Reading Kindle books on Linux

Tony Baechler tony at
Tue Sep 15 09:33:15 UTC 2015

On 9/14/2015 3:47 AM, John J. Boyer wrote:
> I have Debian Jessie set up for command-line only, Braille only. Is
> there a way to read Kindle books?
Hi all,

Since there seems to be some interest in this, here goes.  As always, 
corrections welcome.

The short answer is no.  Kindle books are in the .mobi format.  It's highly 
likely that ebook-convert can convert them except for one little problem. 
Most Kindle books have DRM protection, meaning that you have to be able to 
decrypt them before you can do anything further.  The idea, of course, is so 
you won't share them or do exactly what you're trying to do.  Not all books 
have DRM, but most do.  If you only buy Kindle books without DRM, you should 
be fine, but there seems to be no easy way to find out which do and which don't.

There is a little bit of good news.  Someone has written a Python program to 
break this decryption.  I will not share it for obvious legal reasons, but 
one can find it if one looks hard enough.  It was designed for Windows and 
might require a GUI, but since the decryption part is a command line Python 
program, it should work in Linux.  Look for a program to break the Amazon 
DRM encryption on .mobi files.

Sorry for not having a better answer.  If you're in the US, Bookshare is 
probably a better alternative.  They don't use DRM, their files are a lot 
easier to convert and they get a lot of publisher files.  They do have 
international members, but I don't know to what extent their books are 
available outside of the US.  Hopefully the recently enacted treaty will 
help with some of this.  If you do have a better solution, I am very 
interested.  I usually don't buy Kindle books because it's such a hassle to 
make them readable.

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