Calibre DRM removal plugins for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, PDF, EPUB and other ebooks

November 15, 2012

DRM (Digital rights management) is a technology for access control that is used by ebook publishers and inhibits uses of ebooks that were not desired or foreseen by the content provider. When you buy an e-book with DRM you don't really own it but just have a permission to use it in a manner dictated to you by the seller. DRM limits what you can do with e-books you have "bought". Often people who buy books with DRM are unaware of the extent of these restrictions. These restrictions prevent you from reformating the e-book to your liking, including making stylistic changes like adjusting the font sizes, although there is software that empowers you to do such things for non DRM books. People are often surprised that an e-book they have bought in a particular format cannot be converted to another format if the e-book has DRM. So if you have an Amazon Kindle and buy a EPUB book sold by Barnes and Nobles, you should know that if that e-book has DRM you will not be able to read it on your Kindle.

That's why Calibre developers don't like DRM. They say: if Calibre were to support opening or viewing DRM files it could be trivially modified to be used as a tool for DRM removal which is illegal under today's laws. Open source software and DRM are a clash of principles. While DRM is all about controlling the user open source software is about empowering the user. The two simply can not coexist.

So, Calibre community is creating Open Books - the online database of DRM-free e-books from various sources to help you find DRM-free alternatives and to help independent authors and publishers of DRM-free e-books publicize their content.

Calibre developers ask you not to buy e-books with DRM. There are some publishers who publish DRM-free e-books. Make an effort to see if they carry the e-book you are looking for. If you like books by certain independent authors that sell DRM-free e-books and you can afford it make donations to them. This is money well spent as their e-books tend to be cheaper (there may be exceptions) than the ones you would buy from publishers of DRMed books and would probably work on all devices you own in the future saving you the cost of buying the e-book again. Do not discourage publishers and authors of DRM-free e-books by pirating their content. Content providers deserve compensation for their efforts. Do not punish them for trying to make your reading experience better by making available DRM-free e-books. In the long run this is detrimental to you.

If you have bought books from sellers that carry both DRMed as well as DRM-free books, not knowing if they carry DRM or not make it a point to leave a comment or review on the website informing future buyers of its DRM status. Many sellers do not think it important to clearly indicate to their buyers if an e-book carries DRM or not.
Here you will find a Guide to DRM-free living.

Calibre DRM removal plugins

The Open Books database is not the only way Calibre fights DRM. The second way (not authorized and not supported by the developers) - is DRM removal plugins. Calibre is an open-source and modular software, so it allows third party developers to create plugins. And there are some (unofficial) plugins that allow to remove DRM from ebooks, published by Amazon (Kindle), B&N (Nook) and other publishers.

Calibre DRM removal plugin for Kindle

Basically all that you have to do to remove DRM from Kindle ebooks is install the Kindle for PC software on your computer, along with Calibre. Then install Apprentice Alf’s DRM-stripping plugin for Calibre that takes all of about 10 seconds. 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. There are various file types located in the Kindle Desktop folder. You just need to import the ebook files, which have AZW in the file extension, sometimes TPZ. Note that for .azw3 Kindle ebooks you might need to check a checkbox in calibre’s preferences to say that .azw3 ebooks should be viewed using calibre’s internal viewer.

Calibre DRM removal plugin for Nook

To remove DRM from Nook ebooks you need to download and install EPUB DRM Removal Plugin called ignobleepub.  Once The plugin has been installed to Calibre, you can easily add a drm ebook to calibre and the plugin will strip the drm automatically. Then you would be able to convert nook books to any other file format.

Calibre DRM removal plugin for Kobo, EPUB and PDF

Most DRM-protected ebooks in PDF and EPUB format use Adobe Digital Editions DRM (this includes ePubs from Kobo and Sony that are downloaded for Adobe Digital Editions). The simplest option for removing DRM from most ebooks - is DeDRM plugin for calibre. This plugin can also remove DRM from Kindle eBooks (but not rented Kindle ebooks, books download to a Kindle Fire or Fire HD, Kindle for Android, Kindle for iOS or the Windows 8 AppStore Kindle App), Barnes & Noble ePub ebooks, any ebooks using Adobe Digital Editions DRM (this includes ePubs from Kobo and Sony that are downloaded for Adobe Digital Editions), and the older Mobipocket and eReader ebooks. The use of this plugin is the same as of described above: you install it to Calibre and then just add books to your library.

Disclaimer: Removing DRM is considered illegal in some countries, including the US and Canada. This guide is intended solely for those that choose to take responsibility for removing DRM from the purchased ebooks in order to have greater control over their purchased content. All links to the DRM removal plugins are deleted.

See also: Top 5 Calibre alternatives
efk | 15.11.12 | #
Thanks for the review! After getting a Sony Reader last year, I’ve only been able to read my kindle books through the kindle app, which isn’t as convenient. I’ve had plug-in DRM strippers for calibre for a while, but only for the Barnes & Nobles store and kobo store. This brings my whole kindle library onto my Sony again.
Sara | 16.11.12 | #
I’ve been using Calibre and Apprentice Alf’s plugins in this very way ever since I got my Sony 2 years ago. It works great and I use it only for books I own personally. I would never strip DRM on library books or acquire them from someone else. Amazon definitely has the largest number of ebooks, so if I can’t find something I want already in epub format this is a perfect solution.
Alan | 17.11.12 | #
Are you sure that Calibre is safe? I read somewhere online that it has a virus. I just want to make sure that I’m not putting something bad onto my computer.
mitch | 03.03.14 | #
It's safe once you get through the dl's a bunch of viruses bundled in with it....
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