When you buy a Kindle eBook from Amazon you can read it on a Kindle device or Amazon Fire tablet. But Amazon also offers iOS, Android, PC, and Mac apps that let you download books to read on a phone, tablet, or computer.
Earlier this month some users discovered that Amazon had made a significant change to the Kindle for PC experience though: if you want to download Kindle eBooks published after January 3, 2023 then you’ll need to be running Kindle for PC version 1.39 or later. You cannot download newer eBooks using older versions of the Kindle for PC app.
Wondering why that’s a problem? For many users it might not be. Just update the Kindle for PC app and you can keep reading books from your Kindle library on your computer.
But if you were planning to strip the DRM from your Kindle eBooks so that you could read them on a different device (like a Kobo eReader) or app, this change could make things a lot trickier.
That’s because when you download newly published Kindle eBooks using Kindle for PC version 1.39 or later, the book will be downloaded using a new version of Amazon’s KFX file format. And there’s currently no known way to break the DRM on those books, which means that they can only be read using Amazon’s hardware or software.
There are still a few ways that you may be able to strip DRM from Amazon’s Kindle eBooks using third-party tools like noDRM.
- You can still download eBooks published prior to January 3, 2023 using older versions of the Kindle for PC app. DRM can be removed from these eBooks.
- If you own an E Ink Kindle device, you can still use Amazon’s “Download & Transfer via USB” option to download Kindle eBooks from Amazon’s website. DRM can also be removed from these eBooks, but you’ll need a Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Oasis, or similar device for this option.
Amazon also no longer allows you to use the Download & Transfer option for books borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, which lends credence to the theory that the changes are designed to prevent piracy — after all, removing DRM not only makes it easier for you to read eBooks on non-Kindle hardware or software, but also makes it easier to share eBooks with friends (or strangers on the internet).
But it’s also worth keeping in mind that Amazon pays authors who make their books available via Kindle Unlimited based on the number of pages read. And if you download and transfer an eBook to your Kindle manually, the company cannot track that information, which means authors might miss out on payments. So if you’re going to participate in this eBook subscription service, you might want to consider not stripping the DRM from those books anyway.
Another thing to keep in mind? Stripping DRM from eBooks (and other digital media) is illegal in the US, even for personal use, although there is an exception for blind users. So one way to avoid these issues in the first place is to purchase DRM-free eBooks in the first place.
You can find some DRM-free eBooks from Amazon (look for a note on the product page that says something like (“at the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied”). But you can also purchase DRM-free eBooks from other sources and send them to your Kindle device (if you have one). That’s easier than ever now that Amazon will let you convert EPUB files to a Kindle-readable format simply by emailing them to your device.