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Lots of Time On Your Hands? Amazon Will Help You Digitize Your Paper Books At Home

Kindle Convert transforms pages into pixels.

Lots of Time On Your Hands? Amazon Will Help You Digitize Your Paper Books At Home
[Photo: Flickr user Timothy Krause]

If you’ve ever wished you could purge your physical bookshelf and go all digital without losing all that great literature, Amazon just made it much easier. At least if you have a ton of free time on your hands.

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Kindle Convert is a new DIY book digitization software that enables you to transform dead trees into e-books and load them onto your Kindle (or any other device running the Kindle app). The software uses a standard flatbed scanner to convert pages into files, and then stores everything on Amazon’s cloud servers.

Because this method requires page-by-page scanning, it’s got to be pretty tedious to digitize your entire collection of Danielle Steel novels. For that–and really for most books that are already available for Kindle–it’s probably easier to just buy the book in e-book format. But if the idea of paying for the same book twice makes you cringe, by all means, go ahead and spend Saturday night doing this.


Kindle Convert will be much more useful for the digitization of old, rare, or out-of-print books. Did you inherit your grandfather’s copy of a beloved novel with all kinds of highlights and notes in the margins? Kindle Convert will preserve all of that. Similarly, the system could be used to digitize old letters and other personal and historical documents for easy reading on one’s Kindle.

Of course, you could just use the same flatbed scanner to turn these books into DRM-free PDFs and do with them as you please. The perk here is that Amazon’s method automatically converts pages into an e-reader-friendly format and instantly uploads to your Kindle account. If you’re already locked into Amazon’s platform, this is a slightly easier way to get your paper-based favorites onto your device.

It’s hard to imagine that publishers will be thrilled by this development, since it eliminates the need for people to repurchase books in a digital format (again, assuming one would rather sit there and scan every page of a book than click a button and pay a few dollars). It’s a little bit like the e-book equivalent of Amazon’s AutoRip feature for CDs and vinyl records, only with way more friction on the consumer’s end. A much closer analogy would be for paper books to come with a free e-book edition. That would certainly be convenient, but we shouldn’t hold our breath.

For now, this will have to do.

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About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things. Find me here: Twitter: @johnpaul Instagram: @feralcatcolonist

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