Share Kobo e-books with your family

A step-by-step guide on how to share your Kobo e-books with your partner and other family members.

Share Kobo e-books with your family
Two Kobo e-readers ready to share e-books between partner and family

Both me and my partner have a Kobo reader. You would think sharing a book within the family is easy and might even go over Wi-Fi. Zoofffff. Like we share paper books: "I am done reading, the book is absolute worth reading, here you go. Please don’t make dog ears".

Of course, this is not how it works. The Digital Rights of these e-books are managed on a personal basis. Legally the e-books are even not fully yours, you own a licence. When you want to share an e-book, you create a copy, and that is not allowed within this system. But giving away your e-reader to share the e-book is probably not practical as well.

Legally the ebooks are even not fully yours, you own a license.

Rather than beaming the book over, you will need to go through some time-consuming steps. So, how to move around the limitations and share e-books within the family?

Step-by-step guide to share e-books

To start, and try to make things simple, I made this overview of the flow of things:

Steps to share ebooks on Kobo

Through your Kobo online store, download the e-book you want to share. Once logged in, the site offers an option to download. Doing this will not download the actual e-book but a file (with the extension ACSM, and it contains sort of a token). That file you need to open with a program called Adobe Digital Editions. From there you can download the protected e-book.

Remove the digital seal

You then remove the seal by importing the e-book into Calibre. The file to import resides in a folder that Adobe created. Calibre removes the seal (called Digital Rights Management or DRM) if you installed a specific plugin. The installation of the plugin is described on this DRM removal plugin page.

Once the DRM is removed from the e-book, you can send the EPUB-file off to your partner. You can do this by locating the EPUB-file and for instance use email to send the file. The receiving party then also needs to use Calibre to get the file in their library and move it onto the Kobo reader.

It might be that this procedure is not legal in the country you live. Paying for books is the right thing to do, this is not intended for commercial purposes. As it is worded on the DeDRM plugin site:

Please only use these tools for gaining full access to your own ebooks for archiving/conversion/convenience. De-drmed ebooks should not be uploaded to open servers, torrents, or other methods of mass distribution. No help will be given to people doing such things. Authors, retailers and publishers all need to make a living, so that they can continue to produce books for us to read. Don’t be a parasite.

Summary of steps

Short summary of steps:

  1. Make sure to install and configure Adobe Digital Editions, Calibre and DeDRM plugin
  2. Download the e-book ACSM link to computer
  3. Download the e-book file to Adobe Digital Editions
  4. Import into Calibre (DRM is removed)
  5. Exchange e-book file

I think setting it all up for the first time, installing software, creating an Adobe ID and getting familiar with Calibre will take an hour at minimum. It definitely helps if you are already using Calibre. But hang in there, it is worth the trouble. The second time you follow these steps, it will take less than 3 minutes.