Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kindle Hacking - Backing up eBooks

I just bought my first "real ebook" (aka not free) from Amazon and it so I wanted to back it up. I previously posted about having watched this video on removing the Kindle Book DRM using a few Python scripts on Windows when I came across the full blog post on Too Smart Guys.

In reality you don't need to watch the video from Too Smart Guys to backup your eBooks. First you need to remove the DRM from the .AZW book you downloaded then, if you want, convert it to a more open format. You can do this using the work around by Unskindle and Calibre which I will spell out for you below:

  1. Purchase a Kindle book from Amazon. I decided to buy The Comback by Gary Shapiro - it ties in well since I just went to CES a few weeks ago! DRM is bad, paying the author for their work is not.
  2. Go to the Unskindle Guide and download their software here
  3. Extract the software to C:\skindle
  4. Open your Kindle for PC software and make sure the book gets downloaded to your computer. 
  5. Browse to your My Kindle Content folder (probably Documents\My Kindle Content) and locate the book in the .azw format. If you have multiple books in the .azw format you can just double click on each until you find the correct one. Mine was called B004GNFONK_EBOK.azw.
  6. Copy your .azw format book and paste it in the C:\skindle folder
  7. Open the book you just copied over, make sure the Kindle PC software reads it.
  8. Open a command prompt and browse to C:\skindle
  9. Now type in the following command
  10. skindle -v -i name_of_the_book.azw -o new_name.azw
  11. To make sure you put the correct name_of_the_book.azw, just copy it from the actual file.
  12. In a few seconds your new_name.azw output file will be DRM free
You can stop here and you are all done. You've now removed the DRM off your Amazon eBook and can use it on another Kindle or device that reads .azw formats. If you want to make it truly compatible continue on and convert it into a .MOBI format. 

  1. Download and install calibre
  2. Drag and drop your newly created (DRM free) .azw file into the library
  3. Click the convert button at the top
  4. When it's done, right click on the file in the library and say Open Location and there you will have a DRM free .mobi eBook.
I believe you should have some way to use your eBook purchases on any device that you choose, no matter what the DRM is. This is the same problem music publishers have - if you have an iPod you're stuck with iTunes and if you have a Zune with the Zune Marketplace.

You should also have a way to back up your eBooks, regardless if they are stored within Amazon. We've seen Amazon pull books from people's Kindles when they've gotten into a fight with the publisher. Amazon will also remove old periodicals (you can keep up to 7, unless you specify to keep them individually) to make sure you have space on your device.

This post was rewritten on 1/22/2011 because I thought the previous posting missed the point. Enjoy!


Ladytrad said...

In step 8, I think you should add "CD" before "C:\skindle" if you want the command to work. I'm at step 9, but I'm still not sure what to type and how to type it (I'm not familiar with the use of "Command Prompt"). Let's say the name of the book I want to de-DRM is "B000FA5Q40_EBOK.azw". In the "Command Prompt" window, I can see "C:\skindle". What exactly do I type, and do I type it directly after "C:\skindle" or do I leave a space before I type? The "-v", "-i" and "-o" confuse me... I read the Unskindle Guide, but I'm still not sure how to type the text. Please help me!

Chris Kenst said...

Follow step 9 just like I write it in my example. Type this:

skindle -v -i B000FA5Q40_EBOK.azw -o new_name.azw

Make sure you replace new_name.azw with whatever name you want.