How to choose the right format for your Kindle

Updated: 15 January 2011

There are so many different ebook formats these days that it can be confusing to know which ones will work for your device. If you’re buying from the Amazon Kindle store, there’s no worry. If you’re getting books from anywhere else, take a look at the chart below for help.

Remember, if the file is protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) and it’s not from Amazon’s store, it won’t work on the Kindle no matter what format it’s in.

You can transfer the file directly to your Kindle over USB cable or SD card.

You must email the file to Amazon, where it will be converted and sent wirelessly to your Kindle, or returned to you via email.

Currently not compatible with the Kindle.

Amazon’s default file format. You’ll almost never see it in the wild.

Amazon says some docx conversions may be problematic.

This format has the best chance of becoming the industry standard, but Amazon doesn’t recognize it. Use a software program like Calibre to convert .epub to .mobi.

Officially, you’re supposed to have to email this to Amazon for conversion. Unofficially, if you just change the “.html” or “.htm” part of the file name to “.txt” and copy it over, the Kindle will most likely read it correctly.

Old format that Amazon based the .azw format on. Lots of ebook stores still sell this format.

Kindle 1: You must send the file to Amazon for conversion.
Kindle 2 & DX: Can display PDF without conversion. If you want to convert the file in order to take advantage of Kindle’s text-to-speech, font sizing, annotation, etc., you must type the word Convert in the subject line of your email when you forward the PDF to Amazon. Also, image heavy files will automatically be converted regardless. See this page for details.

Another name for the Mobipocket (.mobi) format.



Amazon’s other default format, although it’s a lot less common than the .azw at the top of the list. As with .azw, you’ll almost never see this anywhere but on the Amazon store.

Amazon can convert these image formats into .azw files that will display on your Kindle.


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