GermanThis post­ing is also avail­able in Ger­man.

After read­ing Max’ rather euphoric review about the new Ama­zon Kin­dle 2 ebook reader, I also ordered the inter­na­tional ver­sion of the always-on e-ink reader. The hard­ware is pretty okay for this price (around €200), so I was will­ing to put my fear of pro­pri­etary DRM-systems aside for once. Today UPS deliv­ered my device, but the ini­tial hap­pi­ness about the hard­ware wouldn’t last too long — to be exact, it abruptly ended when I found out there is no way to view PDF-files on the Kin­dle. After a lit­tle online research I dis­cov­ered an accept­able work­flow to upload my PDF-ebooks to the reader: MobiPocket Cre­ator, a free ebook con­ver­sion soft­ware, turns PDF-files into PCRs, which can be orga­nized and dis­played with the Kindle.

Amazon Kindle

Ven­dor Ama­zon is offer­ing an offi­cial to con­vert PDFs, but that’s quite expen­sive: each file sent to Ama­zon via e-mail costs 10 cents (or 15 cents per MB). The price includes push­ing the file to the device wire­lessly, but this is still ridicu­lous. Alter­na­tively, users are encour­aged to send their files to name@free.kindle.com — the con­verted doc­u­ment is sent back via mail, but accord­ing to reviews this is far from real-time.

So the bot­tom line is: since the Kin­dle will not dis­play the widely pop­u­lar PDF-format, file con­ver­sion is the only option. After con­vert­ing your PDFs (which is a tedious task but still bet­ter than pay­ing $2,50 for pub­lic domain books) you can upload them to your device via USB-connection. Here’s a step-by-step instruc­tion for the actual con­ver­sion process. After down­load­ing Mobipocket Cre­ator, make sure that you install the “pub­lisher ver­sion”, which comes with the handy PDF-importer we need.

1. Start mobipocket cre­ator. From the home screen, choose “Import from exist­ing File” -> “Adobe PDF”.

mobipocket1

2. Choose the export folder and the language/encoding set­tings and import the file.

mobipocket2

3. Edit the ebook’s meta data, table of con­tents or the cover (optional).

mobipocket3

4. Choose “build” from the main menu to cre­ate the ebook.

mobipocket4

5. The soft­ware cre­ates a new direc­tory inside the export-folder you’ve cho­sen ear­lier which con­tains a num­ber of files: HTML (plus exported images), OPF (open pack­ag­ing for­mat) and a PRC-file, which is the one we need for our purposes.

mobipocket5

You might want to delete the other files after export­ing — PRC is a con­tainer for­mat which con­tains the text plus all the images. Use the USB con­nec­tion to upload the freshly cre­ated  PRC-files to the “doc­u­ments” folder of your Kin­dle (which may also con­tain sub­fold­ers). Turn on the device next time et voilá: your doc­u­ments are available.

Amazon Kindle

Of course Amazon’s ebook reader should natively sup­port PDF-file for­mat — but for DRM and revenue-reasons this is not likely to hap­pen in the near future. There’s also an alter­na­tive con­ver­sion soft­ware (avail­able for Mac users, too) called Stanza Desk­top, but I haven’t tried this tool yet.

My first Kin­dle impres­sions: The Kin­dle 2 is doing a great job as a high-quality text reader. The included GSM func­tion­al­ity saves the user from any com­pli­cated setup process, the usabil­ity is great (even though the first thing I tried was to touch the (non-touch) e-ink screen), even though flip­ping through pages instead of scrolling feels quite strange. I was def­i­nitely sur­prised by the fast page flip­ping and the high image qual­ity though.

And the shop? The book selec­tion is rel­a­tively large if you’re a main­stream reader. There are only few mag­a­zines avail­able yet which either have to be bought per issue (way too expen­sive) or via a monthly recur­ring sub­scrip­tion (14 days trial period). Obvi­ously, Ama­zon is even charg­ing micro pay­ments for blog RSS feeds — I’m not gonna pay for free con­tent (pub­lic domain books also cost about $2,50!) which prob­a­bly makes me an unruly Kin­dle cus­tomer. But I was look­ing for a high-quality dis­play, one that’s easy on the eyes even when read­ing long pas­sages — and this is just what the Kin­dle gives me, even if that means I have to con­vert every sin­gle PDF I want to read on the device.