Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Monday, 11 June 2012

But can I read your eBOOK on my KINDLE?

Can you read an eBook on a Kindle?

Postgraduate librarianship student Hannah Saks works as a library assistant at the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  We've been discussing a Cambridge eBook trial, and I asked if these eBooks could be read on a Kindle, since she's a proud owner of one.  Hannah explains the eBook/Kindle conundrum like this:-
Q: Can you read a Cambridge University Press eBook on a Kindle?

"Technically yes, they can be read on a Kindle. But it’s a bit tricky! The books are in PDF format (and each chapter is an individual file). PDFs can be read on the Kindle but the user has to download them to their computer and then either email them to their Kindle account (when you get a Kindle you are assigned a Kindle email address for sending documents to it, e.g. or connect the Kindle to the computer and transfer the files onto it."
Hannah says she's ...,
"... not a big fan of reading PDFs on the Kindle- as they’re essentially a static image you can’t do any of the zooming or enlarging of fonts that you can do with ‘regular’ ebooks - and there is no way to skip to different sections of the book from the table of contents (although I suppose by providing each chapter as a different file Cambridge have made that a little easier). You might not be able to search the text of the document, either. Some PDFs look ok on the Kindle and some look pretty terrible- it all depends on how they were originally formatted."
Q: So the format of a genuine Kindle book (like you’d get from Amazon) is not the same as an ebook?
"Aha- now we’re getting into the truly complicated world of the ebook business! The Kindle book is an ebook, but it comes in its very own special format (.azw). In their infinite wisdom (and I assume inability to just get along), all ebook reader makers decided to make their own format for their readers and so we have .azw, .mobi (which confusingly is essentially the same as .azw), .epub and a lot of others (see In this way each ebook reader manufacturer can sneakily try and force customers to only buy ebooks from their preferred retailer. However, there is free software out there that can convert the file formats. I use Calibre ( and find it quite easy to use."
Hannah can be contacted via 

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