How-To: Read George Orwell’s 1984 on your Kindle

How-To: Read George Orwell’s 1984 on your Kindle

Citizen! If you bought a copy of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-four,” (1984) for your Kindle it was deleted. It appears that the publisher changed its mind about digital versions (update, they were never allowed to publish them in the first place) and Amazon reached in and removed it from your reader. Sorry for the inconvenience! So, what to do? Let’s assume you’re going to go on a nice trip, like Australia, and you really wanted to read 1984 – once you get there, you can easily reload your Kindle with a copy of 1984. “Little Brother” will show you how…

g'day mate, i'm a kindleroo
Once you arrive in Australia stop by this site and download a copy of 1984. Read the warning first:

Under Australian copyright laws, copyright in literary works of authors, who died before 1955, has expired. These works are now within the ‘public domain’ in Australia and this is why the University is able to reproduce such works on this site. HOWEVER, works may remain copyrighted in other countries. If copyright in the work still subsists in the country from which you are accessing this website, it will be illegal for you to download the work. It is your responsibility to check the applicable copyright laws in your country. In particular, the works of George Orwell are still under copyright in the United States and the European Union, and therefore users in those countries should not download these works.

Don’t worry – you’re in Australia, they’re totally chill down under.

Unzip the file, it’s just a big ol’ HTML document, if you have a Kindle DX, you should be able to plug in the Kindle and transfer the file over after converting it to a PDF (here’s a giant FAQ on PDF support on the Kindle DX) on a Mac, you can just “print” to PDF and save the file, or on a PC, use Adobe’s Acrobat ($) or the free open source PDF creator. There are also free sites online that convert web pages to PDFs, just point them to this site and have them email or convert the HTML version of 1984 to a PDF. If someone has a Kindle DX please post a photo of 1984 in the MAKE Flickr pool!

If you have a Kindle first gen, you’ll need to convert it since the Kindle doesn’t have a native PDF reader. No problem. Download Mobipocket Creator 4.2 and install the “Publisher Edition” – this has PDF support and a bunch of other features.

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You don’t need to convert the HTML file for MobiPocket, it can import in the 1984 HTML file just fine, or you can import the PDF you made, either way – it works. So let’s import the file and convert it.

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Next up, you’ll need a cover image. Here’s one from Shepard Fairey.

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You can add metadata, a TOC, and other extra bits if you want…

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Next, click “Build” – this will create the file. You can choose compression and encryption options.

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Once the book is made (a .prc file), you can preview it and also view any errors from the conversion. Looks good, the HTML links worked in the TOC, that’s handy.

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Next up, go to the folder where the file was created, it’s an option in MobiPocket.

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Plug your Kindle into your PC or Mac (or it’s SD card) and put the .prc file in the Kindle’s documents folder.

Aaaand that’s it. The book will show up on your Kindle’s home screen and you can enjoy reading 1984 again!

Other methods include mailing the converted PDF file to yourself and using Amazon’s wireless service to covert it ($, here’s how to do that). But! That would require you to be in the USA since that’s where the wireless service is and Amazon would know (or could know) what’s on your Kindle. It’s unclear if Amazon can or will reach into your Kindle and delete books you made on your own, for personal use, but if everyone made their own 1984, we would eventually find out.

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live–did live, from habit that became instinct–in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

On your way back from Australia, delete the book, or never turn on your wireless again – or just have a copy on a SD card as a digital Australian souvenir… It’s unclear if anyone actually cares if you do this anywhere in the world, in fact, you can since you do not need to be in Australia to do this, and assuming this is for your own personal use, it’s not exactly black and white. We are living in a transition period. According to a new article on the NY Times site, the “authorized” version of the book is in the Kindle store, so you could always buy it, again, with that refund. I think I’m more likely to convert books on my own — seems a lot safer.

There will be many comments about this from armchair legal experts, and that’s great – please post away — it’s an interesting topic.


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