Free Japanese eBooks for Kindle

I love my Kindle and spend as much time with it as possible.  I realise that this makes me a pathetic Amazon slave, and I’m okay with that.

So now I’ve taken the plunge and decided to properly learn Japanese to fully-functioning adult level (still in the early stages of that now but I’ll let you know how I get on).  Khatzumoto at AJATT (All Japanese All The Time – is it weird to call him my personal hero?) has this to say about owning books before being able to read them.  As I’d rather not pay shipping from Japan, I thought I should see about getting some Japanese eBooks for my Kindle.

See? It totally works.

That’s when it all started to go wrong.  First of all, my Kindle (purchased in January 2012 from has the following language settings:  Deutsch, English (United Kingdom), English (United States), Español, Français, Italiano, Português (Brasil).  Um.

A bit more research (okay, mostly the product description for this book) revealed that although you can buy eBooks for Kindle about Japanese, the inability of uploading Japanese text to Amazon means that all the Japanese characters have to be put in as images.  (Which just sucks.)

Add to this the fact that the release date for Kindle in Japan keeps getting pushed back and back (at the time of writing, it’s looking like it will finally happen in October) and the fact that you can get all the Harry Potter eBooks in Japanese for everything except Kindle, and my dream of staring at Japanese on my Kindle and not understanding it seemed to be fading into unreality.

But, don’t worry!  I’ve now found a handy little workaround, thanks to Instapaper and the ability of the Kindle to, for reasons unknown, display Japanese text. Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to Instapaper and create a free account.
  2. Drag the “Read Later” bookmark to the Bookmarks toolbar of your browser.
  3. In your Instapaper account, go to “Account Settings”, “Manage my Kindle settings” and follow the instructions to set up Instapaper to send articles to your Kindle.  (I recommend doing this even if you’re not interested in reading Japanese.  It’s so handy for saving long Internet articles to read later.)
  4. Okay now that that’s done, time for some books.  There are html versions of books in Japanese at Aozora Bunko, which is like the Japanese equivalent of Project Gutenberg.  If you’re like me and your Japanese sucks, all I can say is, “fake it ’til you make it!”  I just kept clicking and scrolling until I found the html links.  (If it’s really hopeless, here’s Little Women.)
  5. Once you’ve got a Japanese book in html on your screen, click “Read Later” on your bookmark toolbar.
  6. Done.  The book will be sent to your Kindle, or you can go back to Instapaper, download it and whack it on there manually.

Hopefully Amazon will sort the whole Japanese thing out soon and it will be possible to get books in Japanese through their site.  Until then, there’s the above.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s