The Kindle is one of Amazon’s biggest successes. Most of the books you can download on Amazon use the proprietary AZW file format, even though Kindles also support MOBI files. Because the AZW format is proprietary to Amazon, it can be difficult to open on other devices. If you want to read your ebooks on another device, your best option is to convert them to PDF files.
Most converter apps are free, and the process to change a Kindle file into a PDF only takes a few steps. After you have converted your books to PDFs, you can keep your titles organized on Calibre.
Download the AZW files first
Both of these software options require your Kindle books to be in AZW format rather than the new KFX format that Kindles are using now. You can get the AZW file by logging into your Amazon account on your computer or laptop. Go to Your Account and select Manage Your Content and Devices. Where it says Show at the top left, choose Books and then tap the three dots at the left next to the title or titles you want and choose Download & transfer via USB. You’ll be prompted to choose one of your Kindle devices and the AZW file will download onto your computer.
Note: Calibre does now offer a plugin called the KFX Input plugin, which allows you to import KFX files as well. Skip to page two to find out how to use it.
Convert using EPUB Converter — web-based
As the name implies, EPUB Converter is a free online utility used to convert e-book files to and from their native format. The tool currently includes options for converting electronic publications like EPUBs, PDF, MOBI, and AZW, among other formats, as well as one for directly converting Kindle files to PDF. It’s speedy, simple, and lacks a heavy desktop footprint. How’s that for sustainable?
Step 1: Access EPUB Converter
Launch your favorite browser, then navigate to EPUB Converter’s Kindle to PDF Converter.
Step 2: Upload and convert your Kindle file
Assuming you have the file(s) in question housed on your machine, click the yellow Add File button located below the PDF information and above the conversion instructions. Next, locate the Kindle file you wish to convert — most likely formatted in Amazon’s proprietary file type, AZW or MOBI — and click the gray Open button located in the bottom-right corner of the pop-up window. EPUB Converter also allows for simultaneous uploading and converting, so feel free to add as many files you’d like. When finished, click the yellow Start Upload button to the right of the file you just added.
Step 3: Download the PDF
Once the conversion is complete — a potentially lengthy process depending on the file size — right-click or CTRL-click the resulting PDF file and select the Save link as option to save the file to your desired location. Alternatively, left-click or single-click the link to prompt the download, or to view the PDF in your browser.
EPUB Converter will host the file on its server for two hours, providing you with plenty of time to download your new PDF. You can repeat the process as many times as necessary by clicking the Add File button housed below your newly converted file.
Convert using Calibre — Windows, MacOS, and Linux
It’s not surprising that Calibre has become the one-stop solution for most people looking for free Kindle-to-PDF conversion. The e-book manager is relatively lightweight, yet teeming with noteworthy features and sporting an attractive interface that is both resourceful and self-explanatory. The software also handles a grandiose assortment of input formats, from MOBI and HTML to PRC and AZW, and is capable of functioning with or without a persistent or active network connection. The application has been known to create new folder directories, reorganize e-book files, and generally be a bit buggy, but our hands-on experience produced no such instances. Plus, it’s loaded with intuitive options for customizing the looks and aesthetics of the resulting PDF.
Step 1: Download, install, and launch Calibre
Launch your favorite browser, navigate to the Calibre homepage, and click the blue Download Calibre button. Next, select the appropriate operating system and follow the on-screen installation instructions once downloaded. Launch the program when finished.
Step 2: Add the Kindle file
Assuming you have the file(s) in question housed on your machine, click the Add books button located in the upper-left corner of the application window, locate the Kindle file you wish to convert — most likely formatted in Amazon’s proprietary file type, AZW or MOBI — and click the gray Open button the bottom-right corner of the pop-up window. Alternatively, drag and then drop the files you wish to convert into the application window. Calibre offers bulk uploading and direct conversion with the program, so feel free to add more than one file at a time.
Step 3: Convert the Kindle file
Highlight the files you wish to convert and click the Convert books button located on the left-hand side of the navigation bar. A pop-up window will appear housing various options for altering the book cover, title, author, tags, and other metadata components, as well as a slew of options for changing the page design and structure of the resulting PDF. Select PDF from the drop-down menu located to the right of Output format, and perform any other customized tweaks to the file before clicking the gray OK button in the bottom-right corner of the window.
Step 4: Download the PDF
Once the conversion is complete — a potentially lengthy process depending on the file size — select the e-book once more and right-click or CTRL-click the blue PDF link beside Formats. Select the second option from the resulting drop-down menu, Save the PDF format to disk, and choose the desired save location. Alternatively, left-click or single-click the same link to view the PDF using your operating system’s default PDF viewer. Repeat the process as necessary.