Read DRM EPUB books on your Kindle Fire

Read DRM EPUB books on your Kindle Fire

“…except for the Kindle Fire.”

See, that’s the problem about having named the Fire a Kindle. It’s very different from what I’ve had to retronym* RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles).

One of the standard Kindle comments on the forums is that you can’t read EPUB books with DRM (Digital Rights Management) on a Kindle.

Well, now we’ll have to add that “…except for the Kindle Fire.”

Let me explain that a little bit more.

EPUB is an e-book format made by Adobe. DRM is a way to control the use of a digital file. On RSKs, there isn’t the necessary software to “unlock” an EPUB file with DRM. RSKs also couldn’t read EPUBs without DRM…unless you converted them to a Kindle friendly format. One way to do that is with the free software

 Calibre

Calibre is a great program, and used by lots of people.

Perfectly reasonably, though, Calibre does not strip DRM from files…that could be illegal, and they don’t want to do anything which is illegal (and which, by the way, could get them shut down).

You couldn’t install software to legally read an EPUB with DRM on your RSK, so you couldn’t read those without first (probably) illegally stripping that DRM.

So, here’s why I can now legally read DRM EPUB books on my Kindle Fire.

The Kindle Fire does have the Pico text-to-speech (TTS), but it’s not very sophisticated. From my RSKs, I’ve gotten really used to listening to TTS in my car.

Point one:

If Amazon had included a more sophisticated TTS (like Vocalizer, the software they licensed for the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch), I would have been satisfied with my Kindle Fire in the car and wouldn’t have been looking for something else to which to listen.

Point 2:

Amazon hasn’t approved the Zinio magazine reading app in the Amazon Appstore for my Kindle Fire. I got a magazine subscription as a gift that needed Zinio. That’s what broke down my resistance to putting a third party app on my Kindle Fire. I really like how Amazon set that up: they vet and approve Kindle Fire apps in their Appstore, but allow us to install apps from outside sources if we take responsibility for them:

Settings Gear – More – Device – Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources (ON)

If the Zinio app had been approved for my Kindle Fire in the appstore, I might never have installed an app from outside Amazon. I trusted Zinio (a large established company) and they told me their app would work on my Fire. It has, and I’ve been very happy with my subscription.

So, those two things combine in the next step.

I decided to install the Overdrive.com app on my Kindle Fire…so I could borrow MP3 format audiobooks from my public library directly from my Fire. I don’t like audiobooks as well as I like text-to-speech (I know…weirdo) ;) , but I like them better than talk radio.

I switched the setting on my Kindle Fire to allow the installation of an outside device, and went to

http://www.overdrive.com/

on my KF.

I tapped on Get Overdrive Media Console.

I tapped on Android on my right, which then let me tap on “download OverDrive Media Console for Android from OverDrive.”

As usual, my Kindle Fire gave me the notification in my top left corner of the screen that it was downloading something.

When it was finished, I tapped on that and told it to install.

When that was done, I opened it.

Remember, I was doing this to get audiobooks from my public library…because I wasn’t satisfied with the Pico TTS on my Fire.

When it opened up, it told me I could also install the ability to read EPUB.

I knew that DRM EPUB books could be used with OverDrive, but I hadn’t realized it had the ability to decode them.

I did have to get an ID from Adobe. That was easy…no credit card or anything, just identifying myself. It did seem a bit odd that they seemed to think I was doing it for commercial purposes (I was supposed to identify my job title and industry).

Once I had that, I downloaded an EPUB from my public library through the app…it works just fine.

I also got an audiobook, since that was sort of the point. :) I won’t have any trouble getting through them both in 14 days, I think. My library gives me that (and seven days) as an option…yours may not, that’s up to the library.

This was good to discover, even though I don’t know how much I’ll use the EPUB part. I like to be able to read on my RSKs, and that’s not an option when I do this.

However, I’ve seen a couple of people (including one of my readers, Lisa Brown) noticing lately that there were e-books from Random House in their public library in EPUB format and not in Kindle format. I think they may also be true of Penguin. In the RH case, it’s recently published books, by the way…I don’t know if that’s policy, or if they just need to be converted.

The app has some nice features:

  • An audiobook snooze timer
  • The ability to return the audiobook when you are done (my library limits the number of items I can have out at one time…your probably does as well)
  • Description of the book
  • Lookup dictionary (long press the word…hold your finger on it for a bout a second)…although it only works when you are online
  • The ability to set the screen timeout up to twenty minutes
  • Tap to see book progress…including chapter percentage

A few of those would be nice with the Kindle app on the Fire. :)

Well, there you go. :) If you decide to do it, I think you’ll find it easy and it will give you options. Amazon warns you about it…it’s up to you. I do turn off the “applications from unknown sources” choice afterwards.

It’s just interesting to me: if Amazon had TTS on the Fire or if they had approved Zinio for the Fire, I probably would never have done this.

If you try it and have feedback about your experience with it, please feel free to comment on this post.

* A “retronym” is a change to an existing term that happens in response to a later development, to differentiate the old situation from the new one. We didn’t have to call it an “analog watch” before we had digital watches, for example…it was just a watch. :)

By the way, I took the screenshot from my computer, not my Kindle Fire. The KF doesn’t, as far as I know, do a screenshot without altering it to enable it. I did check to see that it matched, though.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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57 Responses to “Read DRM EPUB books on your Kindle Fire”

  1. Sheryl Painter Says:

    Thanks so much for the heads up. It downloaded as easily as you stated. Now if only my library had ebooks to download! Oh well, I’ll be ready if it ever happens! You are awesome on keeping us updated on improvements and new features.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Sheryl!

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Does your library have MP3 audiobooks? That’s why I did it.

      I also figure that any library that stays in service will eventually have e-books…

  2. Harold Delk Says:

    Bufo, you may be the only other person on Earth who knows what a retronym is … my faith in humanity is restored. My favs are therapeutic massage and analog watch. Not the comment you were expecting, but you awakened my intellect. Thank you!

  3. Deb Schmalz Says:

    Now, I like listening to audiobooks. But I always drowse off. Is there a way to add a snooze timer to the Audible books that I’ve already got on my Fire and Keyboard? This really doesn’t relate to this blog but the sleep timer mention caught my eye.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Deb!

      Yes, you can! Well, sort of…you don’t need to add anything, it’s already there.

      Open an audiobook in the Audible app. Hit the menu button (horizontal lines in a box) at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see a choice for Sleep.

      You can choose:

      Off
      15 minutes
      30 minutes
      60 minutes
      End of chapter
      End of Book Part

      Sweet dreams! :)

      • Deb Schmalz Says:

        I forgot to mention in my last reply re: Penguin and Overdrive that for those of us who are housebound or physically unable to get to our libraries, let alone browse the stacks, that this may be pushing the boundaries of the ADA (Americans With Disabilities) act.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Deb!

        I think the question there is if physical libraries being accessible is a reasonable accommodation. If it becomes determined that it’s not, and the publishers don’t make e-books available another way (which I think they might), you could be right.

  4. sneijder Says:

    here is another guide of how to bypass Adobe DRM to read epub on kindle

    http://www.epubor.com/how-to-read-google-ebooks-on-kindle-fire.html

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, sneijder!

      It’s very important to note that what I wrote is not bypassing DRM, which is typically illegal.

      I took a look at the article, and it mentions early on running software to strip the DRM…that is not something I recommend, unless there is some exemption to the law that makes it okay.

  5. Pam Says:

    Thanks for that Bufo! BlueFire reader is also available for EPub.

  6. Penguin drops relationship with Overdrive.com « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] the way, I wrote recently about how to install the Overdrive app on your Kindle Fire…you could get EPUB books from [...]

  7. russell Says:

    Hey. Bufo I am not so much interested in reading epubs. What caught my attention was that you said the fire has pick text to speech. How di I implement it? I googled it and found a place to download it. I downloaded it and installed it. But it does not appear in my apps page. I know that it is not a very good implemention of text to speech but I want to have it an how to implement it for a current book I am working on to kept. Thanks for any info you can give. That should be pico.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, russell!

      You should have Pico already on your Fire.

      Check here:

      Settings Gear – More – Applications

      Then, at the top, switch from Running Applications to All Applications…that’s important. Then you, should find it alphabetically as Pico TTS.

      The next thing is that you need an app that can access it.

      I tend to use QuickOffice Pro. You can read more about what I did here:

      http://ilmk.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/woo-hoo-text-to-speech-on-the-kindle-fire-for-some-books/

      I got it free, but that one is $14.99 now.

      I just downloaded to test for you Droid Talker:

      Droid Talker – Free

      That works fine! It is free and accesses the Pico engine.

      The trick on it is to use the Menu and choose Read, so that it freely changes from page to page.

      Hey, it also remembers where I was in the book! This is a much better solution for me.

      Thanks for asking the question! I’ve now found something that works better for me. ;)

      • Russell Says:

        You should have Pico already on your Fire.
        Check here:
        Settings Gear – More – Applications
        Then, at the top, switch from Running Applications to All Applications…that’s important. Then you, should find it alphabetically as Pico TTS.
        The next thing is that you need an app that can access it.
        I tend to use QuickOffice Pro. You can read more about what I did here:

        http://ilmk.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/woo-hoo-text-to-speech-on-the-kindle-fire-for-some-books/

        I got it free, but that one is $14.99 now.
        I just downloaded to test for you Droid Talker:
        Droid Talker – Free
        That works fine! It is free and accesses the Pico engine.
        The trick on it is to use the Menu and choose Read, so that it freely changes from page to page.
        Hey, it also remembers where I was in the book! This is a much better solution for me.
        Thanks for asking the question! I’ve now found something that works better for me.
        ===========================================
        Thanks Bufo. I went to applications and changed the option to be “all apps” and indeed saw Pico TTS in the list. I then downloaded and installed Droid Talker – Free. It works! But it is a shame that it does not work on Kindle Books. I will continue with my project in KDP. I will be able to implement it on the K3, DX and whatever other Kindles have TTS. Thanks for the research on this. Droid Talker will be good for personal use.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Russell!

        Just as you can’t simply open a Kindle store e-book with Notepad on a Windows computer and read it (you need software that “decodes” it), Droid Talker can’t open a Kindle store book and read it.

        I do think we’ll get text-to-speech (TTS) that works with Kindle store book on the Fire eventually…

      • Russell Says:

        Hi Bufo, me again. Well, I have found a way to offer TTS to people who buy my book who have a Fire. I have split each individual chapter to a text file. I will then offer, if they buy the book a way to implement TTS by sending them all the text files with instructions on how to implement TTS on the Fire.

        One thing I can’t do that I need your help on. In reading your blog on this subject, I thought you said that Droid Talker-Free would turn the pages for you if you brought in a file and press talk. It does not work for me. I have to press the next page to get it to go to the next page. Another problem, however, is, the text does not covert the entire screen. I have to scroll down to get to the next page. I thought you said something about that but I can’t find it. Can you say that again. Maybe I misunderstood. Please elaborate ;)

        Thanks for your work on this.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Russell!

        I see in a later comment that you found the “Read” button (visible after hitting Menu).

        Are you reading the book in portrait mode (where the Kindle is taller than it is wide)? I see all of the text that way.

      • Russell Says:

        Never mind, Bufo. I found it. Read instead of Speak. But the text still does not cover the entire screen. I still have to scroll to the end of the file and when it gets time it does change the page.

        But like you said, this is better than nothing.

        I too got QuickOffice when it was free and I got Droid Talker-Free to work also in it. But that is more for personal use. But it works!

  8. Zebras Says:

    Thank you, Bufo, for explaining the process so well. It wasn’t easy but I did it. You have really added so much to my Kindling experiences in the last year and a half.

  9. Pam Says:

    Bufo, could you elaborate on the Pico TTS? Is it a setting I just turn on or something I need to download? I’m teaching a person how to use her new Fire tomorrow and she could really use that as her sight isn’t good. Thanks much! :)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Pam!

      Well, I just found an easier way. :)

      Get the free app

      Droid Talker – Free

      Put a text file on your Fire (I’ve downloaded something from Project Gutenberg).

      In Droid Talker:

      Menu – Open File – Menu – Read

      You’ll see a Next Page button, but if you do that, you’ll have to do it for each page…the Read command makes it go smoothly.

  10. Pam Says:

    Thanks Bufo – but it won’t read a book that I have on my fire? I hit open file and saw all the ASIN #’s for books, but when I selected one, it just showed a bunch of garbage and when I hit speak, it read garbage. LOL The book was labeled TTS enabled. So there’s nothing that’s about the same as the TTS on the K3 to actually read books and not random text?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Pam!

      You need to use something like a text file, not a book you bought from the Kindle store. For example, I was using it with a text file from Project Gutenberg.

      The book you got from the Kindle store had, most likely, Digital Rights Management (DRM) on it that was preventing it from being read.

      No, it’s nowhere near as good as what comes on a Kindle Keyboard, Kindle Touch, or Kindle DX, for that matter…but it’s something. :)

  11. Pam Says:

    I guess not being a developer, I just assume that you take the good stuff from the previous reader (TTS) and put that + even better stuff (ability to read books with video embedded) into the new product (Fire) and voila! Especially an Amazon product! I guess it’s harder than it looks since its now an Android product. Hope we get it in the next model! :)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Pam!

      That’s exactly what I’ve seen as the problem with calling the Fire a “Kindle”. :) It’s not at all the same hardware or operating system, so you can just take everything you had and add to it.

  12. Pam Says:

    Bufo, I guess I’m having a senior moment again! I tried downloading a txt file book from Gutenberg and it showed up as a txt file on the URL, but how do I actually get it downloaded to the Fire? Do you have to side load it?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Pam!

      When you get to the text file on Gutenberg, “long press” it (hold your fingertip on it for about a second). You’ll see a choice to save the link. You’ll find it later in the Downloads folder.

      When in doubt on the Fire, long press…it’s sort of like right-clicking on a Windows PC.

  13. Pam Says:

    Got it – thanks Bufo, you’re a gem!

  14. Q Says:

    Hi Bufo,
    I must be doing something wrong. I followed your steps outlined. Easily downloaded Overdrive Console. When I opened it on the Fire, it never asked me about the ability to read an ePub . I downloaded an ePub novel from the library (registered with Adobe DE). Looks good, but I can’t find any TTS. The menu mentions volume but nothing on turning on TTS. Help.

    How do I do that to have it read to me, …. or am I misunderstanding?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Q!

      The Overdrive.com app does not do text-to-speech. It does let you check out MP3 audiobooks from your public library, but that’s something different. That’s why you have the volume control you are seeing, I presume.

      • Q Says:

        Oops. Silly me. On re-reading your article … I can see that I misread it! Ah, but TTS *would* be nice. One day soon …..

        Until then, my K3 will have to do the reading to me. Thanks for the heads-up!

  15. Tony Redman Says:

    I’ve run into a new problem. After downloading Overdrive Media Console onto my Kindle Fire, I can no longer search or browse for Kindle ebooks on my library’s website. I can see the different formats when I search on a computer, but it only shows me epubs and mp3 audiobooks using the Fire. Is this something new to worry about?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tony!

      Well, I just double-checked it into the Overdrive app on my Kindle Fire, and I can still see Kindle edition e-books. That suggests to me that it might be something your library is doing.

      Is it possible you were just looking at Penguin books? I can see how they might set it up not to show those to you, since they now can’t be obtained via wi-fi…and I would guess that Android devices may not work as a way to do it the way Penguin wants.

      • Tony Redman Says:

        No, for some reason is isn’t showing me ANY Kindle books, Penguin or otherwise. Are you getting into Overdrive directly from your library’s website? Do you have any epub books on your Kindle Fire now? I’m just trying to figure out what I have going on that’s different from you. The library’s not doing anything to cause this (I know, because I work at the library and they’re baffled about this too). We noticed a difference when a colleague with an iPad could no longer see Kindle format books listed through the library’s site in Overdrive. We’ve contacted Overdrive to see if it’s a setting on their side, but haven’t heard anything back yet. I’m just curious to see if anybody else here is experiencing this.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tony!

        I’m getting to my library through the Overdrive app, not the other way around.

        If you have the Overdrive app installed on your Fire, you can tap Menu (horizontal lines in a box at the bottom of the screen), and choose “Get Books”. Then, it’s “Add a Library”.

        Yes, I have an EPUB book on my Kindle Fire right now.

        I just double-checked for you…I can still see Kindle format books from my library through Overdrive.

        While I presume you won’t be able to check-out a book unless you have a library card there, you might try the Boston Public Library through Overdrive. I can see Kindle format books there. That would tell you if you can see Kindle format books anywhere. If you do that experiment, I’d be curious to hear the results.

  16. Tony Redman Says:

    I tried it the way you suggested, Bufo, but my library (Abilene Public Library) is already listed. When I go to the list of books from there and try to do a browse or a search, it will still only let me see epub books and mp3 audiobooks (no Kindle books). It doesn’t even offer it as a choice on the Advanced Search. Going to the Boston Public Library through my Fire does the same thing. Do you think there may be a setting I need to change on my Fire to get this to work correctly? Since I can’t get either library’s Kindle books to show, I’m thinking this may be the problem.

    Thank you so much for helping me try to figure this out. If I’m having this problem, I’d think that others do as well (or might soon)!

  17. Tony Redman Says:

    Bufo, I just wanted to let you (and the rest of your readers) know that I found the answer to my problem. My Fire’s browser had to be optimized for Desktop view instead of Mobile view. After I did that (and cleared my cache and cookies), it’s going back to showing all the formats now. Thanks again for riding this out with me until I figured this out!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tony!

      Fascinating1 I’m aware of that setting, but it didn’t occur to me that it would affect this.

      For those who don’t know:

      Web – Menu – Settings – Desktop or Mobile view

      I leave mine set to automatically optimize for each website. You can set it to that, or mobile, or desktop.

      Tony, did you have your set to disktop all the time?

  18. Tony Redman Says:

    No, I think it might have been set for Mobile view. It’s whatever the default is, because I don’t think I ever messed with it. It may have been on Automatically Optimize, but I’m not sure. I think I’ll try that setting, and if it causes any problems, I know I can put it back to Desktop.

    I’m happy I found this out because it was driving me crazy (especially since adding Overdrive Media Console obviously had no adverse effect on your Kindle)!

  19. Harry Potter on pre-release through Overdrive for April 30 « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] it’s initially listed at my library as an EPUB (meaning I could read it on my Kindle Fire through Overdrive) however, they are clear that it will be available for the Kindle, at least in the [...]

  20. Five words I never thought I’d say: “I have enough to read” « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] same thing applies to public library books I get through Overdrive. I’m reading The Dragon’s Tooth: Ashtown Burials #1 by N.D. Wilson (in EPUB, by the [...]

  21. Sharon Says:

    I must have read 50 pages of instructions before I found your site. Thank you so much for your help. My library has very few Kindle books, but an enormous amount of epub books. This was a life saver. Thanks again!

  22. Cynthia Says:

    I followed all of your directions but when I log in to overdrive and browse to look at books I don’t see any option to download any of the books. I can view the book titles and description but there is not a download button anywhere on the screen :(

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Cynthia!

      It may be that your library doesn’t show a download link if the book is unavailable. Do you have a choice to add it to a wish list or put it in a cart or to be waitlisted?

      If you have a choice to sort by popularity, try one at the end of the list.

      Libraries only have so many licenses for a title, just like they only have so many copies of a paperbook. Long waiting lists (if your specific library allows that) are not uncommon.

      • Cynthia Says:

        No it doesn’t even have the option to put it on a waiting list. I have used overdrive on my iPhone all the time and never had a problem. Even when I click the option to only show titles available it does not show a button to add the book to the cart. It just shows the book title and author. Even when I click on the book title it doesn’t have an option to add to cart or join the waiting list. It just has a description of the book. I am a little frustrated. I am not sure why it won’t work. :(

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Cynthia!

        Hm…

        Two other things…you are looking at the EPUB version of the book, right? You may not be able to download the Kindle version, but the EPUB version can be read with the Overdrive app you installed.

        Also, if you’d like to tell me what the library is (and you certainly don’t need to do that…I can understand not wanting to give away even a general location), I can check it through my Overdrive app. I don’t usually have to put in a library card number until I’ve gotten past that stage.

      • Cynthia Says:

        It doesn’t even show if it’s a kindle or an epub. Just a book title and author. Stark county district library. My friend has a kindle fire and says she doesn’t have a problem. My home screen for overdrive doesn’t look the same as on my iphone either. Usually it shows books that are popular and a few other things. On my kindle fire it just has the top portion the same but doesn’t show any books or other stuff like on my iphone. Is there a setting that isn’t right or maybe the wrong version of overdrive? So confused.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Cynthia!

        Ohio, right? I didn’t have any problem on my Fire going through the Overdrive app. I see a choice to “Add to Digital Cart”.

        You might be right about it being the wrong version.

        The other thing you could try is a different browser…have you tried the free Maxthon browser?

      • Cynthia Says:

        Ok thanks I will try that and see it it works. Thanks again for helping :)

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Cynthia!

        Let me know if you get it working…I’ll be thinking about it.

      • Cynthia Says:

        Actually I e-mailed my library and they told me that sometimes the kindle browser will take you to overdrive’s mobile site which doesn’t allow you to do much from it. So they had to give me a long default web address to take me to the actual website like you would see on a computer. It worked and now I am able to do everything like I can on my iPhone version of overdrive. Thanks for all of the input and suggestions :)

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Cynthia!

        Great, I’m glad you got that resolved. :) It sounds like Maxthon might have helped.

        You could also have changed the setting in the Fire browser to show you the desktop version, rather than the mobile version. I didn’t even think about their being a mobile version of that, or I would have suggested it. Sorry about that.

  23. Overdrive public library app comes to Kindle Fire through Amazon Appstore « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] I’ve written before about having sideloaded the Overdrive app to my first generation Kindle Fire, but this is much easier. [...]

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