DRM is a common theme in the Internet Age’s story. Like watermarks on currency or microprint on checks, there are many reasons to prevent people from copying things, especially when you remove tangibility.

But sometimes it goes too far. I never bought music off the iTunes store again after I downloaded an album and found it wouldn’t abscond with me to another player. After I bought my first ebook today, I can’t say I’ll readily do it again.

I found an interesting technology book that I wanted to read on Amazon, ready for purchase in Kindle’s format. I own a Nook because it supports open formats (and PDFs), so I started looking around for a compatible version. Barnes & Noble only sold hard copies and the publisher only offered it in iPad format. I thought maybe I can convert it and I found out about a site that does just this. So I bought the book, and was told conversion wasn’t possible due to DRM. Ah, it’s so nice of Amazon to protect me from myself.

  1. So the first step was getting the book out of the cloud. For this I downloaded Kindle for my OS; I was on my work computer so I downloaded the Mac version. If I was at home, I would’ve had to get the Windows version and use wine to get it on Ubuntu.
  2. I found the AZW file for my book in the file system and copied it into a more visible location. It was located in:
    1. Windows: C:\Users\<username>\Documents\My Kindle Content\
    2. Mac: /home/<username>/Library/Application Support/Kindle/My Kindle Content/
  3. After reading a superuser question, I found a DRM removal tool for this exact situation. The standalone app didn’t work for me, so I downloaded calibre (cross-platform, nice!) and installed the DeDRM plugin from the previously downloaded tool, following the README instructions.
  4. Restarted calibre, opened up my book for conversion to ePub, and had a free and open copy in less than a minute.

I don’t believe in an era of innovation and free-flowing information ushered in by overprotective rights owners. From my reality, I’ve already given you my money–and for a mere $5 less than a physical copy, which is outrageous in itself. The least you could do is give me a quality product that will work with my gadget of preference.

So I can’t say I’ll be anxiously looking for my next ebook purchase. But it’s comforting to know that there are always ways to shake off the fetters of myopic companies and their ill-founded mechanics.

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