Kindles are awesome. In fact, I know several colleagues who once hated the idea of a Kindle but became converts as soon as they tried one. But as awesome as Kindles are out of the box, there are a handful of third-party sites that you should be using to get even more out of your Kindle.
If you don’t own a Kindle yet, here’s why you should consider it: e-readers are much easier on the eyes, have dramatically longer battery lives than smartphones and tablets, and allow you to carry around thousands of books everywhere you go. Ultimately, a Kindle can help you read more books in less time.
Thinking of getting one? There are several models to choose between and they’re all good. And with a few simple tips, you can get even more out of your Kindle. But note that you can read Kindle ebooks without an actual Kindle device, so most of these sites can be useful to know even if you don’t own a Kindle proper.
1. KindKindle: Search Ebooks by Price
One of the worst aspects of the Kindle Store (and Amazon products in general) is the interface. Browsing is far from intuitive, search results are a mess, and filters are both complicated and borderline ineffective. Not to mention all of the other reasons to hate the Kindle Store.
And that’s why KindKindle is a nifty site to know. This specialized search engine isn’t just fast, but also has quick filters that let you search by max price: Free, <$1, <$2, <$5, <$10, and <$20. There aren’t any other filter options so you’ll have to be smart with your queries. But hey, it works well!
2. BookZZ: Download Free Ebooks
Of the many sites for finding free Kindle ebooks, this one is the best. It has a terribly clunky interface, which we admit is a huge drawback, but the size of its library blows every other site out of the water. As of this writing, you can find close to 2.8 million titles here all for free.
BookZZ also has another section dedicated to scientific articles. Again, the interface is clunky so you’ll have to be clever with your search queries to find the exact kind of articles you want, but as of this writing you can search over 52 million free articles — a must-know site for free Kindle content.
3. Overdrive: Borrow From Public Libraries
Anybody can browse Overdrive‘s selection of ebooks and view preview samples of any title, but you’ll need a library card to check one out to your Kindle. As of this writing, the borrowing period for an ebook is 21 days by default.
Also worth mentioning is that Overdrive serves audiobooks as well. These are different than podcasts, but podcast lovers will feel right at home with audiobooks because the benefit is the same: you can do other stuff, like drive your car, while listening to something compelling. And since audiobooks are really expensive, you can save a lot of money by borrowing instead.
4. BookLending: Lend Your Ebooks to Others
BookLending is an interesting service that complements, rather than overlaps with, Overdrive. Whereas Overdrive is all about borrowing from a public library (one directional), BookLending offers a crowdsourced group of users who share their ebooks with each other (two directional).
As a participant, you can put up your ebooks to lend and choose to borrow the ebooks that others have put up. You cannot read ebooks while they are loaned out, and a typical loan period can last anywhere from 14 to 21 days. And since ebook lending is an Amazon feature, there’s no risk: BookLending simply matches borrowers with lenders.
5. Instapaper: Send Web Articles to Your Kindle
Instapaper is a simple service that lets you store web articles in one place so you can read through them all at once when you have a block of time available. It also has a bunch of other nifty features, like being able to share those articles with others or exporting them to read on other devices.
As a Kindle user, Instapaper is great because you can set it to periodically send your articles over to your Kindle device in a readable format (e.g. no ads, clean font, etc). So as you browse the web, you can save articles for later, then wake up to your article-filled Kindle — basically a morning newspaper.
6. Kindle4RSS: Send RSS Feeds to Your Kindle
Many years ago, KindleFeeder exploded in popularity because it allowed you to set up various RSS feeds that would be aggregated, turned into an “e-periodical” ebook, and delivered to your Kindle device every night. Unfortunately the site stopped accepting new registers in 2013.
Kindle4RSS is a similar but lesser-known alternative that serves the same basic purpose: you set up a bunch of RSS feeds, which are then auto-delivered to your device every day with a “Table of Contents” for easy browsing. All post images are included in the delivery, and it can also convert partial-text feeds into full text, which is surprisingly convenient.
7. Online-Convert: Convert Between Ebook Formats
Not all ebook formats are equal, and not all ebooks are produced in all formats. Imagine stumbling across a free offer for a highly-anticipated novel that’s only available in LIT or FB2 formats, or maybe you have an older Kindle that can’t read a newer Kindle format. That’s when you need to turn to a converter.
Online-Convert isn’t the only tool for this, but it’s the most straightforward online solution we’ve found. Supported formats include AZW3, EPUB, FB2, LIT, MOBI, PDF, and more. The converters can go from any supported format to any other supported format. If you prefer a desktop alternative, Calibre is excellent for managing and converting ebooks.
8. BookDrop: Transfer Files Using Dropbox
If you buy and/or acquire all of your ebooks directly on your Kindle device, then you probably don’t need this service. If you don’t use Dropbox at all, then this service won’t be much use for you. But if you prefer to buy/acquire using your PC and you regularly use Dropbox, then you’ll love this.
BookDrop is a huge time-saver that lets you send books from your PC straight to your Kindle with one simple action: drag-and-drop ebooks into a specific folder on your Dropbox account. And if you make the folder public, friends can send you ebooks by dropping into it.
One nice feature is that BookDrop supports EPUB, CBR, and CBZ files, which will automatically be converted into a Kindle-supported format before being sent to your device.
9. IFTTT: Automate Kindle Tasks
IFTTT is an automation service that lets you set up “triggers” and connect them with “actions” that are performed any time the given trigger occurs. For example, with this IFTTT recipe, any Feedly article that gets tagged as “Kindle” will be sent to your device.
You can search the IFTTT site for pre-existing recipes, but it’s most effective if you learn how to create your own recipes. Since the site supports thousands of different triggers and actions, your imagination and ingenuity are the only limits as to what you can do.
Learn more about getting started in our master guide to IFTTT.
10. KBoards: Online Forum for Kindle Users
It might seem weird to you that thousands of Kindle users check into KBoards every day to discuss all manner of Kindle-related topics, but it happens. Here you’ll find subsections dedicated to specific devices (e.g. Kindle Fire), specific activities (e.g. publishing Kindle ebooks), and reading/discovering new Kindle ebooks to enjoy.
For me, I’m most interested in the sections for trading devices, finding deals and discounts on ebooks, device reviews, and of course the section on Kindle tips and tricks.
11. /r/Kindle: Subreddit for Kindle Users
Not a fan of Reddit? Then feel free to gloss over this one. But Reddit is a Top 25 website in terms of worldwide traffic, so it should be your first stop any time you’re looking for an active online community. At the time of writing, this one, /r/Kindle, has over 31,000 subscribers and dozens of new threads every day.
Most new threads are support requests, but the subreddit can be a great way to keep on top of Kindle-related news. You’ll also find reviews for new devices, occasional links to deals, and a monthly “What Are You Reading?” thread which can lead to some interesting new reads for you.
12. Kindle Chronicles: Podcast for Kindle Users
The Kindle Chronicles podcast has been around since 2008, which is incredible for any podcast, let alone one that focuses on a topic as niche as the Kindle. Each episode has a guest with whom the host talks about various subjects related to Kindles, ebooks, ereaders, Amazon, tips, and more.
Some of the later episodes aren’t as Kindle-focused anymore, but you can always delve into the podcast’s archives and listen only to the ones that seem relevant to you.
Looking for something similar to Kindle Chronicles but focused more on the books themselves rather than e-reading devices? Check out our compilation of awesome podcasts for bibliophiles.
Other Useful Kindle Tips to Know
And that’s not all. Check out these sites and apps every Kindle owner will love. In addition to all of these sites, you should check out these incredible tips for taking full advantage of your Kindle. Some of the features, such as Kindle First, will require an Amazon Prime subscription, but not all of them do. For example, Kindle Unlimited is a separate service altogether.
Don’t forget to check out these common Kindle issues and solutions as well as these hidden Kindle features you may not know about. Combine all of these together and you’ll be a Kindle master in no time. What could be better than that?
If you know of any other websites that are great for Kindle users, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Do you know of any interesting tips or tricks? Then please share those with us too in the comments below!
Image Credit: Hitdelightvia Shutterstock.com
Originally written by Jessica Cam Wong on September 14, 2011