Getting eBooks From the Toronto Library Onto Your Kindle

One thing I didn’t realize before moving to Canada was that Amazon’s Kindle doesn’t really exist here. You can buy a hardware Kindle device, but you can’t buy any ebooks from Amazon.ca or download ebooks to your Kindle from your local library 1. Since about 90% of my reading consists of ebooks from my local library, this really put a crimp in my style.

Fortunately, there’s a workaround. Here is the somewhat convoluted technique I’ve been using for years to manage my ebooks (both library checkouts and Amazon purchases). You’ll need to use a Mac or Windows computer to download the books and then a USB cable to sync them to your Kindle.

👮‍ Important Disclaimer: One step in this process removes the DRM from your ebook file so it can be converted to a format your Kindle can read. This also removes the time-based restriction on your checkout, which almost certainly violates your library’s terms of service and probably infringes on copyrights. If you go to Book Jail, it’s your own fault.

Initial setup

Don’t worry, you’ll only do this once.

  1. Download and install Adobe Digital Editions on your computer. This is used to download the ebook content with from Overdrive.
  2. Authorize Digital Editions with the Toronto Library’s Overdrive (instructions here). You’ll need to know the login info you use to access the Toronto Library’s online catalog.
  3. Download and install Calibre on your computer. This (ugly) app is how you’ll convert the book from a .epub format to a .mobi file for the Kindle 2.
  4. Inside Calibre, go to Preferences > Plugins and install the DeDRM plugin. If you get stuck during this step, this article should get you through it. DeDRM plugin screenshot

Now that you’ve done all that, you’re ready to start putting some books on your Kindle!

Adding books to your Kindle

To get a book onto your Kindle, begin by browsing the Toronto Library Overdrive website like normal, and check out a book.

  1. After you check out an ebook from Overdrive, go to your checkouts and click the “Download EPUB book” button. This will download a .acsm file, which isn’t the actual book but a file with instructions for the Adobe Digital Editions app to get the .epub book. Overdrive screenshot
  2. Open the .acsm file in Adobe Digital Editions – double-clicking the file should open Digital Editions by default. Digital Editions then downloads the full book to your computer. Adobe Digital Editions screenshot
  3. Once the book appears in Digital Editions, right-click on it and select “Show File in Finder” (the exact text might be different on Windows). This will show you where the full .epub book is on your hard drive. Finder screenshot
  4. Take the .epub file and drag it into Calibre. At this point, you can safely return the Adobe Digital Editions version of the book to the library from inside the Digital Editions app. Calibre screenshot
  5. Plug in your Kindle, and inside the Calibre app select the books you want to transfer and click the “Save to Device” button in the toolbar. This will add the book to your Kindle, and you’re all set.

After reading all of that, it might be easier just to go buy a Kobo 😉. This method does work though and is pretty fast after your first transfer. Good luck!


  1. In a monopolistic twist that I’m sure Amazon is a bit envious of, Rakuten’s Overdrive software (which powers the eBook checkouts for almost every library) only supports the Rakuten Kobo eReader in Canada.

  2. A bonus feature of Calibre is that it creates a backup library of all your ebooks on your computer. This makes it easy to share them with other people or transfer them to other non-Amazon devices in the future.

Written by Mark Allen, who is currently open to new product management and design roles in Toronto or with distributed teams. Say hello on Twitter.

Receive new posts by email