A Crazy Little Hack For Getting Large Book Files Into The Kindle App On iOS

by Len Epp

published Jan 21, 2016

At Leanpub we have strong opinions about the deep connection that exists between a product, marketing, and customer support; for me personally, they are just different ways of looking at the same thing.

As a result, we have an “everybody-should-do-a-bit-of-everything” philosophy (the fact that we’re bootstrapping Leanpub makes this even more important and desirable). One popular objection to this approach is that it causes a lack of focus, but the fact is that a too-narrow range of knowledge and interests in any endeavour results in what you might call “false focus”. Put crudely, if you don’t understand how everything fits together, you might do something that makes it all fall apart.

Recently, I had an experience where “everybody-should-do-a-bit-of-everything” meant “Len-you-need-to-see-if-you-can-fix-an-insane-problem-someone-is-having-with-someone-else’s-product”. Normally we don’t do customer support for other people’s products (though of course we do try to understand them if they are important), but in this case the customer was having a problem with the Kindle app, and since the Kindle app is pretty popular with a segment of the ebook-reading population, I decided to dive in and see if I could fix anything. This would also have the side benefit of helping me to understand the customer’s experience, update my understanding of how the Kindle app works, and assuage my guilt at not understanding Kindle stuff like a pro for a personal reason, which is that I hate using it.

The problem was that a customer had bought an ebook bigger than 50MB. Now, since the ebook was larger than 10mb, he couldn’t use the handy “Send to Kindle” link that we provide to our customers for books which are less than 10mb. However, since the ebook was larger than 50Mb, this also meant he couldn’t get it into the Kindle app using the Send to Kindle apps that Amazon produces. Specifically, he wanted it in the Kindle app on his PC and in the Kindle app on his iPad.

Now, that might sound like a banal problem, but when you think about it, this involves resolving an issue simultaneously involving Microsoft and Apple — who have competing operating systems — and Amazon and Apple — who have competing ebook stores and apps. It’s like asking a bunch of territorial animals to share the same space and just get along.

Anyways, after many twists and turns, I found a crazy hack to do this, and thought I’d share it, since when you check Google about this what you will probably find a mess of outdated answers and a really, really frustrating problem-solving rabbit hole of comments and suggestions.

So without further ado, here’s my little hack. To me it’s a little crazy because it uses a weird combination of features, and from what I can tell it’s causing the Kindle app in iOS to behave in a strange way — you’ll see.

Before you begin, please make sure you have Dropbox installed on your iOS device.

1. Put your 50MB or larger .mobi file into a Dropbox folder and navigate to it in the Dropbox app on your device.

2. Click the little circle to the right of the filename.

4. Click the “Open In…” icon.

5. Wait for the book to finish exporting.

6. Click the “Copy to Kindle” icon.

7. Wait for the book to export again.

8. Hurray! You’ve got your book in the Kindle app. But wait!

9. Navigate to your Library and you’ll see that something seems to be wrong: the book you just added will not appear in your Books.

The reason you won’t find the book under Books is that Amazon only shows books you bought on Amazon in the Books section of your library, at least as far as I know (remember I said I hate using this stuff). Other books you get into the app will usually appear in Docs. But in this case, you won’t find it there either.

To find the book, you either have to search for it:

or go to “All Items” and select “Device”:

If you have a better way of doing this, please let us all know in the comments below.

– Posted by Len Epp


Originally published at leanpub.com.

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