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Tips Reading Adobe ePub and PDF Books

After last week’s Harlequin ebook sale, I had a number of questions from readers who couldn’t actually read the ePub books that they had bought.   Adobe encryption is a frustrating animal because downloading your book is a two step process.   If your computer is set up for it, these two steps take place in the background but for many, you have to do something to get your digital book onto your computer and then even more steps to get the book onto a dedicated device.

First here is the explanation of the two step process.

Download ACSM File

Step 1:   Download the ACSM File. You will be presented with a download button.   This download button never downloads the book.   Instead the download button downloads a file with the letters ACSM after the title of the download.   Something like this:


Step 2: Double Click ACSM File. ACSM file is not the ebook file. The ACSM is your license to download the book. If your computer is not set up to automatically launch Adobe Digital Editions, double click on the ACSM file. This should start your program called Adobe Digital Editions and then download the book.

You can find your epub book in your “My Documents/Digital Editions” folder (or “Documents/Digital Editions” if you are a MAC user). The ePub book file will always end in “.epub”. Like this:

ePub file screenshot

You can delete these ACSM files so you don’t confuse yourself (which is what I do) or save them in a special folder somewhere. You should be able to redownload an epub book using the ACSM file so you may want to save them.

Using ePub books with the nook.

You can sideload these secured ebooks onto the nook by hooking up your nook to your computer via the USB cord. The nook will show up (or mount) as an external drive. If you have Adobe Digital Editions open, the nook appears in the lower left hand corner:

nook icon on Adobe Digital Editions

You can drag and drop ebook titles from the right side to the nook. EXCEPT Harlequin ebooks don’t allow copying (and so do other encrypted ePubs). To get around this use Windows Explorer on the PC or Finder on Mac and copy the epub file from your “My Documents/Digital Editions” folder onto the nook.   For the nookColor, there are a number of places I can copy the books to (marked with a dot).

nookColor file system mount

You just need to remember where you put them so when you go to your nookColor, you can access them (via the Library page).   Over at the BN forums, they recommend the sideloaded ePubs go into “My Documents” folder on the nook.

Using ePub books on the Sony:

This works generally the same way as the nook. Plug in the Sony using a USB which mounts it as an external drive. Using the Windows Explorer on the PC or Finder on the Mac, copy the epub file from your My Documents/Digital Editions” folder onto the Sony.

(Note, I am sorry I have no screencaps for this. My Sony is out on loan).

Using ePub books with the iThings:

Bluefire and Txtr both accept Adobe ePub encrypted books. Bluefire is my favorite and I wrote out specific instructions here on how to get an ePub book onto Bluefire. You can also mail yourself encrypted ePub files and use the “Open in Bluefire” option. (good on iPhone OS 4.0 and above, I believe).

Open in Bluefire

DO NOT EMAIL YOURSELF THE ACSM file because remember, ACSM file is not the book file, but your license to download the book file.

Using ePub books with Kindle:

Here is the bad news. Kindle does not accept or work with secure ePub files or ePubs that you buy at etailers like eHarlequin. So what can a Kindle lover do? If she feels comfortable doing this, she can download Calibre and then do a google search for a calibre plugin for epub files. This plugin will strip the DRM. You can then use Calibre to convert the ePub book to Mobi and then sideload the converted book onto your Kindle. The beauty of the plugin is that you don’t need to follow these complicated instructions. Instead, simply install the plugin.

There is some question about the legality of stripping the DRM. In some countries, it is not allowed.   Recently, in the US, the Library of Congress has indicated that DRM stripping of ebooks can be an exception to the copyright laws under certain circumstances.   Each reader has to make the decision for herself whether this is appropriate.

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 Tips Reading Adobe ePub and PDF Books | Dear Author --
    Dec 05, 2010 @ 04:29:28

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karen Scott, dearauthor. dearauthor said: NewPost: Tips Reading Adobe ePub and PDF Books […]

  2. Anna Lee
    Dec 05, 2010 @ 05:20:20

    Thanks for the great article! I just started using a nook to read the books from NetGalley, etc. Unfortunately, some of the formatting is really wonky when translated over and hampers the reading. Any ideas on what to do about that or how to get around it? Thanks!

    — Anna Lee

  3. Lynne Connolly
    Dec 05, 2010 @ 09:01:42

    Epub is actually a zipped file. You can unzip it using a program like winrar or 7zip, and then access the html files inside. They often show up as one file for each chapter, but you can make them into one document using a batch file like the one in Word.

  4. ShellBell
    Dec 05, 2010 @ 11:43:32

    I’m still using Txtr for my DRM PDF’s and the majority of my ePubs when reading on my iPad or iPhone. Being able to edit the meta data is a biggy for me and that feature/functionality isn’t available – I like to be able to edit the title/author/cover/comment fields. I read all of my DRM PDF’s in Txtr simply because the pages ‘float’ on my iPad screen if I use Bluefire and I have to scroll up to see the rest of the page before tapping to go the next page. I also find the sort feature annoying – I like to sort by author and I have to press the author button everytime I open Bluefire. Plus when I have selected Author the books are not listed in any sort of order and I’d like to be able to have them sorted alphabetically under each author. As much as I like Bluefire I’ll be sticking with Txtr.

  5. Scorpio M.
    Dec 05, 2010 @ 13:34:20

    Thank you, Jane!!! Last night I was so annoyed that I had to read the new Bliss book (part of my eHarlequin haul) on my laptop because I couldn’t figure out how to get it on my iTouch. What a fantastic app! Thank you for this write-up.

    Now I wish I bought more with that 50% coupon…

  6. Terry Odell
    Dec 06, 2010 @ 08:18:59

    Thanks! I have a new NOOKcolor, and I’m still learning some of the finer points of what it can do. I’ve been sharing what I’m learning on my blog, but this is far deeper than I’ve gone.

    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist–of Mystery

  7. BethP
    Dec 06, 2010 @ 13:13:24

    Jane – do you have the name of an ePub plugin that will strip the DRM? I did a google search and a plugin does not appear to be jumping out in my results.

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  15. LenaLetters
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 03:14:25

    I have a LG Vortex phone through Verizon. A couple of years ago, I purchased some ebooks from Harlequin. I was able to put them on my Palm Centro but after I received my vortex, I have tried so many different things/programs to get them on my phone. Recently these were converted by Harlequin to epub format. Finally, finally, finally I was able to get my books to work on my Vortex. Thank you SOOO MUCH for your detailed instructions. The Mantano Reader Free is the app I found as the final step, but without your instructions listed above, I wouldn’t have gotten that far. Thanks again!!!

  16. null_pointer86
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 23:18:09

    Those who are not familiar with PDf conversion and those who wants to get the Easy PDF view in their small size eBook reader then go through this guide which might help you.

  17. Wyatt9200
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 01:04:19

    Here is a free ebook conversion tool for you.
    You can easily convert your ebook from epub to pdf.

    Free Online Ebook Converter

    It provides you with the best PDF to ePub converting experience.

  18. Lukkkiy
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 04:54:38

    Amazon does offer a free PDF conversion service for all Kindle members. For Kindle books this means Amazon keeps track of the file associated with your account; for EPUB and PDF this is managed through your Adobe ID. which you have to sign up for when you start using Adobe Digital Editions on your computer or OverDrive Media Console on your mobile device.

    I mentioned it in my Kindle 3 review but somehow, I forgot to mention it here, which mattered more! I have personally tried it out but I still prefer the Mobipocket method because it’s much less error-prone, at least for the PDF’s I tried converting. Here is the difference between PDF, ePub and iBooks:

    I spend lots of time to write my opinion, hope you can share it others.

  19. Jayla
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 02:41:55

    Here is a free ebook tool for you.

    You can easily convert your ebook from epub to pdf,epub to mobi, epub to kindle, etc.

    Free Online Converter / EPUB Converter:

    It provides you with the best mobi to epub converting experience.

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