HOWTO: Read Kindle eBooks on your Windows Mobile 6 device

imageUPDATE 12/16/11:
I was looking to take my Kindle eBooks on the road, so I also wrote a post on how I took a given chapter of an eBook and printed it for reading on the road.  It’s useful for when I’m reading in environments where the reading material could get damaged – like at the pool, on the beach, or in lousy weather conditions. https://kurtsthoughts.com/2011/01/31/how-i-printed-a-chapter-from-a-kindle-ebook/

———————

ORIGINAL POST:
I love my Kindle.  It’s so easy to read and it rarely requires charging.  It provides me with my newspaper every morning and it’s the first eBook reader in maybe 10 years that I read an entire book on.  (And I have!  Lightweight, easy to read in direct sun, ridiculous battery life… suck on that iPad.)

But the statement above implies that I once read an entire book on ANOTHER eBook reader… which in fact I did.  In 2001, I read the entirety of several eBooks on my Windows Mobile device using the Microsoft Reader .LIT format.  The first book I read was Michael Crichton’s Timeline, which I still have to this day in .LIT format… along with a laundry list of Star Trek books.

WHAT ABOUT TODAY?
Today, the Windows Mobile platform isn’t very useful for using any media that is DRM protected.  There just aren’t readers written for content that has DRM on it.  So the question becomes, “How do I disable the DRM on a given Kindle eBook so that I can read my eBooks on my Windows Mobile device?”  I shouldn’t have to worry about what device I read the eBook on as long as I PAY for the eBook and don’t distribute it to others.

It turns out this is relatively trivial to do for Amazon eBooks for the Kindle.

HOW DO YOU DO IT?
First you want to start by downloading a set of tools:

  1. Kindle for PC/Windows 1.01 Beta
    Using the early versions of Kindle for PC makes this possible.  Newer versions are more difficult to deal with apparently – hence the reason I use the 1.01 Beta which is freely downloadable from FileHippo.
    http://www.filehippo.com/download_kindle_for_pc/
    download/2e24d3f4e48ab7ad69d1e21f46a54700
  2. ActiveState’s ActivePython 32-BIT Runtime
    This needs to be 32-bit by the way even if you have 64-bit Windows 7.  The 32-bit runtime can be installed without a problem – any attempt to try the decryption tools on x64 will result in errors that say, “Could not read from memory…”
    http://downloads.activestate.com/ActivePython/releases/2.6.6.15/ActivePython-2.6.6.15-win32-x86.msi
  3. Apprentice Alf’s decryption tools
    These tools are stored in an archive called “tools_v2.2a” and contain Python scripts that strip the DRM off of .MOBI formatted eBooks that Amazon distributes.  Unpack the contents to a directory called “\tools_v2.2a” – including the directory hierarchy.  I have to admit that despite knowing very little about Python, the power of these scripts that are run in an interpreter is very impressive.  There is no binary code involved in the DRM stripping process outside of the Python runtime engine which should have been previously downloaded.
    http://www.mediafire.com/?8mzrezba1bvmuqd
  4. Mobipocket for Windows Mobile 6.x
    This is a free .MOBI file reader, the format that Amazon uses to publish their eBooks in… except that Amazon’s books are for the most part DRM protected to prevent people from moving content to other platform, which is essentially what we’re doing here but for our own personal use only.
    http://www.mobipocket.com/en/DownloadSoft/application.asp?device=WindowsMobile

imageInstall all 3 tools and then install the Mobipocket software on your Windows Mobile phone.  (Again, as a reminder, the decryption tools should simply be unzipped to “\tools_v2.2a” while MAINTAINING THE FOLDER HIERARCHY IN THE ARCHIVE so that you get the right files files grouped into the right folders)

You’ll want to do a little bit of preparation with the apps configuration before you proceed:

  • KINDLE FOR PC
    Once you’ve installed Kindle for PC, sign in and download the books you have access to.  Test that you can read the books within the desktop reader:  If you can’t read the books on the PC, you won’t be able to decrypt them.
  • ACTIVEPYTHON 32-BIT
    Be sure, again, to run the 32-bit version regardless of whether or not you’re running a x64 version of Windows.  64-bit Python won’t run the scripts properly.
  • APPRENTICE ALF’S DECRYPTION TOOLS
    The directory you’re looking for is called:
    \tools_v2.2a\tools\Kindle_Mobi_Tools\Kindle_4_PC_Unswindle

DECRYPTING YOUR FIRST EBOOK
The “Unswindle” script is called “unswindle_v7.pyw”.  It is a little slow but it will automatically open the Kindle for PC application, then wait for you to open an eBook.  Once you do this, close the Kindle for PC application.  The script will continue.

In the background, the Unswindle script has captured the key necessary to decrypt the entire eBook.  Now that it has that in memory, it can process the eBook, decrypt it’s contents, and write a DRM-free version to your hard drive.  The script will open a dialog box that will ask for the name of the file to assign to your newly DRM-free .MOBI eBook.  Type it in and it’ll save the eBook to disk without any DRM.

That’s it.  The file can now be copied to your Windows Mobile device for reading on Mobipocket.  The Mobipocket software will not necessarily recognize the new .MOBI file on your device so in order to READ the new eBook, simply go to File Manager and click on the .MOBI file.  It will register with Mobipocket and you’ll be reading it in seconds.

WHEATON’S LAW APPLIES
I originally wasn’t going to say this but upon further thought, it warrants reminding people that just because you have the ability to now use eBook content on the platforms of your choice, doesn’t mean you should ever deprive hardworking authors of their livelihoods.  This process is obviously for personal use only & Wheaton’s Law most definitely applies.

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6 Responses to HOWTO: Read Kindle eBooks on your Windows Mobile 6 device

  1. danny says:

    Thanks for the groundwork on this – I am going to attempt this tonight.

    On my WM6.5 PPC I have a lot of lit books, many Plucker books from gutenberg.org that I read with Vade Mecum, PDF books and now hopefully some selected Kindle books I have purchased.

    I’ll report my results

  2. kurtsh says:

    One thing I should mention since this post is getting a LOT of traction on the Internet: The ActivePython version you should be using is 2.6ish or 2.7ish. I referred to 2.6.6.15 but I’m now currently using 2.7.2.5 which works as well. I say this because I have a much later 3.x version that these scripts do NOT work with.

    Also, I’ve noticed that the Kindle installer 1.2 also works so you don’t have to go all the way back to the BETA 1.01. But once you hit 1.4, the Kindle for PC reader failed to work with the Unswindle scripts.

    Maybe later I’ll talk about what Topaz is but suffice it to say, there are a set of books out there that can NOT be decrypted or used on Windows Phone 6.5 and they are called Topaz format. They are about 1 in every 20 books so it’s a little rare but be aware that they exist.

  3. Quora says:

    Is there a Kindle app for Windows Mobile 6.1 phones?…

    Yes… and no.  Kindle publishes books in a specially protected derivative of the MOBI ebook format and there is a freely downloadable MOBI eBook reader for Windows Mobile 6x because there are a lot of public domain/out-of-print books published in the …

  4. Chris says:

    damn. It worked fine on a free test book from amazon but now I’ve bought one I just get “Error: kindle for PC installation not found”. Anotehr one to chalk down to experience, I guess 😦

  5. earthspirit7777 says:

    Wondering if you can give me an answer for this?
    I was looking at buying a Windows 7″ Mini Netbook for reading
    my Kindle PC books on the go, but don’t know if the OS in that
    device {WinCE 6.0} will work with the Kindle Pc program. Don’t
    have the money to waste if it doesn’t.

    Are my comments even being posted ? Third try.

    • kurtsh says:

      The short answer is NO. If the device you’re purchasing is driven by the Windows CE 6.0 operating system, then there is no software that I’m aware of that will read Kindle eBooks on large screen form factors like that which you are describing. Windows Mobile 6.0 (the OS this post refers to) is an operating system that is based on Windows CE 6.0 however the software that runs on the device you’re describing is fundamentally different and would not likely run the same applications like those which I’ve described in this post.

      Realistically, you could simply buy a keyboard equipped Tablet-type device like the Microsoft Surface, which definitely has a Kindle reader available to it and also has a lightweight frame, built-in flexible keyboard, purports to have great battery life, and should be cheaper than an iPad. It should be available in October. http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/default.aspx

      In the future, when your comment doesn’t appear after you’ve submitted it to a blog or a web site, it usually means the blog/site owner has to approve your comment before it becomes visible to the public. Additionally, I don’t check my blog daily: I only post 2-3 times a month to this blog because I actually own 4 different blogs.

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