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Free Today to Download to Your Kindle or Kindle for PC Within Seconds: OVER A MILLION BOOKS FROM THE INTERNET ARCHIVE

First, sorry about the caps. I don’t mean to shout. I just wanted to make sure, whether you’ve had your Kindle for two years or two hours, or are just trying to make a decision about getting a Kindle or some other eReader that claims to to have access to a million books, that you don’t miss this.

Several times a week I post here about free books or bargain books that are available in the Kindle Store. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A lot gets said about the Kindle being a “closed system,” and it is certainly true that most commercially published books in the Kindle Store come with DRM restrictions. As I will discuss again in a forthcoming post, it’s important for that to change as soon as possible, but there is another sense in which the Kindle, as hardware, is a very open device, able to read texts from a wide array of sources, and those capacities are expanding dramatically as everyone from free digital book sources to authors and publishers takes whatever steps are necessary to ensure that their content is able to shake hands and play nice with the Kindle. Why wouldn’t they?

Thanks to the work of Brewster Kahle and the many volunteers and staff at the Internet Archive, now you can easily find and download well over a million free books from Archive.org to your Kindle. I’ve been meaning to share a post about this with you for a couple of weeks, but I was waiting for the Kindle for Mac App so that I could make the step-by-step instructions more straightforward. But I know that there are hundreds of thousands of new Kindle owners out there wanting to learn about new ways to get the most out of their Kindles, and if you have a three- or four-day weekend coming up, you just may be able to find the time to start putting a new Kindle through some of its more beneficial paces. So let us tarry no longer.

First, what’s the Internet Archive? You can read more about it here at Wikipedia, but basically it’s a nonprofit organization, founded in 1996 by Brewster Kahle, dedicated to building and maintaining a free and openly accessible online digital library, including texts, film, music and other audio recordings, software, and an archive of the World Wide Web. If you’ve been hearing a lot about the claims of Google Books, you may be surprised to learn that Google has not come close yet to what the Internet Archive has done in making over a million titles easy to find, search, browse, and download in a variety of user-friendly formats including, most recently, the Kindle-compatible MOBI format.

Over a million? Yes, I’m not kidding. Here are the specific libraries featured at the Internet Archive, and the vast majority of these titles are available in that Kindle-compatible MOBI format:

American Libraries: 1,228,563 items
Canadian Libraries: 235,032 items
Universal Library: 70,187 items
Open Source Books: ?
Project Gutenberg: More than 25,000 items
Biodiversity Heritage Library: 39,431 items
Children’s Library: 3,324 items
Additional Collections: 57,354 items

That’s well over a million and a half, but there are always duplicates and a few titles that may not yet be available in MOBI format, so we’ll just satisfy ourselves with saying “over a million.” If you love to read, from the classics to arcane research texts to contemporary texts of all kinds, you may be amazed at how easy it is to use the Internet Archive with your Kindle — certainly much easier and more user-friendly than trying to find and transfer a specific free ebook with Google Books. (A little ironic, that Google should be so challenged when it comes to enabling user-friendly search on its own book app, no?) The usefulness of this archive is limited only by the boundaries of your own imagination and willingness to search for what you want to read. 

But for starters, here are the steps, and they may take you as long as 30 seconds or so!

For PC Users

Here are the steps if you are using a PC:

  • Click here to download the Kindle for PC App if you have not done so already.
  • Click here to go to the Texts portion of the Internet Archive.
  • Look around the main page to select the first free book you’d like to download. You might choose a frequently downloaded title such as Amusements in Mathematics or Henry James’ An international episode, or you may prefer to enter a few keywords so that you can find Carlos Baker’s Hemingway biography or a delightful old book of children’s rhymes.
  • Click on the hyperlinked title you select, and at the left of that book’s detail page you’ll see a box showing the formats in which the text is available for reading. Click on Kindle (beta).
  • The ebook that you have selected should begin downloading to your computer immediately, and if you have downloaded your Kindle for PC App as noted above the text will open in your Kindle for PC App, usually in just a few seconds.
  • Take a look at the text you’ve downloaded in your Kindle for PC App to make sure that you’ve got what you want, and if so you can connect your Kindle to your PC via your Kindle’s USB cable and  drag the title from your PC’s “My Kindle Content” folder to your Kindle’s “documents” folder.
  • Once you’ve ejected the Kindle from your PC (and disconnected the USB cable, if you like), you should find the new file on your Kindle Home screen and you can select it with your 5-way controller (or, on Kindle 1, your scrollwheel) to begin reading, annotating, or even listening to it via Kindle text-to-speech.

For Mac Users

Once Amazon launches its too-long awaited Kindle for Mac App, the steps for Mac users should be very nearly similar to the steps shown above for the PC. Until then, if you are downloading a title to your Kindle via your Mac, just follow these steps:

  • Click here to go to the Texts portion of the Internet Archive.
  • Look around the main page to select the first free book you’d like to download. You might choose a frequently downloaded title such as Amusements in Mathematics or Henry James’ An international episode, or you may prefer to enter a few keywords so that you can find Carlos Baker’s Hemingway biography or a delightful old book of children’s rhymes.
  • Click on the hyperlinked title you select, and at the left of that book’s detail page you’ll see a box showing the formats in which the text is available for reading. Click on Kindle (beta).
  • The ebook that you have selected should begin downloading to your Mac immediately.
  • Connect your Kindle to your Mac via your Kindle’s USB cable and use Finder to drag the title from your Mac (you’ll probably find it in “Downloads,” Desktop,” or “Documents”) to your Kindle’s “documents” folder.
  • Once you’ve ejected the Kindle from your Mac (and disconnected the USB cable, if you like), you should find the new file on your Kindle Home screen and you can select it with your 5-way controller (or, on Kindle 1, your scrollwheel) to begin reading, annotating, or even listening to it via Kindle text-to-speech.

Got Kindle DX Questions? We’ve Got Kindle DX Answers

With Kindle DX here to stay, it makes sense to address some of the questions that Kindle Nation citizens have been sharing with me and elsewhere about the latest model. My hope is that some of this will be of interest both to prospective DX buyers and to Kindle 1 or 2 owners who are wondering if there is anything in particular about the DX that might drive a new-model purchase.

The Kindle DX Display

The Kindle DX display seems very easy on the eyes, but after taking, magnifying, and comparing screen shots of the same page from my Kindle DX and my Kindle 2, I can say with some certainty that the font size, font clarity, background, and contrast on the two models are similar.

However, there is a specific and valuable kind of serious improvement in the display legibility of the Kindle DX compared with the earlier Kindle models, and it involves all of the non-adjustable fonts to which we have grown accustomed on the Kindle. For those of us who tend to gravitate toward the larger font sizes whenever we are able with the Kindle, it can be frustrating to try to read the Kindle Home screen, the Kindle storefront, and other displays such as menus, bookmark listings, search results, the Settings page and even, for when we want to keep up with Amazon’s touting of titles that are already big sellers from mainstream megapublishers, with the Kindle Daily Post.

On the Kindle DX, all these non-adjustable pages are far more legible and easy on the eyes, especially in less than optimal light.

The actual dimensions of the Kindle DX display screen (5 3/8″ x 7 7/8″, 9.7″ on the diagonal) are a tiny bit smaller than the standard 6″ x 9″ of most trade paperbacks and allow for a printable page that is equal to the printable page in a standard hardcover book whose exterior dimensions are 6 1/4″ x 9 7/16″.

Although I am not impressed with the Kindle DX’s usefulness for viewing PDF documents, the larger display performs beautifully with graphic files embedded in Kindle editions such as those found on Amazon’s special page of Featured Books for the Kindle DX. These includes photographs and other art, graphic novels and cartoons, maps and charts, and more.

Side-by-side with the Kindle 2, the Kindle DX display is consistently a tiny bit slower to refresh. The good news is that the same situation that causes the DX e-Ink display to take a few milliseconds longer to refresh — the fact that it contains more than twice as much text per screen — more than offsets the cumulative effect of slower refreshes. By the time you finish reading any book on a DX you will have spent about half as much time waiting for refreshes as you would spend reading the same book on a Kindle 1 or Kindle 2.

Kindle DX File Managament

There do not appear to be any new developments or features with regard to folders, labels, groupings, etc.

Kindle DX Value: Is the DX worth $489?

It’s such a subjective question. If you are having trouble keeping the wolf from the door, nothing is worth $489. But let me put it this way: if the Kindle 2 is worth $359, the DX is definitely worth $489 for its serious enhancements in display, legibility, and the compatibility between all the content it can display and the way that content looks on the DX. I felt that I needed to purchase a Kindle DX because of my role here with Kindle Nation and my Kindle books, but I was frankly on the fence about whether I would keep it, given how much I like my Kindle 2. Although I have not made a final decision, after 10 hours with the DX I am leaning toward calling it a keeper.

PDF on the Kindle DX

On the plus side:

  • The Kindle DX has native support for PDF files, so that you can transfer a PDF file directly from any computer to your Kindle DX via USB without relying on Amazon’s 15-cent-and-up conversion service.
  • The Kindle DX display has more than twice as much “printable space” as the previous Kindle models, so many PDF files display well.
  • Kindle DX PDF support allows you to search inside a PDF document and bookmark entire pages, if the document is unrestricted and has been created from a text-based rather than a graphic document.

On the negative side.

  • The Kindle DX does not support “zoom,” “pan,” or magnification for PDF files, so if the display size (about 70% the size of an 8×11 sheet) is too small, you are stuck. Based on my first impressions I’m not optimistic that the DX will be much a solution for technical PDFs, PDFs with charts, etc.
  • The highlighting, bookmarking, annotation and clipping features that provide important functionality for other Kindle documents in an academic setting are virtually useless with PDF files, so that the promise of being able to use PDF files for academic courseware is unfulfilled.
  • Despite claims at Location 670 of the Amazon’s Kindle DX User Guide, the Kindle DX does not consistently make optimal use of landscape-view rotation to magnify PDF files for easier viewing.
  • The weakness of the aformentioned features such as annotation and search is the same for PDF files regardless of whether you transfer them directly from computer to Kindle via USB or send them wirelessly via the Whispernet. When you send a PDF to your @kindle.com email address Amazon does not put the file through any conversion process, and it is impossible to have Amazon convert a PDF file to an .AZW Kindle file. Some technophiles will want to explore the potential for converting their own PDF files backward to .DOC, .TXT, or .MOBI files so as to convert them forward into a more useful format to take advantage of Kindle DX features. We will consult with friends who are more technologically advanced and revisit these possibilities in a future issue of Kindle Nation.

Portability, Use and Carrying Ease

This is another highly subjective matter. The Kindle DX weighs a little less than twice as much as a Kindle 2, and its heft, feel, and solidness is much the same as the Kindle 2 across a larger mass. If you are used to carrying a hardcover book, or a briefcase or moderate-sized backpack or purse, or a 7 x 10 planner, the Kindle DX won’t bother you. It’s easier to lug around than any netbook, laptop, or tablet computer or most hardcover bestsellers. I like the way it carries, opens, and performs both home and away, especially in the moleskine-like leather Kindle DX cover that Amazon manufactures and sells for it. I am finding it easy to use for one-handed reading.

I also expect that some of these issues of weight and heft may be different to different users. I’m a big, strong guy, and the idea of exercise or walking with, say, 2- or 5-pound weights would seem silly to me. If you are someone who would find it useful to carry 2-pound weights on a power walk, the Kindle DX might seem more burdensome to you. I also suspect that, at least for a while, I might be annoyed by the right-side control placement if I were lefthanded. The Amazon explanation that this annoyance would by mitigated by using the DX’s ability to rotate to an upside-down display strikes me as a Youtube parody video waiting to happen.


I lack the courage to put my new Kindle DX through any drop-testing research, but I will say this. The DX feels every bit as sturdy as the Kindle 2, but I am sure that, if I decide to keep it, I will spring for the 2-year extended warranty. I did not purchase the extended warranty for my Kindle 2, and the difference is based on three things:

  • Since the Kindle DX is larger and heavier, I believe that the prospect of some mishap is naturally greater, assuming the same care.
  • I think the DX is likely to be my e-book reader of choice for the next three to five years, whereas I got the Kindle 2 with a strong expectation that there would be a compelling upgrade coming in behind it within a year.
  • For whatever reason associated with my household budget, there is a significant difference to me between $359 and $489.

The Kindle DX Web Browser

Primarily because of the size and automatic rotation of the Kindle DX display, it is far superior to its predecessors in its capacity to display web pages in an appealing and useful way. Whereas the Kindle 1 and Kindle 2 offered a choice between “basic mode” and “advanced mode” with the web browser, the Kindle DX toggles between “basic mode” and “desktop mode,” and the combination of “desktop mode” and landscape orientation (see below) shows most web pages in a relatively impressive and useful way compared with earlier Kindle models.


One of the first things I did with my new Kindle DX when it arrived was to transfer and listen to the MP3 of last week’s podcast of The Kindle Chronicles, and I noticed right away that the smarter placement of the two Kindle DX speakers on the bottom edge, where they are never covered by a Kindle cover or by laying the Kindle flat, makes for a greatly enhanced listening experience. Whether the audio is any different when conveyed over a headset or external speaker is a question I have yet to research.

From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: Another way to do higher math using the Kindle

Thanks to faithful Kindle Nation subscriber Bob for this helpful follow-up to this week’s Kindle Nation post, Kindle DX Secrets: It’s a Calculator!

Hi Stephen,

In your most recent Kindle Nation, you mentioned how to do basic Math on the DX. There is another way that I use on my Kindle 2 by going online.
Most folks do not know that if you go to Google and type in ANY complicated Math expression into the search bar, Google will automatically give you the answer at the top of the search list. (Google folks are heavily into Math.) You can do the same on the Kindle.
Go to Experimental, Basic Web, Bookmarks, Google. Type in 5*log(32) by using the SYM button to put in the parenthesis and the * symbols where * means multiply, and then click on search. You’ll see the first result listed is 5 * log(32) = 7.52574989
If you type in 5^32 (on a calculator, the carat symbol means to perform an exponent, so this is 5 to the 32nd power),
you’ll get back the answer 2.32830644 x 10 to the 22nd power.
I’m not sure how many people would use this, but it’s may come in handy some day for someone.
Love the newsletter!


Kindle DX Drop Tests, Intentional and Otherwise

Although I said in my Kindle DX review last week that I lacked the courage to put my new Kindle DX through any intentional drop tests, it turns out that it did not take long for such a test to occur on its own. On Saturday morning I was getting back into my car at Starbucks in Cushing Square and the DX slipped out of the makeshift holder I had improvised for it. My naked and wholly unprotected 19-ounce Kindle DX experienced a straight vertical fall of about two feet, directly onto an asphalt parking lot surface. Fortunately it landed, just as I would, on its backside. I sheepishly picked up the Kindle DX, checked for dents, cracks, or scratches, determined that it remained pristine, and placed it on the empty front passenger seat beside me.

Although I did not have time to arrange for candid video of my personal Kindle DX drop test, it may come as no surprise to you that Amazon has posted its own video: of its own Kindle DX drop test, not mine. You may view it here.

Wire Up and Tag Kindlepedia to Educate Yourself Any Time on Any Topic

First, a tip of the hat to Edukindle creator Will DeLamater and Kindle Formatting author Joshua Tallent for creating the Kindlepedia tool discussed here and for Kindle Chronicles podcaster Len Edgerly for bringing it to my attention by featuring it on his program recently, and to old friend, author, teacher, fellow traveler and classmate of Len’s and mine Ned Stuckey-French for getting my thoughts percolating about the pedagogical possibilities here.

I can’t imagine that there is a single Kindle owner anywhere in the world who is not already familiar with Wikipedia, the online crowd-sourced encyclopedia with over 13 million collaboratively written articles, about 2.9 million of them in English. In addition to the fact that it is the 7th most popular website in the world according to Alexa, Wikipedia is a very high-profile part of the Kindle experience already, since it is featured as a prominent channel for any user-initiated Kindle search along with Google, the Kindle Store, the Kindle’s onboard dictionary and its library of ebooks and other documents:

The opportunity for readers to move quickly and easily — using the Kindle’s absolutely free wireless 3G web browser — between content on their Kindles and the kindof supplemental references and information that they will find on Wikipedia is bound to enrich the educational usefulness of the Kindle, and not just for college students. My 11-year-old son moves seamlessly between his life and Wikipedia explanations of the few remaining things he does not understand, and I am learning more slowly to do the same. By leaving the door constantly cracked between any content that we are reading and Wikipedia’s rich universe of information and content, the Kindle offers astonishing potential for us to place the words that we read in the kinds of rich historical and cultural contexts that makes them more vivid than they could ever be in a traditional book, no matter how much we may love print on paper.

But Wikipedia is more than just a place to visit for a few seconds here and there in the margins of one’s reading experiences. The rich and extensive content to be found there is worthy of reading time all its own, and offers inquisitive readers an opportunity to move organically — or whimsically, for that matter — across dozens or hundreds or thousands of “articles” in ways that allow the construction of remarkable aedifices of personal knowledge and contextual understanding. Thomas Wolfe may have arrived at Harvard in 1920 with the dream of reading every volume in the university’s Harry Elkins Widener Library, but I cannot help but think that he might have enjoyed his self-education more, begun it earlier, and avoided the constant need to wash the dust from his hands if his times had allowed him access to a Kindle with an always-on Wikipedia connection.

Now, Edukindle creator Will DeLamater and Kindle Formatting author Joshua Tallent have collaborated on an extremely useful and elegant new application, called Kindlepedia, that allows Kindle readers to create a Kindle “book” within a few seconds from any Wikipedia listing and transfer (download) it to a Kindle either via USB or Whispernet for offline reading and research at one’s leisure. Not surprisingly, given Joshua’s virtuosity with Kindle formatting issues, the resulting Wikipedia-based “book” arrives on a Kindle in an elegantly formatted, easy-to-read state, with external web links intact so that a reader is never more than a click away from extending one’s research even further, including references beyond Wikipedia. Here are the steps, and just for fun I’ll use the Wikipedia article on one of my favorite underappreciated baseball players, Bernie Carbo:

  • On your computer, go to the Kindlepedia page on the Edukindle website at http://www.edukindle.com/downloads/kindlepedia/. (No need to try to do this Kindlepedia procedure directly from your Kindle; I have already tried and it does not work).
  • Type in the URL of the Wikipedia entry from which you wish to make a Kindle “book” in the entry field in the center of the screen or, if you are relatively certain that a brief keyword or phrase will produce the desired article, you can try that:
  • Click on the “Create Kindle Book” button, and within a few seconds you will see a new screen with these buttons in the center of the display:
  • Click on the “download” button and note from your computer’s dialogue box (or a quick file search, for, in this case “Bernie_Carbo.mobi”) the location to which the downloaded file is being be served on your computer.
  • Transfer this “Bernie_Carbo.mobi” file to your Kindle either by sending it as an attachment to your @kindle.com email address (in which case Amazon will charge you 15 cents per megabyte rounded up and send the converted file to your Kindle via Whispernet) or, for free, by connecting your Kindle to your computer via USB, copying the saved file from your computer to the “documents” folder in your Kindle’s main directory via Finder, My Computer, or whatever file management program you use with your computer, and using the “Eject” Kindle command to disconnect the Kindle from your computer.
  • You should now find the Kindle-formatted “Bernie Carbo” book at the top of your Kindle’s Home screen if your Home display is organized to show all documents, most recent first:

As with any other Kindle book, click on “Bernie Carbo” and begin reading or let your Kindle read the content aloud to you. While reading, you’ll be able to click on any live web link such as the Baseball-Reference link shown here

to extend your research to, say, viewing Carbo’s lifetime stats:

Okay, if you are thinking that this great new research tool is going to curse you with an unmanageably long list or catalog of “books” on your Kindle, let’s revisit a Kindle Nation piece from March 9 (which referenced a Kindle Chronicles podcast from March 6) on A Brilliant Way To Apply Tags To Organize Your Kindle Content:

Amazon’s failure to provide user-defined content management folders or labels is one of the major disappointments offsetting the many improvements that we have seen with the Kindle 2, but a Kindle owner named Larry Goss has developed an elegant work-around system that allows him to “tag” any title on his Kindle. To hear his approach, check out the March 6 edition of Len Edgerly’s Kindle Chronicles podcast. Larry’s idea is detailed in the show comments section a little over two-thirds of the way into the podcast. The gist of it is that you can use any Kindle’s annotation feature to “tag” your content by genre, status, or any other qualifier as long as you create “words” that would not otherwise be found in your documents. For example, I might create two tags for science fiction novels on my Kindle, and thus annotate the first page of each either with SWSCIFIREAD or SWSCIFINEW, to signify Stephen Windwalker’s science fiction novels read or unread. Once the annotation is saved, books with a particular tag will display in the search results whenever you enter that tag. Yes, it is a work-around, but I hope you will agree that it is brilliant in its elegant, workable simplicity, and join me in thanking Larry and Len.

For my purposes, I just create a tag, er, annotation, at the beginning of each of these Wikipedia-based books. The first four letters are always “swkp” for “Stephen Windwalker Kindlepedia” and subsequent letters are the briefest and most simple tag for the content, so that for the Carbo content, I simply open the file on my Kindle, choose “Add a Note or Highlight” from the Menu, type in “swkp carbo,” and click on “save note” at the bottom of the dialogue box. Then I will find the content anytime by typing in “swkp carbo,” whereas typing in “swkp” will show me all my Wikipedia-based content and typing in “carbo” will show me all Carbo references on my Kindle. Fortunately, if I forget some of my own tags, I can also access them by selecting opening the “My Clippings” file on my Home screen.

Kindle DX Secrets: It’s a Calculator!

Congratulations to BlogKindle for this very cool Kindle DX find!

Turns out that the Kindle DX works as a calculator, complete with basic math as well as some commonly used trigonometric functions. Just type a formula (2+2, 2*2, 2-2, 2/2, etc.) as you would type any search term at the Home screen and the solution will appear on the top line of your Home display. Who knew? Well, BlogKindle did!

Don’t forget to use the ALT key to make the Kindle DX’s QWERTY keyboard’s top row render numbers.

It’s 7 pm EDT June 10, 2009 – Kindle DX Release Day – Do you know where your Kindle DX is?

Today is Kindle DX Release Day for Amazon, and anxious Kindle DX buyers have been checking their emails all day for those “Your order has shipped” messages. My DX will arrive tomorrow, and I am sure I will have impressions to share. Meanwhile, Engadget has posted a nice 29-photo gallery of an early Kindle DX unboxing, and Steven Levy of Wired.com has posted a balanced review of his test run.

Get your order in now and you can still get your Kindle DX this week with 1-day shipping.