More on my DRM saga

I read books in Italian in Lingq much faster and understand more if for no other reason I don’t have to look up anything I’ve looked up before. Over the last couple of years I’ve read all of Elena Ferrante and am getting to know other authors as well. In order to do this, however, I need to get the DRM out of a Kindle or Nook book so I can get the book into Lingq.

I never make these books public on Lingq because I understand that would be depriving authors and publishers of legitimate income (although so does our entire printed books library system, but that’s another issue). You could say that being able to read these books with the aid of Lingq is actually a benefit to publishers, since the faster I read the more books I will buy. But still Kindle and Nook don’t get it and they keep upping their DRM protections.

I’ve tried EVERYTHING to get to a system I can rely on to read books in Italian on Lingq: Calibre, Epubor Ultimate, and any other conversion method I can find, sometimes with success, and sometimes not. I’ve even tried a terribly laborious workaround whereby I make screenshots of the pages, convert them two pages at a time to text, then put the chapters back together, then import them to Lingq. It sort of worked but exhausted my patience quickly.

Along the way I’ve encountered a few weirdnesses in the electronic publishing world. First, just because a book is available in Italian doesn’t mean I’m going to find it on Kindle because they are subjected to licensing issues we don’t have with printed books. So, for example, on Kindle I could find a Natalia Ginsburg novel in English, Spanish, German, even Dutch, but not in Italian. The Italian editions were available on Amazon in Italy but I was not allowed to buy them there. Why? Amazon has the rights to sell the books in Italy but not in the USA where only Barnes & Noble could sell them for their Nook machines. But in the Apple space where my devices all live, the Nook only works on the iPhone or iPad, not on the Mac computer, which is the only device on which you might possibly be a able to strip a Nook of its DRM with Epubor Ultimate. In short every effort I made to read my books in Lingq ended in a series of previously unimaginable frustrations and I more or less gave up, until a lovely Lingquista named Davide responded to one of my many frustrated posts and offered to help, which he could do in Italy, buying the book for me and converting it to a form Lingq can recognize. As long as I have Davide, my problem is solved, which tells us something about the power of humans in an electronic world, but that’s another story, too.

The solution it seems to me is to allow people to buy Lingq certified copies of the book. These would be texts that you could could read in Lingq privately without sharing with others. What do others think? Mark or Steve, if you’re reading this, could we possibly negotiate for Lingq editions of ebooks?

And finally, thanks again to my fellow Lingquista, Davide.


Check out the recent post by Satorii who appears to have a suggestion on a way to make the “screenshot/ocr” method more automated. Might be worth a shot.

Another option is to get the physical book and have a company scan it (destructively is the cheapest option) to create a pdf/ebub/mobi, etc file.

Someone recommended this some time ago. I have no idea how well it works out and it’s kind of expensive in the end, but it is a possibility.

General rant The fact that DRM exists is so annoying, and I have always thought this, mainly because the only people that it punishes are the people that legally buy the content. The people that pirate it will pirate it DRM or not. The music industry realised this a while back. Say 15 years ago, if you wanted to buy digital music it would come DRM’d. If you bought it from iTunes, you could only put it on an iPod and if you bought it from any other store that used WMA then you couldn’t put that on an iPod, but you could put it on any other MP3 player. Fortunately, it was easy to work around by burning the music onto a CD and then re-ripping it as MP3. It didn’t stop anyone using Limewire/Bitorrent to illegally download the music. Eventually, the music industry seemed to realise that the DRM was pointless and decided to allow DRM free MP3 downloads. In fact, now if I buy a CD from Amazon (yeah they still exist) I get the MP3 automatically, and in some weird economy it’s often cheaper to buy the CD to get the MP3s than buying the MP3s!

I suspect because ebooks have never got a big traction, and Kindle is the equivalent in the ebook world of what iTunes was in the music world (their DRM only works on Kindle’s, whereas everyone else’s works on everything except Kindle’s but Kindle is the market leader so they get away with it) and there is no incentive for them to deliver ebooks DRM free. Kindle is the market leader so they can control where you buy your content from, which again just punishes people like us that want to buy them legally and support the author/publishers and the people that will pirate them will still pirate them. In fact I think I heard that the Kindle readers are a loss leader for Amazon, they make the money back on the fact that the only place you can buy books for it is from their Kindle store.

I was thinking about this earlier, and a LingQ ebook store would be so cool, where you could have the option of buying an ebook (and possibly audiobook) with that then automatically importing into your LingQ account. I suspect that some smaller ebook distributors may be interested in such a deal, and LingQ could then earn a commission from those sales as well. However, I suspect that as LingQ is a comparatively minor platform then the complexities and technical difficulty of developing such a platform would probably outweigh the reward it would bring. Still we can dream…

For me, I really don’t have the time or energy to even try to attempt any kind of DRM hacking and so I will stick to using out-of-copyright books and other free content for now.

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I doubt this is possible, as it would undermine the DRM protection mechanism. Once you can download your LingQ book copy (publicly shared or not), you can convert and share it illegally. And that is the reason why Amazon will never allow this.
But, maybe I’m wrong :slight_smile:

I here you.

The would be awesome if we could buy books directly here in LingQ, or dictionaries to be used as well, and audiobooks. But that’s a dream!

Funny thing is the most of us don’t even want to find a workaround but we have no choice because we want to study languages. It’s incredible that in a “globalized” words, people that want to study and buy things have these kind of difficulties. But it is what it is.

There will be more people studying more languages in the future and the big companies will probably find new agreements to allow more flexibility in their copyright madness. But right now the digital world is very “old” compared to the need of people across the world.

Think about that I try to use SIRI but this thing is connected to the language I have in the iPhone. So every time I try to use it in a different language, SIRI doesn’t understand a thing. Is it so complicated to make a command to tell SIRI: “switch to Italian language now” - “switch to French language now”. ?

So, even big companies like Apple are narrow minded toward people that speak multiple languages and there is nothing we can do about it. Well, yes, there is something and it’s writing to these companies often ask them to update themselves. Which is what I do often. :slight_smile:

Don’t think about it anymore, for now you’ve founded the solution and that’s the most important.

Thanks. I’m gearing myself up to try Satori’s method. It’s an ongoing saga,

Thanks, Davide. This means a lot, but of course that is because my solution currently is your own good self. In all the craziness that you point to here perhaps the most stupid is only selling ebooks to limited markets. It’s crazy that I can buy any printed book I want to from Amazon in the USA or in Italy but I can’t buy ebooks freely.

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