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Anyone Can Build This Open Source, DRM-Free Kindle Alternative

The Open Book Project is in the process of designing an open source device that will let you read ebooks without being locked-in with a corporation.

by Matthew Gault
16 September 2019, 4:43am

Image: Joey Castillo

It’s harder to get an open source e-reader than you might think. Kindles are popular, but they lock you into Amazon’s ecosystem. Amazon’s books come with digital rights protection and the company can remove them from your device whenever it wants. Those problems exist on tablets from Barnes and Nobles, Google, and Apple, too. When it comes to open source reading, there’s just no good options. The Open Book Project wants to change that.

As first spotted by Hackster.io, “the Open Book aims to be a simple device that anyone with a soldering iron can build for themselves,” designer Joey Castillo said on the GitHub repository for the project. Castillo is still prototyping the device, and his goal is to build an e-reader that anyone can redesign, recode, or accessorize as they see fit. Of course, it should be able to read books in any format, from ePub to MOBI and everything in between.

The Open Book Project's device
Image: Joey Castillo

Castillo’s prototype is built from a circuit board of his own design. The design works in the Adafruit Feather ecosystem, a user friendly set of development boards and electronics. Castillo has listed all the parts you’ll need to build your own open source e-reader and tweak the design on his GitHub. (Castillo is still working on the device’s firmware, so you’ll have to write it yourself or wait for a release.)

One day, Castillo hopes people will be able to read millions of free eBooks on the open source devices. The Open Book is a work in progress, and Castillo hopes to have finalized the basic design by the end of the month. “I'll also have to start writing an open source firmware that can hold a library on an SD card and let people read, but hey, one thing at a time,” he said on his GitHub page.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.