If you’ve ever bought an ebook from Amazon, you’ve likely heard that it comes with Amazon’s proprietary DRM that locks it into the Kindle platform (for more info about DRM see The eBook DRM Guide). The only way to read Amazon’s ebooks on a non-Kindle device or app is to remove the DRM. This may sound difficult at first, but it’s actually a surprisingly simple process.
Basically all that you have to do to remove DRM from Kindle ebooks is install the Kindle for PC program on your computer, along with a free program called Calibre that is an extraordinarily useful tool for managing your ebook library, and a DRM-stripping plugin for Calibre that takes all of about 10 seconds to install.
Once that’s all setup all you have to do is import your Kindle ebooks into Calibre and the plugin will remove the DRM automatically. You can then use Calibre to convert the ebooks into other formats, such to ePub, to read on any non-Kindle ebook reader or reading app.
Note that this guide is for Kindle ebooks only. Refer to this second tutorial for directions on how to remove Adobe DRM from ePub and PDF ebooks.
Disclaimer: Removing DRM is a highly-controversial subject, and is considered illegal in some countries, including the US and Canada. I’ve been hesitant to post how to guides for removing DRM because I do not condone piracy in any shape of form. This guide is intended solely for those that choose to take responsibility for removing DRM from their purchased ebooks in order to have greater control over their purchased content.
Removing Kindle DRM Guide
Please note that these directions are based on using a Windows 7 PC. These same tools will work with other versions of Windows as well as Mac, but the directions may differ slightly from the ones below.
#1. First you need to install Kindle for PC and Calibre onto your computer if you don’t already have them installed.
Note that you don’t have to use the Kindle for PC or Mac programs if you don’t want; you can simply choose the download ebook option from your Amazon account to get the ebooks onto your computer.
#2. Next you need to download the DRM Removal Tools package from over on Apprentice Alf’s Blog. The link is halfway down the page. Make sure to read the note about downloading. And thank Apprentice Alf and friends for making all of this so easy :).
Extract the zip file once it is downloaded. It should be called something like "tools_v5.6.zip". You can check the included ReadMe_First document for additional instructions.
#3. Install the Kindle DRM-Removal plugin into Calibre by opening Calibre and then selecting "Preferences" from the top menu (if the window isn’t all the way open you may have to hit a small arrow on the top right to expand the selection to show Preferences).
From the Preferences window you need to select "Plugins" and then choose "Load plugin from file". Navigate to where you unzipped the DRM removal tools and select the "DeDRM_calibre_plugin" folder and then choose the DeDRM_plugin.zip file inside. Like with all plugins, there’s a security risk dialogue that pops up where you have to click Yes to proceed. After installing the plugin you have to close Calibre and then restart it.
#4. Now all you have to do anytime you want to remove DRM from Kindle ebooks is import them into Calibre using the "Add books" feature. DRM stripping happens automatically upon import, so if you already had the books loaded into Calibre this won’t work unless you delete them and re-import.
But first you are going to need to download the ebooks you want to strip the DRM from using the Kindle for PC program. It depends on the operating system of your computer where the files get stored. On my Windows 7 computer they are located in Documents > My Kindle Content. There are various file types located in this folder; you just need to import the ebook files, which have AZW in the file extension, sometimes TPZ.
That’s all there is to removing DRM from Kindle ebooks! Check out this Calibre Getting Started Guide if you’d like to know more about how Calibre works and how to use it to convert ebooks into other formats and customize layout and formatting.