How to read Google eBooks on a Kindle?
August 25, 2012 3:53 PM   Subscribe

No longer a Luddite! I've finally given into reading books electronically on my Droid phone, and am now hooked. Paper no more! I've amassed a nice collection of Overdrive library books, Kindle titles and Google eBooks (depending on whose prices were better) on my phone but it's too tiny for extended reading, and doesn't do well in sunshine, and the battery gets rapidly drained.

I'd love to switch over to a Kindle but everything seems to say that the Google titles can't be read there. I don't trust my abilities with Calibre and am not confident that it will work with everything I own. Please help this voracious reader-- is there something other than a Nook that would support both Kindle and Google books? Will it work in full daylight? I'm thinking about the Google Nexus 7, but like the idea of e ink.
posted by Neeuq Nus to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a pretty good table of E-Book Readers
posted by blob at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2012

Kindle is the new paper, at least to me. Whilst Calibre may look overwhelming at first, once you've familiarised yourself with certain tweaks that you'll often use, it's mostly a breeze to convert and copy digital papers onto your Kindle. I've read books on my old mobile before (Nokia C6-01) and it was a rather torturous experience for my eyes. Indeed, the codex is dead -- long live books.
posted by cihan at 4:18 PM on August 25, 2012

If you can drag and drop, I swear to God you can use Calibre. Why not download it and see how it works?
posted by DarlingBri at 4:21 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Once I got the proper plug-ins set up on Calibre - which was easy, really - converting formats and stripping drm is just a matter of clicking a couple of buttons. There's way more under the hood, but I've never needed it and so don't fiddle with it.

I can't comment on its handling of Google books, though, since I haven't tried that.

Amazon is having a Kindle-related press event on Sept. 6th, so hold off for the moment to see what they're announcing. I have a Kindle Touch and lovelovelove it. I used to read on my phone and sneered at getting an ereader, but then we joined a credit union and they gave us Kindles as thanks, and now I'm a total convert. Downside: in order to read in the dark, you need a light. I know. But I got a little clip-on one that works just fine. Reading in full sun is no problem at all.
posted by rtha at 4:25 PM on August 25, 2012

You can get a Kindle app for your PC or Mac, so if you are really worried you can test out a conversion in Calibre and make sure it works in your kindle app before buying a device. The only thing I've heard that Calibre won't convert is a book from iTunes.
posted by soelo at 4:25 PM on August 25, 2012

Nthing that Calibre is really easy once you get in there and dig around. I was also overwhelmed when I first downloaded it, but now I'm all over it. Also, I can read Google books on my Kindle... or maybe it's because I converted them with Calibre... I forget. I just know I can read them on my Kindle Fire.
posted by patheral at 4:31 PM on August 25, 2012

I hate to pile on, but yeah: Kindle + Calibre = ease and bliss. Go for it.
posted by languagehat at 5:18 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

I may be missing something but I have a kindle and have used Calibre and I think that the one thing that people upthread have neglected is that it will not convert DRM protected e-pubs into the amz or mobi format (which can be read on a kindle) or convert amz (kindle) books to be read on another e-reader. You can strip the DRM, but this is an added step, which I believe you have to do before using Calibre. AFAIK it's not legal, but that's your call to make.

I do sometime use Calibre + kindle to convert e-pubs that aren't DRM protected (they are usually free "classics") and PDFs of papers and presentations in my field. I've had mixed results with converting the PDFs. Sometimes the formatting gets so messed up that it becomes unreadable.

All that being said, I got a kindle as a gift about 2 years ago and I use it all the time. It's a great size to slip in my bag and take on the train during my commutes or pull out at a restaurant when I'm dining alone. It's easier to manage than a big heavy book when I'm reading in bed, and I can read outside in the sunshine without the glare being a problem. But I did recently get an ipad and I'm looking forward to being able to have a broader choice of books from Overdrive (my library system is getting better, but the ebook selection is still pretty thin and this even more true for those available in the kindle format). I also prefer the larger format of the ipad for using cookbooks.
posted by kaybdc at 5:56 PM on August 25, 2012

There are plugins for Calibre that will strip the drm from Amazon books, and all you have to do is install them, then add your Amazon book to Calibre. Then you can convert that file to whatever other format - epub,lit, lrf, pdf, etc.
posted by rtha at 6:51 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you want an e-ink reader that plays nicely with Google books, what you want is a Kobo e-ink reader.

This is one of the most popular e-ink readers outside of the USA. It works with Google books (without stripping the DRM). You can load both epubs and PDFs without converting them (though the PDF will not reflow without conversion to an ePub). It works extremely well with calibre. I haven't tested it personally with Overdrive library books, but I believe Kobo is supported.
posted by jb at 7:42 PM on August 25, 2012

The kobo does work with Overdrive (Although it can be a pain) but it won't work with your Kindle titles without stripping the DRM and using Calibre. It's also important to note than kobo doesn't have the always-on internet stuff that US Kindles have.
posted by AmandaA at 7:26 AM on August 27, 2012

Just to add to AmandaA's comment above, many of the newer Kindles come in cheaper versions which don't have the always on internet. I have a 2nd generation Kindle with always on internet, and it was a godsend when I was stuck at ATL for 6 hours, but most of the time I don't use it, and use Calibre and USB to load it with books, like everyone else has suggested.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:06 AM on August 27, 2012

AmandaA - that's true, though less relevant in Canada (where the Kindles don't have cellular internet either). I have never missed it.

I like the Kobo because they are happy playing with other providers - they sell books, but they aren't interested in locking you in. Kindle will only read an Amazon DRM book - Kobo will read Google books and Kobo books (and any other providers who want to play with them - I've bought directly from publishers). I always prefer the open system to the closed system.

It seems that the OP will have to strip the DRM from either their Google books or their Kindle books (unless, as they note, the Nook does both, but isn't e-ink?). But with a Kindle they will be locked to purchasing from Amazon for the future if they don't wish to continue stripping the DRM and reformating, whereas with Kobo, they have at least two ebooks providers to chose from - and epub is much more widely available than mobi format.
posted by jb at 9:53 AM on August 27, 2012

Kobos do have wireless (non-cellular), so if you're feeling too lazy to pull out a USB cable you can set calibre to share books over a home network and download from there to your Kobo reader. It's a little buried in the settings, though, and you need to know the local IP of the computer and the port calibre is using.
posted by jb at 9:55 AM on August 27, 2012

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