(Jim's Note: I don't host guest posts here. So please, PR firms, don't flood my inbox with guest post requests. I delete them all unread anyway. But when Elaine Dowling shared this Kindle tip with me, I decided to make an exception to my rule and share the following. Thank for you for the contribution, Elaine.)

As much as the practice of law relies on PDF documents, there aren’t a lot of good ways to read them comfortably and efficiently.  Frequently, I need to read long, complicated PDF files: a Supreme Court opinion, articles, research, reports, even an appellate brief.  Earlier this week it was a seventy-page stock prospectus.  I needed to be able to mark passages that I would later quote in a brief, and make notes as I went along of important passages, research questions, etc.  Kindle logo

I had two options.  I could send seventy pages to the printer, clear off a spot on my desk and spend two hours hunched over a pile of paper – highlighter and sticky flags in hand; or, I could email the file to my Kindle’s email address via Amazon, have Amazon convert the file from PDF to Kindle’s native format for me (FREE) and read the file while reclining in the comfort of my favorite chair with all of Kindle’s built in reading and notation tools available.  I chose the latter.

Two hours later, I had read the file.  I had highlighted passages and made my notes – all using Kindle’s built in tools.  I plugged my Kindle into my laptop and copied the “My Clippings.txt” file over to the directory where I store that client’s word processing files.  Now, when I write my brief, I don’t have to re-type long passages from the PDF file and hope I catch all my typos.  I can just cut and paste, and I can search the notes file for particular passages or questions I had jotted down while reading. 

Here is how to make this work. 

Every e-ink Kindle has an email address.  To find it, go to “Your Account” at Amazon, then, under Digital Content/Digital Management select “Manage Your Content and Devices”.  Choose the “Your Devices” tab.  Click on the Kindle you wish to use, and the email address for that device should be visible. 

Once you know your Kindle’s email address, you send an email to your Kindle with the PDF file attached and the word CONVERT as the subject line.  Amazon will convert the PDF to kindle format (the conversion isn’t perfect, but it is pretty darn good) and deliver it to your Kindle free over a wifi connection in just a minute or two. If you want it delivered over a 3G connection that Amazon pays for, Amazon will charge you for that.  My seventy-page PDF file the other night cost me 15 cents on my 3G equipped Kindle Touch. 

I have also been able to email a file to the Kindle app on my phone.  I have not been able to do this with either the Kindle cloud reader or Kindle for PC.  I don’t have a Kindle Fire, but it is my understanding that the Fire runs the same app as my Android phone, so I would expect that this will work with a Kindle Fire. 

A lot of the tech tricks I read strike me as just another way to justify our toys.  This is a trick that I use fairly regularly, because I think it is a better, more comfortable, easier and more productive way of reading large PDF files than any other I have tried. 

Elaine M. Dowling