Amazon’s Kindle line of devices are some of the most popular E Ink gadgets for reading eBooks, and for good reason. They’re relatively inexpensive, have good displays, offer long battery life, and make reading books from Amazon’s Kindle store super easy.

But what about books you didn’t buy from Amazon? Kindles can support books that use Amazon’s own MOBI or AZW file formats, as well as TXT, HTML, RTF, DOCX, and PDF files. But they don’t support EPUB out of the box, which is annoying since that’s the format most other eBook stores use.

The good news is that it’s surprisingly easy to convert a DRM-free EPUB file into something that you can read on a Kindle. All you need to do is change the file extension and then email it to your Kindle account. (Yes, I realize that technically this means you aren’t reading an EPUB on a Kindle, but if you’ve got an EPUB that you want to read on a Kindle, this is how you do it).

The less good news is that you have to go through extra steps if you want to do this with a book that has DRM (which is probably true of most titles you’ve purchased from Kobo, Google Play, or the NOOK Store).

The easy way

First, let’s assume you’ve got a DRM-free book. Here are the steps for reading it on a Kindle:

  1. Navigate to the eBook in a file browser on your computer.
  2. Change the file extension from .epub to .png
  3. Email it your Kindle email address.

That’s literally it. Within minutes, Amazon will convert your EPUB to an AZW file and send it to your Kindle eReader.

If you’re a bit unclear on how step 3 works, Amazon’s got you covered.

Basically the company assigns an email address to every Kindle device or app associated with your account. Email any compatible document to that account and it’ll be converted and sent to your device. EPUB isn’t officially supported, but image formats including PNG, BMP, GIF, and JPG are, and for whatever reason all you need to do to send an EPUB is tell Amazon it’s a PNG image.

One thing to note is that files you send to your Kindle this way will be treated as “personal documents” rather than books. For the most part they’re treated the same way on a Kindle device. But you may not be able to access personal books using the Kindle for PC app or Kindle Cloud Reader.

You can find the email address for the device you want to use by visiting the Manage Your Content and Devices page at Amazon and clicking the three dots next to your device to see the email address. You can also click the Edit button to change the address to something easier to remember.

kudos to The DBX at the MobileRead forum for this tip

The harder (but more versatile) way

The method listed above is the easiest way to send an EPUB to your Kindle. But if you’re looking for another method… and one that also gives you a ton of other options for managing your eBook collection, Calibre is your friend.

This free program is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and it provides a way to organize your eBook library, update cover art, sync books with your device, and much, much more.

Calibre also has a built-in file conversation tool.

In order to use Calibre to convert a DRM-free eBook, all you need to do is download and set up the software, drag and drop a book you want to convert into the main window to add it to your library, and then right-click the title and choose the “convert books” option.

If you choose Convert Individually, the next screen will ask what format you’d like to convert the book to. Select MOBI or AZW if you want to read that book on a Kindle.

Then click OK at the bottom of the screen and wait a few minutes for Calibre to do its thing.

When the conversion job is finished, you can click the link that says “Path: Click to open” to open the directory containing the original file and the converted version.

From there you can transfer the eBook to your Kindle either by emailing it or by plugging your Kindle into your computer with a USB cable and copying the book to your device’s storage.

Calibre also allows you to sync eBooks with a number of different types of eReader, but I usually just use the email-to-kindle option.

And the tool isn’t just for converting EPUB to MOBI or AZW. You can also use it to convert files to and from formats including DOCX, FB2, HTML, LIT, PDB, PDF, RTF, TXT, and ZIP.

The legally iffy stripping-the-DRM way

Calibre cannot strip the DRM from an eBook on its own. But the application supports plugins that extend Calibre’s functionality in a number of ways.

You can access Calibre’s plugins menu by opening the Preferences menu, scrolling down to Plugins, and then either searching for one that’s indexed in Calibre’s catalog, or downloading a third-party plugin from the web and installing it manually using the “Load plugin from file” option.

Apprentice Alf’s DeDRM plugin does exactly what the name implies, and strips the DRM from eBooks imported to your Calibre library.

The tool can strip the DRM from most EPUBs that use Adobe DRM, including those purchased from the Kobo, NOOK, and Google Play stores. It can also strip the DRM from most Kindle eBooks, as long as they’re not in the new KFX format.

But keep in mind that circumventing DRM may be illegal in some regions, even if you’re just doing so in order to read an eBook you’ve already paid for. If that’s the case where you live, then you may be better off reading EPUB books on a non-Kindle device.

Or you could just buy your books from stores that sell them DRM-free, download free eBooks from sites like Project Gutenberg, or the Internet Archive, or check out the latest Humble Bundle Books deals (where I’ve picked up a ton of DRM-free eBooks over the past few years).




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11 replies on “How to read EPUB books with a Kindle”

  1. Misleading headline. This is not about how to read EPUBs on kindle. This is how to convert EPUBs to MOBI. And then read MOBI on Kindle.

    1. I do realize that… but the alternate title “How to convert EPUB eBooks to MOBI or AZW files that you can read on a Kindle” seemed a bit wordy.

      The point here is that if you’ve got a book in EPUB format and want to read it on a Kindle, this is how you can do it.

  2. If you use Callbre, you don’t have to manually convert books before transferring them to a reader. Just select Send to Device and Calibre will automatically convert the book to whatever format is suitable for the device.

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