How to Safeguard Your E-Book Library
In recent years, digital books, or e-books, have taken off, fueled by a growing number of portable devices and apps that let users browse and purchase books from virtually anywhere.
To be able to have your entire personal library only a few finger taps away, and to be able to read a book on one device and pick up where you left off on another, is undeniably convenient, but it comes at a cost, as demonstrated by the recent story of Linn Nygaard, a Norwegian who had her entire digital library erased by Amazon with no explanation (her collection has since been restored, perhaps in response to the public outcry that the case triggered).
How can I prevent my digital library from being erased?
What happened to Nygaard is a nightmare scenario for any digital bookworm. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent this from happening to you.
Perhaps the simplest thing to do is turn off the Wi-Fi or cellular Internet connection on your e-reader; get e-booksby first purchasing them on your computer and then transferring them to your device via a data cord.
This way, even if Amazon shuts down your account, the e-books on your Kindle are still safe.
What if I don’t want to keep the Internet connection on my e-reader turned off?
Admittedly, turning off your e-reader's Internet connection makes buying and reading e-books much more of a chore. After all, a big selling point of the Kindle and similar devices is their ability to browse and purchase books on their own.
If you don't want to give up this ability, another thing you can do is to create a backup of your e-books in case you need to restore them later.
To do this, connect your e-reader to your computer. It should show up as a drive that you can add or remove files from. Navigate to the folder where e-book files are stored —on the Kindle E Ink devices, it's "documents" — and copy the book files to your computer.
For Kindles, the e-book format is .azw or .azw3, while Barnes & Noble's Nook device uses the more universally accepted .epub format.
Now that you've created a copy of your e-books, you can restore them to your e-reader if your device is ever wiped. Remember to turn off your e-reader’s Internet connection after the restore to prevent it from being wiped again.
However, this is only a stopgap solution. You’ll have all of your old e-books, but if your Amazon or Barnes & Nobles account has been permanently shut down, you won’t able to buy new e-books for your device from them. In this case, it may be time to switch to another e-reader.
How can I transfer my e-books to another device?
Unfortunately, moving e-books between different e-readers is not easy. It requires stripping the protection that is built into your e-book files. Called Digital Rights Management, or DRM, companies put this safeguard in place to prevent their e-books from being pirated over the Internet or easily transferred to competing devices.
Note that it is technically illegal to strip the DRM from e-books, but if you feel strongly that companies shouldn't be able to take back books that you've already purchased, there are ways to do so. One of the most popular methods is to use a free e-book management program called Calibre in conjunction with plugins to strip the DRM from e-books and convert them to other e-book formats such as .epub or .mobi. This latter step is necessary for Kindle e-books because Amazon uses their own proprietary e-book format that is not compatible with other readers.
We won't go into the details of how to remove the DRM from your e-books here, but tutorials can be easily found online.