While I wait for my new Kindle Paperwhite to arrive, I’ve been experimenting with the formats and options available to put my own documents on my current Kindle Touch. I have two motives here. First, I want to be able to move research documents to my own Kindle for reference purposes and second, I want to share family stories with my family via their Kindles.
Kindle e-Ink/Paperwhite readers can hold a thousand or more books on the device, making them great portable reference libraries for the researcher. And, with Amazon’s Personal Document Service, you can email documents to your Kindle as well as Kindles belonging to your family. There are a lot of Kindles in my family and this is a great way to “publish” family stories just for them.
The challenge here is finding the best format for the content I want to send to those Kindles. It won’t matter how good the story is, if it’s hard to read or all jumbled up, my family won’t touch it. And, if I’m using it for reference, I want something easy to read myself.
Kindle readers can read PDF documents along with its own Kindle format. This could be a good option if you want to maintain a fixed layout for your images and text, however when building your document, you will need to reduce the page size to the size of the Kindle screen – most are in the 3.5″ x 5″ range. Other problems with PDFs on the Kindle are that the reader cannot change fonts or take advantage of many of the device’s features like annotations and Whispersync. For reference purposes, I want to be able to highlight, add notes, lookup definitions and such so PDF isn’t the first choice for any research notes I want to keep with me.
I’m finding documents saved in Word format (.doc or .docx) convert very nicely to the Kindle format. Here’s an example of a document created in Pages [Mac] then exported to Word format and sent to my Kindle via the desktop app.
The image you see was created from scanned photos and documents using Photoshop Elements and inserted into the Pages document. The image is set as an “inline image” – a Pages term for keeping the image connected to the paragraph associated with it – and set so text doesn’t wrap around it. Notice the “I” in the paragraph following the image appears out of place. Next time I will add a blank paragraph (hard Return) and attach the image to that. It will still stay within the flow of the article, but the text below it will appear the way I want it.
Once I had my document the way I wanted it, I used Pages export function to export it to Word format and sent it on its way to my Kindle via the Send to Kindle desktop app. This free app is available at Amazon for both Windows and Mac users. I’ve got mine sitting on my Mac’s dock and all I have to do is drag and drop a file onto the app’s icon to start it on its way.
There is also a Send to Kindle extension for Chrome, with extensions for Firefox and Safari coming soon (according to an August 2012 announcement).
If you are an Instapaper user, you can collect articles throughout the day and have them all sent to your Kindle at the time you specify. Instapaper insures the articles are formatted for the Kindle and ready to enjoy as soon as they are delivered. You will need to add the Instapaper address (detailed instructions at the site) to your Personal Documents Settings so it is authorized to send content to your Kindle before you can take advantage of this option.
Whether you are sharing your family stories with other family members or building your own reference library, knowing how to create your own documents and send them to a Kindle gives you the flexibility to make your own content available to yourself and your family. Oh, and if you’re looking for useful research reference books in Amazon format, check the “research essentials” tag at Moultrie Creek Books. Unfortunately, some of these books haven’t been published in digital format – yet.