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Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to Read Kindle E-Books Without a Kindle

A few times recently I've heard people say that they would like to read a Kindle e-book, but can't because they don't have a Kindle themselves.

In fact, however, not having a Kindle is no obstacle. Amazon wants Kindle e-books to reach the widest possible audience, and so they have made a wide range of apps available to ensure that you can read them on almost any device.

To see the range of reading apps available, visit the homepage of your country's Amazon store (e.g. Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk). In the left-hand menu under "Shop by Department" place the cursor over "Kindle" and in the flyout menu that appears click on Free Kindle Reading Apps.

A page showing what apps are available to you will then appear. The screen capture below shows the top of the relevant page for Amazon UK (other country's stores may differ slightly).

As ever, you can see a full sized version of the image above by clicking on it.

As you can see, there are apps available for smartphones, computers (both Mac and PC) and tablets, meaning that the great majority of popular platforms today are catered for. Simply click on the link you require and follow the on-screen instructions. Note that you will need to enter your Amazon account log-in details (email address and password) so that the software can be synchronized across all the devices you use.

Even though I'm a Kindle owner myself, I also have the Kindle for PC app on my desktop computer. Although I mostly read Kindle books on my Kindle (surprise!), sometimes with non-fiction books in particular I prefer to read them on a full-sized monitor, as this can make it easier to view diagrams and illustrations. In addition, my Kindle model has a plain e-ink display, so I only get the benefit of colour on my PC.

Using the display options (see below) on the app you can set various options to make your reading experience as pleasant as possible.This includes changing the brightness, font size and number of words per line. You can also change the background colour to sepia or black if you prefer. I can't imagine many people choose the latter!


Yet another advantage of viewing Kindle books on a computer is that it's easy to take screengrabs if required, e.g. if you want to print out a table or diagram (see my recent blog post about printing from a Kindle for more discussion about this).

One other option available in some countries (though not the UK apparently) is Kindle Cloud Reader. This runs in your web browser but looks and acts just like an app, and you can continue reading even if you lose your internet connection.

Kindle Cloud Reader works in Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari (though not Internet Explorer). As well as Windows PCs, it will also run on devices using the Mac or Linux operating systems. If Kindle Cloud Reader is available to you, you should see it listed as a separate item on the Kindle flyout menu mentioned earlier.

A huge range of Kindle e-books is now available, and most (especially those from independent authors) are very competitively priced. In addition, many titles are advertised free for limited periods to help boost their profile, so you could quite easily fill up your Kindle library while paying very little.

In any event, it's usually possible to sample Kindle e-books using the "Try It Free" feature, which allows you to read the first 10 percent or so. This can be a good way to determine whether you want to spend the (probably) small fee to download the rest of the book.

To sum up. then, it really is well worth while visiting Amazon's Kindle Store, even if you don't own a Kindle yourself!

Finally, while I was researching this post, I came across this video by Dr Andy Williams, which also discusses how to read Kindle e-books without a Kindle, and shows you as well using screen captures. I thought you might find this a useful additional resource, so I've embedded it below.



As ever, if you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to watch the video.

Incidentally, Andy is a successful Kindle author himself, and you might like to check out his excellent Kindle Publishing and Formatting guide in particular. Here's a link to this title's page at Amazon.com and here it is at Amazon.co.uk.

If you have any comments or questions about reading Kindle e-books without owning a Kindle, feel free to post them below, and I'll do my best to answer!

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Kate Loving Shenk said...

Great and helpful article. If you have several Kindle apps, how do I share the Kindle Books I bought from one device and transfer it to another device without paying for it again? That may be another topic for another blog post!!

Cheers, Kate Loving Shenk

12:11 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, Kate. It shouldn't really be an issue, as all devices are automatically synchronized via Amazon.

Thus, you can read any books you have on your Kindle on your apps as well, and they should even remember what page you are up to!

12:40 PM  
Blogger sloanwriter said...

Hi Nick,
So far the only device I have found you can't read kindle on so far is the Sony e-reader, unless you know different.
I have an IPad now so not a problem but I have a Sony E-reader collecting dust and know a few friends in the same position.
I often advice folk on using the kindle apps!

12:05 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, Lesley. As far as I know you are right. There are no apps you can download for the Sony Reader to read Kindle e-books on them.

If the Kindle e-book is not DRM-protected, you can convert it to EPUB format using something like Calibre. But this is obviously more complicated than just loading up an app, and won't work with e-books that are DRM-protected.

12:57 PM  

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