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Converting Ebook Formats - .mobi to .epub

Published Mon, 13 Sep 2010 • 37 comments

As I recently blogged, I picked up an iPad, and have been using it (mainly) as an ebook reader.

I prefer using the Kindle app on the iPad to read ebooks, and the Amazon Kindle book store seems to have the best price/range as well.

But I recently had a situation where I had bought a digital copy of Programming in Scala: A Comprehensive Step-by-step Guide which only comes in PDF and ".mobi" versions. .mobi is the format used by the Kindle, so I thought "woo hoo" this should be easy, right?


It's not possible to get .mobi books into the Kindle app that weren't purchased from Amazon right now. I did some googling and found a number of forum posts recommending iPad/iPhone file system tools to drop the ebook into the Kindle folder. Unfortunately on Windows I wasn't able to get these to show the Kindle app's folder.

So I tried looking for another solution, and although the iBooks app isn't as good as the Kindle app for reading, I figured converting the .mobi book to an .epub book for iBooks would be an easier task.

As it turns out, it was! Here's how to do it -

The same process can also be used to convert books from/to other ebook formats.
  1. The key tool here is "Calibre" - an open source ebook management tool. Download a copy from
  2. Install it, I'll assume that you're installing on Windows and with the default settings.
  3. Start the program when installation is complete. When you're prompted as below, choose "Apple" as your default reader.
  4. Once it's loaded, use the "Add button to add the .mobi (or other format) book to Calibre. It should then show up in the list of books.
  5. Click the "Convert" button. When the conversion options dialog appears, use the default settings and click OK.
  6. You should see a "Job" appear in the Jobs monitor in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Wait for the book to be converted and the Job count to return to zero.
  7. Right click the book and choose the "Save to disk -> Save only EPUB format to disk" option and choose where to save the resulting ebook.
  8. The ".epub" book can now be dragged from the file system to iTunes and synced on the iPad.

Calibre seems to be another great open source tool that I've never heard of. It's a shame the ebook distributors such as Apple and Amazon can't settle on a single format, and/or provide better interoperability between their formats/devices, but I guess vendor lock-in is still the modus operandi for the time being.

Anyhow, open-source ftw!

About the Author

Richard Nichols is an Australian software engineer with a passion for making things.

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