I've had an Amazon Kindle for years and I still can't get over this amazing trick

Amazon Kindle Oasis (2017)
(Image credit: Future)

I'm not easily impressed, and I'm also easily bored - as a tech reviewer, this cocktail means I can shrug off super-fast chipsets, wonderful cameras and amazing-looking screens as though I couldn't care less. But there's one Amazon Kindle feature that keeps me constantly pleased.

I've been using the Amazon Kindle Oasis for going on three years now. That makes it one of the few gadgets I've used past the initial test period, alongside my iPad Pro (2018) and Sony WH-100XM3 headphones.

And that's not by accident either, and not simply because I like reading. I actually prefer physical books (I'm a literature student hipster, they'd revoke my degree if I said otherwise), but the Kindle has an unexpectedly amazing feature that I bet you don't use at all: it does PDFs.  

The PDF viewer

You can convert PDFs from the internet and send them to your Kindle very easily - we've got a guide on it here that you can use. On its own, it's not a groundbreaking feature. But hear me out.

As someone who doesn't have the disposable income to spend on new books (I always buy my physical ones second-hand), I avoid the Kindle Store. But this PDF feature gives me an incredible new way to use the Kindle ereader that I wouldn't otherwise.

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

I'm currently reading The Strand Magazine, a classic short story periodical published from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. It's impossible to find physically, and tricky online, but luckily the fantastic Project Gutenberg digital library has loads of issues available. I can easily download Strand issues and send them to my Kindle to read at my leisure.

I've done this for loads of classic novels and novellas over the years - in lockdown I really got into the works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley and Edgar Rice Burroughs (yeah, four sci-fi / adventure / fantasy writers, and one that's the stark opposite).

Gutenberg lets me download free copies of classic (and some less-than-classic) works by these authors, and gives me mileage for my Kindle that I otherwise wouldn't get. 

If I didn't have the Kindle, I don't think I would have read the Strand Magazine, for example. sure, I could still download the PDF and read it on my PC or phone, but that's not exactly the same. Simply being able to read something like this free on a device designed for reading makes it that much better.

I can't get over it

The commercial and capitalist tech industry is bent on selling you things. You buy a phone, then buy apps and accessories for it. You buy a games console, then buy games for it. You buy a camera, then buy lenses and tripods for it.

Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019)

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It's gotten to the point where loads of people define themselves by the gadgets they spend money on. There are Android fans versus iPhone fans, PlayStation fans versus Xbox fans, Windows fans versus Mac fans.

Usually, the main way to make the most of an expensive gadget is... to spend more money on it. And as a cash-strapped 20-something, I don't really have much of that.

Tech companies want your money,- it's no secret - which is why I'm so surprised that I still have a free wonderland of books, plays and poems at my disposal. I can get countless hours of entertainment without having to spend a penny. 

Every time I know someone who buys a new Kindle, or I write a guide on Kindles around Black Friday or Christmas, or I do any coverage at all about new Amazon ereaders, I make sure to sing from the rooftops about this PDF conversion feature.

It's one of the few times in the tech gadget world where you can really get something for nothing, without having to sacrifice money or data or time to get it, and that surprises me and pleases me in equal measure.

In fact, I always feel a little cheeky sending free books to my Kindle, and it wouldn't surprise me - though would certainly disappoint me - if Amazon looked into monetizing this feature. But for now, I'll enjoy it while it lasts, and I'd encourage you to do the same.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.