Q. What is Kindle for PC?
A. It’s software that you download to your computer that enables you to read and buy Kindle store books
Q. What does it cost?
A. Nothing, it’s free.
Q. Do I have to have a Kindle to use Kindle for PC?
A. No. You can get it and use it whether or not you have a Kindle.
Q. Are there any other requirements?
A. You do need to have an account with Amazon, but that’s easy to set up. These are the current system requirements:
Kindle for PC can be used on any PC running Windows XP with Service Pack 2+, Windows Vista, or Windows 7.
That means that is does not currently work with Windows 2000 or earleir, Macs or Linux computers. Amazon has said that a Mac version is coming soon.
Q. Is there a negative to using Kindle for PC?
A. If you do move a book to your Kindle for PC’s homescreen, that will count as a “device license” used. Device licenses are set by publishers, and are most commonly six. See this earlier post.
Q. If I already own a Kindle, will I be able to read the books I bought from the Kindle store for that using Kindle for PC?
A. Yes. It’s just another device on the account. All books in your Amazon Archives are available to all of your devices.
Q. How about books I got for an iPhone or iPod touch.
Q. Will they look different?
A. Yes. They may be bigger and clearer. Color pictures will show in color.
Q. Are the text size options the same?
A. No. You have more options in Kindle for PC. On the Kindle, you have six text sizes, with the largest being about font size 20. On the Kindle for PC, you have ten font sizes, with the largest being roughly equivalent to size 72. You can also adjust the number of words per line. These functions are in the Aa button on the toolbar. Just like with the Kindle, you’ll see a preview before you make your choice. The reset to default only affects the Words per Line.
Q. Words per Line?
A. You can adjust the number of words per line, down to a minimum of one. This is also affected by text size. On a large text size, you may not see a word on the minimum setting. What you will be doing is adjusting the text area (making the margins larger or smaller), and the text will “word wrap” accordingly.
Q. Does the text-to-speech work?
A. No. Windows Narrator, an included text-to-speech in Windows program, also does not work on books in Kindle for PC.
Q. Can I annotate like I do on my Kindle?
A. No. Currently, the only option is to bookmark and go to notes and marks. You can not add new notes or highlighting. There is a bookmark button on the toolbar which will add or remove a bookmark. Alt+B, which works on the Kindle, does not work in Kindle for PC.
Q. If I made notes on my Kindle, do they show in Kindle for PC?
A. Yes. You can select to see all notes and marks, or any one of these three: Notes, Highlights, Bookmarks.
Q. Can I navigate to my bookmarks, notes, and highlights?
A. Yes, by clicking on them in the Notes & Marks pane. To activate that pane, click the button in your top right corner of the screen.
Q. How do I change pages?
A. If you move your mouse to the margins, you’ll see an arrow pointing ahead or back you can click.. You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard: up or left to go up a page, down or right to go forward a page. If you have a scroll wheel on your mouse, you can also use that to scroll smoothly through the pages.
Q. Are there other ways to navigate?
A. There is a Go To button on the toolbar. Click on it, and you’ll get options like Cover, Table of Contents, Beginning, and Location…depending on how the book is formatted. You can click Go To Location and select a specific location. Hitting the Home key on your keyboard will take you to the top (probably the cover): the End key will not affect anything. The Back button on the toolbar will take you back to where you were last in the book.
Q. Can I navigate within a line?
Q. Does the dictionary work?
A. No. None of the lookup functions, including search, are available at this time. You can not select individual words.
Q. Do hyperlinks work?
A. Yes! They will open in another window. That means you can go to video and audio from a Kindle link and view them on your computer.
Q. Can I copy and paste?
Q. Can I use the Print Screen button on my computer to get a “screen grab”?
A. Yes, like you can do Alt+G on the Kindle. You could then paste it into an e-mail or a Word document. The text would not be text, but an image. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Q. Will I see page numbers?
A. No, it will be the same as it is on a K2. In the bottom left of the screen, you’ll see the percentage you are through the book. In the bottom middle, you’ll see the range of locations currently shown on the screen. In the bottom right, you’ll see the total number of locations for this book.
Q. Will it sync with my Kindle? Will it know what page I was reading last?
A. Yes, it should. In the Go To menu, you’ll see a choice to Sync to Furthest Page Read. This is probably subject to the same vagaries as it is going between two Kindles.
Q. Is there anything else I can do while reading the book?
A. That seems to be about it for now. If you find something else, let me know.
Q. What can I do on the Home screen?
A. You’ll see “thumbnails” (small pictures) of the covers of the books you moved to the Home for this Kindle for PC. Those are the ones that are using a device license. For each title, you’ll see a cover picture (if available…if not, you’ll see an Amazon placeholder), the title, the author as entered by the publisher, and the progress bar of dots showing how far you are into the book.
Q. What can I do with those pictures of the books?
A. If you double-click a book, it should open to where you last were in the book. If you right-click it, you’ll get a number of Go To options, as well as the option to Remove from Device. If you do that, it will go back to the archives.
Q. What if the title is too long to read?
A. Just “hover” you mouse over it (don’t click on it). You’ll see what is called a “screen tip” with the full title.
Q. Can I change the display to just a list of titles?
Q. Are there folders?
A. No. You will have three buttons at the top so you can sort by Most Recent, Title, or Author. The latter two are according to the metadata in the book.
Q. What does the button that says Archived Items do?
A. Click on that, and you’ll be taken to the archives. Those archives are available to any device on your account (until you hit your device limit for that title). It will only show you books (“titles”) you got from the Kindle store. If you right-click a title, you’ll be given a choice to Go to Last Page Read, Go to Beginning, or Add to Home. Any of these will add it to your Home, using a device license.
Q. I have a lot of titles: can I search for one in the archives?
A. No. You can use the scroll wheel, the scroll bar, the arrow keys on your keyboard, and the page up and page down keys.
Q. Why does the number next to Archived Items change?
A. That’s the number of books you have in your archives that are not on this device. As you move a book to the Home screen, you’ll see that number decrement (get smaller). That doesn’t mean the title isn’t available to other devices. The number of titles show in the archives will differ on the different devices if you have a different number of titles locally on the device. The number of Kindle store books on the device plus the Archived Items should be the same.
Q. Can I get to my Personal Documents that I’ve put on the Kindle on Kindle on PC?
A. Not through the archives. That only backs up books you buy from the Kindle store.
Q. Can I get to my subscriptions items, like magazines, newspapers, and blogs?
A. No. Subscriptions items are keyed for only one device.
Q. Can I subscribe to them to go directly to my Kindle for PC?
A. Not currently.
Q. Can I read items from other sources than Amazon in Kindle for PC?
A. Yes! If you go to FeedBooks.com, for example, and choose to download a free book in Kindle format, choose Open, it will open it using Kindle for PC. It will appear in your Home screen, and you can go to the Last Page Read. It will not be in your Archives for other Kindles, and your annotations and such will not be backed up for you at Amazon.
Q. Can I shop in the Kindle store from Kindle for PC?
A. Yes. You’ll see the same thing you would if you went to Amazon on your computer and got to the store that way. You won’t see it like you would see it on your Kindle.
Q. Can I change the name of my Kinde for PC?
A. Yes. Go to the Manage Your Kindle page. Locate the PC you want to change, and click Edit Info.
Q. What future improvements are expected?
A. In an unusual move, Amazon does list expected future improvements. You can see those in the Menu. Currently, they list:
- Zooming and rotating the images
Q. If I want to make other suggestions for changes, can I do that?
A. Yes. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. What files formats are sent?
A. They appear to be .prc files. The “attendant information” files are .mbp. Your computer will tell you they are “Kindle Content”, most likely.
Q. Does that mean I can read other prc files with Kindle for PC?
A. If they are not protected, probably. Put them in the Kindle Content folder in your documents. This has not been tested.
Q. So why would I spend a couple of hundred dollars on a Kindle if I can get this for free?
A. The Kindle’s e-ink screen, small size, and long battery life make it better suited for long-term reading.
Q. I’m ready to get it. Where do I go?
Q. What if I have more questions?
A. Amazon’s help pages for the Kindle for PC are here. You can also leave me comments.
This is based on my first examination, and questions I’ve seen being asked. If you have any other tips or questions, please let me know. I may add to this over time.
Thanks to reader Mark Nedanov for pointing out that things have changed since this was first published (see the comments). The key thing is that there is now an accessibility plug-in for Kindle for PC, which will enable it to work with an external screen reader. For more information, see this later post:
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.