How to read DRM'd ePub books on the Kindle Fire. Amazon makes it doable.


Amazon makes it possible but doesn't make it ultra-easy

The two most popular ePub readers for Android are not made available for the Kindle Fire, as Amazon concentrates on its own books but, as with about 3 million free books available these days for reading on the Kindle and which Amazon points us to on their own pages (re Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, etc., all explained at this blog's Free Kindle Books guide), Amazon doesn't limit your ability to download non-Amazon books (despite the myths propagated by those who may just wish it were so).

With Amazon's new KF8 (Kindle Format using HTML 5) capabilities, there is less reason to go out of one's way to get an ePub version of a book for layouat reasons, but there will always be certain ePub books that Amazon doesn't have, and now those, even if using Adobe DRM, can be read on a Kindle device - the Kindle Fire.

It's an Android-based device, and there are Android apps written to read ePub files and, further more, ADOBE-DRM'd ePub files.

The two most commonly recommended ones are Aldiko and Mantano. You can download the Aldiko app from Aldiko, and there are a number of mostly-reliable places that offer app downloads (LEN EDGERLY recommended one of my favorites, slideme.org, for the Mantano app -- you also need to sign up with slideme.org and download its store app to get its apps).

  Off Topic - but something you should know about.  See Len's The Kindle Chronicles, which is now being offered as a Kindle-edition blog subscription too, so you can read it offline, as Len is adding lengthier written pieces as well as his ultra-informative weekly podcasts and summaries.  Tonight's will be an interview with James McQuivey, of Forrester Research, whose interview is likely going to be an antidote to the The Sky is Falling columns by news-site publishers lately, who only a week before had reams of stories on how Amazon is becoming a scary monopoly which must be stopped!
    Kindle sales were down 1st quarter after a huge Christmas with the new launches and as the iPad 3 was being released.   I'm surprised people didn't expect the usual post-season lower sales.  This will be true with any product.  But McQuivey has a good handle on the e-reader scene, so I look forward to what he says and there's a lot more that's happening with e-readers and tablets.  [ Ending Off-Topic]


A DEFAULT SETTING ON THE KINDLE FIRE MUST BE SET TO 'ON' RATHER THAN 'OFF' for installing Non-Amazon apps.
  So,  BEFORE you install any of these ePub readers, you need to change a default setting on your Kindle Fire "Device" option, to "Allow Installation of Applications from Unknown Sources" - then select the " ON" status and confirm, for the pop-up advisory, that you do want to install apps from unknown sources.  Here are the steps:
  • Lightly tap gear/wheel icon on top right of Kindle Fire
  • Click on "+ or More"
  • Scroll down below "Kindle Keyboard" to get to "Device"
  • Scroll down to "Allow Installation of Applications from Unknown Sources" and change the setting from "OFF" to "ON"
  • Tell the pop-up Yes, you want to allow this
  • Then use the Kindle Fire's web browser to download the file and install it the way you'd install any other app that's downloadable to the device.
  You can always turn this setting Off again after getting a file, so that you can confirm you want to do this each time you decide you want to try an app not available at the Amazon Android Appstore.

REMINDER that you need to use  CAUTION with FILE DOWNLOADS, on computers, tablets, and phones.
 
  The option to install an app from "an unknown source" is an everyday Android system feature and is one reason Android is considered more 'open' than Apple, but also, the device owner takes responsibility for knowing that an app could be quite buggy, might not be that compatible with your device, or may even may have malware.

   We all know about the latter with our normal computer downloads from file-download sites.   NOTE that Barnes and Noble decided not to allow this 'unknown sources' feature on its Nook Tablet.  With B&N's tablet, you can install only Nookstore apps (a relatively limited set), which is one reason people rush to root it if they can, as it's the only way to take advantage of the regular Android market apps, and it usually needs to be done with each new software update.

WHY USERS LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVE APPS
  One example:  many of us have used something called Dolphin web browser instead of Amazon's "Silk" default web browser because it allows full-screen view and was more likely to access with fewer problems some television series videos usinsg Flash.
    Recently Amazon added not only the full-screen toggle but added a *really useful and effective* " Reading View" to separate a web article from ads and side-columns surrounding it, and it's beautifully implemented and extremely readable on a small unit.

  As a result, many of us have gone back to the Silk browser (even if we turn OFF "Acceleration" because some of us find our own preferred website locations load faster with that off).  
  Despite a column by CNet's Ed Rhee that Acceleration must be turned on for this to work, thats not true.

  Once the browser identifies an article as the main body of a web page, it'll display a reading-glasses icon at the bottom status line near the Bookmarks icon, although it can take awhile to 'decide' this.
  Just lightly press that to get it going.  Rhee has on that page, though, a good illustration of what a regular web page looks like vs the Reading View of it.

  I do miss this Reading View function when in other web browsers now and haven't seen anything else like this for web browsing on any other small device.  Kudos to Amazon programmers.


"VETTING" OF ANDROID APPS
  At any rate, Amazon Kindle Fire users have the ability to try apps from other sources, in case they have features that our current app doesn't.  But if they're not in the Amazon store, it means they haven't gone through or passed Amazon's vetting system for its Android appstore. 
  Just before Christmas, I pointed out the following, quoted from a LinuxInsider story,  and it's explains why Amazon can take so long to approve apps and why some may not be approved for the Kindle Fire:
  " LinuxInsider has a story on Dec 20 titled, " Can Amazon Save Android from Malware Hell?"  They point out:
' Simply put, Amazon tests apps to death before letting them into its app store.  Every app submitted undergoes tests for various aspects of its performance.  There are linking tests, stability and functionality tests, tests on content issues and tests on security issues.

Each aspect is tested in several ways.  For example, stability and functionality tests look to see whether an app opens within 15 seconds; whether it is compliant with the major carriers' networks; whether it freezes, has forced closings or exhibits other forms of instability; and how it reacts to phone calls, text messages, and alarms.  

Content issue tests look for missing content, unreadable text and incorrect graphics.   They also ensure the app complies with Amazon's content guidelines on offensive content, copyright infringement, illegal activities and other issues.

Security tests include making sure the app doesn't store passwords without the user's content, doesn't collect data and send it to unknown servers, and doesn't harm existing content on the device. '
Reminder:  Even with Google's official Android Market (now called Google Play), Google was hit with malware a few times.  I tend to let a newly offered file or file update sit for a few days, at least, anywhere, to make sure it doesn't give other people problems, before I download it.


HAVING SAID ALL THAT...
We finally get to Aldiko and Mantano.  Aldiko used to be the one most mentioned, as it may have been more intuitive at first and has good email-attachment handling for downloading of ebooks, but Mantano has features like annotations and bookmarks that for some reason Aldiko doesn't, and that makes a huge difference for most people.   Lynne Connolly at Nate Hoffelder's The Digital Reader added the following to Nate's interesting column on Aldiko:
' I uninstalled Aldiko because it doesn’t have highlighting, note-taking or bookmarking, and because it doesn’t render text properly – no italics! You can tell it to go to publisher defaults but then the fonts are horrible and it will only scroll, not flip.

I’m with you on Cool Reader. I really like it and it’s my second favorite on Android. proper rendering, nice note taking.

My first is Mantano. Note-taking, add your own fonts, proper rendering, italics and all, and the library function is fantastic. You can have your own Collections, like on the Kindle, and there are several views. Mantano is now available in a free version, ad supported, but they’re only on the home page, not in the books. '
Cool Reader is giving Mantano a run for its money though.   At Mobileread.com forums, I saw this by jjansen:
' I did quite like Aldiko until I tried Mantano.  Mantano is my favourite so far in terms of finding a book to read. I can list books by genre, tags and something that Aldiko doesn't do - by Series. I really liked scrolling through the list of series and then saying Yes I would like to read a book in the Alex Cross series for example. For now I anticipate having both Mantano and Cool Reader installed with Cool Reader being the program that I use the most often. '
Cool Reader doesn't handle Adobe DRM though! and doesn't read PDFs, while Mantano is said to do a good job with PDFs, but I've liked ezPDF for PDFs, and it's available at Amazon.  Have not looked at it extensively for relative effectiveness of formatting, however.
   The ability of Mantano to do Collections has to be a deal maker though when it goes with annotations and bookmarks as well.  All three of these ePub readers have text to speech.  Scrolling is said to be very good on Cool Reader and it has page-turning animations, a popular feature.  It reads DOC, RTF, TXT also.

  You may have to "sideload" this app - meaning move it from your computer to the Kindle Fire.   Here's a download site that carries Cool Reader app file but even better here's the author's info page with links to downloads (which seem to be to a computer in a zip file).



"SIDELOADING" APP FILES IF NECESSARY For apps not directly downloadable to the Kindle Fire for some reason, see " How to Sideload non-Amazon Apps" when necessary.




Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links.
NOTES on newer Kindles.
US:
Updated Kindle Fire Basic  7" tablet - $159
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB - $199/$249
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 16/32GB - $299/$369
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G 32/64GB - $499/$599
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $69/$89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $119/$139
Kindle Paperwhite, 3G - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free but slow web
Kindle DX - $379 $299, Free, slow web
UK:
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi
£109
Kindle Paperwhite 3G, UK
£169
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

France
Boutique Kindle
Deutschland - Kindle Store
Italia - Kindle Store
Spain - Kindle Store

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.   Top 100 free bestsellers.   Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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