader screen and click 'Go To'. Tap on the Notes tab and then the Export Notes option near the bottom.

Afterwards you will receive 2 files in your email inbox. One .pdf and one .csv file. The pdf file is well formatted, and ready for printing.

Here’s a sample pdf file.

You can open the pdf file in your computer and print as normal. 

Given that it's already a static file, it's not possible to change the content format anymore. But you can still change basic printing options from your computer. Such as portrait or landscape mode, black or white, margins and so on. 

Both this pdf file and the output from the Cloud Reader will combine notes and highlights together. And for now, there isn’t an automatic way to print them separately.

Notes vs. highlights

In most cases, when we refer to “Kindle Notes”, we are actually referring to both notes and highlights. This is because the Kindle device uses the word “Notes” more often in its screens. i.e. “Go To > Notes”, “Export Notes”. 

But for printing, there is a difference in terminology between the two, as shown in the exported files.

First you highlight a passage, and then you’ll have the option to add a note to that highlight. So the note is actually a further explanation of the highlighted text.

Here’s how they look like:

{!}

Notes can also be added to highlights much later and from a different device such as the Kindle app and even the Cloud reader. In fact, this might be an easier way to add detailed descriptions, as typing on the Kindle device itself isn’t usually the easiest way.

This printable format combines notes tightly with highlights. And if we need to separate the typed notes from the highlights, we would need to look into the .csv file that was exported alongside the pdf.

Customize Kindle notes in .csv for printing

The Kindle notes .csv file gives loads of printing flexibility to the content itself, not just the basic printing options. Unlike the other methods, we can modify the list of notes, apply filters, customize colors, font sizes, and so on.

Here’s an example of a printed .csv file.

This example uses Google Sheets to modify the .csv file. But you can use any spreadsheet editor such as Microsoft Excel, or Libre Office to apply the same concept.

I prefer Google Sheets as it’s cross platform, and free for everyone.

And to make it easier, I prepared a spreadsheet template that you can just copy. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use this Google Sheet template.

Step 1 - Export Kindle notes 

If you haven’t already done so, Export the Kindle notes from the Kindle device. Then download the .csv file that you will receive in your email inbox.

Step 2 - Create a copy of this Google Sheet template.

Using your Google account, open this spreadsheet on your favorite browser. 

Link to Spreadsheet

Then click File > Make a copy. Enter a new filename and select which folder you want to save it in.

By default, your copy is only accessible to you. You can double check this by clicking on the ‘Share’ button.

Step 3 - Import to Google Sheets

Go to the first sheet named ‘Imported’, then click on File > Import.

Click Upload and select the .csv file from Step 1.

The Import file dialog will open. Select ‘Replace Current Sheet’. 

Once the import process completes, you will see all your notes and highlights appear.

Step 4 - Customize the template

The ‘Template’ sheet will automatically update based on the rows of the ‘Imported’ sheet. You can change the fonts and colors in this sheet to suit your preferences.

I’ve also created multiple ‘Filter views’ that you can access by pressing Alt +D +W or going to the menu Data > Filter Views.

These filter views are what allows you to separate notes from highlights, among others. Try to switch between different filter views to see how the content changes.

This sheet also has several conditional formatting rules such as alternating row colors. You can see these rules by clicking on any cell in the table and going to the menu Format > Conditional Formatting.

Feel free to modify these rules or add your own. Changes you make to your copy will not affect the original file.

Step 5 - Print the template sheet

After selecting the filter view you want, hit Ctrl +P or go to the menu File > Print. You’ll then be presented with the usual printing options. 

You can also create new Filter views. For example, show only notes with a certain keyword, or those that start with a certain word, or even the length of the note itself. You can do this by applying your own filtering criteria.

Aside from Filter views, you can make changes directly to the text in the ‘Imported’ sheet. Perhaps you quickly want to remove some items, or change the sorting behavior. 

Note though that changes to the ‘Imported’ sheet will be overwritten every time you upload a new .csv file. So if you want your changes to persist, you need to change the ‘Template’ sheet by modifying the filters. Don’t edit the actual text as it automatically pulls those rows from the ‘Imported’ sheet.

With this custom .csv method, you have a lot more flexibility in both the content and format of the notes you want to print. But since we rely on the Kindle’s ‘Export Notes’ feature as the source, it would only include notes and highlights from Kindle books. Not your personal documents.

Export notes from personal documents and print

Currently, notes and highlights on personal documents do not appear in the Cloud Reader. And there is no “Export Notes” option from within the Kindle device for these documents.

The alternative is to use the Kindle app on your mobile device to “share” these notes. You can highlight as normal in the kindle device and when ready, open the kindle app.

Click on ‘My Notebook’ and then the ‘share icon’. Then click on ‘Export notebook’.

For the citation style, you can just choose the default option. Finally, select the destination on where the file would be uploaded. 

The Kindle app will generate an .html file that is ready for printing.

Export from Kindle for PC and print

Another alternative is to use the Kindle for PC software. It’s available for both Mac and Windows. Download it from the Amazon website: 

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp

Once installed, select a book and click on the ‘Show Notebook’ button on the upper right. You will then see an `Export` option. 

{!}

This would generate a .html file that can be printed right away.

Unfortunately though, the Kindle for PC also does not display notes from personal documents.

These are the common methods to print Kindle notes and highlights. If you have other questions, please do not hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S. Here’s the answer to Exhibit A (click on the image for the full text).

Before deciding to go all-in on the Kindle, I wanted to double check how big is the screen compared to other devices. And is it large enough to read all my books.

The Kindle Paperwhite has a 6 inch screen (15.24 cm) measured diagonally. It supports a high resolution of 1072 x 1448 pixels at 300 ppi (pixels per inch). It has adjustable font sizes, line height and margins to quickly optimize the text to the screen size. This makes reading text very comfortable.

Exhibit A. The Kindle screen and a puzzle: Can you guess the conclusion of the highlighted passage above from Sherlock Holmes? Clues are marked below with a {!}

Kindle Paperwhite printable model

It helps to have something tangible to appreciate sizes. So we prepared printable templates showing the Kindle’s actual size. The templates are on US Letter (8.5 x 13”) and A4 (210 x 297mm) sizes. 

{!}

Click here to download the templates.

Kindle Paperwhite screen size vs. other Kindle devices

The 6” screen has been the sweet spot for Kindles since the first devices were released in 2007. Here’s a table showing all the previous Kindle models and their screen sizes.

Kindle DeviceRelease dateScreen size, in. (diagonal)Screen size, mm (diagonal)Resolution (pixels)Pixel Density
Kindle Paperwhite 4 (10th generation)20186"152.4 mm1448 x 1072300 ppi
Kindle Oasis 3 (10th generation)20197"177.8 mm1680 x 1264300 ppi
Kindle Basic 3 (10th generation)20196"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi
Kindle Kids (10th generation)20196"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi
Kindle Oasis 2 (9th generation)20177"177.8 mm1680 x 1264300 ppi
Kindle Oasis (8th generation)20166"152.4 mm1448 x 1072300 ppi
Kindle Basic 2 (8th generation)20166"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi
Kindle Paperwhite 3 (7th generation)20156"152.4 mm1448 x 1072300 ppi
Kindle Basic 1 (7th generation)20146"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi
Kindle Voyage (7th generation)20146"152.4 mm1448 x 1072300 ppi
Kindle Paperwhite 2 (Sixth generation)20136"152.4 mm1448 x 1072300 ppi
Kindle 5 (Fifth generation)20126"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi
Kindle Paperwhite 1 (Fifth generation)20126"152.4 mm758 x 1024212 ppi
Kindle Touch20116"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi
Kindle 4 (Fourth generation)20116"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi
Kindle DX Graphite (DXG)20109.7"246.4 cm1200 x 824150 ppi
Kindle 3 / Kindle Keyboard (Third generation)20106"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi
Kindle 2 (Second generation)20096"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi
Kindle DX20099.7"246.4 cm1200 x 824150 ppi
Kindle 1 (First generation)20076"152.4 mm800 x 600167 ppi

The sizes above were compiled from multiple sources, including the Amazon website and others.

The Kindle was designed in large part to match the portability of printed pocket books. Here’s a table of how they compare.

Kindle Paperwhite screen size vs. usual pocket books

Kindle PaperwhiteMass Market PaperbacksTrade Paperbacks
Size (inches, diagonal)Screen: 6”
Device: ~8.04”
8.08”9.43” to 10.82”
Screen Size (mm, diagonal)Screen: 152.4 mm Device: ~203.33 mm205.19 mm239.62 to 274.74 mm
Size (inches, length x width)Screen: 4.82 x 3.57"
Device: 6.6 x 4.6”
4.25 x 6.87”5 x 8” to 6 x 9”
Size (mm, length x width)Screen: 122.55 x 90.6 mm
Device: 167 x 116 mm
107.95 x 174.50 mm127 x 203.2 mm to 152.4 x 228.6 mm

In this table we show both the Kindle screen dimensions and the actual device’s dimensions. As you can see, the device dimensions are very close to that of a mass market paperback.

When comparing the screen size with pocket books, keep in mind that the Kindle can adjust fonts, line spacing, and margins easily. This removes the difficulty of having to read very small text. On the flip-side, larger fonts means more page turns.

The measurements for the Kindle Paperwhite above are based on the Amazon website. Whereas the measurements for paperbacks are the printed book standards.

The image below shows the Kindle and a mass market paperback side-by-side. The actual book can be found here.

{!}

NOTE: Highlights were marked only on the photographs. No Kindles or books were harmed in the creation of this image =)

A note on screen resolution vs print resolution. The common standard is 300 dpi (dots per inch) for printed images. 300 dpi roughly equates to 300 ppi. 

But for text in printed pocket books, it’s not a very practical and straightforward conversion. There are factors such as ink viscosity and paper quality that would affect the clarity of the text. Hence, I did not include screen resolution in the table above. 

However, we could compare the Kindle’s screen resolution with other digital devices. 

{!}

Kindle Paperwhite screen size vs. popular mobiles and tablets

Screen size (inches, diagonal)Screen size (mm, diagonal)Resolution (pixels)Pixel density
Kindle Paperwhite6"152.4 mm1448 x 1072300 ppi
iPhone 126.1”154.94 mm2532 x 1170460 ppi
Samsung Galaxy S216"152.4 mm2400 x 1080421 ppi
Google Pixel 56”152.4 mm2340 x 1080432 ppi
iPad Mini7.9”200.66 mm2048 x 1536326 ppi
iPad10.2”259.08 mm2160 x 1620264 ppi

This table shows various device information as of February 2021.

{!} The Kindle screen and a 7.9" iPad Mini.

{!} The Kindle screen and a 5.4" Sony Xperia mobile phone

Other screen size considerations

{!}

Can I hold with one hand?

This is one of the areas where the Kindle Paperwhite excels. It was designed and built to be held with one hand comfortably.

The screen size, non-slip back, and lightweight body make the Kindle easy to hold with one hand. At only 6.4 oz (182 g), it's about the weight of a 160-page 5x8" (127 x 203.2 mm) paperback.

Turning pages forward is also convenient with a light tap of the thumb. Turning pages backward can easily be done if holding with the left hand.

A much larger screen would have been more difficult if not impossible to operate in this way.

Zooming in the Kindle Paperwhite

On first glance, the 6" screen may seem rather small. Specially for viewing books with images, tables or charts. Indeed, the Kindle is not the best at those, but there is a zoom feature that can be sufficient for occasional images.

Zooming in the Kindle isn't the smoothest though, and you'll find a bit of lag between zoom steps. Panning is also rather cumbersome.

In a way, this is not surprising as the Kindle's main purpose is to read just text. And it excels very well at that.

Why won’t Amazon build a Kindle with a larger screen?

Amazon released a much larger 9.7" screen back in 2009. It was called the Kindle DX and Kindle DX Graphite. This model lasted only for 2 years and was discontinued.

When Amazon first released the Kindle DX, it was positioned as a possible replacement for paper textbooks. However, users didn't really find the device responsive enough.

That and somewhat limited features prevented the Kindle DX from finding it's footing in the market.

Fast forward to the present, Amazon has yet to offer a larger Kindle device than the 7" Kindle Oasis.

There is a clear trade-off between the screen size and the price. This has to be considered carefully in order to develop a sustainable (and profitable) product. And it appears that Amazon hasn't yet found a compelling case for those larger screens.

Screen size relative to content

For most text only books, the size of the Kindle works very well. Especially since you can adjust the font settings. 

However, for image heavy books such as magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, etc., there is a very noticeable compression in image sizes. This makes reading those types of content on the Kindle very difficult.
More information can be found here about displaying images on the Kindle screen.

And as always, if you have a Kindle or eReader question you need investigated, please don't hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S. Here's the answer to Exhibit A.

My cousin Wilson wants to customize the Kindle's screensaver so he can see more graphics. But he has zero patience to attempt any kind of jailbreaking. In this post, I’ll talk about my attempts to find an alternative.

It is not possible to change the screensaver of the kindle without jailbreaking it. But the screen can be kept always on to display images manually. This can provide a similar solution to the aesthetic value of the screensaver.

Let’s start with why do we want to change the screen saver? The e-ink screen does not really need a screensaver because there is no risk of screen burn, unlike the old monitors. Therefore, the screensaver for the kindle is largely an aesthetic addition.

Image manually set as a screensaver. And a little quiz about this famous quote, Exhibit A.

And then there is also the value of positive reinforcement. By loading our favorite passages and quotes onto the screensavers, we keep reminding ourselves of the ideas that have endeared them to us.

Or perhaps we just enjoy recounting joyful memories that those images represent.

So by isolating the artful objective, we can address that specific goal without being limited by the lack of the other customary functionalities of a screensaver.

For this purpose we could theoretically achieve some of those aesthetics through other simple, albeit unorthodox ways. 

We also would rather not jailbreak anything. Because one, that sounds dangerous and potentially warranty-voiding. And two, it will probably take a lot of time. And as book-lovers, we value our leisure 🙂 

“What do dogs do on their day off? Can’t lie around — that’s their job!” —George Carlin.
Photo credits: Dina Nasyrova

Here are some ideas of what we can do instead.

1 - Disable screen timeout

It would have been great if the screensaver would show the cover of the book I am currently reading. However, that feature is not available yet in the Kindle. So an alternative is to not show any screensaver at all and always have the book we are reading open.

To prevent the Kindle from automatically sleeping and switching to a screensaver, type the following into the search box, and then tap the enter key:

~ds

There is no confirmation prompt, but you can test this by pressing the power button once. If you were successful in entering the command, nothing should happen, and the screen will remain turned on. 

You can still turn off the screen by long pressing the power button for about 10 seconds. To enable the screen timeout again, you would have to restart the kindle. You can restart either by long pressing the power button or by going to Settings > Device options > Restart kindle.

For some, the built-in screensavers just aren’t nice to look at. And the goal is not necessarily to replace the screensaver, as much as just removing it. This approach would prevent them from showing up completely.

Another value of this approach is not having to spend two seconds looking at and swiping away the screensaver. And you could get back into reading without that small extra step. 

This can consume more battery though, which we’ll talk about shortly.

2 - Open image manually after disabling screen timeout

It may be manual, but it does the job of displaying a desirable, personally meaningful image the next time we look at the Kindle. 

And if our goal for the screensaver is positive reinforcement, one could argue that this approach of manually selecting the image is extra effective. 

To do this, first send the images using any of the Send to Kindle methods here. They will reflect on the kindle as a document.

Then every time you want to display those images, you just need to switch to that document by tapping on the home screen. If you send those images as separate documents, you can group them into a collection for quick access later.

And because you disabled the screen timeout, this image will remain on screen until you go back to the previous book you were reading. 

To achieve that full screen effect, you can choose to hide the status indicators at the bottom and the clock on top. Or you can long press on the image until the zoom icon appears.

If you prefer an image in dark mode, it would be ideal if you can use the kindle’s own dark mode option, otherwise you might see a white border along the edges of the screen.

3 - Open an image from the experimental browser

Instead of opening a different document to show the image, you can instead use the kindle’s experimental browser. This enables you to load any page or image from the internet.

And with the screen timeout still disabled, the screen will remain turned on displaying the active page.

To begin, go to the options menu and tap on Experimental Browser. By default, it will open the last page that you visited. 

Enter the url of the image that you want to display, for example:

https://ebookdetectives.com/mountains.jpg

For best results, the images should follow the Kindle browser’s screen dimensions. Officially that’s 1072 x 1448 pixels.

But based on our tests, the following dimensions would better account for the browser header and scroll bars: 1072 x 1282 pixels.

You can create bookmarks for easy navigation later on. Very useful if you want to switch to different images quickly.

And If you prefer reading in dark mode, you can set the same by going to the top settings menu. 

For this approach to work, you either must find correctly sized images online, or you need to have your own server where you can upload images.

For landscape photos however, the browser will auto-shrink it instead of rotating the image. Therefore, you would need to manually rotate the image before uploading it. 

Conserving Battery after screen timeout is disabled

Since we turned off the screen timeout, we run the risk of consuming more battery than necessary. 

Two quick ways to minimize the battery drain is to reduce the screen brightness and activate airplane mode. 

One of the cool things about the e-ink screen is that it can display an image “at rest” without consuming extra power. So you can dial down to the lowest brightness while your image is still being displayed. 

My tests show a consumption of about 1.3% battery juice every hour. This is displaying a static image while the Kindle is on airplane mode, lowest brightness, no cover, and with screen timeout disabled (using the ~ds method).

This battery consumption is not a lot, but it's still much more than my usual battery drain. Here, it seems the Kindle doesn’t fully “sleep”, even though the lights are dimmed.

When the kindle is on regular sleep mode and screen timeout is not turned off, I only get about 0.33% battery consumption per hour. This is while showing a static image of ads or the Kindle’s built-in screensaver. Also with Wi-Fi turned on.

For this reason, I do not disable the screen timeout all the time.

Combining alternatives to the Kindle screensaver

On days that I would like to use the Kindle as an always-on device, I go ahead and turn off the screen timeout setting. And then show an image using any of the methods above.

On regular days, I just keep the screen timeout setting enabled. And when I am ready to pause reading, I open an image, and let it show for about 10 minutes. After which, the Kindle naturally activates its original built-in screensaver. 

And upon resumption, I will see the image for a few seconds, enough to achieve that aesthetic goal I set for myself. And then I tap once to the home screen to go back to the book I am reading.

The .assets folder method

It’s tempting to experiment with connecting the kindle to the computer and trying to modify the built-in screensaver files. Specifically, the files inside the hidden .assets folder. 

Inside that folder are sub-folders with the actual screensaver images in .png format.

If only it was that easy. After trying so many times to update the files there, I still couldn't figure out the pattern that can ensure a consistent and predictable outcome. I may have been successful 2 out of 10 attempts, and my changes didn’t last for more than a few minutes anyway.

Therefore, I cannot recommend this approach.

Honorable effort: Print paper inserts

Not to shy away from quirky ideas, here's another approach to achieve that positive reinforcement from screensavers. You can print images or even book covers and gently place them on top of the screen inside a Kindle case. In a way, they could function similar to the book jackets traditional paperbacks.

Whatever works. And I have a feeling this humble printout might be the only one that my cousin Wilson will actually bother with.

I believe there is another value in attempting to personalize the aesthetics of the Kindle.

When I was much younger, every year I would embark on a half-day endeavor to search the house for this little adventure book with an emerald cover. We moved houses several times back then, and this book must have been misplaced. 

But I never forgot about that book, and to this day, I sometimes wonder where it is. Perhaps it’s just my age, but I don’t get much of that emotion anymore since I started reading exclusively on the Kindle. 

Could there be something about those old books that created such an indelible imprint on the mind? I’m certain the artistry of the books, and the impressions I got while reading them, formed a large part of that personal connection. 

And to me, personalizing the Kindle’s screensaver, or its alternatives, are steps in the direction of recreating some of that. 

As usual, if you have a Kindle or eReader question you need investigated, please don't hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S.
Here’s the answer to Exhibit A:
The mountains are calling and I must go & I will work on while I can, studying incessantly. 

From: The University of the Pacific

My ever-reliable laziness led me to find a way to automate the transfer of files from Google Drive to the Kindle. Here's what I found.

Sending to Kindle from Google Drive or Dropbox can be done by automatically emailing files to your Kindle personal email. The process involves the use of an automation tool such as Zapier, which will trigger every time a new file is uploaded to the designated folders.

In this post, I will guide you on how to set up this system along with a few limitations I've come across. We'll wrap up with a summary of the benefits to be gained with this approach.

For this example, I've organized my eBooks into three folders: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Work. Every time a new file is added to those folders, our goal is to make them appear on the Kindle.

Sample folders we want to send to Kindle. We just dragged "Chapters from My Autobiography.pdf" by Mark Twain. Speaking of that book, here's a little quiz about Mark Twain's system on writing that book. Let's call it Exhibit A, and a clue.

How to automatically send to Kindle from Google Drive

To begin, you would need a free Zapier account. Zapier is an automation tool that will watch for a trigger, in this case a new file being added to a folder. Afterwards, Zapier will perform an action, such as sending an email.

Here's how to set it up.

Step 1 - Sign up to Zapier

You can skip this step if you already have a Zapier account. Otherwise go to zapier.com and sign up for a free account. Note that using the "Sign up with Google" option makes connecting with Google Drive a little faster later on.

Step 2 - Create a zap, set up the Google Drive trigger

A zap is a set of tasks comprising a trigger and the corresponding actions to perform. We would need one zap for each folder in Google Drive that we want to monitor.

To make this easier, I created a sample that you can use optionally. You would just need to change the parameters specific to your account. To see the sample click here:
https://zapier.com/shared/4307e66eadae97a125dd543dbff8181960330b68

Or you can start by clicking on the large Make a Zap button.

Give your zap a descriptive name, such as "Send to Kindle from Google Drive My-Folder-Name."

Select "Google Drive" as the App Event and choose "New File in Folder" For the Trigger Event. Click Continue.

Next select the Google Drive account containing the files you want to send. You may be asked to sign-in to that Google account and grant permissions to Zapier.

Then select "My Google Drive" and choose the folder you want to monitor for new files. This approach will only look at one folder for each zap. To monitor multiple folders, you would need to create multiple zaps.

Alternatively, you can use the "New File" trigger (instead of "New File in Folder"), but that has some limitations which we will discuss shortly.

After that, verify the configuration by clicking "Test Trigger". Make sure you have at least one recent file in the folder that you selected earlier.

IMPORTANT: The Zapier-Google Drive integration only considers files modified within a few days ago (around 4 days as of this writing). Files that were created or modified longer than that will be ignored.

You should see a success confirmation like this. The file that was found will be indicated as well. Click Continue to complete this step.

Step 3 - Connect email

Zapier connects to various email providers. For this example, select GMail. And in the Action Event, choose "Send Email".

Next you may be asked to sign-in and authorize Zapier (unless you have already connected GMail previously). Allow Zapier's authentication request.

Then select your GMail account and click continue.

Next we need to set up the action that will run for each trigger event.

Fill-out the form with the following fields:

TO: Enter your personal kindle email. More info about how to find your kindle email here.

FROM: This would default to the primary email address of your GMail account. You can select another if you prefer.

Note that your email must be included in your approved list of senders, or Kindle will just ignore it. See how you can add your email address to the list.

SUBJECT: Enter "convert" (without the double quotes). This will transform the file to the native Kindle format. It will have improved readability, but will lose most of its original the layout. More info about converting files here.

BODY: Kindle doesn't require this, but Zapier does. I suggest using the File's title for easy reference later.

ATTACHMENT: Here we tell Zapier to use the file that was identified in the trigger step by selecting "1. File".

Click Continue.

Step 4 - Test and Run

Hit the Test & Continue button. You should see a success message like the one below.

Finally, turn on the zap and you can begin uploading files to your Google Drive. You can expect the files to appear on your Kindle within a few minutes.

You would need to repeat this process for every folder that you want to monitor. This can be done by copying the zap in the "My Zaps" page. Note however, that Zapier's free plan only allows for 5 zaps at a time.

It is advisable to manage the volume of files you simultaneously upload to Google Drive. This method will send an email for each file, so be careful not to trigger too many emails in one go.

Troubleshooting the system

If you are not seeing the documents show-up automatically in your Kindle, here are a few ways to quickly check the setup:

  • Inside Zapier, you can trigger the zap to run manually instead of waiting for it to trigger. Inside the Zaps page, click the drop down icon and select "Run Zap".
  • Open your GMail and go to "Sent". You should see emails sent to your Kindle email.
  • Check your GMail inbox if there are any alerts or errors.
  • Take note that GMail has a file size limit of 25MB.
  • You can also use the Amazon website to check if the document has reached your library. Here are instructions on how to find your docs using that website.

    Select "Docs" from the "Show" field and hit refresh. Your new files should show up on top by default within a few minutes.

The next section talks about other common issues you might encounter.

Common Problems with Zapier & Google Drive

  • Zapier's Google Drive integration only looks at files that were created or modified recently. As of last check, that means 4 days. So if you received a file from a month ago and just now dragged it to the Google Drive, the system will not pick it up.
  • Zapier will only trigger for newly uploaded files, not files that already exist in your Google drive.
  • The free plan of Zapier will only trigger every fifteen minutes. But if you are in a hurry, you can also click on the Run Zap option manually in the Zaps page.
  • There is no trigger to monitor a specific folder with all its sub-folders. There is only a Trigger that monitors new files across your entire Google Drive or only for a specific folder (excluding sub-folders).

    So unless you want to have every file in your entire Google Drive be sent to Kindle, you might be better off in just selecting specific folders. Alternatively, you can have a separate Google Drive account dedicated to your eBooks.
  • More details about common problems are listed here.
  • In some cases, you may be asked to do an additional verification to the email that was sent automatically. Watch out for messages in your inbox and follow the instructions from Amazon if any.

    These extra verifications are usually due to something about your email provider that causes Amazon to trigger the extra check. Based on our tests, using GMail generally avoids this problem.

Of all the limitations above, I find the "recent files only" situation to be the most problematic. As checking the date attributes of each file is very cumbersome and kind of defeats the whole purpose of automation.

An alternative is to use Dropbox which doesn't have that limitation. So you can upload files regardless of when they were created or modified.

How to automatically send to Kindle from Dropbox

Sending to Kindle from Dropbox can be done similarly to Google Drive. You would need to use an automation tool such as Zapier to monitor your Dropbox folder and automatically send an email to your Kindle. Dropbox is able to read files regardless of when they were created or modified.

Step 1 - Sign up to Zapier

Sign up or login to Zapier.com.

Step 2 - Create a zap, set up the Dropbox trigger

Optionally, I created a sample that you can use. You would just need to change the parameters specific to your account. To see the sample click here:
https://zapier.com/shared/19a45a085f4d6e3c39ff4249f62849776b311f24

Or you can also start by clicking the large Make a zap button. Then proceed to fill-out the zap's name, app and trigger event.

After clicking continue, you would be asked to sign-in to your Dropbox account and grant access to Zapier.

Next, set up the trigger by selecting the folder you want to watch for new files.

Finally, hit Test Trigger and you should see a success message. Make sure there is a file in your Dropbox folder before you click on Test.

Step 3 - Connect email

This step is almost identical to the procedure above for Google Drive. The only differences are the variables picked up from the trigger in the previous step. Here, you would be selecting Dropbox parameters for the Body and Attachments field.

Step 4 - Test and run

Click on Test & Continue and you should see a confirmation page. Finally, hit "Turn on Zap" to enable it and begin uploading files to your Dropbox folder.

You would need to copy and setup this zap for every Dropbox folder to be monitored.

Common problems with Zapier & Dropbox

  • Zapier currently doesn't have a trigger that can monitor a Dropbox folder alongside all its sub-folders.
  • The free plan of Dropbox offers a much smaller storage space compared to Google Drive (2GB vs 15GB at the time of this writing).
  • More details about other common problems are listed here.

Benefits of automation in sending to Kindle from Google drive or dropbox

Previously, we talked about quick ways to send documents to the Kindle. And for that we have prepared a comprehensive article.

Nevertheless, having an automatic system that sits quietly in the background adds an efficient tool to the busy Kindle reader. It helps provide a seamless transition from one device (say your computer or mobile phone) to the kindle.

Specially if your files are coming from multiple devices, having them all come together into a central folder in the cloud minimizes the need to install different apps and remember various sending methods.

The Send to Kindle app is very convenient, but it's only for Windows and Mac PCs. If you need to send from a mobile phone, a chromebook, or a Linux desktop, you'd have to use other methods. But both Google Drive and Dropbox are easily accessible across most devices.

This system also has a nice side-benefit of being able to detect if you have already sent a particular document to the Kindle. Using the other methods would simply create a duplicate in the Kindle if you happen to send the document multiple times.

Give it a shot and please let us know if it helps you or you run into any problems.

And as always, if you have a Kindle or eReader question you need investigated, please don't hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S.
Here's the answer to Exhibit A: #3 does not describe his system.

© 2021 Copyright EBOOK DETECTIVES