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Old 04-23-2009, 03:12 PM   #1
anurag
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Ask MobileRead: Format and DRM attributes of a Kindle book

Is it possible to find out the exact format of a Kindle book (PRC/MOBI/AZW/TPZ...) and if it has DRM restrictions, without actually downloading it? I also have access to the Amazon API, but I couldn't find anything in there that talks about file formats or DRM.
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:41 PM   #2
wallcraft
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Amazon only has AZW and TOPAZ ebooks. AZW is the same thing as MOBI (extension .mobi or .prc), but it is always .azw when delivered from the Kindle Store.

The only method I know of to distinguish the two without downloading at least a sample is that TOPAZ ebooks don't list the File Size on the ebook web page. This apparently isn't foolproof, but it is all we have. TOPAZ ebooks always have DRM.

AZW ebooks can come with or without DRM. If it was delivered to Amazon via mobipocket.com, then it always has DRM (because mobipocket.com does not handle DRM-free MOBIs). So if the same ebook is available at mobipocket.com (or any ebook store that only gets MOBIs from mobipocket.com) the odds are very high that the AZW has DRM. If it came to Amazon via DTP, then by default it has no DRM. However, it could still have DRM if the publisher/author uploaded a DRMed MOBI.

If you want to try to reverse engineer the DRM state, see Kindle Books From Amazon Without DRM for a list of a few DRM-free AZWs. A search for "drmfree" at the Kindle Store also lists 12 hits. Here are a few TOPAZ ebooks: B000SB4MQY, B001AV4D4M, and B001E95MWC.
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:43 PM   #3
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Download the samples and move them onto the computer. Taka a look inside the file. I think you'll see tpz (Or some toopaz code) at the beginning of the file. Then you'll know for sure what format the file is.
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Old 04-23-2009, 09:36 PM   #4
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The file extension on the sample will be .azw1 or .tpz if the book is in Topaz format.
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Old 04-23-2009, 11:31 PM   #5
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Thanks all for your inputs. I am building a local database of all 250k+ Amazon Kindle books, and using the API for it. So unfortunately, downloading individual book samples or looking at file extensions is not an option for me.

@wallcraft: That's valuable info. It looks like Amazon does not provide file size in the Kindle response group in the API. I don't want to crawl them just yet, but that might be the best-effort way to do it eventually. Re. DRM, I might also build a database of Mobipocket.com books at some stage, so I will be able to flag at least some books as DRMd.

I will try to put up interesting statistics about the aggregate dataset soon, eg. the average/median/max/min price. Do let me know if you are interested in something specific. My dataset is from last week, and I will probably refresh it at some point as needed.

Last edited by anurag; 04-24-2009 at 12:45 AM.
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