By now, everyone who owns a Kindle or Kindle reading app knows that the Kindle Bookstore is a magical place with unsuspecting dark cavernous spots that make you rethink your existence as an e-book reader.
I have firsthand experience in the Kindle store, as a reader and an author, and I’m here to tell you that Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore has so many flaws that sometimes it’s just easier to find another source for eBooks than to wade through the muddied waters and quicksand that Amazon provides.
As the world’s number one supplier of books and eBooks, as the company that’s pushing our favorite stores out of the market, I expect more. Readers shouldn’t have to slug through page after page of unedited and poorly formatted books that somehow made it to the Top 100 Bestsellers list. Readers shouldn’t search for an author’s name and come back with a hundred books “related to” that author’s work instead of what they’re actually searching for. Readers shouldn’t be penalized on the Amazon.com website from leaving positive reviews just because they follow their favorite author on Facebook or Twitter. Attention Amazon, have you not ever met a person who reads? This is what we do!
All tense jokes aside, I’ve been a kindle owner since early 2009. My first Kindle was the Kindle Keyboard, a lovely piece of technology that I still adore. My first one died so I bought a Kindle Fire, a decision that I regret every single day that I power that thing on. Luckily, I found a Kindle Keyboard on Ebay and now I don’t hate my fire as much. It’s still way too heavy to be a pleasurable device to read on, though I do like the interface.
Since I became a Kindle user, the Kindle Store was and never will be my only source of eBooks, especially now. People, as a rule, use whatever is most convenient and Amazon knows this. It is simpler to just hit the BUY NOW button from your Kindle and the book automatically downloads to your device without any extra steps.
However, I’m not a big fan of only shopping at one place. As an author, I know that there are many more avenues to find eBooks and it’s simple to load books bought from another site onto your Kindle. Sure, it involves a few extra steps, but no one is telling you that you shouldn’t buy from Amazon. A ton of indie authors generate the bulk of their revenue from Kindle eBook sales. What I’m saying is that you don’t have to exclusively shop at Amazon to get good use out of your kindle.
Smashwords is an eBook seller that offers hundreds of thousands of eBooks in many different formats.
I also buy a ton of books to All Romance Ebooks because that’s my favorite genre. Ebooks.com is another place I frequently shop to avoid the mess that is the Amazon Kindle Bookstore. This is very short list compared to what’s actually available as an alternative to Amazon. Even Indie booksellers are offering digital downloads and more and more authors are offering their own books directly from their websites.
Having said that, I know the question about getting these great books loaded on your device still looms. I was actually surprised to find out that many Kindle users have absolutely no idea how to “side load” books onto their Kindle. It’s an easy process that only requires your Kindle, your computer, and your USB cord.
Since Kindle e-readers and the Kindle Fire read .mobi files, if you buy and LEGALLY download books that are in another format such as .epub, you’ll need to convert those to .mobi. I use Calibre for this. In fact, Calibre is the easiest way to add non-Amazon books to your device in my opinion.
Option 1: Email
Your kindle has an email address that can accept books from approved senders. Beta Readers and Book Reviewers use this feature because it allows the publisher or author to send the book directly to the receiver’s Kindle.
You can even send yourself books. All you have to do is make sure that your email address is on your list of approved senders. Then email it as an attachment to your kindle address. If you don’t know your Kindle address, log into Amazon, go to Manage Your Content and Devices and click on the Settings tab. Your kindle email address is located under Personal Document Settings and firstname.lastname@example.org
Option 2: via USB
Connect your USB cable to your computer and then you can transfer books onto and off your Kindle as if it was an external hard drive. Just make sure you’re putting your files in the right folders. For .mobi files, put them in the Books folder and any other format such as .pdf and .doc go into the Documents folder.
You should restart the Kindle to make sure it recognizes your new books.
Option 3: Use Caliber
This is so simple. After you’ve downloaded the book, attach your device to your computer and open Calibre. Click Add book(s) which adds the books to your Calibre library. From there, highlight the books and click send to Device. Caliber will automatically convert .epub, .pdf, and .html files to .mobi or .azw3 if you’re using Kindle Fire.
Then detach your device. You don’t even have to restart it if you don’t want to. It’s that easy and Calibre is free. Download it here.
See how simple that is. Now be off and buy a book off another site then come back and tell me how it worked out for you.