Kindle Tricks (Linux)

An Amazon press release said that they sold more Kindle books than paper books. That might be true, but, they probably included the thousands of books being sold for free, or a few dollars. There are numerous public domain books “for sale” on Kindle. I downloaded several dozen.

Here are a few Amazon Kindle tricks.

If you take the clear plastic protector sheet that’s stuck on the front, and stick it to the back, the cold metal back of the Kindle won’t touch your fingers, and your hand will stay warmer.

The amazon tag “kindle freebies” will bring up all the free books you can get. Be careful, because a lot of free books are being sold for $1 to $3. The site will also send you free books, but Amazon will charge 15 cents per book for the download (unless you copy it via USB).

Mobigen.exe works in WINE. The linux_mobigen is no longer on the mobi site, it seems, and the random one floating around requires, which doesn’t come with my distro of Ubuntu (I think the lib is an older version).

A couple aliases that could help:

alias kindle="sudo eject -t /dev/sdb"
alias mobigen="wine ~/bin/mobigen.exe -verbose"

The kindle command will cause the device to be mounted. That way, you don’t have to keep unplugging the USB cable to get the Kindle to show up as a disk.

The mobigen command just runs mobigen from your bin directory.

mobigen will convert plain HTML files into .mobi files, which can be read on Kindle. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most web pages have a lot of Javascript on them, so you need to view the printer-friendly version of the page, and convert that instead.

The verbose option seems to help it make the files.

If you keep getting the “can’t make temporary file” error, try this:

First, run “wine cmd.exe”. That gives you a DOS style shell.

Then type “bin/mobigen.exe File-to-convert.html”, within the DOS shell.

That works for me. You just don’t get to use all the file-name completion features.

An interactive ebook authoring tool is eCub by Julian Smart, who made wxWidgets. (Haven’t tried it yet.) It uses the mobigen tool to generate the .mobi file.

This .mobi file kind-of sucks. It’s a proprietary binary format without an open source implementation. It would be nice if Kindle had support for the .epub format. It would make it a little easier to do things like convert web pages into books, and copy them onto the reader.

I guess Amazon is using the iTunes model here. The simple-to-use pathways are all proprietary and have DRM, and making it easy to load other content onto the reader, while, possible, is not a priority. This may help authors and Amazon make some money now, but it could harm the utility of the Kindle in the future, because competing readers have .epub support.

People report that Gmail works well with Kindle. It’s kind of clunky.