Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Using Calibre and DeDRM Plug-In to remove Adobe DRM from Google Play .ascm ePUB files (Update 2023)

Update 2023

After my ginormous Aperture to Photos migration I was able to move my beloved Air from Mojave to the latest macOS it can run - Monterey. Sadly that meant my original DeDRM install (below) stopped working. The good news is I was able to recreate it, but the process was not very well documented. Here are a few tips that might be useful -- though the big tip is that it can be done. These directions are for Monterey but they apply to Sonoma as well. I'm only reviewing use to remove Adobe DRM from Google Play books.

You need: DeDRM Tools and the appropriate version of Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions. I had saved my my .der (Adobe DRM Certificate file) from Mojave and so I can't add add anything about getting the .der cert; see the cryptic references from 2013 below.

There's no longer a standalone DeDRM app, you can't drag and drop to remove the DRM. You have to use Calibre.

Install Calibre first then install the DeDRM plugin. Read the sparse directions carefully. You don't need the Obok plugin for Adobe DRM ePub.

I haven't found any UI for the DeDRM plugin. If you view Calibre/preferences/plugins/DeDRM you can see configuration for Adobe Digital Editions books (click option to "Show only user installed plugins" so you can easily see the DeDRM plugin). My DeDRM plugin configuration used default_key but I did import my saved .der file; it said it was already saved.

Once you've followed the obscure directions to download a .ascm file and then get the DRMd ePub in Adobe Digital Editions (see 2013, it hasn't changed!) you can import it into Calibre. If you can view the ePub in Calibre's reader the DRM is gone. Do view it there first, it might trigger the DRM removal.

Right click on the ePUB in Calibre then choose "Open book folder". You should see a file with the suffix .epub that can now be opened in Test it there and then save it to your ePub library (I use folders). I think sometimes you can see an additional file with the suffix original_epub. It will still be DRMd.

Original 2013

I previously wrote EPUB and DeDRM: Why Google Play Store is the best eBookStore for iBooks fans. (Bonus: Fixing Adobe Digital Edition crash.), but my efforts to put the books I own on my personal device were frustrated when it turned out all of my Google Play books were DRM free. So I could easily put the ePUBs in Google Drive, upload to Google Play and drop them into iTunes for use on my iPhone.

Today I purchased a genuine Google Play Adobe Editions DRMd book. I was able to remove the Adobe DRM and open it in iBooks on my iPhone. So it's doable - barely. I fear, however, that my friends who think this is an easy solution to eBook DRM problems are operating on a higher plain than I. DRM removal is not the answer to flat (soon falling?) eBook sales. iTunes music style DRM (signed files) is the answer.

I'm not sure I can quite recreate all the steps, but these tips may help Mountain Lion users. Use them while you read and reread Apprentice Alf's guide


You need to download the following apps and install the first two.

  1. Adobe Digital Edition
  2. Calibre
  3. The limelinx tools (includes the DeDRM app but, most importantly, the DeDRM_calibre plugin)
  1. Download your ePub from Google Apps. This process is very cryptic (I think Google wants us to stop downloading these.) Mouseover your book in Play, look for a strange faint dashed line icon, click it to get the download option. You will download a .ascm file.
  2. Launch Adobe Digital Edition and register yourself with Adobe. Open your .ascm file in ADE, observe that an ePub file is now saved to Documents/Digital Editions. Note that carefully.
  3. Launch Calibre and then carefully follow the directions for installing into Calibre. Note that Calibre has changed a bit since the directions were written so some interpretation may be needed.
  4. The directions say: "On Macintosh and Windows systems no customization is required for ebooks from Kindle for Mac/PC or Adobe Digital Editions (ADE), provided that calibre is run on the same computer and user account as the installation of Kindle for Mac/PC or ADE to which the books were downloaded. The default key is found and stored in the preferences automatically. " This did not work for me. I had to follow the configuration steps, which are cryptic. I clicked on DeDRM then clicked the customize button the configuration for "Adobe Digital Editions eBooks", then click on the green + to get "default_key". Ignore "Import Existing Keyfiles". Then restart Calibre.
Import book into Calibre, save ePUB to desktop.
  1. Now, using Calibre, import the ePub file saved in Documents/Digital Editions.
  2. You should be able to to Save Only ePub format to disk. The ePUB produced at that point is DRM free (or was in my case).
Using DeDRM app
Prior to using Calibre I'd tried unsuccessfully; it didn't have a key (".der file") and couldn't find one. After I'd gotten the Calibre process working I tried DeDRM again and it had the "default_key". I ran it again the Documents/Digital Editions ePub and it told me the DRM was removed. This is a much easier process than using Calibre; perhaps there is a shortcut to get directly to this step. Going forward I expect to use
Incidentally, the Alf site warns that commercial "DeDRM" apps are wrapped copies of the DeDRM code. I believe that's true.
Update 3/27/2014:After I got the default_key working I can simply use DeDRM to remove ePUB DRM. The configuration process creates a .der file that is stored in /Users/YourUserName/Library/Preferences/com.apprenticealf.dedrm. That .der file can be added to a new install through simple setup — it’s the output of the complex process described above.


Marc said...

Thanks a lot, you helped me through this complicated process!

José Goldemberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zidders Roofurry said...

Thank you SO much! I really don't appreciate being locked out of books I paid for. Especially since you never know when your ability to access your property will be cut off due to the company whose program you depend on going out of business.