Jun 23

Converting a Kindle book to Nook format (or How I Synced My Life)

A couple of months back, I was sans e-reader. Yes, as strange as it may sound, I was a self-published author in e-book format only…who didn’t have an e-book device. For the past few years, I had been reading books on my iPhone. Damned convenient, no doubt (talk about read-anywhere), but hell on the eyes. And at my ripe old age, and the thousands my wife invested in LASIK for me way back when, I couldn’t take the chance of ruining them. So a little while ago, I picked up a Nook (see my new Nook vs old vs Kindle post here). And I absolutely love it. The problem? I own Kindle books.

When I first got into the world of being an author, and finding so many other fellow authors with books I wanted to read, and having no specific e-reader, I purchased several of their novels in Kindle format, and used the iPhone Kindle app to read them. I also purchased some traditional authors’ works at much higher prices (a Stephen King, two David Webers, a Stephen Baxter, and a Peter F. Hamilton, off the top of my head). No problem, right? Problem – I haven’t read them all, but I look forward to them…and I own a Nook. Yes, I could read them on my iPhone; yes I could purchase them again (although the traditional authors’ stuff combined would run me as much as buying another Nook I think). I decided to convert the Kindle to Nook format (like ripping a CD you own to put in your iPod…that’s how I look at it, for those of you who may say I should be buying the novels again).

There they are...

Took me a while, but I got it. I use Calibre a lot to convert files to other formats, so that was a no-brainer. However, not having a Kindle, I have no “file” to convert. It’s in my iPhone, and with Apple’s closed infrastructure, there’s no way to get to that file. A light bulb went off. The Kindle app for my Mac. It stores the file somewhere, right? Bingo…found them.

I loaded the Kindle app on my MacBook Air, synced with my Amazon account, and my Kindle books appeared; the same ones I have on my iPhone. I drilled down into my system folders (~/Library/Application Support/Kindle/My Kindle Content for you Mac-heads; Windows? Sorry, you’re on your own…but they’re in there somewhere, search for *.azw), and lo and behold, there were the files. All with goofy names and multiple formats, so it was some trial and error to find the ones I wanted. Once I did, I opened the .azw files in Calibre, and *poof* converted them to ePub. From there, a quick drag and drop into my Nook (sideloading), and all my legally purchased and owned content is now in my Nook, ready and waiting for me to read.

I realize many of you already knew this, but I never sat down and thought about it…glad I did. Now I can read those novels on a great device.

By the way, none of my books have DRM on them. I’m more than happy to have someone buy it once and convert for their other devices. Shameless Plug: Wanna give a little best-selling science fiction-adventure a try? Gabriel’s Redemption (book 1) and Gabriel’s Return (book 2) are available for said Kindle for less than a decent Starbucks coffee, and Gabriel’s Revenge (final of trilogy) came out just before Christmas.

Anyone have similar success stories…or some frustrations to share?

About the author

Steve Umstead

Steve Umstead has been the owner of a Caribbean & Mexico travel company for the past ten+ years, but never forgot his lifelong dream of becoming an author. After a successful stab at National Novel Writing Month, he decided to pursue his dream more vigorously…but hasn’t given up the traveling.
Steve lives in scenic (tongue-in-cheek) New Jersey with his wife, two kids, and several bookshelves full of other authors’ science fiction novels. Gabriel’s Redemption was his debut novel, published in February of 2011.


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  1. D. Ryan Leask

    I was wondering about whether or not calibre would convert kindle files, this opens up a whole new world for me, so if I was to buy a book from Amazon I can convert it for my Kobo! Sweet! Wonder how long it will take Amazon to close this loophole?

  2. Charlotte Abel

    Thanks for the conversion tutorial, Steve! I just uploaded “Enchantment” to B&N’s pubit store and am waiting for it to go live, but it’s nice to know there’s a way for my Nook-using friends to access my book if there’s a problem with B&N.

  3. Paula Tohline Calhoun

    My first e-reader was an el cheapo (not only in price) and I had to return two before I got one that worked properly. I finally was able to download some books onto it, and the d*** thing died on me. So I returned that one again, and miserly me decided it would be worth the extra $10 to buy a basic Kindle. which I did, and have had no problems. Although I have not yet downloaded into my Kindle (I had transferred my purchased e-books to my computer). I have yet to transfer them to my Kindle, but I’m pretty sure I can. A per instructions from Kindle, there are a few extra steps I have to take. The only problem I have with Kindle is that because it is an Amazon product, it is proprietary on what you can download, and the owner is forced to go through those extra steps. The same goes for iTunes. I quit a long time ago downloading from them because they make it almost impossible to move them anywhere except an iTunes file! Grrrr… In this case Amazon is perfect for me, so i download all my music files from them. Go figure!

  4. Steve Umstead

    Just to emphasize – my post is NOT about copying and sharing files among friends for no charge. And this will NOT work on DRM protected files, which encompass much of what Amazon & BN sells. This is about having bought a novel in one format and converting it to another for your own use, which is what I did (purchased from Kindle, changed devices.)


    1. Paula Tohline Calhoun

      Of course! I have never shared a book with anyone, but would if asked try the “two-week sharing program” you can do with Kindle. As long as the book is being shared, it is not available to yourself. It’s just like loaning a print book to someone, but better, because you will always get it back in 2 weeks, and it doesn’t get lost!

    2. Carla Weiler

      Steve, I want to move my books from my phone purchased on Amazon Kindle App to my new nook tablet but it says the files are locked by DRM. So… you’re saying that I cannot convert them?

      1. Steve Umstead

        Carla, thanks for the comment. DRM is copy protection, and while there are ways around it (Google it), I cannot comment on it as that can stray into ‘promoting piracy.’ My books are DRM-free, as I believe once you buy it you should be able to read on any of your devices, but many authors (and most big publishers) don’t feel the same.

  5. shayfabbro

    Very awesome!!! :D

    1. Steve Umstead


  6. Catana

    I’m sure Amazon must hate Calibre. I use it all the time to convert from one format to another. The only thing (pretty much) that Calibre can’t handle is files with DRM protection. For some reason, I hadn’t run into DRM yet, probably because I get so many of my books from Smashwords and other non-Amazon sources. But when I did hit one recently, I tracked down an app that removes DRM, and got the book into the format I wanted. Easy peasy, unless you’re not comfortable with computers. If I pay for it, nobody is going to tell me where I can or can’t read it.

  7. Lisa Nowak

    Okay, well now I know how to find those sample chapters I downloaded to my Kindle for PC. I was looking for titles, and apparently they’re all labeled with gobbledygook.

  8. mikecane

    On a PC, Kindle books are stored in the folder My Kindle Content.

    1. Steve Umstead

      Excellent – there you go, thanks!


  9. Jessica Thomas

    Wow, you read books on your iPhone? I’m impressed by your stubborn perseverance. I’m a Kindle owner myself, I prefer its e-ink screen. But, the color Nook looks pretty sharp. I work in IT, but the pace of technology is still mind-boggling. Not sure how long I’ll be able to keep up.

  10. Emmett

    Had one of my books REINDEER ON THE ROOFTOP made into a Kindle book this past Christmas. Unfortunately, it cost $49 from the publisher to do it, and now they inform me it would take another $49 to get it listed on NOOK as well. That doesn’t bode well for my other three books: LIFE WINDS, THE SHAMROCK RUNNER and THE BELL WISHERS. It would be bout $100 a book to get them listed on both KINDLE and NOOK. I’m tempted to just do them as I can on NOOK. Any preferences between the two? emmett71755@hotmail.com

    1. Steve Umstead

      Honestly to be successful, I’m going to say you’ll need to be on both. If it had to be one, Amazon has the larger US market share, by some accounts twice as much, so go Kindle. But still, I’d suggest both…

    2. Catana

      You PAID for that? You can do your own conversions and listings without paying a penny. Unless you’re stuck with some kind of contract, you could have put your books on Smashwords, which will distribute them to B & N and several others. Or you can do your own B & N and Amazon listings.

  11. black friday kindle fire

    We love our brilliant idea very much so we will do and will tell the result later.

  12. Maya

    Thank you!!! Now I want to know where the Nook hides the ePubs so I can back them up. I’ve heard stories about people losing all their legally purchased books when they removed their credit cards from Barnes & Noble.

    1. Steve Umstead

      I can tell you where mine (Mac) are, but can’t tell you how to convert. They’re in .bnx format and Calibre won’t touch them. On a Mac, they’re in ~Library > Application Support > Barnes & Noble > BNDesktopReader > indices

  13. John

    Thank you so so so much. I haven’t finished downloading Calibre yet, but if this works, it will solve so many problems for me.

  14. Michelle

    Thank you so very very much for sharing this!!! I have a Nook and just love that I can now EASILY convert Kindle files over… Thanks for not only sharing, but for making the instructions so darn easy!!!

  15. Magaly

    Does anyone know how to do this but with a pc? I used to have a Kindle Fire and recently purchased a Nook Simple Touch.

  16. Kaitlin

    So helpful! I have been looking for the location of my amazon files for days… Thanks!

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