Taking Sides: Out of Amazon

Now that I’ve bought a Kobo and determined to abandon my Kindle, what now?

The first step is to get my bought and paid for e-Books off my Kindle. This means, first, finding alternative software to manage e-Books; and second, removing the DRM tying my books to the Kindle.

Calibre is unmatched in its ability to manage e-Books. It provides an interface to manage a single book across multiple formats as a single entity, to convert books between formats, and even to read those books.

Honestly, the interface is terrible. It’s software only a nerd can love, and makes me want to dive weeping into Amazon’s outstretched arms. But beneath that ugly face lies software of immense power. It’s software for geeks, with all the good and bad that implies.

Plug in the Kindle, and Calibre sees the books. It can store them and manage them—but wait. You can’t convert or transfer the files to other devices. You need to add a plugin that removes DRM. Download the file from Apprentice Alf, take the .zip file, and add it to Calibre according to the instructions. It’s not difficult, but it’s ugly and annoying. (It’s also arguably illegal in the US, thanks to the DMCA, but so long as you’re not trying to steal from authors, don’t let that stop you.)

Now copy the books from your Kindle to your Calibre library. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Well, okay, it wasn’t easy. It was ugly, had too many steps, and generally made me much crankier than anything I had to do to keep using the Kindle. But most of the difficulty is the first time around. Next time it’ll be easier.