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So you’ve purchased some Kindle eBooks from the Amazon store, but now you’re wondering “How can I backup or archive my digital content?” “What if I get a new Nook reader for Christmas, will I be able to read my books on it?” “What if Amazon goes out of business or discontinues its eBook service and support; will my paid content be forever lost?”

The answer to all of those questions is to take control of your content out of Amazon’s hands and protect your investment yourself, so you can enjoy your paid content on any medium you choose.

“Isn’t this illegal?” you might ask.

No, it isn’t. It’s your content. You paid for it. Amazon and other sellers try to lock the content they sell to their devices and platforms for obvious business reasons. They prefer to encourage you to buy a Kindle reader rather than a Nook reader. If they can get you buying both devices and content from them it makes for a distinct business advantage and translates well to their bottom line, but they have no legal right to prohibit device independence. They have the legal right to sell their content locked to their devices, but you also have the legal right to use that content on any device you wish. So, it’s up to you to figure out how to liberate your content – and that’s where this post comes in.

There are several methods of achieving this, but because most people like easy, I’m only going to cover the simplest method. This method assumes that you have a computer available and that it’s a Windows-based PC. If you have a Mac or a Linux system, you will have to do some additional web searching.

The Stuff you Need

1.  Kindle for PC – download

2.   Calibre (a FREE eBook management software) – download

3.   Alf’s DRM removal tools (with Calibre plug-in) – download 

Setting up Kindle

1.   First, if you haven’t done so already you will need to download and install Kindle for PC.   After successful installation, run the app, log in to your Amazon account via the app, thus connecting it to your account.

2.   In the App’s main menu click TOOLS/OPTIONS/CONTENT and change the content folder to an easy to find and easy-to-backup location – eg. C:\\Data\Kindle Content.   [FREE TIP:  I put data in sub-folders under a main folder call data, that way when you schedule backups – and you do back up your data, right? – all you have to do is select your data folder and you are 100% confident that all non-system data is securely backed up]

3.   Next, in the Kindle for PC app click “All Items” under LIBRARY in the left navigation column.   This will show you thumbnails of all your digital content in your Amazon account in the main window.  Each item not yet downloaded to your computer will have a down arrow icon over it.  Go through your entire library and right-click on each item and select “Download”.   This will download your entire digital collection to your computer (it will be in the Kindle content folder we just specified previously).

Setting up Calibre

Now it’s time to set up Calibre and the DRM removal tools. Don’t worry once we get the software installed and set up, the rest is automatic. Assuming that you’ve already downloaded the necessary software linked above, go ahead and install Calibre, and go to the folder where you downloaded your DRM tools, right-click on that ZIP file and select “Extract Here”.

Once that is done, we are ready to set up Calibre for easy DRM removal.

1.    Run caliber (when you run Calibre the first time you will want to change your library location to something like C:\\Data\Calibre Library).  The library location is where all your DRM free versions and conversions will be located.

2.    From the Preferences menu select “Change calibre behavior”.  (Do not click “Get plugins to enhance calibre”, that option is reserved for ‘official’ calibre plugins.)

3.    Click on Plugins (under “Advanced”) — it looks like a jigsaw puzzle piece.

4.    Click on the large “Load plugin from file” button

5.    Navigate to the tools folder unzipped in step 2

6.    Open the “DeDRM_calibre_plugin” folder

7.    Select the DeDRM_plugin.zip file in that folder

8.    Click on the “Add” (sometimes “Open”) button.

9.    Click on the “Yes” button in the “Are you sure?” warning dialog that appears. A “Success” dialog will appear, saying that the plug-in has been installed. Click on “OK”.

10. Close Calibre and restart it.

Ready for Hassle-Free Automatic Kindle Freedom

Making your digital content DRM free is as simple as adding Kindle books to your Calibre library.   

1.   Click the down arrow by ADD BOOKS on the main toolbar and select “Add books from a single directory.”

2.   Browse to the Kindle library directory you set up earlier (eg. C:\\Data\Kindle Content).   You will at first see a lot of file with weird names and weird extensions – don’t worry about that.  Drop down the file type selector in the bottom right corner and select only Mobi books (see image below) and now you will only see the actual books (files with either .azw or .mobi extensions).

capture3.  Click on one of your book titles to make that window active, then hit CTRL-A to select all of them, then click OPEN to import them all into Calibre.

Once the import is done, your newly imported files are now DRM free.  You will find them in the library folder you set up (eg. C:\\Data\Calibre Library).   They will still be saved as .azw or .mobi files, but just will not be tied to your Amazon account any longer.   If you want to view them on another device or in another format, click CONVERT BOOKS icon on the main toolbar.  You can convert books individually or in batch mode.  You can convert to ePub, HTML, PDF, Word (RTF), plain text (TXT), or a number of other formats.   One caveat with conversion:  the result may not be formatted as you would expect, so if you convert to Word format, for example, there may be some re-formatting to do on your part to achieve the result you want – but that is to be expected as formatting codes never translate 100% between various software platforms.  However, your digital content is now free to work with and display however you like – and that was the goal, wasn’t it?

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You can download a PDF version of this article here

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