If You Buy a Kindle, Watch Out for This

Amazon’s Kindle is currently the most popular e-reader out there — so if you recently bought a Kindle or you’re thinking about buying one, you’re definitely not alone. However, there is one very important thing you should know.

The good news

With a Kindle, you’ll have access to Amazon’s huge library of e-books, which tend to be cheaper on average than what you’d find elsewhere. Plus, you can download MOBI and PDF files from elsewhere on the Internet and display them on your Kindle.

The bad news

Unlike basically every other e-reader out there, Kindles don’t support the Epub file format. Why is this a big deal? Epub is the most popular open source file format available. There are a lot of books out there as Epub files, and you won’t be able to read any of them on your Kindle.

The good news

Okay, we kind of lied about that last part. You will be able to read them, but you’ll have to convert them first. There’s a piece of free software called Calibre you can install on your computer and use to convert Epub files into MOBI files, thus rendering them readable on a Kindle. It’s a pain in the butt, but it works.

The bad news

Yep, there’s more bad news. See, while Calibre might work for Epub files you bought from other stores or got from other sources like Google’s huge collection of free e-books, it won’t work for e-books you borrow from the library, which are protected from having their format changed by DRM. Amazon is working on getting Kindle-compatible e-books into public libraries, but currently not all books in your local library’s collection will be compatible with every iteration of the Kindle. (Especially if you don’t live in the U.S.)

Don’t let this info stop you from buying a Kindle if it’s what you really want, but definitely put it into consideration if you’re deciding which e-reader is best for you.