Last week, we heard the worrying tale of a Kindle user who had her entire library deleted by Amazon for reasons that they weren’t prepared to share with her. There was a kind of happy ending as her account was later restored, although Amazon were still tight-lipped as to why it all happened.
If you’ve built up a large collection of ebooks from the Kindle Store and are worried that it could all be wiped away in the blink of an eye for any reason that Amazon see fit, you might be keen to learn how you can save those digital books.
Yes, you can strip away the DRM and save the books to a hard drive or somewhere where Amazon can’t remotely wipe them, BUT it’s almost certainly in contravention of Amazon’s Kindle terms and conditions and it might not work for every one of your books.
If you fancy having a fiddle with some DRM and protecting your ebooks, here's how (this is the Mac version)…
1: Download Calibre (available for OS X, Windows, and Linux). It's a "free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books."
2: Download the DeDRM plugin and unzip it. It's the piece of code that cracks Amazon’s DRM scheme. After you've installed Calibre, open its Preferences (under the File menu) and click on 'Plugins' and then, 'Load plugin from file' before choosing the K4MobileDRM plugin’s zip file—it’s a zipped file inside of the DeDRM zipped file you downloaded. Don’t decompress this second file.
(For Windows users: you might also need to install both Python and the PyCrypto precompiled binary in order to be able to decrypt some e-books. Get Python here, and get the matching version of PyCrypto from here (either 2.7 or 3.3, for 32-bit or 64-bit Windows, whichever is appropriate).
3: Download Kindle for Mac (or the Windows/Linux equivalent), and connect it to your Amazon account. Download all your e-books (they're in 'Archived Items' in the top left of the app. Once done, your 'Archived Items' count will change to zero and 'Downloaded Items' should show a number greater than zero.
4: Open up ~/Library/Containers/com.amazon.Kindle/Data/Library/Application Support/Kindle/My Kindle Content/. (this requires you to find the Library file found under the "username" directory).
5: Drag the .azw files (each Kindle e-book) into Calibre.
6: Click 'Convert books' in the app’s toolbar. When the 'Bulk Convert' window pops up, make sure that EPUB is selected in the upper right corner of the screen. Then click the third item on the left-hand side, "Page Setup," and configure the output profile to whatever device you want to export. Choose Kindle as the input profile.
7: Click 'OK' to start the conversion. Click on 'Jobs' to check the progress of your conversions. Once they're done, you should have a bunch of sub-folders, organized by author’s name, complete with cover art and a converted file in EPUB format. You can keep them safely on your hard drive or read them in Apple's 'Books'. Or convert them back to MOBI format and put them on your Kindle - you know you've got the backups where Amazon can't delete them for no explainable reason.