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Old 08-04-2014, 04:23 PM   #1
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Managing Amazon (DRM) and non-Amazon books

I've been loading my Amazon books straight from Amazon and using calibre to manage & sideload my books from other sources. I'd like to get my Amazon books into calibre to keep track of all my ebooks together and "just in case".

I only read on Amazon devices and apps, so I don't see any need to break the DRM as long as I can track them, sideload them an edit the metadata. I guess I'm looking for the best current practices and the "gotchas" of managing DRM books in calibre.

My impressions are:
  • A good DL technique is to get all my books via Kindle for Mac/PC.
  • The filenames will be useless -- I'll need to deduce and input enough metadata to download more metadata. (Or does the filename have something I can search with?)
  • Calibre does not store metadata within the ebook file.
  • When calibre sideloads, some metadata is sent too -- still separate from the ebook file? (Or does it combine it somehow and is that a problem with DRM books?)

Should I consider a separate calibre library for Amazon sourced (DRM) books? Tags for "Amazon" or "DRM"?

What should my default format be? (I've been using mobi.)

Thanks,
tlc
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Old 08-04-2014, 04:45 PM   #2
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Kindle DRM is device/app specific. If you want to read on your device, you will either need to DeDRM or download via your device (that you want to read on).

The filename is the Amazon ASIN. Handy Amazon shortlink to products: http://amzn.com/{ASIN}
Note that the file contains metadata already, including title/author/publisher and mobi-asin (which is ASIN, but since they are country-storefront-specific Kovid decided not to use ASIN identifier which provides a link to the .com storefront.)

calibre leaves the file alone, with the current metadata intact, and stores its own metadata in the db -- however, when sending to device, that metadata gets embedded within the book. This is not a problem with DRM books, as only the ebook resources are encrypted, not the metadata.



I don't claim to be the "best practices", but here are my ideas and overall basic workflow.

A good default format is whatever the source format was. It contains all the info that goes into the new formats.

Any Amazon-sourced book will either be MOBI/AZW or AZW3, so keep that. You'll know which ones those are because they will have the mobi-asin identifier.
Since that is most of MY books, I leave them alone otherwise (in fact, my library name is "Amazon" ).

A book sourced elsewhere will either be an ADE EPUB, or be without DRM, in which case you will probably get a choice of formats. Use the EPUB as your master copy. It is superior to MOBI which doesn't support a lot of stuff and doesn't even use css (if you ever edit books this is a nightmare, also conversions will be cleaner) and equivalent to AZW3 except AZW3 doesn't use internal filenames.
I usually tag these "ADE" and "Open EPUB". (Personal preference, you may wish to do so too, or not. Your choice.)

Last edited by eschwartz; 08-04-2014 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 08-04-2014, 10:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by eschwartz View Post
Kindle DRM is device/app specific. If you want to read on your device, you will either need to DeDRM or download via your device (that you want to read on).
Ugh. That's a wrinkle, though obvious in hindsight. It makes me question my whole idea of managing still-DRMed books. (Does anyone do this?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschwartz View Post
calibre leaves the file alone, with the current metadata intact, and stores its own metadata in the db -- however, when sending to device, that metadata gets embedded within the book. This is not a problem with DRM books, as only the ebook resources are encrypted, not the metadata.
So calibre can read and input the metadata as downloaded?
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Old 08-04-2014, 11:25 PM   #4
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I don't know, but it is so much easier to just install the plugin.

Yes.
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Old 08-05-2014, 02:29 AM   #5
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the only sensible place to store the DRMd versions woudd be on the Kindle device,a s that is the only place you can read them. [ unless u install kindle for PC/Mac and register that to same account, then you can store copies in a PC folder also ]
if you lose or break your reader, than any backup download copies will be useless anyway unless you break DRM. You'd be more likely to get a new amazon device then download new copies from your amazon cloud to that new device, which they will then be keyed to.
if you ever become one of those small number of unfortunates that Amazon decide to ban ( rightly or wrongly) - & there are horror tales of folks getting permanently banned by amazon, then you lose everything you've paid for unless you have "freed" copies.

It really does seem simpler to install the calibre plug in!

PS - & if you think that bans can't happen , a little googliing will put you right. With both ebay and amazon , if you get on their "wrong side" there's no appeal, no way back.
e.g. I once ( many years ago ) complained to ebay that I was seeing doggy emails relating to an ebay account that was not mine ( but the email address was mine). That email address is now blacklisted for ever at ebay. I have argued as much as I dare but they will not un-ban it so I can't ever link it to my real ebay account. On their system , that email address shows as linked to an account with suspect activity. I even found a way into that account via retrieve password & tried to shut it down, in order to free up my email address but no joy. OK that's a mild case, I can still use ebay but it shows how there can be no appeal - & I dare not complain further for fear of losing my entire ebay account.
If amazon one day decide there's piracy, or excessive returns associated with an account, or even there is some other fact that they can refuse to disclose, they can zap you & then it's bye bye books. They, and ebay both, do smart tricks with cookies, IP addresses, postal addresses... so if you ever do get zapped it can be very hard to ever open a new account.
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Old 08-07-2014, 05:33 PM   #6
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Ugh. I really do want to avoid cracking the DRM unless forced. I guess I will
  • download them all and save them somewhere else, just in case, and
  • keep track of them in calibre like people keep track of paper books -- metadata entries with no ebook.
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Old 08-07-2014, 06:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlc View Post
Ugh. That's a wrinkle, though obvious in hindsight. It makes me question my whole idea of managing still-DRMed books. (Does anyone do this?)?
Quote:
Originally Posted by cybmole View Post
the only sensible place to store the DRMd versions woudd be on the Kindle device,a s that is the only place you can read them. [ unless u install kindle for PC/Mac and register that to same account, then you can store copies in a PC folder also ]
if you lose or break your reader, than any backup download copies will be useless anyway unless you break DRM. You'd be more likely to get a new amazon device then download new copies from your amazon cloud to that new device, which they will then be keyed to.
if you ever become one of those small number of unfortunates that Amazon decide to ban ( rightly or wrongly) - & there are horror tales of folks getting permanently banned by amazon, then you lose everything you've paid for unless you have "freed" copies.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tlc View Post
Ugh. I really do want to avoid cracking the DRM unless forced. I guess I will
  • download them all and save them somewhere else, just in case, and
  • keep track of them in calibre like people keep track of paper books -- metadata entries with no ebook.
Each time I buy a book, I pick the same Kindle device for the initial "send to" destination. (I have never been able to just buy a book without specifying which device it will be sent to. Once every month or so, I connect the Kindle to my PC and copy all the files since the last time I copied.

I have a top level folder on my PC called "Kindle backups". I then created a folder for the specific device. It's this folder into which I copy the books from my Kindle. THEN, I use a special tag when I import these into Calibre, with the tag identifying the device.

When I lost my K3 (left it on an airplane!), I went into Calibre and deleted all the books for that device since my replacement K3 won't read any of the DRMed books for the original device.
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Old 08-07-2014, 06:25 PM   #8
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I just downloaded the plugin and stopped thinking about it.

And I like the ability to use calibre to modify metadata on the ebook itself, like removing all those stupid "%s: A Novel" bits in the title, or the ones where they repeat the series two or three times but may not mention which number in the series it is. I like them strictly in the format
Code:
{title}{series| (|, }{series_index|Book |)}
SO, I have to keep the books themselves managed from calibre, so for cross-device support I need them DeDRMed. Fortunately, it is a no-brainer to do, as it all happens automatically.

Last edited by eschwartz; 08-07-2014 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 08-07-2014, 06:50 PM   #9
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I will point out, that my scheme doesn't protect me from the usual problems -- if the Kindle is lost or broken, the backed-up books are no good to me. But, they do allow me to keep the number of books on my Kindle down to a small number and move books onto the reader in situations where I don't have access to a network.

If you're thinking about long term preservation of the books you have purchased, then you're probably going to need to move to a reader that uses ADE or figure out how to de-DRM your book files.
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Old 08-08-2014, 02:00 AM   #10
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Ugh. I really do want to avoid cracking the DRM unless forced. I guess I will
  • download them all and save them somewhere else, just in case, and
  • ....
just in case ,, what ?

just in case your kindle gets lost ,stolen or breaks...
or just in case you decide to buy a 2nd kindle...
or just in case you decide to read them in a Kindle for xxx app

Those extra saves are useless in the above scenarios, so what is the "case" you are guarding against with your extra DRM'd copies.

if you con't want to remove DRM than take the next logical step & trust amazon to handle the backup & replace business for you !
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Old 08-08-2014, 05:25 PM   #11
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I assumed that the AA plugin takes a serial number or something from the Kindle or Kindle for MAC app and that as long as I save that key along with the DRM files, I'd be covered against your scenarios and others.

Does the AA plugin require something more? A working kindle with a working account behind it??

Thanks!
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Old 08-08-2014, 05:39 PM   #12
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i don't think I am allowed to respond or discuss at that detailed level in this forum sorry, but the answers are out there!
I can maybe say that if you had downloaded the book(s) from Amazon only on a Kindle, and not to a K for PC app, then the serial number of that kindle will be needed - which could be a problem if it had died on you or had been lost! I'ts been awhile since i owned an e-ink Kindle so I forget whether the SN is printed on the outside or is only veiwable when switched on, and I don't know if your SN is accessible within your amazon account details on their web site
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Old 08-08-2014, 05:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlc View Post
I assumed that the AA plugin takes a serial number or something from the Kindle or Kindle for MAC app and that as long as I save that key along with the DRM files, I'd be covered against your scenarios and others.

Does the AA plugin require something more? A working kindle with a working account behind it??

Thanks!
See the plugin source, we can't speak here.

It's a pretty good bet that the file itself hasn't magically changed just sitting on disk, though. Even if your Kindle gets hit by a meteorite and Amazon pulls down the whole Kindle Store, the bits in the file don't change. If it worked before, given the same file and plugin and... stuff, it will still work come hell or high water.
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