Converting .Lit files to HTML (for Kindle) with Ubuntu

October 05, 2010

I'm an avid Ubuntu user, and while my overall experience of the operating system is incredibly satisfactory, I often find myself Googling for tips in regards to operations. Especially as I now have a Kindle to play with!

While the Kindle can read loads of different file formats (eg: .pdf, .rtf. .txt), it's unable to load .lit ebooks, and neither the free nor paid version of the email-to-kindle service can convert this Microsoft filetype.

Windows users can find numerous applications available to perform this function, but while searching for an Ubuntu-friendly tutorial I found no immediately suitable results. However, I did find this useful tutorial from SociallySour which explains how to use Convlit which provided the basis of the method I'm using now.

Converting .lit files to .html

  1. Download and install convlit. It's simplest to install through the command-line, like this:

    apt-get install convlit
    though you could of course use Synaptic Package Manager if preferred.

  2. Once installed, you'll need to use Terminal to access Convlit's conversion functions via the command line. So if you haven't already done so, boot up Terminal now.

  3. In Terminal, you'll need to navigate to the directory where your .lit file(s) is located., like this:

    cd Documents/ebooks/lit-files

  4. Now we'll use the "clit" function and tell convlit which file to convert and the directory in which the converted ebook should reside, like this:

    clit mylitfile.lit directory-name/
    Note the forward slash at the end of the directory name: you must use a slash like this if the directory in which to extract your converted file does not already exist. Omit this slash if the directory is already present in this folder.

  5. Once this function is complete, you should find an HTML version of your .lit file in the folder you have specified (in the example above, this would be in Document/ebooks/lit-files/directory-name/). If you prefer, you can simply upload this HTML file to your Kindle using the USB cable. If you'd prefer to convert this to Kindle format (for wireless transfer), continue to the next step. 

Converting from HTML to Kindle's AZW format

The easiest method to convert from HTML using Ubuntu is to simply use Amazon's "Personal Documents" service.

In this case, send your converted HTML file as an attachment to your Kindle email account (eg:, with the subject line "convert".

You'll then receive an email with the converted document attached to your registered email address, or will be able to download it via your wireless connection if you have one of the later Kindle models.

Be sure to send from an email address you've registered on your My Kindle page, or your email will be ignored. Also, if you have a 3g Kindle, ensure you use your free email address (; if you use the regular address you may be charged for the download of your converted file.

That's all there is to it! It's not as simple as a one-click conversion in Ubuntu. I've not yet discovered a Linux app which can do this, but would be very interested to install one if there is one available!

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