How to Sideload Your Kindle Preview Mobi File onto Your Kindle



As you can see in the preview, I sideloaded Julie Harper‘s new book, Reading Comprehension for Girls (she will be releasing it in a couple of weeks) onto my Kindle Fire to help check the formatting.

When you proceed to publish your e-book at Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), you should preview your Kindle e-book carefully on each device on the online previewer and (the said-to-be-more-reliable) downloadable previewer.

Even better, download the .mobi file onto your computer and then transfer it to one or more actual devices (I’ve heard that formatting may change if the file is emailed, so it may be best to have a micro-USB cable handy).

The first step is to download the .mobi file from KDP:

  1. Visit your KDP bookshelf and click Edit Book Details.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click Download Book Preview File.
  3. Save the .mobi file to your computer. Note the file location (default may be a Downloads folder).
  4. Open the folder containing the .mobi file.

For devices that you don’t have, click the Windows or Mac link (as appropriate) from where you just downloaded the .mobi file in order to install the downloadable previewer. Note the location on your computer where the downloadable previewer is installed. Now you can open the .mobi file with the downloadable previewer (there are many ways to do this, such as opening the downloadable previewer and dragging the file into it). The key is to keep track of where you installed the previewer and where you saved your .mobi file so that you can easily find each.

Once you have your .mobi file, here are the steps to sideload your .mobi file onto an actual Kindle device:

  1. Connect your Kindle device to your computer using a micro-USB cable (unfortunately, some devices, such as the Kindle Fire, don’t come with this cable; but you may have one if you have an Android phone, for example).
  2. It works just like connecting a jump drive. You should be able to find your Kindle drive in the folder called My Computer, the same way that you’d find a jump drive if you connected one.
  3. Open the folder for your Kindle drive.
  4. For some Kindle devices, like the Paperwhite, you should recognize e-books that you have on the device. This is the folder you should have open, unless you have a Kindle Fire (see the next step).
  5. For other devices, like the Kindle Fire, you either need to open the Documents folder—NOT the Books folder (unless you used a program like Calibre to remove the Personal Doc Tag from the file). This is important: The intuitive thing is to paste the .mobi file into the Books folder, but that won’t work (unless you removed the PDOC tag).
  6. You should now have two folders open. One folder contains the .mobi file that you downloaded from KDP. The other folder is either your Kindle drive containing the Kindle e-books of your device OR it’s a subfolder in the Kindle drive called Documents (not the My Documents folder on your computer, of course) if you have a Kindle Fire. In the case of the Kindle Fire, you WON’T recognize your e-books in the Documents folder (but you will probably see the Kindle Fire User’s Guide in the Documents folder).
  7. Copy the .mobi file from the one folder and paste the .mobi file into the appropriate folder for your Kindle drive.
  8. Properly disconnect your Kindle device from your computer (the same way that you disconnect an ordinary jump drive, or there may be a Disconnect button on your Kindle device).
  9. Once you’ve disconnected the micro-USB cable, look for your .mobi file on your Kindle device.
  10. If you have a Kindle Fire, be sure to look in Docs, not in Books (unless you did the Calibre thing). If you press the Home button, you’ll see this list: Newsstand Books Music Video Docs Apps Web. Click Docs. Your .mobi file should be there.
  11. Open the .mobi file on the Kindle device. Preview it carefully. You need to preview your file carefully on every device (actual or through the downloadable previewer) since a file can look perfect on one device, but have serious formatting issues on a different device.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

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