HOWTO break Kindle book DRM

Most of the Kindle owners I know love their gadgets, but I always wonder how they'll feel about them if they decide to switch devices and can't bring their books -- dozens? hundreds? thousands? -- with them because of Amazon's use of DRM. To Amazon's credit, they now offer some DRM free books and have allowed me (at least) to include text with my titles telling you that I don't expect you to abide by their long, crazy EULA and instead only ask that you respect the copyright law of the country where you bought the book.

In this video, Too Smart Guys show you how to remove the DRM from your Kindle books using Python and Windows. The method looks pretty foolproof, too. Think of it as an insurance policy for your precious books.

How to Remove DRM from Your Kindle Ebooks


  1. The best insurance is still to not involve yourself in their system in the first place.

    Readers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your DRM.

    1. No doubt, travtastic, but by God I love the smell of Python and DRM-cracking in the morning. ;-)

      1. It’s probably the same feeling I’m going to have when I finally get around to rooting a Nook Color.

    2. I wish I could get all my books w/o DRM, but the fact is other ebook libraries are very poorly stocked, and very few goes completely without DRM. It’s GOOD to pay for content, but what I hate is all the legitimate ways to buy things really restricts you on what you *can* buy (e.g., foreign books).

      1. It’s GOOD to pay for a fair price for content, to the person or poeple making it.

        I’m not going to give my money to music labels, or print publishers. Aside from less-than-legal methods, I have purchased DRM-free stuff directly from artists/writers/whatever. I want to support them, not the middle-men of the world

        There’s no way I would pay more for Apple’s music than I would for a physical disc. There’s no way I’d pay the same or more for a Kindle book than the dead-tree version. And I’d most definitely not pay for software when there’s freeware out there to do everything.

        What we’re witnessing right now is a new market trying to find its balance, that is between costs and customers. I fully intend to wait it out.

        1. What travtastic said, plus:

          If you buy a Kindle and agree to TOS that say you won’t un-DRM your purchased books, and then go ahead and crack them wide open, you are still indistinguishable to Amazon from those who buy and are happy to live in the walled garden. You send them the message that their current business model is just dandy.

          Now if you buy a -used- Kindle and download cracked books from TPB, maybe that’s different…..

          1. On a side note for anyone who reads SF: any reputable torrent site will have more SF books available than you could ever read in a lifetime. And since many of the authors are deceased, you won’t feel bad about not paying $14.99 per title!

        2. What travtastic said, plus:

          If you buy a Kindle and agree to TOS that say you won’t un-DRM your purchased books, and then go ahead and crack them wide open, you are still indistinguishable to Amazon from those who buy and are happy to live in the walled garden. You send them the message that their current business model is just dandy.

          Now if you buy a -used- Kindle and download cracked books from TPB, maybe that’s different…..

  2. Cory, is there any legal impediment (real or imagined) that you can see preventing anyone from wrapping this up in an exe and making that available instead?

    1. You bet. But not more illegal than supplying the original scripts. The cabbages guy is probably very much in violation of the DMCA and thus keeps a relatively low profile, the video guys are basking in the glory of his work, and Cory dares Amazon in a pretty big way by educating the public at large.

      We are witnessing a fight between society’s interests (free exchange of ideas) and publishers’ interests (control of the value chain) (see Lessig for detailed arguments). Cory, as always, is taking a bold stance in the fight…

  3. I have tried this method to read an Amazon book on my non-kindle reader and it works but it is very cumbersome.(and you need the right version of kindle for PC) Still waiting for a Calibre plugin that does this transparently. Luckily Amazon DRM is even more thoroughly broken. EPUBs can be liberated with two clicks.

      1. Any definitive tips on how to accomplish this? DRM is the single thing that prevents me from buying more books, safe those of Oreilley and BAEN at the moment.

        And I’m thoroughly confused about the matter. On the one hand I think that the honest customers will buy the books, on the other I see people bitch about 79 Cents in the AppStore.

  4. Cool, the Kindle now meets my minimal criteria for purchase – broken DRM. I buy my books, but I refuse to be locked in. I’ve been down that path before and I own a few hundred dollars worth of books that are only readable on a years-old abandoned piece of software on a platform I don’t own anymore – IE they’re useless and unreadable. Not interested in doing that again.

    I have owned a Sony reader for about 3 years now, when I bought it I only bought from Baen because they were the only place that sold unDRMed stuff (and I downloaded PD stuff too). When I Heart Cabbages published the epub crack, I was able to start buying from other sources (though I still prefer to give my money to places that don’t use DRM in the first place).

    So when I buy a book these days, it doesn’t even go onto my device before I break the DRM. In fact my reader isn’t even registered on my account, that way if it loads I know I did it right.

    1. I always resent the people who don’t make the distinction between the content companies that demand DRM, and the electronics companies who have little choice but to comply. I dislike the content companies’s demands for DRM (but given how their job is to maximize their shares’ worth, I can understand why they do it: The nerds who mind DRM are far less numerous than the people who buy things multiple times because they see no way around the DRM). But I sympathize with the electronics companies who must compromise their customers’ enjoyment, for the sake of being allowed to display content. Yes, sometimes an electronics company creates DRM to keep people tied to its line of devices, but if that were the predominant motivation, then the DRM wouldn’t restrict the file to “only 5 computers” or whatever; it would only be restricted to “any device we make”.

      About a year ago I got my first iPhone, and I jailbroke it within an hour of opening the box, because I wanted tethering. I started thinking about the tough position that Apple must be in; They know their device would sell better if it were more open, but AT&T must have insisted that Apple do what it can to keep out “bandwidth hog” applications. The bottom line is that the more capable a device is, the more people will buy it, so it’s in the manufacturers’ interests to fight against these imposed limitations.

      That’s when it occurred to me that maybe the electronics companies might not be fighting the DRM cracks as hard as they make it appear. I can imagine Apple and Sony and so on dedicating minimal resources to upgrading their cracked DRM, and sending their lawyers off on wild goose chases… while, somehow sneakily in the background, “leaking” the keys and other info to the anti-DRM hackers. That would be a tricky act to pull off, but it would be the best way to sell as many devices as they can. (But you don’t want the anti-DRM efforts to be so successful that the content providers pull out. Again, a tricky balance).

      traalfaz wrote: Cool, the Kindle now meets my minimal criteria for purchase – broken DRM.

      That’s exactly what I’m talking about. At some level, it is in the manufacturers’ interest to help undermine the DRM. I wonder if any manufacturers covertly do this.

  5. @Pantograph – I doubt Calibre will incorporate it – there’s no real need for the author to do so and it opens him up to legal trouble. I don’t WANT him to incorporate it, because it might lead to Calibre becoming unavailable.

    I Heart Cabbages published a nearly identical epub crack a long time ago and that’s not incorporated into Calibre yet, so I assume he has no intentions of incorporating any cracks into the software.

    1. I think we are mostly in agreement.
      I don’t want him to incorporate it either.
      Because of the risk of legal challenges, it should be implemented as a third party plugin by someone with no connections to the Calibre project.

  6. just wait til you try to get a penguin-bought ebook on to a kindle.. it starts as an .acsm, then you need to install adobe digital edition to download the .epub. next install python and a few other things to run a script which gets the drm key, then another to decrypt the .epub, then install calibre to convert the now drm free epub to .mobi, then send it to the kindle.

    all so that i can read a book i paid for on a device i paid for.

    are you fucking joking.

  7. I tried the fix listed above and there are several issues with it. The one I have is that scripts don’t work with the newest version of kindle for PC. You have to download a specific beta and disconnect from the internet to prevent it from auto-updating.

  8. Has much energy been invested in making an alternate operating system for e-book readers? Sort of like what Rockbox did for iPods and other MP3 players? The closest thing I could find was but it doesn’t look remotely deployment ready.

    The possibilities are intriguing. Read the formats you like, browse websites and download e-books directly to your reader. Unfortunately, you’d probably lose access to Amazon’s book store. On the upside, Amazon’s book store loses access to your reader as well, so they couldn’t delete features and books at their choosing.

  9. On an unrelated note, the fact that Windows doesn’t come with Perl, Python, and Ruby pre-installed makes me question its utility as an operating system. Remind me again how Microsoft stays in business?

  10. Thanks to the Kindle and ADE cracks, I decided to buy a Kindle. I am very happy with the hardware, but would never want to be tied down to only Amazon books. I actually spend quite a bit of money buying Swedish and Norwegian ebooks in epub, which I can know read comfortably on my Kindle. I can even put library books on it. And thanks god to the font hack, which lets me read proper Chinese…

    With all these hacks, everyone is earning money from me. Without them, I would not have bought neither the Kindle, nor the ebooks.

  11. I got a pocket ereader when they were cheap. Then when Ipads dropped the price on all ereaders I grabbed a nook, and just recently a kindle. As I got each new device I passed the old ones around my family. Now my wife has the nook and my son has Sony.

    For those people that are “waiting” to purchase an ereader. Stop.

    I almost never purchase ebooks. Obviously the DRM prevents me from sharing them with the wife and kids readers unless we swap devices around. Which is annoying, especially if we are reading books in the same series.

    So, I usually download ebooks through torrent or filestube. Yes, they can be badly formatted and usually have to be converted (via Calibre). Yes, companies have started uploading “fake” ebooks. Yes, sometimes I simply can’t find the book.

    However, this is the exception not the rule and still better than paying $40 for a book that my entire family wants to read and at the end of all that STILL not owning a actual copy of it.

    So, buy an ereader and read books for free. You want to repay the artists that created them? Buy a hard copy and give it to a friend. Feeling really righteous? Go to a school or library and ask them which books they would like to have and buy some of those.

    Why wait for market forces to allow you to do want is right.

  12. Incredible…after the unmitigated failure of *every* DRM scheme ever used in the history of computing, AND the public’s obvious hatred of DRM, it’s just a trip to Stupidville that companies still try to implement it.

    They spend *truckloads* of money creating complicated DRM methods only to have them broken, one after another. Think of all the cash they could have saved by skipping this pointless crap- it would almost without doubt outweigh the modest amount they (supposedly) gained in sales.

    It’s either the triumph of hope over reason, or the lure of dollars over sensibility. You think by now they’d get it, but nooooooooo.


  13. Is there a hack to get full root and apt-get on the Kindle? I think it runs some kind of Debian. That would be a great tablet computer for traveling.

  14. Now that there is a Pixel Qi display for sale in the Make store, will anyone step up and create an open hardware ebook reader? It doesn’t solve the problem of ebook DRM itself, but it’s one more item taken away from the hands of the corporatists…

  15. For Adobe EPUBs, if you have been removing DRM with a the ineptepub.pyw, you know you sometimes have to unstuff and then use ePub Zip 1.0.2 before on some, but not all files. The whole process can be very tedious.

    It can be made much easer if you have a Mac though. With this Applesctript, deDRM 1.2 (just google it to download) all you due is drag and drop the epub file onto the DeDRM icon, and a few seconds later a working file with the same name except with _dedrmed added. No need to unstuffit, rezip, name file yourself, etc.

    From there it is easy to convert the Epub in Calibre to Mobi and drag directly to Kindle/Documents.

    You can thus get EPUBS you have checked out from a library meant for a Sony Reader on a Kindle with the above steps. I had to follow all of these after my Sony which I had had for quite a while finally died.

    Another tip–Anyone, anywhere can join the Free Library of Philadelphia for $15. They have a great selection of EPUBs and PDFs to check out.

  16. will have to integrate that into my set of support tools for the new kindles in the family. they’re buying the same books (never at a discount like the printed versions..)

    Used to be you finished a book, then someone else read it. I know, strange.

    need to research that rumoured book-loaning feature, but the only info I can find is in a Kindle e-book. someone loan it to me?

    1. 1. You can already share your books in the family, by linking all your Kindles to the same Amazon account (you can still give them different identities and @kindle addresses).

      2. I understand if people want to unDRM their books, if only because they do not want to be locked into Amazon’s hardware forever. It is nice to be able to do lossless conversion between mobipocket and epub (don’t use PDF as suggested in the video: PDF is a one-way street and removes the chance to use different font-sizes and page-formatting).

      3. The book-loaning feature is limited to two weeks, and only permissible for books that have the loaning-bit set by their publishers.

  17. Anon – you always could have put your ePubs on the kindle. Just convert to .mobi with Calibre and you’re done.

  18. I use this so I can buy books on Amazon and read them on my Nook. Amazon is slightly cheaper and has a much better selection. I don’t have any moral compunctions about it. I’m not torrenting the books with the DRM removed or anything like that. I bought the book and I want to read it on the device I choose.

  19. This is the reason I don’t want to buy ebooks from the likes of Amazon and Apple, why do I have to use their hardware to read the books I own? You can download standard epub ebooks from, there’s tons of free books, and you can read them on iPad and iPhone with their excellent reader app, which keeps your bookshelf and bookmarks synchronized between multiple devices. Plus you can read the books you buy on just plain old laptop with Digital Editions.

  20. Maybe next week you can show us how to steal cars … or maybe hold up a post office.
    Do you think we can please get an in-depth tutorial on how else we can stop creative people doing what they do. We’ve busted the music industry, and it’s high time we took on those irritating writers.

    1. Agreed. I lugged 15,000 pages over 1000 miles to study for my exams over the past summer. A lugged another number of pages for casual reading the same distance. I WANT an e-reader and I WANT to buy digital books — but I just can’t do it with this DRM nonsense. I’m part of the market you’re completely missing out on.

    2. Somehow, authors managed to survive during the era of public libraries (which allowed people to read a book and then return it so that someone else could read it) and used book stores (similar concept, except that ownership changed hands).

  21. When I put my book up on Amazon I made sure to hit that “No DRM” button. They made it relatively painless, but in a different publishing engine where I was making it available in PDF as well and the question came up, it was worded in this weird way that said stuff like “Yes I want to make sure that I am paid for my work” or “No DRM, I understand that thousands of people will be able to copy my work without my permission.” Maybe not that bad but it was clearly trying to talk first time authors down the DRM path, and I wasn’t having it.

    No DRM!

  22. I sort of really don’t care about drm on my Kindle ebooks, but that’s because due to things like the 1984 taksies-backsies and volitility of technology, I will probably never buy a book that I’d actually want to keep around in a personal library for eternity in ebook format. I view ebooks as the ideal medium for fluff, beach reads, guilty-pleasure fiction; the sort of thing that clutters up my bookcases and eventually gets donated to the charity shops when I need more room in my bookshelves. To me if a book is the sort of thing I care if I can read in 20 years, then it should be in book form. (of course that makes it pretty embarrassing should anyone ever get the chance to go through my Kindle library as it looks as if I have an extrememly shallow literary life.)

    I sort of wish though that physical books came with a code for an e-version, so I could get the best of both worlds.

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