DRM: What it is and why you should care about it.
DRM is used by publishers to restrict what you can do with your ebooks. DRM controls which devices you can use to read your ebook, and stops you converting your ebooks from one format to another.
DRM makes buying and using ebooks harder. When you first start using ebooks, you might not notice the restrictions very much. But the restrictions are there.
There are several different DRM schemes. Ebooks with one DRM scheme can’t be read on a device that uses a different DRM scheme. Some DRM schemes limit ebooks to one device only, so if you want to read that ebook on a different device, it’s necessary to download the ebook again. Others require new devices to be authorised by a cerntral server on the Internet.
When you want to use a different ebook reader, or if the supplier stops supporting the ebooks you’ve bought, you may lose access to your DRMed ebooks.
So to be able to read your ebooks on all the devices you have now, and to be sure that you will still be able to read your ebooks in the future, you will want to remove the DRM.
Ethics of DRM Removal
It shouldn’t really be necessary to say this, but just to be clear: none of the developers and maintainers of these tools or this site are in favour of ebooks being ‘pirated’. We expect people to use these tools only to gain full access to ebooks they have bought themselves. Dedrmed ebooks should not be uploaded to open servers, torrents, or other methods of mass distribution. No help will be given to people doing such things, and no links to such books should be posted here. Authors, Publishers and Ebook retailers all need to earn money to be able to carry on making great ebooks available.
The simplest option for removing DRM
(At least, simplest for Windows and Linux users. Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6 users might find the AppleScript solution easier (see below), if they don’t already use calibre.)
0. You must already be able read your ebooks, either on your computer or on your ebook reader. (Kindle, nook, etc.) If you cannot read your ebooks on your computer or on your ebook reader, you won’t be able to remove the DRM. Contact your ebook retailer and sort out any problems reading your ebooks before trying to remove the DRM.
1. Download and install calibre for your Operating System.
2. Download the latest combined tools package, and unzip it. (On Windows, right-click and “Extract All…”)
3. Run calibre. Click Preferences. Click Plug-ins.
4. Click on the large “Add a new plugin” button
5. Navigate to the tools folder unzipped in step 2
6. Open the Calibre_Plugins folder
7. Select one of the zip files in that folder
8. Click on Add
9. Click on the “Yes” button in the warning dialog that appears. A Confirmation dialog appears that the plug-in has been installed.
10. Repeat steps 4 to 9 for every zip file in the Calibre_Plugins folder (five at present).
11. You must now configure the plugins. Which plugins need configuring, and the information you need to enter depends on what kind of ebooks you have. If your ebooks don’t match the description at the start of any of the following items, ignore it and move on to the next.
To configure a plugin, you must find it in the list of plugins. All the DRM removal plugins are in the File type plugins section of the Plugins section of the calibre prefereces. Click on the plugin in the list to select it, and then click on the Customize plugin button. In the dialog that then pops up, enter the required information, detailed below.
a. If you have Mobipocket ebooks, where you either entered a PID on the retailer’s web site, or you must read them in Mobipocket Reader, you must enter the PID you entered on the retailer’s web site, or the PID of your installation of Mobipocket Reader into the customisation field of the K4MobiDeDRM plugin. The PID will be ten numbers and letters, with * or $ as the eighth character. If you have more than one PID, enter them separated by commas,
b. If you have Amazon Kindle ebooks that were downloaded to your Kindle, you must enter your Kindle’s serial number into the customisation field of the K4MobiDeDRM plugin. If you have already entered a PID there, add the Kindle serial number as well, separating it from the PID with a comma.
c. If you have Amazon Kindle ebooks that were downloaded to the copy of Kindle for Mac or Kindle for PC that was installed on this computer, you do not need to add anything extra into the customisation fields.
d. If you have ePub ebooks that can be read in Adobe Digital Editions, you do not need to add anything extra into the customisation fields.
e. If you have PDF ebooks that can be read in Adobe Digital Editions, you do not need to add anything extra into the customisation fields.
f. If you have ePub ebooks from Barnes and Noble (e.g. for nook), you must enter your name and full credit card number into the customisation field of the Ignoble Epub DeDRM plugin. The name and credit card number should be the ones set as part of the Credit Card unlock code on your Nook Library page. Separate the name from the number with a comma and do not put any spaces in the card number or around the comma.
g. If you have eReader ebooks from Barnes and Noble, or from, say, Fictionwise, your must enter your name and the last 8 digits of your credit card number into the customisation field of the eReader PDB 2 PML plugin. Again, the name and credit card number must be the ones entered at your ebook retailer’s website as the DRM key/Unlock code.
h. If you have ebooks bought at the Apple iBooks store, it is not currently possible to remove the DRM.
i. If you have Microsoft LIT ebooks, there is no Calibre plugin that can remove the DRM.
12. Now click on the Apply button, and then close the preferences.
You’re now ready to remove the DRM from your ebooks. Just import them into calibre, and the DRM will be removed. The plugins ONLY remove the DRM when the ebooks are imported. If you have already imported your ebooks into calibre, your will need to remove them and import them again.
Converting to other formats
Calibre will convert your ebooks for you, once they have had the DRM removed.
Other Ways to Remove DRM
Other tools for removing DRM are addressed in other posts in this blog.
Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6 users who don’t want to use calibre should use the DeDRM AppleScript, as described in my post, DeDRM AppleScript for Mac OS X 10.5, 10.6.
Mac OS X 10.4 and below users will need to install at least Python 2.5, and possibly OpenSSL as well, and then use the stand-alone tools. I do not currently have detailed instructions for Mac OS X 10.4 and below.
Windows users who don’t want to use calibre will need to install Python and PyCrypto and use the stand-alone tools, as described in my post, Windows, Python, Ebooks and DRM.
Linux users are sure to be able to work things out for themselves from the Read Me files included in the large tools archive.