How to read DRM eBooks on a different device

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Posted 17 Feb 2013 in Soulville, Technology
Amazon Kindle Keyboard

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I (and Ellie for that matter) am a Nook fangirl. The devices work great for me, it’s easy to buy books and I am overall happy. But then I noticed that Amazon had some books at cheaper prices ESPECIALLY textbooks or other expensive books. B&N also has books at a better price than Amazon. We’re talking a $30 or $40 difference. Each bookstore also has their own (and very different) selections of books to put up for free or really cheap. The perks of both stores had me at the point of trying to figure out whether I should then have to own two proprietary devices (a Nook AND a Kindle) or to splurge on a tablet to read via apps. But none of these made much sense. I didn’t want to have to carry two devices (I got an e-reader for situations where I can’t carry a lot) and I didn’t need all the features of a tablet (not to mention the price points make it unaffordable right now). I also really like e-ink, like my e-reader battery life and didn’t want to only be able to read on a backlit device. So I started looking for a solution and boy did I find a good one.

To be clear, this solution is NOT meant to help anyone strip DRM from eBooks so they can then openly share with anyone else via any means. That’s illegal and it is not condoned by ThePinkC or any of the writers of this site. This is meant for you, a single user of Amazon or B&N, to be able put an eBook you legally bought in one store or the other in a format that you can read on your device. Please use this info responsibly and follow the laws and regulations of the place where you live.

Now, on to the solution – Wired ran an article back in 2011 on stripping the DRM and then converting the book into the format you can use or just stripping the DRM so your books are no longer subject to auto deletion from whoever you purchased them from. This article featured the work of Apprentice Alf (original piece here). Simply put, you use a free program called Calibre, the plugins created by Apprentice Alf, and the desktop programs of the service you want to convert books from (so if converting from Amazon, you’ll need Kindle for PC or Mac; same for Nook, etc) to you then can download the books, import them to Calibre and then upload to your device. It took me less than 20 minutes to download everything and get it set up. Since I can’t write the directions better myself, jump over to Wired or Apprentice Alf and follow the directions word for word (I actually used directions from both). And read the read me files in the plugins from Apprentice Alf so you install them correctly.

Just a couple notes – 1) if you’re hoping this will help you check out books from Amazon’s library because you’re a prime user, it won’t. 2) Calibre will keep all versions of the eBooks unless you tell it to delete certain versions or all versions. eBooks aren’t huge but if space is an issue, this would be where to start. 3) This method does not work for iBooks. Apprentice Alf has a couple links on suggestions if that’s what you’re looking to do. 4) This does work for PCs, Macs, Linux, etc.

I may eventually be able to afford a second device or want a second device and in that case, I’ll use it. But this solution seems like it will work for me for some time to come. It means both bookstores can get a lot more of my business and makes me ok with shopping for ePubs outside of B&N at places like Better World Books or tea and readingGoogle Books, especially since Calibre seems to have a lot of perks for organizing all my books. (Though I must admit, it would be really nice if more indie stores had eBooks too…but I’m glad I love paper books!)

Has anyone else done anything like this? How did it work for you? Any legal ramifications of doing this where you live? Happy reading!!
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