Friday, 22 January 2010
Kindle and Google Books "ripping" apps released
Two months ago I announced a contest to predict "the date when the first working Kindle ripping app capable of generating a PDF, text, or HTML file from a Kindle file is publicly released".
We've got a winner, commenter "Ben", who predicted 31 December 2009, midway between the dates of release of two contenders for the title of first Kindle ripping app: unswindle was released on 17 December 2009 (and reported in The Register on 23 December 2009), and Kindle PC Converter for Windows was announced in a comment to my original blog post on 16 January 2010.
"unswindle" actually decrypts the Kindle file, making it vulnerable to any changes in the Kindle encryption system. And few naive users will use a set of python scripts if they aren't distributed with a one-click installer or clear step-by-step cookbook instructions. But it's free, and at least for now, it apparently works.
The commercial "Kindle PC Converter" is, to me, more significant if less of a technical accomplishment. It's a Windows app with a one-click installer and a GUI that anyone can use. And it doesn't even try to decrypt the Kindle file: it lets the Kindle for PC app decrypt the file and display it on screen, and captures the pages as displayed on the screen. Amazon could change the Kindle GUI to force the developers of the Kindle PC Converter to change their image capture system, but that's easy compared to cracking a new or modified encryption scheme. There's no way to build an app that will display anything on screen without exposing that display to capture into an image file or PDF.
The developers of the Kindle PC Converter have released a Google Books Download app for Windows that applies the same approach to Google Books: it "reads" the book on Google's Web site in a browser, and captures it to a PDF.
Either the Google Books or Kindle ripping apps will be useful for those who want to read these books offline and on Linux, Symbian, or other devices.
If the proposed Google Books settlement is approved, they will also come in handy not just for those who want to "share" their Google Books purchases with friends or over file-sharing networks, but for would-be readers of Google Books in other countries. And it exposes the complete bankruptcy of the claim (and the technical ignorance of those who adhere to it), reiterated by Paul Aiken of the Authors Guild during the panel I was part of in New York on Wednesday, that Google Books downloads will only be available to authorized purchasers in the USA.Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 22 January 2010, 10:29 (10:29 AM)