Kindle Touch landscape mode – Ubuntu / Linux fix (my solution…)

I got my Kindle Touch Wi-Fi with special offers last week. More info on this nice device at the Amazon Kindle Touch page, the Kindle Wikipedia article page, and of course Google searches will do you lots of good.

Granted I’m busy so I’ve not been able to maximize its use yet but I’ve been able to play with it and organize my books and personal documents already. Overall I like the look and feel and functionality of the Kindle Touch (or KT) and I believe you can search reviews with Google, including this good Kindle Touch review by CNET. For reading novels in the native formats accepted by Kindle (e.g. .mobi, .azw files) the pinch-and-zoom as well as the swipe (or just tap) to go to the next/previous page, among other features of KT, are great.

As a researcher though I have lots of PDFs to read, many of which have text formatted in mathematical notation (such as those made using LaTeX). Of course KT can handle PDFs, and even though you could pinch-and-zoom as well as swipe to pan through a page or through pages, reading a PDF  file this way can be really cumbersome especially since the default orientation of viewing in KT is portrait mode. It would be nice if we can rotate the KT to landscape orientation to better read PDF files. However, according to an official statement from a Kindle Customer Support representative, landscape mode is not available on KT. Bummer. I immediately emailed Amazon at kindle-feedback@amazon.com (all of you should! :-) ) asking for future software/firmware update to automatically change orientation in KT, and when might this be.

Right now, a sort of “hack” is possible to allow Ubuntu (and other GNU/Linux distros) users like myself to read our PDF books and files in landscape mode in the KT. An answer is to use the pdftk commandline tool which I made a post about some time ago. You can also refer to the man page of your GNU/Linux distribution after installing pdftk. In Ubuntu, a simple and quick apt-get or Synaptic installation should  do the installation job for you (check my post about pdftk above, or search this blog). The “hack” goes like so:

Say you have a PDF file named mydoc.pdf. To rotate the entire PDF file (assuming it is in portrait orientation by default) 90 degrees counterclockwise (so now the mydoc.pdf is now in landscape orientation) fire up a terminal and type:

$ pdftk mydoc.pdf cat 1-endW output tmp.pdf

Where tmp.pdf is the desired output filename of the re-oriented (now in landscape) version of mydoc.pdf. Now you can copy or email the file tmp.pdf to your KT and read your PDF file in landscape mode. :) I’ve yet to check if pdftk works in Mac OS (I won’t be surprised if it does) though I believe this pseudo-hack might turn out to be more “graphical” or point-and-click in nature than my commandline solution above. :) A user from the Amazon KT support page above mentioned using a professional version of Adobe reader to graphically do this, perhaps in Windows and in Mac OS as well. I’d appreciate if somebody would post a link on how to do this graphically in Ubuntu (GNU/Linux), Mac OS, and even in….Windows… ;) :)

Happy hacking and Kindling. :)

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37 Responses to “Kindle Touch landscape mode – Ubuntu / Linux fix (my solution…)”

  1. Amir Says:

    Thanks, this is much simpler than the other workaround I came across. I’ll surely use it when my KT arrives.
    I’ve tried this using cygwin on my windows machine, and it works.
    If I have the time, I’ll write a shell extension for windows that will enable you to do this from the Windows Explorer

    • Amir Says:

      If anyone wants is interested, I have a simple script (or rather, 3 simple scripts) which would turn this into a right-click option on windows once cygwin is installed (along with its pdftk).
      Once this command is run on a somefile.pdf it will create a rotated somefile-rotated.pdf in the same directory.

      • f241vc15 Says:

        Hey Amir,

        I do agree that while the lack of landscape mode is unfortunate for KT, I think for most of one’s e-reading purposes KT works great. Please do post your scripts if possible, so I could try it (whenever I use Windows) and so can others. It’s interesting to know that pdftk and my “trick” above works in Windows too.

        Also, please do write to the Amazon Kindle feedback mail I posted above. :) They actually replied back to me quite fast, and although their customer representative seems to have sent a fairly standard (but I don’t think automated) reply, hopefully they do work on the landscape mode in a future update. I suppose if more people ask for that feature then Amazon might release an update. :)

  2. f241vc15 Says:

    As an update, here’s the reply I got from an Amazon customer service representative after asking for an update for Kindle Touch landscape mode feature:

    “Hello,

    Thanks for writing about your experience with your new kindle touch. I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying your Kindle.

    At this time, Landscape mode & auto-orientation change is not available on Kindle Touch.

    We’re regularly working on improvements to your Kindle experience. I’ve let the Kindle team know you’re interested in this feature.

    However, I’ll make sure your suggestions is passed on to the Kindle development team so that the Kindle Team will carefully review your suggestions.

    Customer feedback like yours helps us continue to improve the service we provide, and we’re glad you took time to write to us.

    Thanks for your interest in Kindle.”

    Like I said, fairly standard reply and I don’t think it’s automated. I do hope they really work on that update (please keep writing people! :-) ) and that many of us will ask for that feature.

  3. Joseph Says:

    There’s also a straight windows install for pdftk.

    http://www.pdflabs.com/docs/install-pdftk/

    Then, like Amir said, you can create an easy batch script to allow drag and drop conversion.

  4. Amir Says:

    I’ve added a google site which have the simple scripts.
    Feel free to try/modify it. Granted, it’s not my best work,
    but I know nothing about windows programming.

    https://sites.google.com/site/kindletouchlandscape/files

    It’s got simple instructions below the download link…

    Amir

  5. Yaser Says:

    Could you post some pictures to see how it looks on Kindle Touch? Perhaps a video.

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