One of the first things I wanted to do with my Amazon Kindle electronic reader was to read PDF files on it. Unfortunately, you can’t just dump PDF files directly into the Documents folder of the Kindle. You have to convert them first into one of the document file types the Kindle will recognize (.azw, .txt, .mobi*,.prc*). I tried emailing my files to name@free.kindle.com for free conversion and delivery to the email address associated with my Amazon.com account but I never received the files.

Thankfully, Blaine sent me a link showing how to convert PDF files using Mobipocket Creator but the instructions weren’t very clear. Here is a step-by-step on how to convert PDF files into .prc files for the Amazon Kindle.

  1. Download and install the FULL version of Mobipocket Creator. (If you opt for the simpler version, it won’t have the PDF conversion option.)
  2. When Mobipocket Creator is running, select Adobe PDF under Import From Existing File
  3. Choose the PDF file you want to convert
  4. Leave the rest alone unless you want to change your destination folder and click Import
  5. Select the html file that was just created and click Build from the toolbar at the top of Mobipocket Creator
  6. Click Build (you will most likely get a few errors but I just ignore them)
  7. Go to your destination folder, open the folder that was created with your publication
  8. Copy the .prc file into the Documents folder of your Kindle via the USB cable (if you want it delivered wirelessly, you’ll have to email it to yourself and pay 10 cents)

One of the major difficulties of reading PDF files on the Kindle is the lack of a Table of Contents so you can’t skip around very easily. There is a function on Mobipocket Creator for creating a Table of Contents but I just can’t be bothered to figure it out. My solution is to convert only individual articles and not large PDF files such as the entire digital issue of Scientific American. Sometimes the formatting can also be wonky but it’s still quite legible. I’m willing to put up with this process as I much prefer reading PDF files on my Kindle. Hopefully in future software upgrades, PDF files will be supported!

When I have time, I’ll write more about my impressions of the Kindle. Thus far, I’ve had it for about five days and think it was money well spent.

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