How to Read EPUB on Kindle, Even eBooks With Adobe DRM

Kindle 3

Ask just about any Kindle owner if the Kindle supports EPUB or Adobe DRM and most will emphatically state, “No, the Kindle does not support EPUB. Never has, probably never will”.

But the truth of the matter is that’s not completely true. Technically the Kindle can display EPUB ebooks in their native format, even Adobe DRM EPUBs.

All you Kindle owners are thinking right now, “That’s just nonsense, Nathan. You’re out of your gourd. You can convert DRM free EPUB to MOBI with Calibre easily enough, but the Kindle does not support EPUB ebooks.”

Oh, but it does. Not great. Not with the Kindle reading application. But the Kindle can display EPUB ebooks for online viewing using the web browser. Log into your Google account and you can even read purchased Adobe DRM’d EPUBs from the new Google ebookstore.

The reading experience with Google’s ebooks isn’t particularly pleasant, however. And may not work with the Kindle DX and earlier Kindles that have the old web browser; I’ve only tested it with the Kindle 3’s new upgraded web browser. Here’s a look at a screenshot of a Google ebook on the Kindle 3.

Google ebooks Kindle

Ibis Reader

Google isn’t the only option. There are other web-based EPUB applications too. Ibis Reader is another choice for reading DRM free EPUBs on the Kindle.

To use Ibis Reader you need to setup an account with an email address and password. It’s easiest to do this with your computer and then go ahead and add some ebooks to your bookshelf.

Once you’re setup and ready to read, launch the Kindle’s web browser, go to the Ibis Reader website, login to your account, and choose one of your ebooks.

You can adjust the settings to increase the font size and fit the text layout to the screen by hitting “no distractions”. The page-turn buttons advance the page. It does take some time getting used to but works fairly well. It looks a little something like this…

Kindle 3 Ibis Reader

Another option for reading DRM free EPUB’s on a Kindle is is a new cloud-based ereading platform just getting started. Like with the Ibis Reader, you can upload DRM free EPUBs to your virtual bookshelf to read online from a Kindle 3, PCs, Macs, iDevices, and pretty much anything else with a modern web browser. There’s also offline mode but that doesn’t work on the Kindle.

I haven’t tried personally but was able to find this video of it in action on the Kindle 3.

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37 Responses to “How to Read EPUB on Kindle, Even eBooks With Adobe DRM”

  1. Just went and tried Bookish on my desktop computer and received an error message during the upload process, so it doesn’t appear quite ready for primetime.

    I am hoping IBIS Reader adds folder creation at some point for organizing books and improves on the way it displays multi-level TOC. I would also like to see a separate frame for the TOC which can be scrolled independent of the content.

  2. I’m wondering if it’ll work without an internet connection once you’ve opened it up. doesnt seem likely but neat idea none the less.

  3. “I’m wondering if it’ll work without an internet connection once you’ve opened it up”

    I think I read a Kindle reader on the IBIS forum say they could not read offline.

  4. Well I went back into Bookish an hour later and lo and behold the cover of my book was on the bookshelf and I was able to open it. I am quite impressed with their online reader. It is interesting to see how IBIS and Bookish does things differently. IBIS Reader will display on one web page the entire contents of the underlying html file while Bookish paginates the book similar to the way your typical eReader does. Bookish also has a table contents that pops up when you click on a page, which can then be scrolled independently of the book contents. This is superior to the way IBIS does it, which displays the TOC adjacent to the contents and disappears as you scroll down the page.

    The one thing I like about IBIS is it approach allows you to use the entire screen of your monitor while Bookish’s approach uses approximately the middle third of your screen. I find it useful to go to full screen mode in my browser with Bookish.

    Anyway, I still need to see about Bookish’s offline reading capabilities versus IBIS, but as it stands now I think I prefer Bookish.

  5. Okay last comment on Bookish versus IBIS.

    Bookish has a nighttime reading mode whereas IBIS doesn’t.

    Bookish forces the download of the book onto your device including your desktop computer if the browser is compatible with their App–Generally this means the browser must support HTML 5.0, I believe. Chrome desktop browser currently supports html 5.0 it while FireFox desktop doesn’t. The current version of Safari for Android supports it while Dolphin doesn’t.

    IBIS reader only forces the book to download locally if you go to their “mobile” web site address However, if you go to you are doing online viewing only. One advantage of online viewing with your mobile device at IBIS is you can take advantage of pinch to zoom to adjust font size. I can’t do pinch to zoom with Bookish in any circumstance.

    Finally, when using my Android tablet, I find that with Bookish, I am unable to highlight and select text adequately. This is because when you try to do it, the screen immediately detects your finger touch as a desire to see the table of contents. With IBIS, it is much easier to select text since there is no pop-up TOC.

  6. Good idea but tough on battery life

  7. Nathan, are you saying this will work with Overdrive books from libraries, which also use DRM?

  8. Correction: There is an option that allows you to choose whether you want to “cache” the book locally or not.

  9. With Bookish that is.

  10. I have ordered a Kindle3 3G for my Mom expected arrival about Feb 14th-ish. She has gone down to her local Public Library in upstate NY and the librarian strted to dish on the evils of the Amazon/Kindle propriotary ereader format and not being able to use the epub that her Nook does and this is the format that the Library uses to dispense ebooks.
    Okay, this site has been quite helpful with the dizzying aray of options. Thank you.
    Here’s the deal. Mom DOES have a Toshiba notebook, WiFi capapble, she uses it all of the time in the Library so the kids don’t breath down her neck to use the Library’s systems. So… correct me if I’ve got this wrong … she downloads something akin to Calibre onto her PC notebook. She WiFis a Library book onto her notebook and converts the epub format into one that is compatible with the Kindle3, then uses a mini usb cable to “Drag & Drop” the new books icon onto the Kindle’s icon and she’s ready to go. Is this too simplistic…she’s almost 76 so the less techie flaming hoops she needs to jump through… the better.
    Also…. a side note question here… there is a service fee for downloading an ebook from Amazon via the 3G… but no charge if you do it via the WiFi? ( Buy it via WiFi, it is saved to your new email address given by Amazon upon purchase of the Kindle, then down load from that email address, again via WiFi) Is this right? I understoof that the 3G was free of charges, monthly fees, etc, Amazon picked this up… I believe it’s AT&T… They obviously would appreciate a little bandwidth usage… on their dime… as possible. Well… this should be fun!

    • There’s no way to get library ebooks onto a Kindle without removing the DRM. That’s about the only thing it does not have. The library ebooks would work on the Toshiba notebook, however, with Adobe Digital Editions. No delivery charge for ebook delivery, just document delivery over 3G (if you email yourself a PDF to the Kindle, for instance). You can set the delivery charge to $0 on the “Manage Your Kindle” page to keep from accidentally receiving the delivery over 3G since it is free over WiFi. I email DRM free ebooks to my Kindle all the time using WiFi; it’s a lot easier than messing with the USB cable.

  11. I’m wondering if the Kindle will allow me to read ebooks that I’ve already purchased while I’m away from an internet connection (i,e riding in a car or at the park).

  12. Thanks Nathan,

    “The library ebooks would work on the Toshiba notebook, however, with Adobe Digital Editions.

    I email DRM free ebooks to my Kindle all the time using WiFi; it’s a lot easier than messing with the USB cable.”

    Okay, so if I’ve got this right….

    You would WiFi the ePub library book, at the library, to the toshiba notebook, which has Adobe Digital Editions application on board, (is this freeware? Downloadable online, price?), You would then email this ebook ( have you changed the formating from ePub to a Kindle compatible format via the Adobe Digital Editions? Or, is this just to let you get the ePub onboard the PC-notebook, then you would use Calibre to convert the format…THEN email it to the Kindle email adress given to you by Amazon when you purchase the unit…THEN down load the now converted ePub ebook to your Kindle from the Amazon email address?)

    I’m sure once something like this becomes repetitive, it’ll be easier… I just want to know if I’ve got the right steps in the right order.

    Thanks again.

  13. Okay…. I wouldn’t want to break the law, and especially my Mom… she wouldn’t look good in a bright orange jumpsuit.

    • Eh . . . it’s more of a gray area. A lot of people remove the DRM from their purchased ebooks. As long as it’s for personal use. There are instances in fact where it is legal, but doing so with library ebooks is a different story.

  14. I hear you Nathan, I’ve been exhaustively noodling around the Internet for articles about the Kindle, MOBI vs ePub, DRMs…. both from Amazon and embedded on ePub Library editions, Calibre, e-book converter ( this is where it gets sketchy )mobipocket-to-kindle-format-converter … Geez Nathan… I’m not trying to make Moonshine here… I’m just trying to allow my Mom to read a Library book, electronically, on her soon-to-come Kindle 3-3G, that she would otherwise be able to do effortlessly….and LEGALLY with just about every other ereader out there… aw, come on! Bezos!!!!
    Anyway, I think I get it. either ( shhhhhhh ) fiddle with the DRM but don’t tell anybody… download it to the notebook and read it there…. why bother owning an ereader, besides the battery life is like 4 hours tops and it turns into a baked potato in your hand/lap… or…as I believe I’m just figuring out… read it via Google documents, or Ibis et al, using the 3G ( Amazon… are you listening? Your free 3G network that you are paying for will be hogged by people reading subpar font documents on sites like Google when they COULD have been reading it natively on their Kindle??!!) I hope this spitting contest is reversed soon and everybody can just “get along”.

    Thanks again for your time and patience Nathan. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has scratched their head in dismay about this.

    So, in conclusion: It is the DRM that is the bugaboo here with the Kindle… not so much the ePub. Okay, thanks again.

    • Yep, you’ve nailed it on the head. DRM is the bugaboo so to speak because EPUB converts to MOBI very nicely with Calibre and vice-versa. Sometimes I remove the DRM from EPUBs I’ve purchased when the formatting is horrible. I hate huge margins and wide line spacing so by removing the DRM I can change it to whatever with Calibre. Kindle’s books are usually better on the formatting front, although not perfect. Another thing with the Kindle I forgot to mention is that they just added ebook lending. This doesn’t work for all ebooks because publishers determine if the feature is available or not. There are new websites setup for borrowing the lendable ebooks with the Kindle.

  15. Thanks again.

    This article is from August 2010. It discusses the issue of ePub and Library use…also self publication is often in ePub.
    While scrolling through the comments at the bottom I found something interesting. Some contributors said that their particular Public Libraries are using Overdrive to lend out ebooks… which are only available for 2 weeks and can’t be renewed…huh?… have some books in MOBI format.
    So, my question, if your library has some ebooks available in MOBI format can you view them on a Kindle? Does this mean that ALL library ebooks are not off limits for Kindle users?

  16. *** sigh ***

  17. How do you fiddle with a DRM?
    I have purchased a few books but I cannot get them on my new Kindle!!!
    I have paid for the books previously and the kindle is mine, so should I be able to read them on my kindle if I fidle with the DRM????

    • Run a Google search for remove Adobe DRM and you’ll find the answers you seek (assuming it’s an Adobe ebook if it won’t work on a Kindle). Don’t pay for any software; that’s not needed.

  18. I am struggling to find a free software programme!
    Help please???

  19. Quick question guys, id be most grateful for your input. I have a large collection of ebooks on my desktop. I can never find the time to read them at home, but with an on the go ebook reader it would be brilliant. Can I Upload these PDF files to an ebook reader without it affecting the reading experience or can i only purchase the ebooks online? Thanks in advance


  20. Can I just say the whole thing (once I decipher what is being said) really sucks? I have a nook and a kindle. After much research I bought the nook partly because of the issues discussed above. However, I didnt really seem to be enjoying it. I had downloaded the Kindle app to my laptop and found myself using that more than my Nook. My husband got my a Kindle for Christmas and it is a constant companion. I love it for so many reasons. It was never quite clear in my mind why library and epub stuff would download to just about anything but Kindle. So, its basically Amazon’s “fault”? Not sure I understand why they would be that way. And yet, if I understand correctly, Kindle way outsells Nook. But, oh well. I live in a rural area and I don’t miss much by not being able to download ebooks from the library here. Maybe some day they will all get along? yeah, right!

  21. Don’t get a Kindle if you want multiple reading formats support!! You won’t get it! This is on purpose and will not change until you see the demise of Kindle/Amazon. In EPUB book format, for example, you can read millions of books for free.

    Firefox supports HTML 5.

    PDF on Kindle = not a good reading experience.

    Kindle is not worth bothering if you plan to read anything else but their proprietary reading format. And you pay them for a book that you do not even own!!

    For the guys using Calibre and similar software to constantly convert books – good luck! I do not like wasting my time, especially when the end result most of the time is far from perfect!

  22. I using converter from this site for convert epub to mobi, works good.

  23. I brought a Kindle 3 in Germany because to read ebooks in DRM free(ed) epub,chm, and html-books with the FBReader on the Kindle,- This reading app got the lovely feature to enable Soft-Hyphenation,- put the Fonts u like to the corresponding folder to use it,- free margin adjustment, to use the choosen font instead of a possible CSS-includes epub. The Kindle-Implementation of the FBReader i like is called FBKindle.

    To switch back and forth between FBReader(FBKindle) and the Original Kindle View is very smootly with the key-combination ALT and SHIFT, because if u once startet FBKindle it will keeping in the background activ.

    OK u need a jailbreak and u may harm ur warranty, but the effort is worth it! (There is a uninstall of the jailbreak, but never used it, because the benefit is to enjoy a perfect epub reading experience with perfect justified text) just for 139(WiFi) $/€

    The keyword u should looking forward to would be:
    FBKindle, mobilread

  24. correct the keyword: FBKindle, mobileread

  25. Here is another guide of how to read Adobe DRM epub ebooks on Kindle.

  26. “Technically the Kindle can display EPUB ebooks in their native format, even Adobe DRM EPUBs.”

    This is not true. The Kindle is not displaying the EPUB. The Kindle is displaying HTML that Ibis Reader generates from the EPUB file. You are trying to be tricky, but you are wrong. The Kindle most definitely cannot display EPUB files. That’s why you have to use Ibis Reader in the first place, it has to generate a file that the Kindle can display (HTML).