How To Read Kindle Books In iBooks, And Keep Your Library In The Cloud [How-To]

Pkd dropbox

All your books in one place, DRM free.

I love e-books. I love them so much that I’m considering buying a double-sided, sheet-feed scanner, chopping the spines of all my dead-treeware books and having an OCR frenzy on their asses.

What I don’t like is DRM. Not for any idealistic reasons (well, maybe a few) but for practical ones. My bookseller of choice is Amazon, as it has the best range and Kindle books work on any device. But the Kindle app for the iPad sucks, and with an update this week it is almost unusable. If only I could read my Kindle books in the beautiful iBooks app. Well, it turns out that I can. And what’s more, I can keep all of my books in a DRM-free format in the cloud, ready to be downloaded to any device, whenever I like. Here’s how.

This really is an easy and very neat little hack. It takes a bit of setting up, but after that it is almost automatic. Here’s what we’re going to do.

  • Get the protected Kindle books onto our Macs
  • Strip the DRM
  • Convert the books into the universal EPUB format
  • Put them in Dropbox for easy access
  • That’s it

For this recipe we will need the following software

Kindle for Mac

Calibre

Dropbox

Hazel

You’ll also need to grab some DRM-stripping plugins for Calibre, provided by Apprentice Alf.

The Setup

The first part of this is probably the trickiest. You need to install and configure the plugins to work with your installation of the Calibre e-book managing app (and I’d just like to apologize for recommending such an ugly app). Fortunately, you are a Mac user, so the process is easy.

The full instructions are in Alf’s post, but you don’t need to follow them all. Just add the K4MobiDeDRM plugin and you’re done. Because you are using the Kindle Mac app to download the books, you don’t need to add any ID numbers or other shenanigans.

Auto add

Next, you tell Calibre to watch a certain folder. You can’t tell it to watch the Kindle App’s download folder, though, as this contains a lot of junk other than e-books. Calibre also deletes files on import. So go ahead and make a folder in a convenient place. I called mine “Kindle Auto Add” and put it in my Documents folder. Now tell Calibre where it is by opening the preferences, clicking the “Adding Books” icon under the Import/Export tab and then clicking the Automatic Adding tab.

Whew.

Next, you need a way to copy the Files from the Kindle app’s download folder to the folder you just made. For this we will use the excellent file utility Hazel. Point Hazel at the “My Kindle Content” folder in your Documents folder, and set up a rule to copy only AZW files to the Kindle Auto Add folder you created earlier:

Hazel

Now that’s done, we want to go back to Calibre and make sure it’s doing the right thing with new ebooks

Go back to the preferences and find Common Option>Page Setup. In here, set the Input Profile to Kindle and the Output Profile to iPad. Then, under the menu item XXX Books (where XXX is the number of books in your library — I know, it’s open source. Sorry) make sure that the Calibre library will be saved somewhere in your Dropbox.

Now. We’re done. You’ll never need to touch these bits again.

In Action

To convert a book automatically, you’ll need to have Calibre running, and to have the Kindle app open on your Mac. Just click to download any book and wait.

After a couple seconds, Hazel will copy the book file to Calibre’s watched folder, and Calibre will open and convert it automatically, stripping the DRM and storing it in it’s own library. This will take a few moments to a few minutes depending on the size of the book, and other seemingly random factors.

Then, just fire up Dropbox on your iPad, navigate to the shared folder where Caliber keeps its library (in a simple folder structure, thank God) and choose to “Open In…” iBooks. Now you can read your legally-bought Kindle book in Apple’s superior software.

Or, if you prefer, you can use any app that can open EPUBs, and you can access them from your Dropbox from any device you like.

Related
  • MacHead84

    Kindle already keeps all your kindle books in the cloud, thats what the cloud section is for

  • krabbie

    Hey, MacHead, the article said that the Kindle app of iPad was a looser….. that is why this article is here and a help to those of us who want a better experience. I for one will try it out. 

    Thanks Charlie.
  • alice

    read kindle books on ipad, you should strip kindle drm, then convert mobi books to epub, it means you need two tools.
    there you can get all these two tool.
    kindle drm removal 
    mobi  epub converter

  • Kutjara

    As Alice points out, there seems to be a missing step: converting the .mobi files to epub format. While the external tool she suggests works, it isn’t automatic. Is there an automated converter that can be added to the Calibre workflow to achieve this?

    Thanks
  • Josh Yates

    Um…WOW.  I love iBooks, but it just doesn’t have the library that Kindle has.  Now…best of BOTH worlds!!! :)

  • Josh Yates

    This may be asking for too much… :)

    I am losing all of my highlighting from the Kindle books that I’ve read.  Is there any way to keep the highlighting I’ve done in my Kindle books when transported into iBooks?  
    Had to ask… :)
  • alice

    as your said Kutjara , I have found an ebooks converter can convert drm kindle books to epub, but it is mac version, but we can find the windows version on the site.

     

  • dyoung522

    You’re (or perhaps I’m) missing a step. As-is, Hazel will recopy the AZW files to the “Kindle AutoAdd” folder after Calibre converts and removes it, creating an endless copy-convert-remove loop. I was able to solve this by adding conditions to the Hazel rule which say, “only copy AZW files which don’t have a color label”, and then “add a color label after the copy”. So it will only copy new files, leaving existing files alone.

  • ml20

    I’m lost. I’m pretty sure I followed all the directions but when my downloaded Kindle book (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest) didn’t appear in Calibre, I double-checked all my settings. But again, when I went to download my archived Kindle book, nothing appeared in Calibre. I confess to be a computer dolt, so I may be missing something here. I’m assuming when you say download you’re talking about downloading in the Kindle Mac App, which should then eventually appear in Calibre. What am I don’t wrong? I have books on my Kindle, which has since been taken over by my husband, that I want to read on my Nook Glow. I paid for these books and it seems ridiculous that I can’t choose to read them on my Nook.

  • andreas_io

    Thanks for a good and helpfull read. Small quip: Calibre is an excellent piece of software – without it ebooks would be a huge hassel. Instead of complaining about it’s minor design faults, we should give the guys some credit and some dollars. http://calibre-ebook.com/donate – the software deserves it tons more than e.g. hazel, imo.

  • zactschp2

    Hey guys, don’t know if anyone is still checking this article, but does anyone know if there is a way to keep the margins looking the way the should? I’ve converted several of my kindle books to be read in iBooks, and most of them have messed up margins in at least a few places. Is there anyways to prevent this?

About the author

Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

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