This post will discuss the Kindle eBook format, and the ability to convert and import the said materials into alternative readers such as Voice Dream Reader, iBooks and other reading software. The software required to complete the subsequent instructions is called Calibre, and you will need an additional extension which I have provided a link to.
This post assumes that you already have an account with Amazon, and you are able to download Kindle eBooks without issue. Also, the instructions provided have been verified to be accessible and work on a MacBook, but I cannot guarantee that the said instructions can be replicated on other operating systems such as Windows.
The following text is for informational purposes only, and if the steps provided are carried out, I would strongly stress that such action is taken for personal use only. I do not condone the removal of DRM from Kindle Books for file sharing distribution, or any other activity which is not considered personal use.
What is a Kindle eBook?
A Kindle eBook is a format of book sold by Amazon, and is accessible to the visually impaired and blind on iOS and Windows in some situations. I have mentioned Amazon’s Kindle in a previous post which focused on academia, but there is an even broader array of books for personal and leisurely reading.
Amazon also sell a range of Kindle Readers which I have very limited knowledge of, but I have read that some offer accessibility features to those who are partially sighted. I believe such features include magnification and text to speech, but I would strongly recommend you verify the accuracy of this information if you were to consider purchasing such a device.
Personally, I use the Kindle application which is available on iOS and is completely accessible. Kindle is also available on Mac and Windows, but the programme is largely inaccessible on the afore mentioned operating systems.
I am aware of an accessibility plug-in which is available for Kindle for Windows, but I believe it is only available to members of certain countries. It is possible there is a way around this, but I am unaware of it as yet.
So am I stuck reading Kindle on my iOS device?
In a completely legitimate sense, yes. Kindle is in a format which will only open in a Kindle reader which is directly associated with Amazon.
However, if you are willing to put in a little extra work, you are not restricted at all. The little extra work involves removing the Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology which is present on Kindle files.
DRM is a technology used to combat piracy of content, and I believe it performs that task rather well. Unfortunately, it can restrict the way in which content is used in some circumstances.
Such restrictions can be inconvenient for those of us who use assistive technology, and are regularly required to open files in different software and/or convert the said files to an alternate format. In such situations, I feel that the removal of the said DRM can be justified as long as it is for personal use only.
Assuming I’m ok with this, what can I do with a DRM free Kindle file?
Bear with me, but the straight answer to this is not a lot. Aside from opening DRM free Kindle files in Kindle Readers which are not authorised with a same account the Kindle File is, your options when opening Kindle files in their original format is pretty limited.
However, there is a solution, As the DRM has been removed from a Kindle file, it is now possible to convert the said file in software such as Calibre.
As conversion is possible, you can choose any format you would like to use. Additionally, as you are able to convert into almost any format you would like, you can open the original Kindle file in almost any programme you would like.
Essentially, you are no longer restricted to reading your Kindle content on the Kindle iOS reading application. For example, you can open a Kindle book in Voice Dream Reader or iBooks when you have converted the file into a compatible file format.
Ok I’m sold, how do I remove DRM and Convert a Kindle file?
I thought you’d never ask. You will need 3 pieces of free software to complete the entire process. Again, I am assuming you already have an Amazon account, and have no issues downloading Kindle Content.
The free software you will need is as follows:
- Kindle for Mac.
- Calibre eBook Manager.
- DRM Removal Extension.
All the afore mentioned software can be downloaded from the internet, and I have provided links in the subsequent steps.
1. Installing and Signing into Kindle for Mac:
You need to get the original Kindle file on your Mac or PC before you can carry out the conversion, and this can only be done by using Kindle for Mac. The below steps should enable you to install Kindle for Mac, sign into the programme and locate your Kindle content.
- Kindle for Mac is unfortunately inaccessible, but it is essential to gain access to the Kindle files.
- Download and install the Kindle for Mac application from amazon at this link.
- After installation, when you open the Kindle for Mac application, there is a login form present on the screen even though it is not announced by VoiceOver.
- By default, your cursor should be placed in the username/email field of the login form. So you should be able to type your username/email without any voiced feedback, and press the Tab key to move to the password field.
- After typing your password without hearing any voice feedback, press enter, and you should be logged into the Kindle for Mac application, You may hear VoiceOver announce Toolbar and Unknown, and unfortunately that is all that will be announced.
- Once you have logged in, your Kindle content will be downloaded to your Mac, and you will need to find the said content. You can also press Command + R to synchronise the content on your Mac and the content which is in your Kindle Library.
- The folder you need to find on your Mac is called My Kindle Content, and it is located within the system/library directory by default. However, it is possible to change the location of My Kindle Content in the preferences of the Kindle for Mac application, and this can be accessed with Command + Comma.
- When you are purchasing a Kindle eBook, or downloading a sample, it is necessary to select Kindle for Mac from the available devices from the delivery destination option.
- Once the above steps are complete, you have successfully setup Kindle for Mac.
- When you first login to Kindle for Mac your books may not be downloaded automatically, and you may have to choose Sync and Check for New Items in the Tools menu, and the shortcut is Command + R.
- When purchasing Kindle content from Amazon you should choose Kindle for Mac from the available list of devices you can deliver your content to.
The above is a long process, but it need only be completed once. When completed, all that you need to do is open Kindle for Mac, press Command + R, and open Calibre and carryout the conversion as described below.
2. Installing Calibre on Mac:
You can download Calibre from this link, if you want to continue with the conversion and DRM removal process.
If you have difficulty installing Calibre, please get in touch.
3. Downloading and Installing the Required Extension:
The extension required to remove DRM from Kindle Content is called De DRM and is in a folder called Tools_v6. You can download De DRM from this link.
Once downloaded, follow the below steps to install the above extension into Calibre.
- Open Calibre.
- Open Calibre’s Preferences with Command + Comma.
- Navigate to the button labelled “Add/Remove/Customise various bits of Calibre functionality”, under the Advanced heading.
- In the window that opens, navigate to the “Load Plugin from File” button at the end of the window.
- Find the downloaded file, select the Mac plugin, ignore the warning and follow any other instructions.
- Once completed, you have installed the required extension.
If you have issues, please get in touch.
4. Converting a Kindle eBook:
When you have installed Kindle for Mac, Calibre and the extension, you are all set to convert a Kindle eBook. To complete the conversion, follow the below steps.
- Open Calibre from your Applications Folder or wherever the application is located on your Mac.
- Use FN + CTRL + OPTION + Home to jump to the top of the window, or navigate the normal way you would.
- Select the first button which is “Add books to the Calibre library/device from files on your computer”.
- In the window that opens, find the location of your eBooks and select them to add them to the library. This will be the location of your My Kindle Content folder, which you should have changed in previous steps.
- After you have added an eBook to Calibre, select the 3rd button present from the top of the window which is “Convert books between different eBook formats”.
- The new window that opens will default to converting the book you have just added to the Calibre library. The input format will have been determined by Calibre, but you need to specify the output format which you would like.
- Beside the actual text of output format there is a pop up button which contains the format choices, but after selecting this pop up menu it seems that nothing happens from a VoiceOver point of view.
- You need to open the window chooser with FN + CTRL + OPTION + F2 or CTRL + OPTION + F2 depending on your keyboard settings.
- In the window chooser menu, you need to choose the option which states the current output format. On my machine this was EPUB, and it was the second option available.
- You should then be presented with a list of formats to choose from, and the normal select command CTRL + OPTION + Space Bar should bring you back to the previous window.
- Lastly, you navigate to the end of the window and select ok, and after the conversion is complete you are done.
- When finding your Kindle books in Calibre, you will here a letter and a series of numbers in the My Kindle Content instead of a book title and author. The numbers and letters correspond with the URL of the book on the Amazon Kindle store.
- Each time you purchase a Kindle book, you will need to open the Kindle for Mac application and Sync your content with Command R before you can convert your content in Calibre.
- I normally use the Date Modified section of the finder as a guide for the kindle book I am looking for. For instance, the book with the most up-to-date time and date is normally the book I want to convert.
- Remember, you are looking for the Kindle file, which has a .azw file extension or something similar.
- When you click ok, you should here something like, Calibre notifier, book 1 of 1 is being converted.
- There is no feedback while the conversion is taking place, and the entire conversion normally takes a minute or a little longer.
- All Calibre books are saved in the Calibre folder, mine is located in documents. I’m pretty sure this can be changed in the Calibre preferences.
- I have found it helpful to place the converted file into Dropbox. This is the quickest way of getting the converted file on to your iOS device, if you are using iOS that is.
The Bottom Line:
If the above seems drawn out, trust me after one or two conversions it becomes a quick and easy process.
Once you have the necessary software downloaded an installed, a standard conversion consists of the final 10 to 11 steps.
Remember, I am only sharing this information for your own personal use, and I do not condone the removal of DRM technology for distribution on file sharing sites etc.
I hope the above is of interest to you, and do not hesitate to get in contact with me to ask any further questions.