Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

Universalis on the Amazon Kindle

Posted by universalis on 22 January 2011

We’ve recently updated both Universalis for Windows and Universalis for the Mac to make it easier to create e-books for the Amazon Kindle. (The updates are free and you can download them by clicking on the links). I thought this might be a good opportunity to explain how we’re dealing with the Amazon Kindle (and other e-book readers), and why.

  1. The Kindle is an e-book reader, not a computer. It displays e-books; it does not run programs.
  2. The Universalis download is a program, not an e-book. It contains all possible hours of all possible days in many different calendars and with a choice of translations.

We could bridge this gap by creating and selling e-books ourselves, but that would have many disadvantages. For instance, there would have to be about 30 different editions every month to cover the different calendars and translations (“Universalis for the Southwark diocese of England with the Grail psalms, March 2011”); and you’d find yourself having to pay monthly instead of buying Universalis once and for all and never having to pay again.

Instead of this mess, we’ve built the ability to create e-books into our Windows and Mac downloads. You can then choose exactly the calendar and translations that you want, create an e-book, and put it onto your Kindle. There’s a lot of flexibility built in to the system: you can create e-books for a day, a week, a month, or a year, and you can create them as far in advance as you want – so for instance, if you are going on holiday for six weeks, you can create some monthly e-books before you leave, and load them onto your Kindle.

Everything I’ve said so far applies to any e-book reader, not just the Kindle. Where the Kindle is different is that it doesn’t use the industry standard ePub format for e-books, but a specialised format of its own. Up to now, this has involved you in various complications, especially on the Mac. This has now been sorted out with the latest downloads.

  1. On Windows, there is a menu command to “Create Kindle e-book”. It does what it says.
  2. On the Mac, there is a menu command to “Create Kindle e-book”. It also does what it says, except that the very first time you use it, it asks you to download a conversion tool from Amazon’s web site. This only has to be done once. After that, everything is automatic.

The one exception is if you’re using a Mac with OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”), or a Mac with a PowerPC processor. On those systems, Amazon’s conversion tool won’t work, and you’ll have to use an external conversion tool such as Calibre.

4 Responses to “Universalis on the Amazon Kindle”

  1. I’ve been creating ebooks for my kindle on the Mac since the program was updated in January, but when I tried to do it recently, I got the error message “error=2”. The only thing that seems to have changed is that I have just upgraded to Lion.
    I’ve tried reinstalling both Universalis and updating to the latest Kindlegen, but it makes no difference at all. Could it be that the Kindlegen folder it needs is in my user Library, which is now hidden? I’ve got a Universalis folder with KindleGen in it in the root directory (which I can see) and deleting that does not prompt me to install kindleGen. Don’t know if this makes much sense, but I hope that you can help me!
    Peter Weatherby

  2. I deleted everything – the universalis folders, the app itself and reinstalled ‘clean’ rather than ‘over the top’ so to speak … and it worked again. Can’t see why this should be so, but it is. And I’m happy.

  3. I would like to update my Divine Office from 2011 to 2012

    • If you previously created a Kindle e-book of the Divine Office for 2011, then you did so by using your copy of the Universalis program for Windows or the Mac.

      To create a Kindle e-book of the Divine Office for 2012, use the same program again. The program is not tied to a particular year – you can use it to create e-books for any year at all.

      Here are instructions for Windows and for the Mac.

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