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Dear Jane: Can I Read Books Bought at the Sony Store...

Welcome to Dear Jane, a weekly column based upon reader mailbag questions on anything relating to ebooks. No question is too simple or too mundane. We are all learning together. Send your questions to jane @ with “Dear Jane” in the subject matter.

Sony nook epub compatibility

Dear Jane:

I have the opportunity to purchase a Sony PRS-300 eReader. The problem is that I’ve heard that Barnes & Noble ebooks aren’t readable on or transferable to the eReader. What I can’t find is any definite information one way or the other. Does Calibre solve this issue of B&N books not being true ePub format? I have gift cards to use and don’t want to purchase a reader that can’t read ebooks I purchased or plan to purchase. I know this particular Sony is just a basic ereader and I’m fine with that, primarily because the price is reasonable (less than $140).

Debating a Sony

Dear Debating a Sony:

I am sorry to say that the digital books that you buy from Barnes and Noble are not transferable to any of the Sony devices. While Calibre is a great software program for managing your digital books, it can only convert digital books that are unlocked.

A more technical explanation:

Both the nook and Sony devices read a format called “epub” but the nook uses a special type of software lock and right now, only the nook reading device (and ereader software) has the unlock key.



Dear Jane:

I have the Sony 505 and so far have bought pdf books but found out I could do epub. Barnes and Noble’s ebooks..well I found a super duper bargain but don’t like reading at my computer! I’m assuming it’s not compabible since they’re trying to sell their own and the price is a bit steeper than I’m wanting to pay since I already have a good ereader (at least I think it’s ok!) and prefer paperbacks if I can find them for the same or similar price but some just aren’t available in paperback or the paperback is $15 and the ebook $2.50-$5.95..big difference!

Is there software that can convert esp from barnes and noble or kindle formats or am I just stuck?

Wanting my Bargains!

Dear Wanting:

Good news. Unlike poor “Debating a Sony” above, the nook Reader can read books purchased at the Sony store, but it requires what is called a “side load” process.

First, you can’t download Sony books directly onto your nook from the device itself using the snazzy color browser at the bottom. Instead, you download the Sony books onto your computer, plug your nook in and then transfer the books onto the nook.

Here is a video on sideloading a book onto the nook: Side Loading a Book on a Nook

To get the Sony Books onto the nook, you have to do these steps:

    1. download Adobe Digital Editions
      authorize your Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) by signing in with your Adobe ID. Authorization is needed because the major publishers wrap the books up with software locks and for ADE epub books, your Adobe ID will unlock the the books so you can read them.
      Once you have authorized ADE, start ADE and go to Library. Click “Add”
      Go to the folder where your Sony Reader books are located. On
      Windows it is My Documents > My Books > Reader Library. On Mac it is Documents > My Books > Reader Library.
      Select with your mouse the books you want to add
      Plug your nook into the computer. The nook should show up as an
      icon on the left side of the ADE.
      Drag and drop the books you have added to the nook icon.

You can do this for any epub purchased anywhere, not just Sony epubs.

Sometimes you’ll need to restart the nook after adding content. Good luck and please write again if you have any problems.



Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Tweets that mention Dear Jane: Can I Read Books Bought at the Sony Store on the Nook and Vice Versa | Dear Author --
    May 09, 2010 @ 03:17:01

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dearauthor. dearauthor said: New post: Dear Jane: Can I Read Books Bought at the Sony Store on the Nook and Vice Versa […]

  2. Shannon Stacey
    May 09, 2010 @ 06:39:26

    I’ve had my Nook since February and, while I was nervous about buying a device tied to a retailer, I’ve found I can still buy books from almost everywhere I already was, plus read the not insubstantial amount of Secure eReader books I’d stockpiled at Fictionwise.

    It’s a little ironic that while I had the Sony 505, I rarely used it or the Sony bookstore because the books were almost always cheaper elsewhere. But now that the Agency 5 screwed everything up, I’ve used the Sony bookstore for the nook quite a bit because I bought a couple of the Sony giftcards when Target had them on sale.

    That’s going to be the new price-shopping: looking for sales on the different giftcards.

  3. Darlynne
    May 09, 2010 @ 09:23:40

    This is so cool. Can’t wait to see more “Dear Jane” advice.

  4. TKF
    May 09, 2010 @ 10:25:42

    Jane, any chance you can take on CyBooks and Mobi? I love my CyBook Opus, but since Fictionwise went wonky and stopped offering just about EVERYTHING in Mobipocket, I’m having trouble finding compatible formats for my CyBook (I can use uPub, so maybe the workaround you showed in this article will for for me too?).

  5. Jane
    May 09, 2010 @ 10:30:09

    @TKF Send me a question and I’ll put up the answer next week. (I’ll do some research, contact the manufacturers, etc).

  6. TKF
    May 09, 2010 @ 10:35:28


    Will do! Thanks.

  7. Phyl
    May 09, 2010 @ 12:29:57

    Awesome new feature, Jane! I’ve sent a question. Thanks for all the work on these kinds of questions. It’s much appreciated.

  8. Danielle D
    May 09, 2010 @ 13:02:56

    I know none of us can see the future but do you think that epub will become the universal “format” for ebooks, since so many eReaders can now read that format?

    Just wondering.

  9. bettie
    May 09, 2010 @ 14:22:22

    Great feature, Jane. I have been wondering about the questions you covered today for a while–Thanks!

  10. Brian
    May 09, 2010 @ 16:09:20

    I know none of us can see the future but do you think that epub will become the universal “format” for ebooks, since so many eReaders can now read that format?

    ePub has a good shot at becoming THE format. The biggest problem it has is that there is no defined DRM in the specs. It would be great if publishers would drop DRM since anyone who wants rid of it can uninfect the files in seconds, but it probably won’t happen anytime soon. The problem is that since there is no “official” DRM for the format anyone can add whatever DRM scheme to it they want. So while all the files may be ePub they are essentially different formats. Right now we have Adobe Adept encryption which is the most popular and widely used. Then we have B&N password based encryption and Apple’s Fairplay DRM. All are being used on ePub right now. There’s little to stop more schemes from being added (each publisher could create there own or get together to create a new one they all use so they don’t have to pay Adobe). Right now a B&N ePub is just as useless as an Amazon encrypted file to most users.

    B&N has a deal with Adobe to make their encryption part of ADE, but it hasn’t happened yet. Supposedly the next version of Adobe software that device makers/sellers (like, Sony, Astak, Kobo, etc.) get will allow them to add support for B&N’s DRM scheme but that also relies on those manufacturers to add that support as a firmware update. There is no guarantee they will or if they do that they’ll add it to older devices.

    While it kinda sucks that B&N and Apple didn’t just go with what was already being used (Adobe) it makes some business sense as they already owned their DRM systems and don’t have to pay Adobe for DRM server software or for the per book DRM fees Adobe charges.

    A side note. At this point I’m not sure B&N even lets you know if you’re getting an ePub or eReader file when buying from them. I’ve read speculation that if you get it on the Nook it’ll be an ePub, but get it through any of their other software it’ll be an eReader PDB, but I don’t know if that’s true or not.

  11. Brian
    May 09, 2010 @ 16:18:55

    Jane, any chance you can take on CyBooks and Mobi? I love my CyBook Opus, but since Fictionwise went wonky and stopped offering just about EVERYTHING in Mobipocket, I'm having trouble finding compatible formats for my CyBook (I can use uPub, so maybe the workaround you showed in this article will for for me too?).

    The Cybook’s use Adobe software for ePub DRM so anywhere that sells ePub’s with Adobe DRM (Fictionwise, Books On Board, Sony, Kobo,,,) can be used to get books. You can of course also get Mobi books at other stores than FW too, but Amazon seems to slowly making Mobi a Kindle only format or at least that’s the speculation of a lot of folks.

    What’s nice with the Opus and Gen 3 is that if you have lots of Mobi books and don’t want to deDRM and convert them to ePub you can switch your firmware back and forth (although switching all the time could be a hassle).

  12. orannia
    May 09, 2010 @ 16:20:37

    Thank you Jane! I love this feature already – I have a question about getting books from my computer onto my iPhone so I will email :)

  13. Danielle D
    May 09, 2010 @ 16:36:27

    Thank you Brian for answering my post. :)

  14. Kaetrin
    May 09, 2010 @ 20:19:16

    Is it the case that if one was clever enough to strip the DRM from the Nook ePubs, they could then be uploaded onto the Sony reader? Or hasn’t their been a script for stripping the Nook DRM yet?

    Great idea Jane. I’m looking forward to future posts.

  15. Jane
    May 09, 2010 @ 20:24:51

    @Kaetrin: No, there is a nook stripping DRM. No Apple iBook one yet though.

  16. Kaetrin
    May 09, 2010 @ 20:53:47

    So, your post should be taken to read that you can’t do that (tsf Nook to Sony) unless you strip the DRM which is (technically) breaking the law?

  17. Jane
    May 09, 2010 @ 20:56:10

    @Kaetrin: Right, this is working within the constraints of the DRM.

  18. Kaetrin
    May 09, 2010 @ 21:06:34

    stupid sucky DRM – I’m so looking forward to the day (if it ever happens!) when they get rid of it altogether.

  19. Jane
    May 09, 2010 @ 21:07:58

    @Kaetrin I wouldn’t even need this column if they could do away with DRM!

  20. Joy
    May 10, 2010 @ 08:54:37

    B&N e-books are either in epub or pdb format. It’s not transparent what you are buying when you buy them. The behavior on the nook between the formats is very, very subtly different, and less so as B&N is working out the nook bugs. If you install the B&N e-reader app on your pc/mac, you can look in the “My BN Books” directory (a sibling directory to the Sony one above) to see what the format for any particular book is.

    As a general rule, I believe the newer books are epub and the older ones can be either epub or pdb, although I could be wrong about it.

  21. TKF
    May 10, 2010 @ 10:37:01


    What's nice with the Opus and Gen 3 is that if you have lots of Mobi books and don't want to deDRM and convert them to ePub you can switch your firmware back and forth (although switching all the time could be a hassle).

    It’s about ease for me. I don’t WANT to have to switch back and forth. I just want to buy a DAMN book and read it. At this point, books that I can’t find in Mobi are not not getting purchased, which is annoying to me and detrimental to the authors.

    I just tried Calibre, and boy what a mess it made of my ebooks! Meta date missing. Covers gone. Tons of duplicates. And I can’t find the plug in to strip the DRM and convert to ePub (which was the whole freaken point).

  22. RachelT
    May 10, 2010 @ 11:32:02

    @TKF: Calibre won’t strip the DRM – you need to use another script for that and then use Calibre to convert to ePub. I wondered what happened to your books using it – I find it so useful. I do get missing covers and meta data, but I thought that is down to the publisher? I also find the Mobile Read Forums really helpful for queries about my ereader and about Calibre –

  23. Mireya
    May 10, 2010 @ 11:43:09

    @TKF: Calibre does not strip DRM, so don’t search for “plug ins”. They don’t exist. Calibre, aside from being an ebook management software, can also be used as a converter. To strip DRM you need specific software plus you will need the appropriate scripts to use with the software for each format (there is no universal script to use). There is a learning curve with Calibre, it’s not particulary intuitive, and to make the story short, I am still learning to use it too.

  24. Gwen Hayes
    May 10, 2010 @ 14:06:11

    What I find odd is that BN doesn’t have a Droid app considering the Nook is an Android machine.

    However, you can get their ereader at or–but you still have to sideload content you get at the parent company into that application.

  25. TKF
    May 10, 2010 @ 16:16:57


    I’m sure it’s something I did. I’m a perfect dunce when it comes to this stuff. The books all import perfectly into MobipocketReader, but the same file imported into Calibre is a mess: no title, no cover, I can’t tell what anything is.

  26. Annette Gisby
    May 13, 2010 @ 09:35:44

    I don’t have that problem, b&n won’t sell me any ebooks since I’m in the UK (not even my own, LOL!) I really wish you could buy whatever ebook you wanted wherever you lived.

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  28. Ian
    May 16, 2010 @ 08:41:22

    @Kaetrin: One of the good things about living in Australia. Stripping DRM is legal here.

    I use alwayvpn when buying my books (so no geographical restrictions ) and I just strip the DRM of any of the books I buy that way I can use them on my iPhone (stanza) or Nook.. and if Borders honours my order on my soon to have $100 Sony reader :-)

    I don’t know why publishers even bother with DRM and geographical restrictions as it’s so easy to circumvent these.

  29. Kaetrin
    May 16, 2010 @ 19:47:59

    @ Ian. Is it? I didn’t know that.

    Could you explain how you get around the geographical restrictions? I keep getting stuck with the Aus credit card. Tips appreciated!!

  30. Ian
    May 17, 2010 @ 05:06:19

    @Kaetrin: I don’t know if they want me to talk about it here… So email me at iandixo at gmail dot com and I will help you out ..

  31. Linda
    May 20, 2010 @ 12:58:16

    @Brian: A month ago, I downloaded a book in the .pdb format from B&N and read it with my old eReader device. Two days ago, I downloaded a book but it is now an encrypted .epub and can only be read with a B&N eReader which is not available for my device. To read a B&N encrypted book (not all are but most), you need the eReader that B&N gives you but it is only for Nooks, iPhones, Blackberrys, PCs, and Macs. “Coming soon” will be iPads. No help for me and no refunds.

  32. Gwen Hayes
    May 20, 2010 @ 13:02:51


    Doesn’t that make you mad? That they switched formats and didn’t feel it necessary to warn buyers?

    BN is also on my list for labeling the Kleypas special epilogue books as the actual book in the audio book section. I downloaded 4 epilogues to books I haven’t read. When I emailed, they emailed me back saying to call. Couldn’t get through. Finally gave up and decided not to shop there anymore. If I can buy something online, can download what I bought from online, they ought to be able to help me in email.

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  36. Rock Weiss
    Apr 24, 2013 @ 03:03:56

    Nice post on Nook and Kindle. You have virtually solved problem of millions of people who were looking solution to this. For a fresher like me reading nook books on Kindle Fire was just even not thinkable but not now. I wanted to know is it difficult to do ePub to Nook Conversion?

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