How to Read Encyclicals and Church Documents on Kindle for Free [Podcast #004]

Last Christmas I asked for a Kindle and I received a Kindle Touch and it's been wonderful. I love it not just because you can buy books and keep them and maintain your library on one device, but also for what I am going to talk about today, which is the Kindle Personal Document Service, which allows you to basically send any Word document from your computer to your Kindle via WiFi.


I didn’t even know at first when I had my Kindle that you could do this and what I’ve come to see is that it’s a very valuable resource, because if you’ve ever gone to the Vatican website—God bless them—you’ll see how horrible it is to read documents on that parchment background with the unformatted text, it is just a horrendous experience. But the content there is invaluable. So what I’ve come to use in my own experience is to take Church documents, papal encyclicals, things like that, from the Vatican website to use the Kindle Personal Document Service and transfer them to my Kindle and read them on my Kindle formatted how I like to read. It just makes for a much better reading experience.

Simple Step-by-Step

Today I’m going to go through the step-by-step process on how you can get papal encyclicals and Church documents from the Vatican website for free on your Kindle. The process is fairly simple. There are a few setup details that I want to make sure that I go through before I go through the actual process of transferring the files.

So if you have a Kindle, or even if you don’t have a Kindle you can use the Personal Document Service if you have the Kindle app, say on your iPhone, on your Android, on your tablet, on your iPad, iPod Touch. Any of these you can use the Kindle app and you can take advantage of the Kindle Personal Document Service as well.

1. Find Your Kindle Email Address
So the way it works is, you are going to use an email address which is your Kindle email address. Once you have your Kindle device setup or you have your app installed on whatever hardware you’re going to use, I’m going to go through the process as if you’re using a Kindle, because that’s what I have done. What you’re going to do is once you have your Kindle setup and you are ready to read books and everything, you’re going to go from your homescreen, click on “menu” at the top, then you’re going to click “settings,” then “device options,” then “personalize your kindle.” Once you’re on the Personalize Your Kindle screen you’re going to see there is a send-to-Kindle email at the bottom. That’s the email you’re going to need for this, so take note of that email, write it down or copy it, however you want to do it and once you have that email we’re going to move on to the next step.

So, that email is very important, because the way that this Personal Document Service works is, you’re going to copy and past whatever text you want into a Word document, save that document, send an email to that send-to-Kindle email address with that document attached and the word “convert” in the subject line, and that document will be converted and transferred to your Kindle wirelessly. So whenever you’re connected to WiFi the next time that document will automatically be delivered to your Kindle. It’s a really cool service.

2. Change Send-to-Kindle Email Address
So make sure you have that send-to-Kindle email address written down and the one thing that we’re going to do is change that email address. For example, for me I have, but we’re going to put “” that way you don’t get charged for this service. I’m going to have a link to this support page on the Kindle website so that if you have any questions on how to get that email address, they go a little more into detail there. So for me it’s I take that email and I have it saved in my contacts so I don’t have to retype it every time. I’m an efficient guy, what can I say.

3. Find, Copy, and Save Document
So the next step is to go and get your document. If you’ve ever been to the Vatican website then you know it’s ridiculously difficult to find what you’re looking for. The user-experience is horrible, I know. I love the Vatican—God bless them—but they have failed at their website. So what you’re going to do, if you know what document you’re looking for will make it much easier. What I do is I just go to Google and I’ll type in “Vatican” and then for this example let’s say Humanae Vitae is the document I’m looking for. So I’ll type in “Vatican Humanae Vitae,” hit search, and the first one there will be Humanae Vitae on the Vatican website. So I’ll click on that. It might give you an option of what language you want to use or it might not.

Once you’ve arrived at the document you want, all you really need to do is select all the text on the page that you want. Now you’ll notice that when you’re copying encyclicals and Church documents at the bottom there is a lot of cross references and footnotes, so if you want that stuff and that’s important to you then make sure you get all that when you’re copying. So copy all the text that you want, you’re going to go over to Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer or whatever your word processor is. You just have to make sure it can save out as a Word document (that means .doc or .docx).

So once you’ve copied your document from the Vatican website, go into your word processor, paste it in, and then save that document. Whatever you save that document as is going to be how it shows up on your Kindle. What I do for Humanae Vitae, I just type in “Humanae Vitae.doc” and save that.

4. Send Email with Document Attached
Then we’re going to go over to our email and click “compose” or “new email”, whatever is says in your email. And you’re going to get a window and now we’re going to go back to that email address that we took down earlier. So for me I put “”. After I’ve got the email in there, in the subject line it’s very important that you just type the word “convert.” That’s how the system works with Amazon, when they get that email it’s going to automatically know to convert the file for you. Now in the body of the email you don’t really have to write anything, because it’s not going to grab anything from there. I don’t even anything to that. All you have to do now is attach that document that you saved. So you’ll click “add attachment” or however it works in your client and you’re good to go. You can send off that email.

5. Read & Enjoy
So once that email gets sent out it should within a minute or two—sometimes it may take longer depending on their traffic at the time, but usually within a few minutes—I get a response email with a link to the converted file, but it will also get sent to my Kindle whenever the next time I open my Kindle with WiFi. It will automatically transfer that file and it will show up on my homescreen.

As you can see it’s a very powerful resource to use, because you can gain access to hundreds of Church documents. And this is not limited to Church documents, of course your own documents, blog posts, whatever you find interesting, whatever you want to read, you can transfer the files this way. And for me it just makes for a much greater reading experience.

So that’s it. It’s very, very easy to do. Once you’ve done it once or twice you get the hang of it and it just becomes a cinch. I have at least 20 different Church documents and letters on my Kindle at the present time that I am reading through. Some of them are longer than others. Like Humanae Vitae you can read in one sitting, maybe in about an hour.

Show Notes

I want to remind you that this is not the only way that you can get the files on your Kindle. Like I mentioned, when I got that email from the Personal Document Service there’s a link in that email to download that file. So I can also get that file, download it, transfer it via the USB to my Kindle. To me, I don’t like plugging in cables and all that stuff. It takes a lot longer. I’d rather just do it wirelessly, because it saves me time and effort. For the people who do like to plug in their USB and drag files that way, I’ll provide a link in the show notes to some great Catholic ebook content that you can download in Kindle format for free. There are a few websites I’m going to recommend and you’ll find those links in the show notes. Make sure to check out those links and see what you can find. There are not only Church documents and encyclicals, but there are also a lot of good Catholic literature. Writers like Chesterton and some of the great Catholic writers have a lot of free content available online.

Well that’s about it for today’s podcast on “How to Read Encyclicals and Church Documents on Kindle for Free.” It’s been a great podcast. I want to please encourage you to follow up in the comments, ask questions, and I will do my best to answer them as soon as I can. And I would like to know if you know of any websites that provide free Kindle content for Catholics, please put links in your comments. Let me know about your experience with this Personal Document Service. It’s been great. I’m Ricky Jones. This is the Evangelize LA Podcast. God bless and have a great day!

Online Resources
Kindle Personal Documents Service
Vatican Council II Documents on Vatican Website
Pope Landing Pages Where You Can Find Encyclicals, Letters, and Homilies
Papal Encyclicals Online Website


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