De-ACSM'ing and de-DRM'ing e-books for fun (but not profit)

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Last updated on

A reminder for myself how to make library e-books pleasant to use with the help of Calibre and two Calibre plugins.

Table of contents


My local library provides many e-books for free, which is great, but actually getting those e-books to my Kindle Paperwhite is a hassle:

  1. Download an EPUB file (so the button says on the library site) – whoops, it's actually an ACSM file.
  2. Download Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software to open the ACSM file – whoops, ADE requires an Adobe account.
  3. Create an Adobe account.
  4. Get an EPUB file from ADE.
  5. Upload the EPUB file to Kindle Paperwhite – whoops, Kindle doesn't support EPUB files.
  6. Convert the EPUB file to a Kindle-supported format (e.g. MOBI) – whoops, the EPUB file is DRM-protected so it's not that simple.
  7. Remove the DRM protection by using a shady website, probably risking leaking your personal info (likely stored in the DRM-protected EPUB file).
  8. Finally upload the DRM-free, Kindle-compatible file to Kindle.

I don't actually know the exact process because I have never done it the "official way." Just too complicated, too much work, too annoying.


Initial setup

Needs to be done only once.

  1. Download and install Calibre (e-book management software).
  2. Download and install DeDRM_tools plugin for Calibre.
    • This plugin will automatically remove DRM protection from EPUB files that you drag-and-drop to Calibre.
    • noDRM's fork (linked to above) is up-to-date; the original is not.
    • Be sure to install this before the next plugin, or you might need to do one extra step manually when configuring the next plugin.
  3. Download, install and configure ACSM Input plugin for Calibre.
    • This plugin will automatically convert ACSM files that you drag-and-drop to Calibre into EPUB files
      • No need for ADE (Adobe Digital Editions software).
      • No need for an Adobe account because you can create an anonymous authorization in the plugin's settings.
  4. (Optional: Configure Calibre to auto-convert EPUB files to AZW3 instead of MOBI.)

E-book to Kindle

  1. Download an ACSM file from library site.
  2. Drag-and-drop the ACSM file to Calibre.
  3. Plug in Kindle to computer (via USB).
  4. Select the book in Calibre and click "Send to device."
  5. Eject Kindle.
  6. Go read and enjoy the book!

All steps except the 2nd one are fluff, so this is actually a one-step process (just drag-and-drop to Calibre). Nice and easy.