Other than ebooks, lots of people want to read PDF documents in their Kindle 2 / Kindle 3. However, since the Kindle 2 cannot display PDF documents natively (Kindle DX can do that however), the big question to many Kindle 2 owners is therefore how to make it work ? One simple answer is to use the conversion service by Amazon.com, however this method is not the best one. I hope this blog post can provide a good answer to some of you.
1. Let Amazon.com do it for you
As mentioned, Amazon.com offers a service to let you just do that. You send your file to your Kindle email address and after a few minutes, Amazon will send the converted file (with .azw extension) to you (via Whispernet). It cost some money to do that, or if you want to do it free, send your PDF document to the free Kindle email address. With this approach you can also save the file and transfer to your Kindle 2 with the USB cable – i.e. it works prefectly if you’re outside US. The only trouble with this method is the converted file is actually not easy to read at all … if your PDF document is full of graphical images and illustrations.
2. Hack your Kindle 2 to do it
Yes, you can hack your Kindle 2 to convert PDF document automatically … just install the Savory tool by Jesse Vincent. This tool converts every page of the PDF document into images and you can read it in portrait or landscape modes.
I like Jesse’s implementation a lot, but I don’t want to hack my Kindle 2 … and I don’t like to uninstall the hack before every software upgrade.
3. Convert to Mobi file format
Kindle 2 supports many formats such as .Mobi, .prc and .txt format, so you can also install file conversion programs to convert your PDF document to .Mobi files. I tried this before with the Calibre opensource tool. And there is another tool from MobiPocket.com that can do this as well. Unfortunately, the converted PDF document looks pretty much like the .azw format – i.e. not that readable for image-heavy PDF documents.
4. Convert to images without hacking your Kindle 2
That method is similar to the second approach above, but you don’t need to hack your Kindle 2. Just download the PDFRead 1.8.2 from the mobileread.com website, install it and convert your document with the profile parameters (check image below). Transfer the converted document (a .prc document) to your Kindle and it’s done. The upside of this approach is the very readable output (including Chinese document as well !!). The downside is you cannot perform text search with this image-based document, and many times you need to zoom in to read the details.
Check the images below … hope you find this useful and enjoy your PDF documents.
Update 1: Amazon announced a firmware update to support native PDF reading in Kindle 2. Check my blog post for the step by step upgrade procedure.
Update 2: Amazon also announced Kindle firmware 2.5 to cover PDF Pan and Zoom.
Update 3: Get your Kindle 3 to have all the PDF functions.