How to Get Free Magazines on Your Kindle with Calibre

Ever wish you could get the latest issue of your favorite magazine on your Kindle? Or wish you could turn your favorite website into a digital digest of articles for reading like an ebook? Calibre can make it happen.

How This Works

Digital magazine subscriptions are a mess. Some magazine subscriptions come with access to the digital version, some don’t. Some digital versions include access to the e-ink Kindle version, while others are only for tablets. It’s confusing, and it’s too bad, since the Kindle provides an easy-on-the-eyes reading experience that no other device can match (especially at night, or in direct sunlight).

RELATED: How To Organize Your Ebook Collection with Calibre

Enter Calibre. Calibre is an open source ebook management tool for Windows, macOS, and Linux, and it’s chock full of useful features for owners of Kindles and other ereaders. One of my personal favorites is the ability to turn any website into an ebook-like magazine and send it right to your Kindle. If the website has a physical version—like Time Magazine or New York Magazine—it can actually pull the articles from that month’s table of contents, in the same order, and deliver a digital equivalent of this month’s issue right to your Kindle.

In some cases, that will require a paid subscription to said magazine. Time Magazine, for example, has a paywall—you can only access 10 articles per month before the site requires a subscription. So, to get the latest issue from Calibre, you will need a Time.com login that has access to more than 10 articles a month. You can pay for it yourself or borrow it from a friend—we won’t tell.

In many other cases, the online articles are completely free. With New York Magazine, the physical and digital magazines cost money, but the website is free to read as much as you want—meaning Calibre can cobble together the articles from this month’s issue with no money or login required. Pretty neat, huh?

For some publications, it may just grab the latest articles from that day’s RSS feed—even for some sites that have physical magazines (like Men’s Health or PC Mag). Either way, though, it’s a great way to get your favorite news on your Kindle, and as long as the website offers articles for free, so is the Kindle version generated by Calibre. Here’s how to set it all up.

Step One: Collect and Schedule Your News Sources

There are two ways to create a digital digest for your ereader: you can use one of Calibre’s built-in news sources, or create your own.

Using Calibre’s Built-In News Sources

First, download and install Calibre if you haven’t already. Then, to check out the news sources Calibre has to offer, right-click on the “Fetch News” icon in the toolbar and select “Schedule News Download”.

You’ll be presented with a window that includes hundreds of built-in news sources, curated by Calibre’s users and developers. Select your language of choice in the sidebar—we selected English, which yields over 400 publications from around the web.

Scroll through and select the publication you want to turn into a digital ebook. In our case, we’ll select New York Magazine—it’s one of the sources that actually mimics the print version of the mag, and it’s completely free since the site has no paywall.

(If you select a site that requires a free or paid account to view more than a few articles, you’ll see an “Account Required” box for your username and password. Type them in here before continuing.)

By default, the “Schedule for Download” box is unchecked. Check it, and then select the frequency with which Calibre will check for new articles. Checking an RSS feed is not at all resource intensive, so feel free to err on the side of frequent checks. In my case, I’m fine just checking once a week. Click the Save button when you’re finished.

You can repeat this process for as many as the pre-populated news sources as you wish. Each will create an separate magazine that you can send to your Kindle or other ereader. When you’re done, return to the main window and click “Fetch News”—this should download all your scheduled magazines manually. You should only have to do this once, since from now on it’ll download them automatically on your schedule.

Using a Custom News Source

If Calibre doesn’t have a feed for the news source you want, you can add it yourself. For example, let’s say you want to keep up with the news articles from your friendly How-To Geek. (Calibre has a How-To Geek news source built in, but it sends all articles from the site—whereas this feed will just send the news articles.)

Again, right click on the Fetch news button in Calibre’s toolbar. This time, click on “Add or Edit a Custom News Source”.

On the window that appears, click the “New Recipe” button along the bottom of the window.

The “Add Custom News Source” window will appear. Give your recipe a title, customize the number and age of the articles it will grab, and then enter the Feed Title and Feed URL at the bottom. Click “Add Feed” when finished.

You can repeat this process to add multiple feeds to this recipe if you want, effectively creating your own digital magazine from all your favorite sites. When you’re done adding all your feeds, click “Save” at the bottom.

Once you’ve saved, you can go back to Fetch News > Schedule News Download, and your recipe will appear under “Custom” instead of a language.

Go ahead and set the schedule frequency as described above and then save again. You can click the “Fetch News” button to manually download your recipe for the first time; after that, it should download automatically on the schedule you set.

Step Two: Send Your Magazines to Your Ereader

You have a few sources set up, but now it’s time to get them on your Kindle or other ereader. If you clicked the Fetch News button to download your magazines, you should have a few issues in your library by this point—go ahead and double-click on any of them to see how they look. In our case, they look pretty good:

There are two ways you can send these digital issues to your Kindle. You can plug it into your computer and transfer the magazines over USB just like any other book, which we’ve described here…or you can send them over the internet automatically with a bit of extra configuration.

Head to Calibre’s Preferences and click the Behavior section. You’ll want to set your Preferred Output Format to make sure your magazines are in the correct format for your ereader of choice. I’ve set mine to MOBI, since I use a Kindle. It should also be set to automatically send downloaded news to your ereader, and that’s a good thing.

Close this window to return to Calibre’s preferences, and click “Sharing Books By Email”. This page will allow you to configure settings that send your ebooks over email to your device. For example, after connecting my Kindle to my Amazon account, I was given a unique email address @kindle.com—any ebook I email to that address automatically gets added to my Kindle, as long as my Kindle is connected to Wi-Fi.

Click the “Add Email” button on the right-hand side and type in your ereader’s email address. (Kindle users, you can find this email address on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your account. Just click the “Your Devices” tab and click the button next to your Kindle to see the email address.)

Once you’ve added your email address, I recommend checking the “Auto Send” box. That will ensure this all happens automatically without you having to do anything.

Next, you’ll need an email address to send the ebooks from. You can try using your regular email address with its IMAP settings here, but in my experience, that doesn’t work very well. The most reliable trick is to create a free GMX email account just for Calibre, as support is baked right in.

Head to GMX’s site and click the Sign Up button. Enter your information (fake information is fine if you’re worried about privacy) and create your account.

Once your account has been created, sign in and head to GMX’s settings. It’s the second wrench icon in the left sidebar.

From there, head to the “POP3 & IMAP” section of the settings, and check the box that says “Send and Receive Emails via External Program”.

Head back to Calibre’s Sharing Books by Email window and, in the bottom half of the window, click the “Use GMX” button. Enter your GMX credentials (your username is your full email address) and click OK. Your credentials should be filled in.

If you’re using a Kindle, you’ll also need to head to this page, scroll down and expand “Personal Document Settings”, and add your GMX email to your Approved Personal Document E-Mail List.

Once that’s done, return to Calibre and click the “Test Email” button. If all went well, you should see a success message, and your GMX email should be able to send books to your Kindle address. You can read more about Calibre’s GMX integration here if you have troubles.

Whew! That was a lot, but you should be all set—head back to Calibre’s main window, select one of your magazines, and click the “Connect/Share” button in the toolbar (you may need to click the overflow arrows on the right side of the toolbar to see this button). Choose “Email to [address]” and see if it works. If all is set up correctly, you should see the magazine appear on your Kindle in a little while.

From now on, this should all happen automatically—you can just leave Calibre running in the background on your system, and your magazines will just show up on your Kindle when they’re ready to read!