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Converting Kindle Books to PDF

Overview
This document shows the steps I'm using to export books from my Kindle (books that I bought through Amazon) to PDF format. Why am I doing this? Well, for technical manuals anyway, I prefer PDF format because they're easier for me to annotate and the page layout is usually more friendly to screenshots and code samples. And also, I want to be able to search my tech library from my computer, and Kindle books aren't searchable from outside Kindle. I want Mac Spotlight (and all applications that use Spotlight, like Alfred, DevonThink, Tembo, HoudahSpot, etc.) to be able to index and examine the contents of my tech books. I want to be able to search once and find results in any and all of my web archives, notes, Curio documents and tech books. If I bought the books through a DRM-free seller like O'Reilly, I already have PDF files. If I bought books through the Apple bookstore, I think I'm hosed (their DRM is very difficult to strip out) ... so I don't. But I buy a lot of tech books through Amazon, so this is how to work with them (for entirely legal purposes, thank you). All of this uses software that I found as of September 2012, which means (a) this is the stuff I found, not necessarily all the stuff that's out there; and (b) everything could change tomorrow. Aint technology grand.

Converting Kindle Books to PDF

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Start in Kindle for Mac: the book in question must be stored locally.

Here's a snapshot of my Kindle for Mac home screen. (Yes, I have a lot of copies of Emily Goes Overboard ... there's a whole story there, for another time.) In the picture I've highlighted some of my tech books.

Converting Kindle Books to PDF

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click the Archived Items button. If the book in question hasn't been downloaded to the computer yet (maybe it's only on the iPad). This shows everything that's been purchased but isn't stored locally. Find the book you want. you'll need to go get it. 2. it might take a little while). This will download the book (if it's a big book.If necessary. 1. right-click on it and choose Add to Home. In Kindle for Mac. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 3 . retrieve the book from the Kindle account archive.

. many (though not all) Kindle file names are darned cryptic. but I haven't found it yet. it'll be in Documents > My Kindle Content Here's where Kindle for Mac stores your books. just keep processing books using the steps that follow until you get the right one. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 4 .. How can you tell which book is which? Trial and error is one way .Find the local file for the book .. Unfortunately.. Maybe there's a better way. The file you want is going to be an AZW file.

it'll be the most recently added item in the folder. or maybe you just purchased it. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 5 . If you just downloaded the book in question from the archive... So one trick is to tell the Finder to arrange the contents of the folder by Date Added. The item at the top of the list is probably the book I want. since I just downloaded this book.For newly downloaded books. That's what I'm doing here.

Following the instructions in the ReadMe. it's a droplet. this is embarrassing. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 6 .1 folder. of course . I copied the droplet to my Applications folder and put it in the dock. Here's where I got it: http://apprenticealf.. (And okay... I found this online and it works swell..Use a DRM-stripping utility . Drag the AZW file from My Kindle Content onto the droplet. so my steps recorded here don't make use of that. But that's how I'm doing it. I'm using DeDRM from Apprentice Alf.. The droplet doesn't have to be in the dock for this.com/2010/11/18/dedrm-applescript-for-mac-os-x-10-5-10-6/ I downloaded a zip archive that extracts to this tools_v5. I never investigated that Calibre_Plugins folder there . no matter where it's stored..) The main tool I use from here is a Python droplet that you'll find in the DeDRM_Applcations folder. Setting the plugins up looks a bit daunting to me.wordpress. so for now I'm fine without using them.

if all goes well. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 7 .After a moment. Just click Thanks to make it go away... This success message should appear.

You can select an ebook using the button here (instead of dropping it). Nook. This is the window that appears. iPad. double-click on it to open it. and also a setting for where the de-drm file will be saved. Just keep clicking "None" as it asks you about one type of identification number after another. Note: If you click the Configure button. Configuration includes a lot of settings relating to identifiers for Kindle. You can set the configuration with the Configure button. and finally you'll get to the screen that lets you set the destination folder for your drm-free books. you get asked for serial numbers and such and there's no obvious way out of the dialog window. I've changed mine to save to the desktop. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 8 . The default is to save it in the same directory as the original.PS Configuring the droplet If you want to see details and/or configure the droplet. etc.

and also it has _nodrm appended to its end. The title has been expanded to something more useful than a bunch of cryptic junk. (At this point.Find the non-drm book file. I can tell for absolutely certain that I chose the correct book to work with -. Here's what my book file looks like.) Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 9 . though.this is the tech book I need to convert to PDF. It's still a MOBI file.

rather than just trying to auto-detect what's on your system. 2. which is all of the ebooks that you've imported into Calibre already. or if none is selected the first book in the list.. Here's the Calibre main window. The buttons across the top of the screen are how we'll do things. it's ugly . Note that Calibre stores copies of its books in its own library folder.) 1.. At the center of the window is the Calibre library.) Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 10 .Launch Calibre. (And yes. oh well. 3. (We'll only be using Add books and Convert books. The right pane of the window shows details about whatever book is selected in the list.

choose it. Locate it. and continue.Press the Add book button to add the new non-drm MOBI book. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 11 . Pressing the button will open a dialog box to locate your book. Here's the Calibre library with my drm-free MOBI added. Select the new book.

First. The convert window opens .. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 12 . or (b) I haven't tried out. make sure that the input format is MOBI and the output format is PDF (2). it's a big window with lots to do. Note: I'm skipping past all sorts of options and information that (a) isn't needed for what I'm doing right here.. You'll see when you're choosing your output format how many possible formats Calibre gives you. You'll need to be in the Metadata section (1) to do this.Press the Convert books button.

I like pushing it up to 130%. For readability under possibly sub-optimal conditions. I don't know why. readable letter-sized PDF document. the Default Output Profile creates a really nice. but I've only tried a few things. Here's the look and feel section. 1. but choosing the PDF output format doesn't automatically set this profile. good for reading on a computer.Adjust settings in the Look & Feel section. Clearly there's a lot you can do here (including custom CSS!). It's deselected by default. a little extra leading can be a great help. 2. As the description here shows. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 13 . Another aid to readability is setting text to Left align. When I selected Disable font size rescaling.. I created a mess . just leave it that way. Especially with my tech books. The default here is 120%. 3. so don't. Adjust the page setup output profile. code-heavy text is all but unreadable if the alignment gets goofed up or is badly justified..

this section will be different if you're choosing other than PDF to export to. 1. The default margins are 5 points wide. Finally. 2. adjust the PDF Output settings. I like at least 30 points here.Also in the Page Setup section. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 14 . I don't really know if setting the input profile to Kindle is necessary. but I figure it can't hurt. As the description suggests. set the input profile and margins. which is almost like no margin at all.

Everything here is at the default except as noted.My favorite PDF settings. so weird line breaks don't happen nearly so often. 1. but it's right there at the lower right corner. If the text isn't large enough for me. Default font size is something godawfully large (20 pixels).it avoids weird things happening with leading. I'm going to be on a computer screen when I'm reading it so I can always zoom in. So I change the font type to sans (Helvetica). which guarantees that the page won't be very readable. I like 11 pixels because it fits a decent amount of text on each line. 2. I also like to set the monospace font size to be the same as the default font size -. which isn't as readable on a computer screen and which I generally don't like for tech books. Ready? Click OK. Default font is serif. The OK button can get lost in all the clutter. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 15 .

you're done! Jobs: 0 means the conversion is done.) You'll also get a Growl notification. it'll say 0. When the job counter reaches 0. When the book is finished.. converting can take a while.Watch the Jobs indicator .) Note that the activity indicator doesn't go away (it just stops spinning). It can take several minutes to convert a big book. (This is all in the lower right corner of the main Calibre window. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 16 . Pretty much the only clue you get from the Calibre interface as to what's happening is the little spinning activity indicator and the job counter. it'll say 1. This is the notification I get when the conversion process starts.. (You may also get a Growl notification. If you're processing one book. so if you have Growl you'll see them. Calibre sends out Growl notifications.

This one took me a while to figure out . no new book appears in the library list.Examine the Calibre library to find your new book. When the conversion process is done. But the book that you converted is now in the library in its new format.. you'll see multiple formats listed. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 17 .. So if you select that book and examine the book information pane (on the right-hand side of the window). it doesn't exactly jump right out at you.

each of these format acronyms is a link.Click the PDF link. Click the PDF link to view that format. As the blue color indicates. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 18 .

and go through the options for export. Note: If you don't like the result you get. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 19 . left-aligned for maximum readability. Here's a page from my newly converted tech book. experimenting with some different choices. you can always do it again. the font is uniformly sized in a nice. Just close the PDF viewer window.Check out your PDF in the Calibre PDF viewer. Calibre will overwrite the old PDF with the new one it generates. The margins are a decent size. easy-to-read Helvetica. click the Convert books button again.

You can copy it into DevonThink or just make sure DT indexes the Calibre Library folder if you want to search the book from there. If you're using Spotlight-based searches. Or you can ask Calibre to browse there fore you.Find the new PDF file on your computer. you can browse there in the Finder. You can open this PDF in Preview or Acrobat or any program you prefer. To find the PDF file you just made. Calibre stores its files in Home > Calibre Library. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 20 . the PDF will be indexed and searched automatically. The Calibre library showing my new book Here's my new PDF. Just click the Path: Click to open link.

.. we can see that (1) my new PDF contains that phrase. iPhone App Development the Missing Manual. a Spotlight front-end) for the phrase preventing memory leaks -. the iOS 5 Developer's Cookbook. using the tools I got from Apprentice Alf -those two exports aren't very attractive or readable. were they searchable) doesn't include any of my MOBI or AZW files. they are searchable. though as you can see. A tech book I bought from O'Reilly that came in drm-free PDF format.something I might want to look up if I'm stuck on a programming problem. Here I've performed a search (using Tembo.Searching the contents. From the results shown. Note that the results for Documents (which is where MOBI files would appear. Note: The reference under Documents to the iOS 5 Developer's Cookbook (3) is actually pointing to RTF and HTML exports I tried from my MOBI file. also got results (2). Also another tech book I PDF-ized. Converting Kindle Books to PDF Page 21 . also contains the phrase.