Being able to manually load a MOBI or EPUB file onto your ebook reader device is handy for a couple of reasons: it gives you a way to test a book before publishing it, and it allows you to read a book that you may have acquired outside of the normal retail channels (by purchasing it from an author’s web site for example).
I recently had to answer this question for one of my clients in Germany, so I decided to expand upon it a little and post it here for everyone. He has a Kindle device in particular, and wanted to test his book before publishing it to KDP, but the process is also similar for most recent dedicated ebook readers that accept EPUB files (Nook, Kobo, etc.) though you should double-check your particular device’s instructions sheet for it’s specific procedure.
Having an actual reader device is the very best way to test the formatted file that will become your ebook. It’s a good idea to give it a preliminary test—before publishing it, not after—so you can catch any mistakes that a reader of your book might object to. If your particular publishing service allows you to upload your book in something other than the finished MOBI or EPUB format (as a Microsoft Word DOC file, for example, or as an HTML file), it is especially important to check your converted book before the final publishing, since you need to know (before your customers do) what the converting computers have done to your book.
This is most important in the case of Amazon because of its extensive and complicated conversion process. I can’t stress enough that it’s especially important to test your Kindle book by downloading it back to your computer, after you have had Amazon’s KDP computers convert it but before final publishing, so you can have another very close look at it. Don’t just look at it online. Download it back to your computer.
The uploading of a file from your computer to your device is a fairly simple process, though it is specific:
1.) Use the device’s USB cable to plug it into your computer.
2.) After a moment, it will show up somewhere on your computer as an external hard drive or a jump drive or something like that.
3.) Charge up the device if it needs it. [If you are charging it for the first time, or after a long period of non-use, this charging session may take several hours.]
4.) Leave it plugged in. [One note here: never just unplug your device from the cable, or the cable from the computer, without ejecting the device from the computer first; you could scramble the device’s memory chips or the information that’s already on the device. Sometimes the damage is permanent, so don’t do it. Always eject it first.]
5.) On your computer, treat the device like an external drive, i.e., select it and open it so you can see what’s in it.
6.) You should see a list of folders/directories.
7.) One of them should be named something like “documents.”
8.) Open it.
9.) Now drag the formatted file from your computer to the “documents” folder.
10.) Wait a few seconds for the device to assimilate the file into its memory. [I wait about 15 seconds. Ebook reader devices do not work as fast as personal computers, so it takes them a little longer to do stuff, and there may not be any indication on the device’s screen that anything is happening.]
11.) Eject the device from the computer screen, wait a few seconds more for the device to get itself all re-set again, and then unplug the USB cable from the device.
12.) In a few more seconds the device will re-organize all of its files, and your file will show up in the list of books. It will be at the top of the list if you have your books sorted on your device by “Most Recent First” or something similar.
13.) Open your book, page through it, check all of the sections including the Table of Contents, and see if the book looks and works the way that you expect. If not, make notes about what needs to be fixed.
14.) To remove that file, go to the screen on the device that lists the books that are on it (on my Kindle Keyboard that screen is called “Home”), select that book, and delete it.
15.) Then, fix your manuscript, re-format it into an ebook file again, and try this all again.
16.) When it looks the way that you want on your device, continue with the publishing process.
I hope that this helps. If you have a question that I have not answered here, leave me a comment and I’ll try to clear it up.