Today Amazon rolled out a new online storage service called Cloud Drive. I immediately wanted to see whether it would be useful to Kindle owners, so I tried uploading and downloading some mobi-formatted ebooks to it. The short answer is that it works, although it’s not the most user-friendly interface on the Kindle.
Wait, what’s Cloud Drive?
Like Dropbox, Cloud Drive is a free storage locker in the cloud that you can access from any web browser. Dropbox’s killer feature is its set-it-and-forget-it syncing capability. Cloud Drive distinguishes itself by offering 2.5 times more storage space at the free account level — and if you buy an MP3 album from Amazon you’ll be upgraded to the 20 GB level.
Cloud Drive, like Dropbox, will accept all sorts of file types, but its real focus is music. Amazon wants Cloud Drive to become your online music locker, like an MP3Tunes.com that you’ll actually use. You store everything there, and then stream your music back on multiple devices, as long as they don’t include an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
In many ways, this is just Amazon’s existing S3 storage service, but with a simplified web interface, a built-in music player, and fewer ways to otherwise manipulate your content. But you have to pay for S3, whereas Cloud Drive is free, and therefore awesome.
Using Cloud Drive with ebooks
My first impulse was to see if I could create a cloud-based ebook library on Cloud Drive, so that I could store all of my mobi-formatted ebooks there and access them directly from my Kindle.
If you already use Calibre to create and maintain an ebook library, you probably know that there are existing ways to host your ebook library. You can use Dropbox, or if you already pay for hosting somewhere you can just host an online library yourself. The benefit of the DIY approach is that you can also access your Calibre library through Stanza on the iOS platform.
But the Calibre library doesn’t play well on the Kindle, at least not the way I’ve currently implemented it using my own S3 account (see image at right).
Like Dropbox, Cloud Drive will let you actually download your mobi files directly into your Kindle, so at a basic level the service works. But it’s not the easiest interface to use on a Kindle 3. Here’s how the service looks on the Kindle 3 web browser (click image to enlarge):
This is almost identical to how Dropbox currently works, with the exception that you can actually see the file names on Dropbox, which might be important to you. (Click image to enlarge.)
I’m hopeful that at some point Amazon will roll out the ability to access Cloud Drive files directly via a URL, the way Dropbox offers public links. Until then, think of this as a free alternative to hosting your ebooks on your own server. Cloud Drive at its debut isn’t as flexible as Dropbox, but it’s bigger, and worth considering as a viable online storage solution.
Update! After elmonica commented below that Box.net should also be considered, I checked it out. It’s actually easier to use on the Kindle 3 than Dropbox, at least if you just want to store and access your own ebooks.
So: If you’re just looking to store mobi files in the cloud and grab them from your Kindle 3, and you have the same problem with Calibre2OPDS that I am having (i.e. Kindle 3 doesn’t recognize the links properly), then: