As loyal Fat Knowledge readers are aware of from my posts, I love me my The Economist. A few weeks back, for reasons unbeknownst to me, the post office decided not to deliver my weekly edition. Then, also unbeknownst to me, that copy was returned to The Economist and they decided to put my account on hold. After missing a 3rd week, I contacted The Economist and all the unbeknownsts became knownst to me. But, I was told that it would take another 2 weeks before I would get my next one in the mail.
Unable to live without my The Economist for multiple weeks, I created a way to download the contents of the weekly issue off of their website and then put it into a file that can be read on a Kindle. First, I created this .php file which downloads the entire content of the weekly edition from The Economist's website to a directory of files on my machine. Next, I used Mobipocket Creator to convert that directory into a Kindle friendly file. One advantage of this digital version is that it is available on Thursday, a day or two sooner than the physical version arrives in the mail. I also prefer the way I setup the table of contents to what I have seen on other Kindle newspapers and magazines.
Thinking that some others might also like to read The Economist on their Kindles as well, I share the results of this experiment with you: today's new 8/27/08 edition of The Economist in Kindle format. Just download the file and either email to your Kindle, or copy it over using the USB cable.
Truth be told though, as big of a Kindle and e-book fan as I am, I still prefer the dead tree edition of the magazine. Magazines have color and are easy to skim neither of which can be said for e-books. Magazines are great for reading on the go, easy to dog ear pages to read, and worry free if you spill your coffee on them. Unlike books which are heavy and don't stay open on their own, magazines are light weight and stay put. Unlike newspapers which are unwieldy to read on a bus, require a ton of paper and energy to print, and leak ink on your hands, magazines come in a convenient size that doesn't waste nearly as much paper and leave your hands ink free. While I am a full convert of e-books over paper books and newspapers, the magazine is still my one dead tree holdout.
Update: Commenter Jon gives instructions on how to set this up on a Windows machine to get the latest Economist each week. If you are fairly computer literate and are willing to spend a little time, I think you will be able to get it to work (see also Update 3 for another solution).
1. Download PHP. Visit http://us3.php.net/get/php-5.2.8-win32-installer.msi/from/a/mirror and click the yellow highlighted link near the top and run the file whose download should then start.Customization: This requires touching the code which could be a bit scary for the less computer literate. Open the economist.php file that you created in step 3 with Wordpad. At the top there is a section called "Variables". 3 customizations are possible:
2. When asked what Web Server you would like to set up choose "Do not setup a web server" (the last option). Aside from this, just do the usual hitting next and install without changing anything. You'll get what you need.
3. Click on this link and save the file.
4. Navigate to where you saved the file, right click on it, and hit "Open with > Choose Program" then in that hit browse and navigate to C:\Program Files\PHP\php.exe and select this. Then hit the checkbox next to "Always use the selected program..." and hit OK.
5. Double click the file. A command prompt window should come up. Wait until it closes. Do not do anything to help it along, it will finish, but it might take 5 minutes or longer to download all the pages from the web.
6. Download Mobipocket Creator and install. Don't change anything during install. After installation open mobipocket creator. Then hit open at the top and navigate to the folder C:\Economist_[date] open this folder and open the file with a .opf extension. Then hit build at the top. Whew, that's it, there should now be a .prc file in that folder that you can transfer to and read off your kindle. Ignore build errors in making the .prc, they shouldn't matter.
7. Email the Economist_[date].prc file to your Kindle, or transfer it via the USB cable.
A) To save files to a different directtory change the $base_dir to another location like "C:\\Kindle Files\\".
B) Enter your username and password to access the site at $GLOBALS['loginEmail'] and $GLOBALS['loginPass'].
C) To create a version without images (much smaller file) set $with_images = false;
D) Get a back issue by setting $get_back_issue = false; and then setting the $back_date and $back_date2 variables to the date of the issue you want.
Update 2: The Economist website changed their formatting of URLs on 2/19/09. I have updated the .php file to fix this. Just redownload and overwrite the old version (step 3 above).
Update 3: This MobileRead thread alerts me to the existence of Calibre. This open source software will also allow you to download the latest Economist (as well as many other magazines and newspapers) in Kindle format. It has a graphical user interface, so it is much easier to use. Just make sure to set the output type to MOBI. Personally I lke my format and Table of Contents better, but then again I should as I designed it for an audience of one (though this guy gives my formatting props as well). :)
Update 4: The Economist has stopped the free access to the weekly addition. You now need a username/password to access it. Fortunately Nic has updated his script to allow you to enter that information. I have updated my script as well with this new code. Thanks Nic!