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In a previous question, When shopping for ebooks on Amazon how do I tell if they have DRM?, it is explained that DRM-free ebooks on Amazon are characterized by the "Product Details" item: "Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited".

I was a bit surprised though that all such books I looked at also had: "Lending: Not Enabled", which seems a bit contradictory. But this is a side remark.

My problem is that I do not know how to download these (supposedly DRM-free) ebooks, once acquired.

I did go to my Amazon page "Manage Your Content and Devices", where all my Amazon books are listed, one book on each line.

There, it seem that to download a book. I must click it in the Action column (the second square of the line), and then select an action, which apparently should be "Download & transfer via USB".

But when I do, I get an error:

Download & transfer via USB
Select a device from the dropdown 

            John - Android Tablet
            John's Kindle Cloud Reader

You have selected content that is not compatible with any of your registered 
devices. Please remove incompatible content from selection for eligible devices
to appear.
Transfer Tip: After downloading, use your USB cable to connect your computer and
Kindle. Your Kindle will appear as a drive on your computer. Copy your downloaded
file from your computer to your Kindle's documents folder.

All I want is to get the MOBI file in my computer, as I do with other ebook sellers for DRM-free books.

I am running Linux, if that can be any help. But I do not own a Kindle, and my only devices are my PC (running Calibre on Linux) and an Android pad used by another person.

  • Amazon downloads your book to a Kindle app - so which app do you have on your PC (Ah Linux - well then Amazon does not support it) So rent your books from elsewhere Or try Windows Kindle reader running under Wine – user151019 Aug 24 '16 at 20:34
  • @Mark: The Kindle for PC app runs fine under Wine. – user4665 Aug 25 '16 at 8:13
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Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited is not a reliable indicator of DRM-free books. AFAIK, all free Public Domain books sold by Amazon Digital Services are DRM-protected.

For example, this free Amazon book is listed as Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited, however it's not DRM-free.

I am running Linux, if that can be any help. But I do not own a Kindle, and my only devices are my PC (running Calibre on Linux) and an Android pad used by another person.

In that case you can easily test for yourself whether a book is DRM-protected:

  1. Install the Kindle for PC app via Wine or Winetricks and register the app with Amazon by entering your logon credentials.
  2. Send the book to your Kindle for PC app via Manage Your Content and Devices and open it.
  3. Open a terminal window and enter the following command to locate the Kindle books folder:

    cd ~/Documents/My\ Kindle\ Content

  4. Right-click the .azw file and select Open with Calibre.

  5. If Calibre doesn't display a DRM warning the book is not DRM-protected.
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If you buy DRM-free ebooks from Amazon, you could download it onto any Kindle or Kindle app. From kindle app on android, you can probably find the unencrypted file in the Android/data/com.amazon.kindle/files/ Kindle directory.

You will look for files ending in .prc (which are given incomprehensible file names).

I suspect that the unencrypted files for non-DRM files are stored in a similar file location on Kindle devices.

I don't know how ios stores Kindle app files, but I wouldn't be surprised if the only way you can transfer to your computer is via itunes.

I'm not neutral on the subject, but I think that .epub files are a better archiving format than whatever kindle format happens to be at the moment. If you're trying to store things, .epub is a better archiving format.

The deal Amazon makes with us is: the customer agrees not to worry too much about getting the files, Amazon provides apps for the major platforms -- all of which are capable of reading your ebook file reasonably well. So far, Amazon has kept its end of the bargain.... Time will tell if this continues...

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  • It has not been .prc for years - try .azw3 – user151019 Aug 24 '16 at 20:32
  • Wow, then my answer is probably wrong, because I don't recognize any of the file formats listed in my android directory: .asc, etc... PRC is a legacy format, but I suspected that was the way it was being stored locally. But I definitely did not see .azw3 files inside that directory! – idiotprogrammer Aug 25 '16 at 18:00
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My recent experience with Amazon is that they add DRM to their books, even when the publisher doesn't require it. I bought a DRM free book (published by Tor) from Amazon. I executed the following (convoluted) steps to find the file:

  1. The Kindle for PC app is only available in the USA. I don't live there, so I installed the Android Kindle app on my phone.
  2. In Kindle's options, I elected to store the book on my SD card to make it easier to find.
  3. I connected the phone to my computer via USB cable
  4. I searched in directory SD Card/Android/data/com.amazon.kindle/ for book files. The directory was visible using the phone's own file browser, but the directory was invisible from my PC! I'm not sure what trick Kindle used to hide the directory. At this stage, I had to use my Android phone to copy the com.amazon.kindle directory somewhere else on my SD card. Now it was visible from my PC.
  5. Amazon uses several different formats for its ebooks, including file extensions .mobi, .prc, .azw*, .kfx, and .tpz. Unfortunately, my book was stored in .kfx format. This is an encrypted format with DRM.

I stopped there, as I was not willing to attempt to break the DRM (caveat: cracking DRM is probably illegal, and might even be a crime, depending on your jurisdiction). I went back to Amazon and asked for a refund. They gave me the refund.

My recommendation to you: if you care about getting a DRM free book for which you can download the file and actually own the product you just purchased, then buy from a different vendor. I ordered the same book from the Kobo Bookstore and they provided me with an easy download link and a file in universal epub format. It looks slightly less nice in my generic ebook reader as not all the text renders perfectly (I admit that the Kindle version looked fantastic), however, it's mine. :D

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