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Amazon Kindle Proprietary Format Broken 203

Posted by kdawson
from the let-a-thousand-e-books-bloom dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Register reports that the proprietary document format used by the Amazon online store and Amazon's Kindle has been successfully reverse engineered, allowing these DRM-protected documents to be converted into the open MOBI format. Users of alternative e-book readers rejoice." Here are the hacker's notes on the program he is calling "Unswindle," and here is the (translated) forum where the Kindle challenge was posed and answered.
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Amazon Kindle Proprietary Format Broken

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  • Old old story. (Score:5, Informative)

    by CountBrass (590228) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @06:33AM (#30533888)
    There have been a set of python scripts around for more than a year and a half that allow you decrypt Kindle files to mobi [nyquil.org]. The challenge has always been in dealing with Topaz files and, unless I am missing something, they still haven't been cracked.
  • Not so much (Score:3, Informative)

    by aussersterne (212916) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @06:46AM (#30533920) Homepage

    I've been walking around with DRM-free files for over a year. Anyway, after stripping of them of DRM, I changed the filenames, and added prefixes to the titles (my real goal) to "categorize" them, which is why I wanted to unDRM them in the first place--adding text prefixes to the titles to indicate category makes it easier to use a Kindle without folder capability.

  • Re:Old old story. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @07:35AM (#30534046)

    This removes the drm from the books downloaded using the Kindle for PC app.

    As you mentioned, the scripts you linked to have been around for a while but only remove the drm from the actual kindle and kindle for iphone books.
    So, if you have an iphone or a kindle this doesn't really change much as you could already do it. This would be useful for anyone that is only able to get their books through the Kindle for PC app.

  • Re:Yeah. Right. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Winckle (870180) <mark@[ ]ckle.co.uk ['win' in gap]> on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @07:49AM (#30534094) Homepage

    If you want a pirated book it's easy enough to get a hold of, there are ebooks all over torrent sites and usenet. Even private ebook only trackers. And they are more likely to be in plain-text formats or epub making them better than the amazon equivalents.

  • by winterice (1172013) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @08:19AM (#30534160)
    You are, of course, aware that with the exception of the first quote, the quotes are simply mangled automatic-translations (from Hebrew) by Google-Translate? For example, you may be disappointed to find out that the (excellent) new term "Open DRM" was not even used in the original text. In fact, it was something along the lines of: " I come back and see that you already managed to crack open the DRM".
  • Re:Nothing new? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @08:21AM (#30534166)

    Wait, I've been using MobiDeDRM for a while with my Kindle's Mobi serial number to strip the DRM and leave me with Mobi files. How is this different, exactly?

    This gets the Mobi serial number from the Kindle For PC application. Now you don't need to own a Kindle or iPhone to buy Kindle books.

  • by CrackedButter (646746) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @08:27AM (#30534190) Homepage Journal
    You and the parent don't understand the difference between 'lose' and 'loose'.
  • Re:Old old story. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @08:59AM (#30534318)

    Sigh... we geeks really have to work on our marketing... we need an image consultant!

    you can start by making a contribution/donation here [eff.org] ...

  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @09:11AM (#30534368)

    Nonono.

    Read that quote from GP again:

    For the most part, they loose money on each ebook sale.

    OK the grammar is a bit whacky but what he meant is of course that the profit margin is so huge that they end up with some money lying around loose because nobody knows what to do with all that spare change.

  • by maxume (22995) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @09:26AM (#30534460)

    If you believe Wikipedia, support for the DRM features is not everywhere:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital#DRM_features [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Yeah. Right. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ash-Fox (726320) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @09:43AM (#30534568)

    Why would pirates need to hack the Kindle in order to pirate books? There are already plenty of unprotected sources available to them.

    Exclusive Kindle releases are only available on the Kindle, and there are certainly a few.

  • Re:Nothing new? (Score:5, Informative)

    by pla (258480) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:06AM (#30535274) Journal
    The question is, why would anyone want to do that?

    Because Amazon has a good storefront for buying eBooks of a known quality in a consistent format. You don't need to deal with 6 different formats, 27 different storefronts, and quality going as low as scans of the actual pages.


    I don't like reading books in the PC

    Some people don't mind it. More importantly, plenty of devices other than the Kindle or iPhone exist on which you might read eBooks... Netbooks, for instance (basically just PCs, but they finally hit a sweet spot between utility, weight, and battery life), or non-Amazon/Apple-approved smartphones.


    I would rather buy a physical copy (to pay the author) and then download a digital copy from torrents or whatever than support DRM infested products.

    I suspect most of us agree with you on that - However, the legality between the two differs radically. Stripping DRM for purposes of interoperability might count as a protected use (IANAL); downloading a torrent definitely does not. Also, keep in mind that publishers have increasingly tried to play the "X different products" game, claiming that the dead-tree edition requires a separate purchase from the eBook which requires a separate purchase from the audiobook (even if digitally produced) - Geeks tend to scoff at that sort of thinking, but the courts sadly haven't caught on to it as nothing more than a shell-game yet.
  • by ErikZ (55491) * on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:10AM (#30535326)

    Have you ever had to move 8 moving boxes filled with paperbacks, and pay for the privilege every time you moved? That was my tipping point.

    The ability to easily move your collection and to shop for new books without finding a bookstore are the best parts for me.

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:22AM (#30535450) Homepage

    There are a number of advantages:

    1) Lots of content available in a small package. You can carry a library with you wherever you go, which is fantastic for travel (who wants to haul around multiple books in a carry-on?).

    2) Easy to purchase new content quickly. Out of books? Buy another one and it's there and available in seconds.

    3) No bookmarks. An e-reader remembers exactly where I was at any given time.

    4) No need to hold a damn book open. Combined with 3, it's suddenly practical to read while standing on the bus, waiting in line at the grocery store with a basket in one hand, etc, not to mention enabling more comfortable reading positions at home (lying on one's side in bed, lying the book on your lap or propped up on your knees, etc). And it's a lot less fatiguing on the hands.

    5) You can easily change font sizes (this is a killer feature for a kindle owner I know). Do you have poor vision? Are your eyes just tired? Crank up the point size and you're good to go.

    Of course, there are plenty of disadvantages, not the least of which is the lack of that wonderful smell of paper, and the tactile sensations as you turn the page and handle the book, hence why I would never completely replace my paper library with a digital one. But the advantages mean that I typically split my time, switching between reading electronic and paper books.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @12:36PM (#30536140)
    What they didn't mention is that Amazon only bought one of each ebook . . .
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @04:39PM (#30538592) Homepage

    Ummm, the techdirt article is based on an unsourced report - and if you look at the article that techdirt links to, it's a totally unsubstantiated piece of garbage, Are you really going to believe Amazon is losing money on every e-book transaction because of this nonsense article? No "facts" are provided, just unfounded conjecture.

    This NY Times article [nytimes.com] says the same thing: "American publishers chafe over Amazon's pricing policy for the Kindle, under which it generally sells digital versions of best sellers at $9.99 - less than the wholesale price that Amazon pays for many of these books."

    So does this article on Slate [slate.com]: "For a typical hardback that retails for $26--say, E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley--Amazon pays $13 and then sells it for $9.99 on the Kindle, taking a $3 loss on each sale." The same article also ran in Newsweek [newsweek.com].

    Here [publishersweekly.com] is an article at Publisher's Weekly: "That Amazon is currently treating the bulk of Kindle editions as loss leaders--items it either breaks even on or loses on to build market share in e-book sales and to fuel the growth of the Kindle--is one of the worrisome aspects of the current system."

    Seems like a remarkable journalistic conspiracy by The New York Times, Slate, Newsweek, and Publisher's Weekly to cover up the truth. Or do you imagine that all these publications ran stories by all these reporters without making sure that the statements in them had sources?

    When someone has pointed out that you've made a factual error, usually the best response isn't to get angry.

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