Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Protecting Your Ebook Library

Bookplate created for Malcolm Ferguson by WWII German POW.
So, way back in October, I posted about DRM, what it is, what it does, and why it's a problem. So today, I want to give you some options to protect that precious library. Now, I have to be honest about a couple of things here: 1. There really aren't many options and 2. Doing this *can* fall into a legal gray area or may even be *illegal* depending on where you live.

Now, you could try to protect your library the Medieval way, by placing a curse on anyone who would dare take your precious books from you. But clearly, even back then, curses didn't quite work as is evidenced by the chained libraries of the times (some of these are still in existence today!)

The other option is to use technology to your advantage to create a non-DRMed copy of the book. As I've already stated, removing DRM (and even making a copy of the book file) falls into a very gray legal area in most countries and is outright illegal in many others. So, it is up to you to decide if it is legal where you are and if it is not, if you believe it is worth the risk.

There is, at this time, only one effective method to removing DRM. That is with the calibre Ebook Management software and a certain addon for that software that will remove the DRM (which addon depends on the DRM used on the original file.)

Calibre is a program created by Kovid Goyle. It is a free, open source application that allows users to manage e-book libaries, and even create and edit existing books.

There are numerous apps that will do almost everything calibre can do, it would require installing multiple apps to recreate the entire suite. And even then, you would be missing the most important element pertaining to what we're trying to accomplish here today. You'd be missing the ability to remove DRM. Without the ability to remove the DRM, none of the other steps in this post will work.

I must also note here that the only way to remove DRM from books purchased through Apple iBooks, is to purchase the TunesKit iBook DRM Removal Tool. While this app will set you back about $30, if you have a lot of iBooks, it is well worth it.
After installing the App, load all of your iBooks onto your Mac, then drag and drop them into the app screen and click "Convert." Done.

So let's get started!

  1.  Download calibre. (Yes, I am spelling that correctly. The name, calibre is NOT supposed to be capitalized, ask Mr. Goyle.)

    Go here, download the copy that matches your computer set up. As for the Windows versions, if you are not sure if you need the x64 version, just download the one that just says Windows.

  2. On the next page, click the link that says "Download calibre."

  3. Now, depending on your operating system, what happens from here on will be different. I do not have a Mac, so I cannot give instructions for installing calibre from this point or how to add the plugin you will need. You could try to follow along and modify with however things are installed on Mac... but your results may vary.

    I do have a computer with Linux, but if you're using Linux, you probably know what you're doing ;)

    Windows users, these instructions are for you.

  4. A window will pop up asking you to save or cancel. Click "save." The file will go to whatever directory you have set for downloads, likely called "Downloads."
  5. The file will download as  calibre-x.xx.x.msi (the x's are the version, it will be the most current.) Double click the file.

  6. Another window will pop up. Click "Run." This will activate the installer.

  7. Once the installer has loaded, the Terms of Use will appear, READ them, then click the checkbox stating "I accept the terms..." and click install.

  8. The installer will now begin installing calibre. Yes, it might take a while. If your computer asks if you want to allow the program to make changes to your computer, click "Yes."

  9. When it's done installing, click "Finish," and calibre will open.
If you prefer video instructions on how to install calibre, check out this guy's video. The first 2:30 show the installation process. He does NOT, however, show how to install the necessary plugins, so don't follow the rest of that tutorial for adding book files. You will be disappointed when you can't open them to read them!


Now, we move on to installing the necessary addons. These are not available in the calibre official addon repos. They are only available through their author, Apprentice Alf.

  1. Go to Apprentice Alf's Blog. Somewhere before the fold, you should see a link that will take you to the current version of the addon. Click that link.

  2. You will be redirected to the Github page for DeDRM tools. Under downloads, click on DeDRM_Tools_x.x.x.zip. Be sure to select "save file" in the popup window and click "Ok." Unzip the top folder (do not unzip the files inside).

  3. Head to calibre and click on "Preferences" in the top menu.

  4. From there, click "Plugins" near the bottom of the window.

  5. Select "Load Plugins from File."

  6. Go to your downloads and navigate to DeDRM_calibre_plugin > DeDRM_calibre_plugin.

  7. Click "Yes" on the virus warning that pops up. *There is NO virus in Apprentice Alf's files!*

  8. Restart calibre. You should be good to go. Now you can import your books and remove that pesky DRM!

Welcome to the world of actually owning your ebooks!

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