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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Kindle Fire Video Conversion

While it can be a bit of a pain that the Kindle Fire, despite being highly video-centric, offers users little in the way of video format compatibility, for the most part it probably won’t come up for just anybody.  The storage space on board the tablet is small enough that streaming video is obviously going to be the most successful regular viewing method anyway.  There are always those occasions when it is important to be able to load something for later though, when you expect to be without WiFi access or are simply unable to find a reasonable way to stream a title.

Admittedly there are also less conventional, free avenues for movie acquisition, but we won’t go into that here.  For these times when you have a movie that you need to load onto your Kindle Fire, it’s important to be aware of the best way to go about it.  Let’s assume that, through whatever avenue might have worked for you (third party purchase, DVD rip via freely available software like DVDFab, etc.) you have acquired some DRM-free video.

Since it’s what I’m familiar with and because it is freely available, I’m going to use a video conversion tool called Handbrake for Windows.  In the end what matters most is choosing the right settings, so most any video conversion software will do.

  • Install and Run Handbrake (Free software available for most computers at handbrake.fr)
  • Find your Source Video
    • Large button labeled “Source” will drop down and offer you the choice of either one file or a whole folder.  The whole folder option is important is converting raw DVD data.
    • Assuming you want the whole video, nothing more should be required.  If you are trying to convert just a section, you can cut that out either by chapter, frame, or time period in the obvious menus provided.
  • Choose your Destination
    • Since you will be putting this onto the Kindle Fire, it is often best to have it output somewhere obvious like the desktop unless you are planning to retain converted video for storage.
    • Do not output directly to the Kindle Fire at this stage.
  • Under Presets, on the right side of the screen, choose “iPad” (Kindle Fire will use the same format) and check the settings that appear to make sure they match this:
    • Container: MP4
    • Uncheck “Large File Size”, “Web optimized”, and iPod 5G Support”
    • Width: 720
    • Cropping: Automatic
    • Anamorphic: Loose
    • Modulus: 16

Note for those not using Handbrake: Video Codec is H.264, Audio Codec is AAC

Not claiming these are the only working settings, merely what I recommend based on personal use.

  • Click on the Start button at the top of the window
    • Conversion will take between 15 and 45 minutes, on average, for a full length movie.
  • Connect your Kindle Fire via USB
  • Copy New Video File to Kindle Fire
    • Folder: Video
    • Can take 3-5mins for most USB transfers.
  • Open Gallery App on your Kindle Fire
    • User video will not show up under the Video tab at this time, but the Gallery comes pre-installed on your device.

Hope that helps a bit.  The process is a bit tedious, but considering how little can be held on the Kindle Fire at a given time it should not be too much of a chore to pack it fill of whatever you want when this proves necessary.  For a larger variety of options you can always root your Kindle, but understand that doing so will require a slightly greater initial time investment and could prove annoying as the step will have to be repeated with each Amazon software patch.

Addressing Kindle Platform Lock-In As Formats Evolve

One of the biggest concerns when deciding which eReader to go with is the DRM.  If you get a Kindle, then that means that you can’t read your purchases on a Nook, a Kobo, or pretty much anything else that happens to be competing with Amazon.  The same is true of Barnes & Noble and, to a greater or lesser extent in varying ways, to everybody else.  This isn’t news, and it isn’t necessarily a problem that can be addressed right now.  The only way we’ll see a change is if somebody realizes that DRM-free eBooks are great enough to not cost publishers money.  Not going to hold my breath there.

What happens when the Kindle moves on from its current, already somewhat dated, proprietary eBook format, though?  We have to assume that the technology will evolve, as will the formats available, and that in time Amazon will want to give up on backward compatibility for their eReaders.  Should we just assume that this is another opportunity for retailers to sell us yet another copy of our favorite things?  That sort of logic annoyed me enough over the course of the VHS -> DVD -> BluRay cycle, especially since I got an HD-DVD player as a gift along the way.  It doesn’t really fit with books in my mind. What we buy in an eBook is not necessarily analogous to video or audio.  You don’t have to worry about reproduction quality in a text-based medium, generally.  There is no reason, therefore, that we should have to repurchase our books, having acquired the digital copies once already.

Believing as I do on the topic, I wondered how to avoid the cycle.  DRM is specifically meant to keep you from copying or converting what you purchase, after all.  Theoretically, if your favorite platform dies off, you’re just out of luck.  Realistically, though, why would a company move to a new format and DRM scheme?  Generally, and call it cynical if you must, because the old one does not control customer interaction as well as it used to.  Once the DRM can be casually broken, it isn’t worth using anymore.  This line of thought led to an experiment.

Sure enough, all of the books I purchased from the old Sony Store when I first bought an eReader are still there.  Even Sony doesn’t use BBeB anymore, though.  A quick search provided me with details on how to remove the obsolete DRM and convert my old books into a Kindle compatible format.  There are even scripts available that made the batch of just under 100 eBooks take just a few minutes.  Sure enough, the text is the same as it would be if I bought the book again.

My advice to anybody who genuinely who is worried about their purchases being rendered obsolete is to think the problem through.  Short of a complete end to the use of electronics, it is fairly clear that eReaders and Tablets aren’t going anywhere.  So far none of them, as far as I know, has been audacious enough to suggest that you shouldn’t be able to side-load your own files onto your device.  It probably wouldn’t go over well for whoever tried.  Get yourself a Kindle, a Nook, or whatever suits you best.  Make backups if you are afraid of the service just abruptly disappearing one day.  Don’t worry too much about the end of the line for your chosen platform, though.  There is always another one and it only gets easier to switch as time goes on.

eLibrary Management on Kindle and other devices

As the owner of several eReader devices and a large library of DRM-free, yet often oddly formatted, eBooks, it can be difficult to make sure that I have access to what I want to read on the device I want to read it on on a given day.  Yeah, I know, this isn’t exactly going to be a common problem, but the software that solves it for me is going to be useful to just about anybody working with a large number of eBooks.  Especially if many of them are from free book sources like Google Books, where you’re likely to get some really shoddy labeling and tagging.

Many of you may already have heard of Calibre, actually.  If so, this may be a bit basic.  For those who haven’t, it is a third party piece of software that allows you to manage all of your eBooks and the associated information, including file conversion and meta-data editing.  It’s worked flawlessly for me for years now and can even handle converting things for the Kindle from Sony’s somewhat outdated BBEB formats.  Just add your book file to the library, set the title and author properly, assuming they aren’t already, and download all the rest of the information right down to the cover art automatically.  Really, couldn’t get much simpler.  As far as the occasional DRM encumbered eBook, which we all have to settle for sometimes when there aren’t any options available, the Calibre library can include the files, it simply can’t alter them.  Not that big a deal, usually, since if somebody went to the trouble of protecting their files I’ve usually found them to be fairly well labeled and tagged as well.

This is just one user’s review, of course.  I’m not even getting into all the many features like building/editing eBook in-text formatting, plug-ins, etc. that many people like about it.  The fact that it functions on a day to day basis with no problems across multiple devices and never causes me issues, however, makes this software invaluable to me more than any extra feature I can think to add.