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

How to Download Kobo eBooks (Including the Ones They Won't Allow) And Strip the DRM calibre DRM Kobo Tips and Tricks For 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.

How to Download Kobo eBooks (Including the Ones They Won't Allow) And Strip the DRM calibre DRM Kobo Tips and Tricks Installation 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!

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

79 Comments

  1. oj82925 September, 2014

    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?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder25 September, 2014

      It was sent to me by a user at MobileRead. Since you also asked a similar question, I’ll continue this conversation over there (via PM).

      Reply
      1. Marilyn Rideout8 April, 2015

        I had this problem, unable to get purchased book to sync to reader.
        Had never used Calibre, installed it and the Obok plugin, worked perfectly.

        Thanks

        Reply
  2. Gary25 September, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. Kaetrin26 September, 2014

      Gary, do Google play books use the same ADEPT DRM? I’ve been reluctant to buy from there because I’ve been unsure whether I can strip the DRM (for personal use/back up only) from those books. It’s the reason I don’t purchase from iBooks.

      Reply
      1. Nate Hoffelder26 September, 2014

        Yes. Google uses the same DRM.

        Reply
        1. Kaetrin26 September, 2014

          Great. Thx 🙂

          Reply
  3. Byrdie25 September, 2014

    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.

    Reply
  4. […] the Digital Reader, How to download Kobo books (including the ones they don’t want you […]

    Reply
  5. DeeDee26 September, 2014

    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.

    Reply
  6. oj82926 September, 2014

    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.

    Reply
  7. baochan26 September, 2014

    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

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder26 September, 2014

      Thanks. It worked for me, so I didn’t think to include this.

      Reply
  8. Nighty26 September, 2014

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

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder26 September, 2014

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

      Reply
      1. Greg28 September, 2014

        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.

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder28 September, 2014

          Damn. I was hoping the plugin could simply grab the keys; it sounds like they have to be calculated.

          Reply
  9. […] in fact been so many complaints that yesterday I was inspired to post a solution in the form of a calibre plugin which stripped the DRM from your Kobo purchases, converted them to standard Epub, and loaded them into your calibre […]

    Reply
  10. Bansha28 September, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder28 September, 2014

      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.

      Reply
    2. Greg28 September, 2014

      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.

      Reply
    3. Rev. Bob14 October, 2014

      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.

      Reply
      1. Kaetrin15 October, 2014

        Rev. Bob – where do I get the Modify ePub plugin from?

        Reply
        1. Rev. Bob15 October, 2014

          You can get it directly through the calibre plugin interface, and there’s a thread for it on MobileRead.

          Reply
          1. Kaetrin15 October, 2014

            thx – I found it that time. 🙂

            Reply
  11. Kaz Augustin28 September, 2014

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

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder28 September, 2014

      I’ve heard (but have not double checked) that this plugin is now available directly from Apprentice Alf. That version might be newer, so I would suggest trying it.

      Here:
      http://apprenticealf.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/drm-removal-tools-for-ebooks/#comment-49472

      Reply
    2. Greg28 September, 2014

      The plugin doesn’t work on Linux because it needs to access the Kobo Desktop app’s database on the same system and that’s not available on Linux so there’s nothing for it to work with there.

      Reply
  12. Greg28 September, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder28 September, 2014

      I can’t actually move comments around. WP doesn’t offer that ability. But if you did repost I can delete the misplaced ones.

      Reply
      1. Greg28 September, 2014

        OK, looks like I was finally able to reply properly, so you can remove all my non-reply posts. Sorry once again.

        Reply
  13. purple lady29 September, 2014

    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.

    Reply
  14. Rosie14 October, 2014

    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

    Reply
    1. Stan15 October, 2014

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

      Reply
      1. Rosie15 October, 2014

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

        Compression issue resolved.

        Reply
        1. Stan16 October, 2014

          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.

          Reply
          1. Rosie16 October, 2014

            Yes, please report any issues here and they will be picked up. 🙂

            Reply
        2. Rosie9 February, 2015

          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

          Reply
          1. Rosie9 February, 2015

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

            Reply
  15. Shari15 October, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder15 October, 2014

      Not that I know of, no.

      Reply
  16. kaberett17 October, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder17 October, 2014

      You’re welcome.

      It was the DRM-free ebooks which inspired me to post this, in fact.

      Reply
  17. […] been just over a month since Kobo’s perennial problem with blocking downloads of purchased ebooks came to a head, and it looks like that problem has been […]

    Reply
  18. Hiya31 December, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. Crystal21 March, 2015

      That’s what I’m trying to do. I have kobo and kindle, trying to transfer it all to moon+pro with calibre.

      Reply
  19. Liana17 January, 2015

    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!

    Reply
    1. Rosie10 February, 2015

      Yes, that’s right it’s standard de drm plugin and installs in Calibre the same way that Alf’s Tools do.

      Reply
  20. [email protected]29 March, 2015

    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

    Reply
    1. Rosie8 April, 2015

      Thank you for your translation help. 🙂

      Your file should be uploaded with the next Alf updates.

      Reply
      1. Androscan13 April, 2015

        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

        Reply
        1. Rosie13 April, 2015

          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.

          Reply
  21. Androscan14 April, 2015

    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

    Reply
  22. Rosie14 April, 2015

    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

    🙂

    Reply
  23. […] has been broken, and there is a calibre plugin that will automatically retrieve any ebooks in Kobo's PC app, strip the DRM, and convert the ebooks to […]

    Reply
  24. […] 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 Kindle DRM then you've already finished setting […]

    Reply
  25. […] 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 […]

    Reply
  26. Michael11 August, 2015

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

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder11 August, 2015

      Have you tried the latest version of oboK from the Apprentice Alf website?

      Reply
  27. Rosie11 August, 2015

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

    Reply
  28. Kysen13 September, 2015

    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!

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder13 September, 2015

      Are you using the latest version of the oboK tool? You can find it bundled with the Apprentice Alf tool suite.

      According to reports on MobileRead, that version of the oboK plugin still works. If it doesn’t work for you then I think we found a Win10 bug.

      Reply
  29. John4 October, 2015

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder4 October, 2015

      And now I’m having the same problem.

      I’ll go look for a fix.

      Edit: According to what I read over at MobileRead, it’s supposed to be working.

      Reply
  30. Rick7 October, 2015

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

    Reply
  31. John11 October, 2015

    I got Obok working again after signing out of KDA and back in again.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder11 October, 2015

      Thanks!

      Reply
  32. Rich Land12 November, 2015

    KoReader solves many problems on the Kobo and Kindle. Amazon has killed it on the newest versions of its firmware but it still works great on Kobo. Once you try it, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been using it all along.

    Reply
  33. John17 December, 2015

    New KDA version 3.19, same old problem… so far signing out and in has not helped, so if it takes you as many hours as it takes me, I wouldn’t rush into that.

    Reply
  34. Kysen26 December, 2015

    Hi,
    KDA forced me to upgrade and Obok is broken again – I’m running version 3.1.6. Is there a way to contact the plugin creator to see if they’re planning an update?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  35. Elena2 May, 2016

    Hi, it does not seem to work for me.
    Problem:

    calibre 2.56 [64bit] embedded-python: True is64bit: True
    Windows-8-6.2.9200 Windows (’64bit’, ‘WindowsPE’)
    (‘Windows’, ‘8’, ‘6.2.9200’)
    Python 2.7.9
    Windows: (‘8’, ‘6.2.9200’, ”, ‘Multiprocessor Free’)
    Successfully initialized third party plugins: KePub Input && Obok DeDRM
    Qt: Untested Windows version 10.0 detected!
    Starting up…
    DEBUG: 0.0 obok::utilities.py – loading translations
    DEBUG: 0.0 obok::dialogs.py – loading translations
    DEBUG: 0.0 obok::config.py – loading translations
    DEBUG: 0.0 obok::action_err.py – loading translations
    Key u’A’ for shortcut Apri la cartella contenente is already used by Aggiungi libri, ignoring
    Started up in 3.24 seconds with 18 books
    Running Obok DeDRM v3.1.1
    Found 5 possible keys to try.
    DEBUG: 19.6 BookListTableWidget:get_books – book_num: 2
    DEBUG: 19.6 BookListTableWidget:get_books – book: Le chevalier de la charrette : Lancelot
    DEBUG: 19.6 InterfacePluginAction::launchObok – number of books to decrypt: 1
    Obok DeDRM v3.1.1 – Decrypting Le chevalier de la charrette : Lancelot
    Trying key: 657f694adb6d9d0dd83325a519f90f61
    Bad XML: ‘?3
    Decryption failed, trying next key.
    Trying key: 5e3d9f0e97c7ad4c6513d823dfd4f2bb
    Bad XML: ????
    Decryption failed, trying next key.
    Trying key: d57e399eaa916f887957f1b55929ddca
    Bad XML: ,??k?
    Decryption failed, trying next key.
    Trying key: 1595ae34bd1e235f4feb4fe2055bd04b
    Bad XML: Y???
    Decryption failed, trying next key.
    Trying key: e35717924f6e30c06270397f95f6873e
    Bad XML: U(?!{
    Decryption failed, trying next key.
    Obok DeDRM v3.1.1 – Couldn’t decrypt Le chevalier de la charrette : Lancelot
    DEBUG: 19.7 DecryptAddProgressDialog::do_book_action – book decryption failed: ‘Le chevalier de la charrette : Lancelot’
    Obok DeDRM v3.1.1 – wrapping up results.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder2 May, 2016

      I am not an expert on this plugin, but I think the problem could be that you are running Windows 10. I see this line in the code:

      Qt: Untested Windows version 10.0 detected!

      I think that might be causing problems. let me go contact an expert.

      Reply
  36. Rosie3 May, 2016

    For those with obok issues, I can confirm that it is working. Have each of you downloaded and installed the latest Alf tools – 6.4.3.

    The tools have included obok for some time now, and obok is updated only when Kobo changes something. At this point in time Kobo hasn’t changed anything. I can confirm that I used the obok tools in Calibre 3 days ago.

    But – once you’ve installed the latest tools you must then unzip the obok tools files so that Calibre can import them.

    It is advisable to post in the apprenticealf blog where you will receive specific advice.
    https://apprenticealf.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/drm-removal-tools-for-ebooks/

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder3 May, 2016

      Thanks for following up!

      Reply
  37. Phil D4 May, 2016

    I don’t know how to get the Calibre error messages, but Obok doesn’t seem to work for me either.

    Using Calibre 2.56 (64bit) on Windows 7, and Obok v3.1.1. I seem to recall having made it work some weeks ago (maybe with a previous version of Calibre), but right now it can’t remove DRMs from any ebook that I have; I happen to have 6 books from the Kobo library, and only one of them is currently DRM-free.

    (I admit this is all still a bit mysterious to me – I’m not very familiar with Calibre yet, and my Kobo is only 2 months old)

    Reply
    1. Rosie4 May, 2016

      Phil, I can confirm that obok is working on kobo books. You will need to download the latest version of the Tools from the apprentice alf site:https://apprenticealf.wordpress.com/

      Don’t forget to unzip the obok files so that Calibre can import them.

      The best place to receive help is on that site. 🙂

      Reply
  38. Phil D4 May, 2016

    Indeed, I updated and it worked! Thanks for the quick and helpful reply! (installing “non-official” plugins to Calibre is a bit unintuitive, but all it took was following the readme)

    Reply
    1. Rosie4 May, 2016

      Phil are you familiar with the Mobileread forum? I can recommend it, and there’s also a Calibre sub forum there where you can also get help.
      http://www.mobileread.com/forums/

      Reply

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