Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pulp Magazine Scans on Kindle Fire

I've got a zillion magazine scans and didn't have an ideal means to read them.  They read fine on my laptop, but I tend to read in bed or on the move.  Magazine scans are pretty much just a series of pictures so they don't have flowable text like an ereader.  You can load them into a Kindle, but they show a page at a time (which is too small) and the zoom function is too awkward.  I got them to load on my phone, but they're too small without me having to constantly pinch and zoom.

A tablet seemed like the perfect size of view screen, but I'm too cheap to shell out a couple hundred bucks for just one function.  When I saw that the Kindle Fire was on sale for under $50, I did some research and grabbed one.

Amazon must have looked at how much Apple customers loved to be mistreated and wanted a piece of that pie.  As far as I can tell, the Fire could be a fully functioning tablet except Amazon puts in artificial roadblocks.

Amazon wants you to use their apps and cloud and services for everything - fair enough.  They're selling their tablet at a loss, this is my payment.  Want to look at a picture?  Upload it to the cloud and redownload it.  Listen to music?  Use Amazon Prime Music.  Do you have your own MP3 like a regular human?  Upload them to the cloud and then stream them back.  Hope you have a lot of bandwidth.

It doesn't help that their apps are all horrible.  The music player doesn't recognize folders or any playlist you don't enter in by hand.  I couldn't get the picture viewer to play a random slideshow.  I use N7Player and Digital Photo Frame Slideshow - these are free as of this writing.  These I can download from the Amazon App store.  What you can't download is an alternate ereader.

You can only download apps directly from the Amazon App store - Google does not exist in this world.  If you do a google search on the Silk browser, they censor out links to Google Play.  Luckily you don't have to hack or root or jailbreak or whatever else to get these programs - you can download directly from an alternate website or sideload them.

Pulp Magazine Scans - CBR

Magazine scans are available from a lot of sources, most notably The Pulp Magazine Archive at  You can download them in multiple formats, but don't get excited, most of them are only readable in PDF or CBR format.

CBR and CBZ files are just renamed extensions of RAR and ZIP - a compressed archive of JPGs.  If you put a bunch of pictures in a RAR or ZIP file and rename it, you've got a Comic Book RAR file.  These are viewable with a comic book reader.  There are plenty of free ones but none that fit my needs.

I wanted a viewer that would automatically resize to width so I didn't have to fiddle with the zoom on each page before I read it.  I couldn't find a free one that did this, so I shelled out the three bucks.  I bought Perfect Viewer, though ComiCat is likely just as good.

Go to settings > display.  I set Screen Orientation to Layout and Zoom to Fit to Width.  Then just slide or tap the right side of the screen to read.

If it's still too small, pinch and zoom one of the pages to around 110%.  Then go to settings>display, set Zoom to Fixed Size and Page Origin to Reading Direction (Vert).  This will scroll a column at a time, popping back up to the top of the second column.

Reading scans with the Kindle app on Kindle Fire

Reading books that are scanned pages instead of simple text is basically impossible on the Kindle.  It gets upgraded to "barely readable" with the Kindle Fire.

There are no display options for scans and images in Kindle Fire.  A simple "fix to width" option would solve everything here.  Unless you have amazing vision, to read a scanned magazine in Kindle Fire, one must:

  1. Swipe to your page.  Holding in landscape mode, the image will show up fitted to height, so it will show up in the left third of the screen.
  2. Double tap the image.  You can't pinch and zoom until you do this for some reason.
  3. Pinch and zoom to get it to fit the width, which might take some trial and error
  4. Read your page.  An opaque toolbar may cover the top tenth of the screen whenever you're not touching it.
  5. Click the x in the upper right corner.  You might have to tap the screen to get it to appear.  You can't swipe to the next page until you x out.
  6. Swipe to next page.

Simply do this for each and every page.  Three to four extra taps and a manually resizing might not seem like too much hassle, but I feel like I'm spending more time tapping than reading.

Ironically, the exact same file, converted to PDF and sideloaded, displays great with the Kindle app.  It automatically fits to width on landscape and you can change pages with one tap.  However, it won't show up in your library and you can't save your place.

I'd recommend using the Kindle app only for flowable text books bought on Amazon.  It works perfectly well on these books and you can't read these elsewhere without some complicated hacks.  I wouldn't recommend using the Kindle app for sideloaded books bought elsewhere, magazine scans, or comic books.


This should be an easy one, but it took me a little bit.
Adobe Reader doesn't fit to width.
FB Reader with the PDF plug in is slow to load and kept crashing.
Kindle App won't save your place.

I went with the free ezPDF Reader - there are probably other free PDF viewers that do the trick.

General settings:
Screen Orientation - if you want it to always be in Landscape mode
Basic (Minimum) Zoom Ratio - set to Screen Width Fitting
Page Scrolling Type - pick horizontal or vertical
Seamless Continuous Page Scroll - check if you want one long document to scroll down, uncheck if you want to turn pages

I usually like to turn pages horizontally rather than vertically, but for this program I set it to vertical  page scrolling with seamless turned off.  This lets me read a page at a time, the screen doesn't wiggle side to side when my shaky fingers scroll up and down, and I can change pages by tapping or flinging.

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