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How to Add a Kindle DRM-Removal Plugin to calibre

9740648442_83e4f12bf3_bUpdate: These instructions were updated on  11 July 2015. They worked for me on that day.

DRM is the bugaboo of ebooks.  It's the cause of more pain and agony than a Snooki photo, and today I plan to help fix that. I have long been on the side of removing DRM (it's the best way to protect your purchases), but up until today I had never gone beyond pointing my readers at tools.

 

The process is minimally difficult and I'd like to share it with you. But first, a few warnings.

Warning

  • Note that these instructions are Windows only, and some details will be different between the various versions of Windows.
  • Note that these instructions were written without the permission or participation of Kovid Goyal, the creator of calibre.
  • These instructions are written in order to assist the average user in protecting their purchases. I did not write it to assist in committing piracy; I believe in buying content, when possible. But I also believe in controlling the content I buy and that is why I strip the DRM.

TL;DR

Here's the short-short version: You need to get the DeDRM plugin from Apprentice Alf and install it in calibre (and reboot calibre). Once you've installed the plugin, all you have to do is find where Kindle4PC put the ebooks on your computer and drag each ebook into calibre (everything else is automatic).

Luckily for you, you only have to go through the set up process once in order to remove Kindle, Nook, and Adobe DE DRM. (Kobo is a separate process.) If you've followed my instructions for removing Nook DRM then you've already finished the process of setting up to strip Kindle DRM, and you can skip to the end of this post.

First Things First

You need to download and install these apps on your computer. If you have either of them then you do not need to install them again:

Calibre is of course the ebook library management tool. I've mentioned it once or twice, and that's what you're going to use to remove the DRM.  And K4PC is how you'll download the ebooks.

Install the apps one at a time (and set up your account with the K4PC app, if you haven't already). While it's being installed, go to the Apprentice Alf website and download the ZIP file full of plugins.

Got everything installed? Good.

  1. UnZip the ZIP file you just downloaded. Open the folder called calibre and you should see a folder full of plugins.
  2. Launch calibre. When it's open, look at the icons on the top row. There's one on the far right called "Preferences". Click on it.
  3. It will bring up a new window with a bunch of icons.  Look on the bottom row for the one that says "plugins". Click it.
  4. And now you'll get another new window. Look at the buttons on the bottom row. Click on the one that says "load plugin from file".
  5. Use the file browser window to find the folder you downloaded. Open it, and then open the DeDRM_calibre_plugin folder.
  6. There should only be a single ZIP file in that folder, and it should be called "DeDRM_plugin". Double click to select it.
  7. Shut down calibre and launch it again. Some times the plugin won't kick in until you after you do this.

Yippee!

You've just installed and configured the plugin (assuming all went well).  You should be able to copy any ebook you've downloaded from the K4PC app to calibre.  Calibre should now be able to read the ebooks and convert them to whatever format you prefer.

But before you can do that you'll need to find out where the Kindle ebooks are stored. This varies depending on which version of Windows you're running, but they can usually be found under the My Documents folder.

I'm looking at my Win 7 laptop right now and the  Kindle ebooks are found in "My Kindle Content" under My Documents.

The ones you will need to copy are:

  • AZW/AZW1/AZW2/AZW3
  • MOBI
  • PRC
  • TPZ

After you copy the files into calibre, you might have some trouble getting calibre to open them so you can read them.   Windows will need to be told that calibre can open the files. This should only happen once, so it's a relatively minor issue.

Note that if you simply convert the ebooks to Epub, you won't have this issue.

images by pellestenRosino

312 Comments on How to Add a Kindle DRM-Removal Plugin to calibre

  1. There is no need to have Mobipocket Reader installed, nor to configure the plugin with its PID, unless you have bought books for it at an ebook store (e.g. Fictionwise) that required you to enter that PID.

    The PID of a Mobipocket Reader installation has no relationship to the encryption keys used by Kindle for Windows for the ebooks downloaded to it.

    The calibre plugins pickup the needed info from the Kindle for Windows installation automatically. If you’re only removing the DRM from books downloaded to Kindle for Windows, the plugin needs no configuration.

  2. That’s not what the readme file for the plugin says; thanks for the correction.

    Edit: Okay, I think it does say that; it’s certainly not clear.

  3. ‘Edit: Okay, I think it does say that; it’s certainly not clear.’

    I have read in many places how easy it is to dedrm books. Not clear does not touch it.
    I have tried 4 different processes and have hit a road block at the 1st, 2nd or 3rd step.
    To bad someone couldn’t just make a dedrm tool and sell it.
    Of course, they would be spending time in jail!

  4. Actually, they do.
    US$30 or so, if I remember correctly.

  5. When I load the “tools_v5.1.zip” plugin, it gives me the following error!!! What’s wrong?

    calibre, version 0.8.47
    ERROR: Unhandled exception: InvalidPlugin:The plugin in u’D:/temp/tools_v5.1.zip’ is invalid. It does not contain a top-level __init__.py file

    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “site-packages\calibre\gui2\preferences\plugins.py”, line 306, in add_plugin
    File “site-packages\calibre\customize\ui.py”, line 339, in add_plugin
    File “site-packages\calibre\customize\ui.py”, line 54, in load_plugin
    File “site-packages\calibre\customize\zipplugin.py”, line 160, in load
    File “site-packages\calibre\customize\zipplugin.py”, line 255, in _locate_code
    InvalidPlugin: The plugin in u’D:/temp/tools_v5.1.zip’ is invalid. It does not contain a top-level __init__.py file

  6. Sturmund Drang // 16 June, 2012 at 7:35 am //

    One step that’s easy to gloss over, the one that nailed me the first time, was that all the software installed must reside and run on a machine registered to the Kindle account which bought the book. You can’t just take a kindle book to another machine and deDRM it. Which is only fair. (Assuming a generally accepted standard of moral fairness and not the legal definition.)

  7. Thanks for the question. I’ll go clarify the instructions.

  8. Well, no.

    If you go the full step of entering the PIDs then this plugin can strip DRM from just about any Kindle ebook – but you’ll first need the PID from the Kindle that you copied the ebook off of.

  9. You do realize you’re totally violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision here, right? :)

  10. Eh. So has Wired, ColtofMac, and a bunch of other sites.

    Edit: Besides, I’d already gone too far by linking to tools and suggesting that people use them.

  11. Thanks Nate! Done.

  12. Sturmund Drang // 16 June, 2012 at 4:40 pm //

    Really? That’s terrific. The more work I can do on my linux box the better.

    Now, if you could tell me how to hide those hideous Calibre/Qt toolbars in Linux I’d be halfway to nirvana.

  13. Interesting article. I am considering buying a Kindle, which would be my first, and I have been thinking about preemptively deDRMing everything, just so I can’t be locked in.

  14. You’ll be laughed at by everyone in the midwest Detention Camp. “Why are you here? Making bombs? Fomenting revolution? Not paying your mortgage?” “I linked to DRM-stripping sites.”

  15. BTW, those are all the steps I followed too back when I asked about it. But my PC is so FUBARed for disk space right now — and K4PC is so slow with over 1,000 books in it — that I can’t yet tell if anything works, so I’ve given up for now. And it doesn’t help that every time I blink, there’s another new version of Calibre available. That program has the *worst* install record of all software for me. Always fails and I have to go through Repair — which also sometimes fails several times before working. (And I also have crap from a prior version that I can’t get rid of!)

  16. Rez, you need to open the tools zip file and then you install each of the 5 listed zip files separately into Calibre that are inside the tools file, but don’t open those 5 zip files when you add them to Calibre (or just add the zip file for Kindle, if that’s all you plan to use).

  17. If you believe in controlling the content you buy, you should start saying the politicians that represent you that they should make laws that allow citizens to break DRM for lawful purposes or stop buying content with DRM.

    It does not matter if you bought the content. If someone breaks the DRM, one’s breaking the law and one’s being a “pirate”.

    Because the whole purpose of the legal protection to DRM was not to prevent piracy. That was the excuse used to convince politicians to pass the law.
    If you know how DRM systems work you understand they couldn’t prevent piracy anyway. And the fact is, they didn’t.

    The legal protection to DRM is not for pirates, is for honest citizens. That’s right the ones that buy content.

    Warner told us, in the beginning of this year why legal protection to DRM exists: to force citizens, the honest ones, to pay 3 or 4 times for the same movie. The idea is:
    Citizens bought DVD with DRM through the years, and now they want to put the movies into the laptops, into the tablets, and so on. But because the DVD have DRM, citizens cannot do it. So, Warner will let them do it, if they pay for that. But citizens want their films on the cloud also. So, Warner will let them do it too, if they pay a fee.

    But if you have DVD without DRM, you don’t need to pay to do all of this. Because all of this is private copying, which is legal (except in UK, I think).

    I’m sorry to say this, but even if someone paid for the content, if they break the DRM they’re still breaking the law and they’re still being a pirate.

    And this will continue until citizens tell politicians that they want their rights back.

    (English is not my mother language, so please excuse me if I made errors)

  18. Amen!
    What she says is accurate. Not right, but accurate. Makes me wonder if we, the people with the illusion of freedom, need to rethink the ideas of the weirdos with the black hoodies and balaclavas in the streets. God! I wish not, but, maybe.

  19. There’s a generic PID only for Kindle 1, Kindle 2 with early firmware, of Kindle for iOS.

    Kindle 2 with latest firmware, Kindle Keyboard, Kindle Touch, Kindle non-Touch, and current versions of Kindle for Mac & Kindle for PC DO NOT have a PID that will decode all books downloaded for them. Every book has a PID unique to that book, based on the Kindle device and metadata in the book itself.

  20. Clearly it’s been too long since I last looked at this. Crap. that’s complicated!

  21. Pfft.

    Mike, anyone who knows me can tell you I’d have ended up there anyway, if for nothing more than telling some security thug to piss-off.

  22. Just installed the plugins on Calibre to remove DRM from Kindle books, which I paid for, so I can read them on my Nook. Calibre says it still can’t do it. I have the latest version of Calibre as of June 2012. Suggestions?

  23. I’m getting the same error message, what intructions did you give Rez to solve the probem?

  24. I edited the post so it said to open up the first zip file to get another zip file inside.

  25. Andy Williams // 13 July, 2012 at 5:19 pm //

    Hadve been for some long time been successfully and easily converting my Kindle books to ePub with Calibre on my PC to use on my Sony PR600 as an alternative to K4PC or to K4Android on my Android tablet. But then it all broke! This month (July) bought some books and downloaded them twice, separately onto my Samsung Tab 10.1 and my Samsung Netbook, (with K4PC) i.e. just exactly as I have done before. Also up-dated Calibre and added new versions of plugins. Stuck the AZW files (copies from the “My Kindle Content” folder) in the folder Calibre looks in automatically to upload/convert and … Nothing! Well, not exactly nothing. I got the message that so many people seem to refer to these days, namely that I need a 10-digit PID. Now, everywhere I have looked it says that K4PC doesn’t need (or have) a PID. WTF! I tried importing directing from the Kindle folder — same message. Does anyone have any idea what might be going on here?

  26. I got a kdnile when the kdnile 2 first came out I’d ordered the original at Christmas week, and within a month, Amazon announced the Kindle 2 was being sent out in place of the original. I ended up getting mine at the end of February 2009 (2 mos after I ordered!). I absolutely *love* my kdnile. I am completely spoiled having the ability to have a book (or hundreds) at my fingertips no matter where I am I always have my kdnile with me. I haven’t even read a paper book since I got it. It’s just nice knowing I am not using paper/ink/shipping etc for reading. I have the kdnile PC loaded to my computer so if I want (haven’t yet) I can read on my computer too.I fall asleep with my kdnile all the time too side sleeper here and my husband will periodically turn the light off for me.. I’ll wake up a while later and put it on the table. I’ve never before fallen asleep while reading, but since my kdnile, I read so much at night, I do, ha.Also, i’ve never been much to read out loud to my kids I have a hard time with it because I start yawning obsessively.. since having my kdnile, my boys and I read every night at bedtime and it’s been great! We are currently reading a series called Fablehaven.My kdnile has been worth every penny spent, both on it and on books. I am like you though, I stay under about $7.00 or so, unless I’ve been reading the series, then I may splurge on one book for closer to $9.. Enjoy!

  27. I’m letting this piece of spam through because I’m amused by how it misspells “kdnile”.

    And yes, this is spam; a lot of it truly is this sophisticated.

  28. Yeah, I was so hopeful that this would work, but I got an error message saying that the book is DRM’d and can’t be converted. Looks like Amazon changed something in July because every tutorial on removing DRM from Kindle books that I’ve found is outdated now.

  29. Sturmund Drang // 22 July, 2012 at 3:01 am //

    Make certain you’ve got the latest “tools” plugins; version 5.1. You may have to uninstall Calibre and reinstall it with the latest version too. You shouldn’t lose anything if you do uninstall-reinstall, at least I did not. Don’t forget to restart Calibre after reinstalling the tools 5.1 plug-in.

  30. Yeah, Amazon did SOMETHING to lock the darn books. I was very successful with this method previously but now not working. This was a different computer than I used before so I’ve downloaded all of the newest versions of calibre and the plugins. Still get error DRM protected. Anyone have another idea yet? Thanks!

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