My first test of Kindle Convert

My first test of Kindle Convert

I wanted to do a quick test of

Kindle Convert (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Amazon’s recently released book digitizing software.

I should mention first that I have experience digitizing books…I did it with public domain books when I was working with a non-profit.

It was quite laborious…the scanning itself can take some time, and then there is the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) part, where the software reads the scan and tries to convert it to searchable text.

I say “tries” because even the best software I used was imperfect.

So, I think I can judge the quality of the work reasonably well.

I used my

piQx Xcanex Portable Book and Document Scanner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is a pretty sophisticated and not outrageously expensive scanner.

I just wanted to do a simple test, so I scanned about ten pages of a hardback book.

I was anxious to test a couple of things, and I wanted to try to do it with as little work as possible. 🙂

I scanned the book into jpgs (a type of image file) and started the “project” in the Kindle Convert software.

I basically just clicked through the options. There were a lot of choices to crop images, change orientation, check the content, all that sort of thing.

I would say that I took about five minutes (after creating the scans), just clicking through the tabs and then uploading it to Amazon.

That last part is important…the Kindle friendly file is available to me through my Kindle account, like a book would be that I bought through the Kindle store.

It would not be easy for me to use this software to create a file and distribute it to people not on the account.

So, how did it do?

It took about ten minutes for the scanned file to show up on my

Kindle Fire HDX 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s not too bad, although it does mean that a 200 page book might take 200 minutes…over three hours. That might not be the case…the ten minutes may not have all been page per page time. There may be some processes that come at the beginning and end of that.

How was the scan?

Well, first, I’d better not judge this book by its cover, because it really messed up the cover! It only took a tiny section of the image.

That’s something I’m sure I could have adjusted if I’d taken the time to do that…maybe next time.

Pages of the book were pretty much perfect, which is quite impressive.

On other pages, there might be small errors: “bcast” instead of “beast”, for example. Again, I could have corrected that if I’d taken the time…I didn’t even run a spellcheck. Testing the spellcheck afterwards (you can go back in and edit the project in the software) it would have taken that long to adjust.

One page had a really failed section, with weird large characters that didn’t make words. I checked the page in the original hardback, and couldn’t see anything that caused it.

My guess? A bad scan…I may not have had the page flat enough or it might have moved.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the OCR! When it worked, it worked as well as any I’ve used. When it didn’t…well, my guess it that was more of an “operator error”, something I did (again, I did it with a minimal amount of care, to test it). The error rate, outside of the completely failed page, was quite low…certainly, I’d guess under 1%.

Here was the best part:

It worked with text-to-speech!

I expected that it would, but it was great to have the confirmation.

Text-to-speech is software which will read a book out loud to you. It can be blocked by a publisher (some big publishers do that with some of their books), and the software can’t pick words out of an image (which can be the case with graphic novels and some PDFs).  This was just like any other book I would have gotten from the Kindle store…same controls, including speed.

I could also do lookup. That included Wikipedia and the dictionary…again, just like purchased books.

I could add notes and bookmarks, and had many of the same text setting options (size, color, spacing…even translation). What I didn’t have was the ability to choose a different font.

I would say that the software more than met my expectations.

I’m going to test it further (including taking pictures with my phone, rather than using the scanner), and will report back. I also have some magazines I want to try, and some personal items. For example, I have a scrapbook of pictures and newspaper articles which might make a nice book. 🙂

If you have any specific questions about Kindle Convert, feel free to let me know by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


11 Responses to “My first test of Kindle Convert”

  1. dsmallc Says:

    does it work with PDFs made previously?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, dsmallc!

      Hypothetically, but I haven’t tested it myself.

      Kindle Convert doesn’t assist in the creation of the source files, and doesn’t know where they originated. If the PDF fit the parameters they’ve established, and didn’t have security that might prevent KC’s work being done on it, it should work.

  2. dsmallc Says:

    I ask because I had scans made of a few books from my personal library that aren’t yet available on kindle, but find reading from a pdf very unsatisfactory, particularly since I don’t like reading on tablets. I would buy this software but it’s not available for the Mac and I don’t have access to a PC.

  3. Phink Says:

    Bufo, I got my echo today and thought you’d like to hear about my experience. The best part is the speaker. I was blown away at how good the sound actually is. A lot of critics scoff at the Echo saying they can do what it can do with their phones. Maybe, but their phone speakers are not in the same ball park as the echo’s. Plus I like the hands free aspect of it.

    The biggest negative is it really needs a lithium battery. I’d love to take it to different rooms. Take it to the kitchen when cooking, to the dining room when eating, to the bedroom at night etc. I thought perhaps I’d buy two more plugs, and simply move it from room to room by unplugging it and plugging it back up from the device, not the wall. But, they are $20 and won’t ship for 2 to 3 months. I would not spend that much anyway. Another negative is it will not do stock quotes. I expect it to do this with a future update though. I hate to even mention the next because some will just think I’m being picky. I just think it’s worth mentioning. If I ask about the 80’s band Stryper or ask it to play Stryper it has no idea what I’m saying. I’m sure it’s because of the spelling. No machine is perfect so I’m ok with that.

    Oh I love this. I asked it to play music for 2 minutes and roughly 2 minutes later it shut off. I should have timed it and next time I will.

    I put up a short you tube video showing it off. I’m not sure there’s anything new there but below is a link just in case you want to watch it. Of course feel free to delete the link before approving this post if you want. If you would like me to test something just ask and I will.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I like the video! I tweeted it just now. 🙂 There were 27 views when I did…we’ll see what happens.

      I like the way it shows the natural language capabilities. It doesn’t seem like you are making a real effort to formulate questions in such a manner as to make them easier to understand.

      I’ve seen your second comment: yours would have been the first time that I’d heard about a music timer, although people have requested it, and it may come in the future (might be nice when working out, for example…”Alexa, play dance music for 45 minutes.”

      As to Stryper…it doesn’t find anything at all? Try, “Alexa, Wikipedia Stryper”. Otherwise, perhaps try the name of one of the songs or one of the bandmembers? That might help it learn. I’d provide feedback to Amazon as well.

      As to the battery…I’m not sure what the thinking is about that. It probably isn’t the physical presence of the battery (weight or size), since the Echo generally just sits there. I suspect it might have to do with how the “always on” Echo would run that battery down. If you discharge a lithium ion battery all the way, my understanding is that can damage it. They might be trying to avoid a lot of complaints.

      Once we get wireless device charging, it won’t matter anyway. 😉

  4. Phink Says:

    Let me correct something. Evidently, I was wrong with saying you could tell it to play music for X minutes and it’d shut off. I tested it again this morning and it did not work. I noticed however, that the question before that the echo just shut off in the middle of it’s answer. I noticed it did it twice more this morning and was cracking a little in it’s sound. I checked and the plug was not completely snug in it’s spot. I think it just lost power and I thought it shut itself off. It seems to be working fine now but I have to stop the music manually as I expected I would have to do in the beginning.

  5. Phink Says:

    Bufo, I decided to make one last video of the Echo because after a couple of days I’ve realized the most remarkable part of this device is the sensitivity of the microphones. I think you’ll really like this video as it shows how well it picks up sound.

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