Free daily news to a Kindle

I love my Sony Reader but this Christmas I was given a Kindle and I absolutely love it – the ability to transfer books without a cable alone is a huge improvement, let alone the 3G, browser, dictionary, book store etc. One thing that amazed me is the cost of having news automatically delivered to the device. Knowing that calibre (the ebook software I used for managing my Sony Reader) supports automatic downloading of news websites/feeds and converting to ebook formats, I thought I’d see if I could make use of this for the Kindle. Turns out that calibre has command line tools for most of its functionality and so a quick cron job later to run the following script and I have BBC and Guardian news delivered to my Kindle for free every day:

ebook-convert /opt/calibre/resources/recipes/bbc.recipe bbc.mobi
calibre-smtp --attachment bbc.mobi --relay smtp.gmail.com --port 587 --username mygmailusername --password "my gmail password" --encryption-method TLS mygmailusername@gmail.com my_amazon_kindle_email@free.kindle.com ""
rm bbc.mobi
ebook-convert /opt/calibre/resources/recipes/guardian.recipe guardian.mobi
calibre-smtp --attachment guardian.mobi --relay smtp.gmail.com --port 587 --username mygmailusername --password "my gmail password" --encryption-method TLS mygmailusername@gmail.com my_amazon_kindle_email@free.kindle.com ""
rm guardian.mobi

The different news feeds supported by calibre can be found by clicking on the ‘Find news’ button on the toolbar and the Python scripts used to do this are in /opt/calibre/resources/recipes/ (or /usr/share/calibre/recipes/ – thanks Andy). You might want to modify the chosen recipes to limit the amount of data it downloads as it can take a while (e.g. filter certain newspaper sections).

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15 thoughts on “Free daily news to a Kindle

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Free daily news to a Kindle | Gareth Jones -- Topsy.com

  2. hi gareth
    great article – thanks. I use Calibre on my Mac and followed your instructions but it is complaining about a plugin. Just wondered if you hit this?Python function terminated unexpectedly: No plugin to handle output format: mobi?calibre-smtpTraceback (most recent call last): File “/Applications/calibre.app/Contents/Resources/Python/lib/python2.7/site.py”, line 147, in main return run_entry_point() File “/Applications/calibre.app/Contents/Resources/Python/lib/python2.7/site.py”, line 116, in run_entry_point return getattr(pmod, func)() File “site-packages/calibre/ebooks/conversion/cli.py”, line 271, in main File “site-packages/calibre/ebooks/conversion/cli.py”, line 258, in create_option_parser File “site-packages/calibre/ebooks/conversion/plumber.py”, line 626, in __init__ValueError: No plugin to handle output format: mobi?calibre-smtpI confirmed I’ve installed the Calibre command line tools and all my plug-ins seem to be enabled. I’ll check out the Calibre forums as well but this is all a bit new to me.I download the Guardian ok within Calibre and I set up my default e-book reader to be the Kindle. It works within Calibre but not from terminal.CheersJames

    • Hey James. Sorry, I didn’t have that problem but was working on Ubuntu Linux. Possibly a missing Python package you need to install? Odd that it works from the GUI but not the command line tools, I wonder what it’s doing differently. You could try searching through / raising a bug:
      https://bugs.launchpad.net/calibre

      Let me know how you get on.

      • hi gareth. sorry for the delay. In the end I decided to use the scheduling option on the Calibre GUI and I set my Mac to wake at 06.30 every morning and the Calibre software takes about 20 mins to download, format and email to the Kindle and then the Mac sleeps at 07.00. So when I leave for work at 07.00, the Guardian is already on my Kindle (unless my Virgin ‘Super’HUB decides to be a pain that is.. which is happening more frequently. 

  3. Thanks!

    I found that you don’t need to provide the absolute path to the built-in recipes, so you can run for example:
    ebook-convert “BBC News.recipe” bbc.mobi

    If you want a list of built-in recipes you can run:
    ebook-convert –list-recipes

    Or search for a recipe (case-sensitive!):
    ebook-convert –list-recipes | grep BBC

    Saves a lot of platform dependent path problems!

  4. You can also try webtoread.com platform…
    No installation, no computer to be awake all day.
    I’m using it since 4 days now and so far it does the job forme.
    It´is a good calibre wrapper.

  5. I found your post really helpful, thank you. Just for people with the same problem that me, in the current version of calibre all the recipes are in a .zip and they didn’t work for me that way.

    Just unzip /usr/share/calibre/builtin_recipes.zip in order to get them.

    I hope this will help someone.

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