How to Download Kobo eBooks (Including the Ones They Won’t Allow) And Strip the DRM

kobo itunes ios logoFor as long as I've shopped there, Kobo has always had an issue with not letting customers download copies of all of the ebooks they buy.  I've never understood why and they've never supplied a consistent answer, but some of the ebooks bought at Kobo can only be read in Kobo hardware and apps.

Edit: This post was updated on 11 July 2015.  The instructions worked on that day.

Historically this has been a minor issue, but there are a growing number of reports lately, both on Dear Author and on MobileRead Forums, that suggest that the problem may be getting worse (there's also one report that claims this is a new problem, but it is bogus).

It's not clear whether the increase in reports are the result of more titles being affected rather than more customers encountering the issue, but since there are a growing number of complaints I would like to offer a solution.

There is a calibre plugin which can grab all of your Kobo ebooks, convert them from Kobo's own funky Kepub format, strip the DRM, and add them to your calibre library.

It's called oboK, and it works with the Kobo for PC app. You'll  need to download the ebooks with Kobo's app first, and then run calibre. With a minimum number of clicks, the oboK plugin should be able to rescue most of your DRMed ebooks. Some formats aren't supported by the Kobo4PC app (graphic novels, for example) and can't be downloaded.

You can download the plugin here:

http://the-digital-reader.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/obok_plugin-3.1.1_trad.zip

Or the older version here:

http://the-digital-reader.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/obok_plugin_3.0.7.zip

***

The Usual Disclaimer

oboK, and the instructions provided to help install it, is intended strictly for personal use to enable a reader to rescue their purchases from the clutches of Kobo and the publishers. Please don't pirate.

***

Like any calibre plugin, you can install it by right clicking on the preferences button, scrolling to the bottom of that menu, and then selecting the plugins option. When that menu pops up, select the option to load a plugin from a file.

obok menuInstallation should be easy, and once it's complete you should have a new button on the menu bar. Click it and the oboK plugin will spring into action. A new menu will appear and prompt you to select which of you Kobo ebooks you would like to rescue.

To be completely honest, I have not been able to get the plugin to work. But I am told other people have, and so I am sharing it with you today.

Update: I've solved my problem by deleting and reinstalling the Kobo app. Now Obok is able to rescue my Kobo purchases.

If you have a problem getting oboK to work, and then solve that problem, please leave a comment. I would like to be able to use it myself. Thanks!

About Nate Hoffelder (11582 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

59 Comments on How to Download Kobo eBooks (Including the Ones They Won’t Allow) And Strip the DRM

  1. I’m very familiar with the command-line version of obok and have used it a long time. But the Calibre plugin strikes me as a beast out of the blue. It doesn’t seem to have any history in the regular TOOLS package, and there’s little chatter about it on MobileRead.

    Do you mind if I ask from where this magic appeared?

  2. I can’t be bothered to install oboK.

    I have yet to find a Kobo book that isn’t available for exactly the same price on Google Play. So, I simply stopped buying at Kobo when I first encountered this problem. Now I buy my ebooks from Google. It is no harder to do, and the Google versions of the books I have bought have all downloaded with no problems.

    To be fair to Kobo, they gave me a refund for the book that wouldn’t download, but having to talk to customer service to ask for a refund is more trouble than I will accept, when there is an alternative vendor available.

    I have no customer loyalty to any vendor, and it is easy to drive me, and my money, away from your business.

  3. Thanks for the tip on the plugin. I switched to Kobo when Fictionwise closed and Barnes & Noble suddenly decided they didn’t want non-US customers. Hopefully Kobo won’t be stupid enough to follow B&N down the no-downloads-allowed path, but in case they do I want to be prepared. Decrapping my DRMed books & backing them up will be much easier now, thanks to this and the Tools.

  4. Thanks, I haven’t bought a book from kobo that I can’t download and I strip the DRM right away because I prefer reading with CoolReader on my reader, but I would keep that info in mind.

  5. I bought from Google Books until they stopped running the back-end for indie bookstores. (I thought that was a dick move.) I only recently found that I could download epubs to ADE from my Google Play library (desktop web), and did not have to rely on the brick and mortar store’s (closed) website for epub downloads.

    As long as Google Books downloads continue to work with ADE 2.0, I guess I’ve got that option (again). Good to know. Thanks.

  6. Here’s a direct link to the Kobo Desktop installer, if you can’t get the download button to work and don’t feel like digging through their broken JavaScript:

    http://download.kobobooks.com/desktop/kobodesktop/kobosetup.exe

  7. Now if it could only grab the rest of the books off android devices with the kobo app…

    • That shouldn’t be too hard to add to the plugin, actually. I’ll forward the suggestion.

      • Actually that’s not as easy as it might seem, because Obok can’t calculate the keys necessary for decrypting books that have been copied over from other devices and AFAIK there’s still no known way to extract the key information from Kobo on Android. I know Obok command-line couldn’t do it and I think the plugin is just a GUI adaptation without anything majorly new under the hood. I would be more than happy to get corrected on this.

  8. One question: How can I convert unDRM kepub to epub? This plugin only displays DRMed items.

    I have 10 kobo books, 6 of them are DRM-free.

    I tried drag files into Calibre or into the plugin, nothing happens.

    • There are reports over at MobileRead forums that you can simply copy the kepub files out of Kobo’s folder, change the suffix, and then load them into calibre.

      You can find the kepub files here on windows:
      */AppData/Local/Kobo/Kobo Desktop/kepub

      I’ll try to confirm this later today.

    • That’s pretty much it. The no-extension files in the kepub folder are in fact epubs and the ones without DRM can simply be dragged straight into Calibre once you’ve changed their extension to .epub . You can drag the DRMed ones as well and get the metadata and such from them, but the contents will be garbled for those.

    • The “Modify ePub” plugin for calibre now has an option specifically designed to clean up non-DRM kepubs, turning them into sleeker EPUBs. Once you use the obok plugin to get the kepub into calibre, just use Modify ePub to strip out that extra gunk, and you should have something very close to the original pre-Kobo form of the book.

  9. Calibre tells me that the oboK plugin “cannot run on Linux”. Just fyi… (Yes, I’ve installed other plugins before, no probs.)

  10. Nate, if you like, feel quite free to delete my out-of-place replies and repost their contents where they were meant to go. Sorry about the mess.

  11. I have a book I bought at Sony that was kepub only when it transferred to Kobo. The books are different – the epub has the chapter headings as a clickable link and has the font specified as serif. The font size is also bigger in Calibre’s viewer for the kepub. I didn’t look further than the first page in the first chapter so there may be more differences.

    So the books are different and there may be other differences in other books. If I don’t know what they might change in a book I’d prefer to have the original.

  12. Nate’s updated the plugin link to v3.0.6.

    The update includes:
    Alpha sorted
    DRM free kepubs now listed
    ‘*’ beside DRM free kepubs in the listing

    • Still not compressing the deDRMed contents, I see. What gives?

      • thanks for the info. Nate’s added the new version: 3.0.7

        Compression issue resolved.

        • Thanks!

          BTW, is this generally the place to give feedback on this plugin or if not, then where to do it? I know this problem was already reported at Alf’s so it doesn’t seem the devs check the comments there.

        • Nate’s added the link for the latest obok version: 3.1.1.

          The changes in this version are:
          – Spanish, German and Dutch translations (for use in Calibre)

          – Interface appearance now ‘gorgeous’!!

          – Red or green lock now displays against title as to whether DRM or DRM free

          – Title, author and series now able to be viewed within dialogue box

          Reminder: dialogue box can be dragged to widen

          • My recommendation is that you delete the current version of obok in Calibre and then install this version.

  13. So there’s still no way for me to pull the kepubs directly off of my Kobo like I can with my Kindle, correct? I really really don’t want to install the damn Kobo desktop app.

  14. Thank you! Just ran into this with a couple of DRM-free ebooks I bought from Kobo, of all things, and was greatly frustrated. Having booted into the Windows partition on my main box (… because obviously *nix users don’t deserve ebooks…) this has all worked smoothly; thanks.

  15. Thank you very much for this! I’ve got books scattered across 3 different apps, and I’m trying to consolidate everything into one reader. This helps a lot.

  16. Hi. It took me a while to understand that the manual load for the plugin was the .zip file itself. Once I figured this out, worked like a charm. I’m on a MAC. Might want to add that to your help text. Otherwise, I’m delighted! Thanks!

  17. [email protected] // 29 March, 2015 at 4:53 pm // Reply

    Hi,

    I’ve been asked to make the portuguese translation by a member os the mobileread foruns, how can I send it to you?

    regards

    • Thank you for your translation help. 🙂

      Your file should be uploaded with the next Alf updates.

      • Hi, I have Calibre 2.24 on W7, and this version does not have the option of installing a plug-in from a file, only from the master list.

        I tried to do the “manual” installation from the “Writing your own plugins…” help, with the command line:

        calibre-customize -b 1.

        and it installed some stuff but came up with the error message:
        [Error 3] The system cannot find the path specified: u’1.\\*.*’

        Presumably this could work if I found the right directory to unzip the Obok files into.
        Any help on this?

        I find this most frustrating, as I bought a book on Kobo, believing it to be in epub format, which I could read on my various devices. As it happens, I borrowed the original book from a library, my wife got partways through on her Nook, and I decided to buy it so she could read it leisurely. Well, of course, I am unable to liberate it from the Kobo, and what is really additionally irritating, that I cannot find the place where she stopped. I have copied out a sentence from the page where she was on in the Nook, but Kobo is unable to search for a phrase (in spite of suggesting a phrase search), and the Nook version was consecutively page numbered, while the Kobo version restarts the page numbering in each chapter. Guess how many more books Kobo will be selling to me?

        thanks,

        A

        • I’ve also got Calibre V2.24 and can say that the Plug-ins, Load from file option is still there.

          From the Menu option on the top of the screen, click (double click) on Preferences.

          Bottom left of that screen is Advanced, click Plug-ins, then bottom right is load plug-in from file.

          When you select that option the Add plug in dialogue box will open allowing you to select the file from your PC.

          If Preferences is not showing on your version of Calibre then perhaps reinstall (or re-download) the version.

  18. Thanks, I wasn’t smart enough to do that… I clicked on the right down arrow on Preferences, which shows four choices only, one of which is “Get plugins to enhance calibre” and on that submenu there is no option to install from a file…

    A

  19. Don’t know if you’re a member of Mobile Read? If not take a look, you’ll always get help there as well:
    mobileread.com

    🙂

  20. Kobo Desktop’s new update breaks the Obok DeDRM plugin. Can it be updated?

  21. Michael which version of The Tools are you using? The latest is v6.3.2

  22. I’ve been following these instructions for well over a year with no problem. Only recently, though, it’s stopped working – I’ve bought a few books within the past month that, while I go through the process, when I try to upload the files to my Google Play Books account they fail and the checker says that the file isn’t right. The only thing I can think of that’s changed is I’ve upgraded to Windows 10.

    Have you heard of anyone else having this issue? I’m not sure where to start looking, and it’s really frustrating that I can’t strip these books like I’ve been doing before.

    Thanks in advance!

  23. I’ve also found that I can no longer deDRM books with Obok – all Kobo books now return a “couldn’t be decrypted” error, even those that I’ve previously deDRMed successfully (I tested). I have the latest versions of Kobo, DeDRM and Obok.

  24. Downloading the latest version of the Apprentice Alf tools, installing the new version of Obok and restarting Calibre fixed the issue for me.

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