Why is it so hard to read a journal article??

I can’t solve paywalls, journals, and academese, but I can help you get journal articles properly formatted on your Kindle!

Anyone who has tried to read a journal article on a smartphone or eReader knows:

  1. you can technically read a PDF as is
  2. it is a giant pain in the ass

Here. I’ll show you. image2

Most journal articles not only have margins, but columns, so the writing is itsy bitsy on your screen. Kindle has tried to fix this with double-tap zoom, but if you’ve tried it, you know it’s not as easy as all that. Once you get to the bottom of your zoomed screen, you have to figure out how to get to the next one. Even if the convenient side-tap feature works (when you are in the middle of a column), each column is not easily divisible by kindle-screens, so you often have to scan over text you’ve already read to find your place again. It works in a pinch, but I am getting annoyed just thinking about it.

So here’s the solution: k2pdfopt. Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue? Just check out the website.

So it’s about as modern as the website suggests, but let me reiterate: it works! I can comfortably read a two-column journal article on my Kindle! See? image1

Once you have a habit down for using it, it’s pretty easy. I don’t even use any of the third-party UIs; I run it straight out of Terminal so I can feel like a super villain. You run one PDF at a time (I ignore all the options, just drag and drop the PDF, hit enter twice, and wait) then close the program and open it again for the next PDF(! i know.) You’ll find the PDF names appended with k2pdfopt, then I email them to my Kindle, and there they appear!

Do you have a life hack or a piece of software that makes your academic life easier? Let us know in the comments!

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