Using the Kindle for Reading Scientific Papers

Yesterday, my all new Kindle arrived. Screen size 15cm, weighing only 170g.

My Kindle

Why? To read more. Well, this was my excusion to myself.

It really is a fascinating device. The contrast of the screen is very high and reading makes much fun with it. If you are reading books formatted in the .mobi / the kindle format. Using this format, you can change the font size and it automatically adjust itself.

On constrast, if you want to read PDFs on this small screen, you may have luck that the page size of the PDF is very small and, therefore, the letters are readable. As the font size cannot be changed, you cannot increase it. But most PDFs have DIN A4, US LETTER or DIN A5 as their format. Or something in between. Some may have two columns (which is common in scientific papers from IEEE) and others footnotes…. All these kinds of things makes a PDF very hard to read on the Kindle I bought.

So, what can be done about this?

  • Buy a Kindle DX. This Kindle has a 9.7″ screen size and costs $380.
  • Rotate the screen to landscape mode for having a little higher font size.
  • You can only zoom in.
  • Convert the PDF.

I don’t want to buy a Kindle DX as it is too expensive, has to be bought from amazon.com and shipped from the US.

I have tried to rotate the screen. It works for some cases, but it is for from perfect.

Zooming makes everything only worse. Trust me!

I testet the conversion tool named K2pdfoft which optimizes a PDF for a kindle device. The results are quite ok for the PDF I testet (one column, scientific, with tables, footnotes).

I will post more about conversion tools and compare them with each other testing various scientific paper styles in the future.  In the mean time, I will read my books which have the mobi format.

PS: If you buy books at http://manning.com or http://pragprog.com, you get the eBook as a PDF, mobi and ebug DRM free format! This is really cool!

PPS: I will try to be a more active blogger. 🙂 Especially as I have a new design!!!!!!!!!!

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8 thoughts on “Using the Kindle for Reading Scientific Papers

  1. Go on with Kindle+scietific work. I’m very interested in that topic, especially formatting scanned papers (you know, social sciences an technology… laaate adopters).

    Any information about the DX getting updated or coming to amazon.de ?

  2. Thanks for the comment. I will go on about exploring reading scientific papers with the Kindle. However, scanned documents is another topic alltogether as they are much more unstructured as PDFs generated from LaTeX.

    Regarding the kindle family from their web site (See https://kindle.amazon.com/ ), I am not sure if the DX will be sold in the EU at all.

  3. …US LETTER oder DIN A5 as their format… Thinks for bringing up the subject. However, I am not sure that the non-english speaking knows the meaning of ODER 🙂

  4. I just found a solution for reading multicolumn PDFs on the kindle: Just send an email to your kindle address, attach the PDF and fill in “Convert” in the subject line. You will receive a nicely formatted article on your kindle!

  5. @ Thomas
    I tried your solutions and it seems great. However I have some problems with the figures. If there is some text within, Amazon conversion will set them apart resulting in strange visuqlization. Do you share the same issue?

  6. @ Billo
    Yes that’s also happening on my kindle. Unfortunately I could not find a solution for this problem. But appart from that Amazon’s conversation works great 😉

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