Kindle File Format
When Amazon launched the Kindle eBook reader in November 2007, it also created a brand new propriety file format, .azw, which meant that electronic titles bought from the company website would not be compatible with any other reading device.
Although at first the move appeared to be highly restrictive, the reality is that you do not need to own a Kindle eBook reader in order to take advantage of the huge number of titles that are now available only in Kindle file format. Free reading apps are available for the iPhone and iPad, all Android phones and tablets as well as the Blackberry and Windows phones. Versions of the software are also available for Windows PCs and Apple Macintosh computers.
However, although these apps allow you to have access to your entire eBook collection wherever you go, they do not provide the level of reading comfort associated with e-ink technology and with the Kindle in particular.
In addition to the .azw format, Kindles can also read plain text, html, Mobi and PDF files. With vast numbers of free, classic books available in either plain text or PDF formats, this gives Kindle owners access to a lifetime’s worth of reading material.
Your Kindle can also read a range of other file types including Microsoft Word documents, RTF files and JPEG, GIF and BMP images. Adding files to your Kindle can either be achieved by connecting it to computer using a USB cable or by sending the files to the unique email address of your device. This address can be found by accessing the ‘settings’ option from the menu choices on the home page.
Although it is easy to transfer PDF files to your Kindle, they might not always look their best. Sometimes such a file will be almost impossible to read because the text is simply too small. For our guide on the best way to read PDF on Kindle, check here. Increasing the size of the font is not an option as these functions are only available for data that is stored in Kindle file format.
Luckily, Amazon has provided Kindle owners with a way to overcome this problem. While sending the PDF file in question to your Kindle account, simply type ‘convert’ into the subject line and when the book or document is delivered, it will be in Kindle file format. This service is free when carried out over a Wi-Fi connection but there may be some charges if you utilize the 3G network instead.
If you have multiple documents which you wish to have converted, they can be compressed into a ZIP file. Once this file is sent to your Kindle email address, the individual documents will be expanded and converted then sent to your device.
It is important to bear in mind that files in any format other than .azw that have been protected can not be converted into Kindle file format.
A widely popular eBook format which is not supported by the Kindle is known as epub. If you wish to read these titles on your Kindle you will have to resort to third party software. The best known is a free open-source software package called Calibre which will convert unprotected epub files to Kindle file format in just a few clicks.