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Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

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I came upon calibre when I was searching for a program to convert an ebook to a format that was compatible with my ebook reader. This is one jammed packed program. Aside from converting any ebooks you might find on the internet to a format compatible with your ebook reader, it manages your ebook collection, it will send the ebooks right to your ebook reader, it also can download for you and store current daily newspapers and schedule their download for you daily.

I have a Sony ebook reader and I am totally impressed by what all calibre does.

Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories:

  • Library Management

    calibre manages your e-book collection for you. It is designed around the concept of the logical book, i.e., a single entry in your library that may correspond to actual e-book files in several formats.

    calibre can sort the books in your library by: Title, Author, Date added, Date published,  Size, Rating, Series, etc.

    In addition, it supports extra searchable metadata:

    • Tags: A flexible system for categorizing your collection however you like
    • Comments: A long form entry that you can use for book description, notes, reviews, etc.

    You can easily search your book collection for a particular book. calibre supports searching any and all of the fields mentioned above. You can construct advanced search queries by clicking the helpful "Advanced search" button to the left of the search bar.

    You can export arbitrary subsets of your collection to your hard disk arranged in a fully customizable folder structure.

    Finally, calibre will even go out onto the internet to find book metadata based on existing title/author or ISBN information. It can download various types of metadata and covers for your books, automatically. The metadata system is written using plugins so that different types of metadata sources can be supported in the future.

E-book conversion

calibre can convert from a huge number of formats to a huge number of formats. It supports all the major e-book formats. The full list of formats are:

Quote:

calibre supports the conversion of many input formats to many output formats. It can convert every input format in the following list, to every output format.

  • Input Formats: CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDF, PRC**, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT
  • Output Formats: EPUB, FB2, OEB, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PML, RB, PDF, SNB, TCR, TXT

The conversion engine has lots of powerful features. It can rescale all font sizes, ensuring the output e-book is readable no matter what font sizes the input document uses. It can automatically detect/create book structure, like chapters and Table of Contents. It can insert the book metadata into a "Book Jacket" at the start of the book.

  • Syncing to e-book reader devices

    calibre has a modular device driver design that makes adding support for different e-reader devices easy. At the moment, it has support for a large number of devices, the complete list of which is here. Syncing supports updating metadata on the device from metadata in the library and creation of collections on the device based on the tags defined in the library. If a book has more than one format available, calibre automatically chooses the best format when uploading to the device. If none of the formats is suitable, calibre will automatically convert the e-book to a format suitable for the device before sending it.

  • Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form

    calibre can automatically fetch news from websites or RSS feeds, format the news into a ebook and upload to a connected device. The ebooks include the full versions of the articles, not just the summaries. Examples of supported news sites include:

    • The New York Times
    • The Wall Street Journal
    • The Economist
    • Time
    • Newsweek
    • The Guardian
    • ESPN
    • and many, many more…

    calibre has over three hundred news sources and the news system is plugin based, allowing users to easily create and contribute new sources to calibre. As a result the collection of news sources keeps on growing!

  • Comprehensive e-book viewer

    calibre has a built-in ebook viewer that can display all the major ebook formats. It has full support for Table of Contents, bookmarks, CSS, a reference mode, printing, searching, copying, customizing the rendering via a user style sheet, embedded fonts, etc.

  • Content server for online access to your book collection

    calibre has a built-in web server that allows you to access your ebook collection using a simple browser from any computer anywhere in the world. It can also email your books and downloaded news to you automatically. It has support for mobile devices, so you can browse your collection and download books from your smartphone, KindleAmazon, etc.


 
 
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STaRDoGG's picture
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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

I love Calibre. The newsfeed / blog downloads is awesome! I think it still has some room for improvement in some areas though, and I think it might suffer from being a bit too powerful, in that some of the settings seem pretty complicated for the average Joe, but at the same time, they're nice to know they're there for tweaking.

I also wish it was coded in something other than Python, like VB.Net, so I could offer up my service to gussy up it's interface and make it look more polished and professional, Laughing.


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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

Everyone I know lkes this program, and I just don't. I must be missing something. All i ever hear is people raving. Personally I think it's good to convert, and that's about it.

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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

I can see why alot of people wouldn't initially like it. I wasn't sure at first either. It's interface is ugly and old looking, and it's not really that newbie friendly or intuitive. Even I scratch my head at alot of the options, and it seems like it takes a ton of little tweaking to get things just right when converting, but once you get used to it and play around in it enough, it's pretty awesome, even if just using it to keep your eBook library organized and tagged, and using the newsfeed downloads.

I've talked to the developer about some suggestions to improve it, but the language he writes it in is restricting some of it's improvement possibilities, so he couldn't do them. Nice guy though.

"Wisdom cannot be given unless someone asks for it and shows a readiness to receive it."
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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

I'm usually pretty capable of navigating my way around software and computers in general. I haven't given up on it completely yet. I just don't see it being as prodigious as everyone else seems to think it is.

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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

Which programs, or collection of programs do you use in place of it?

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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

All depends on what I want to convert to, so a collection is the more appropriate term. Inthe past I converted everything to PDF via doPDF, and since I'm a phanatic about how Nook organizes "my library", or doesn't organize I should say, I'd edit the metadata using BeCyPDFMetaEdit to encompass all my organizing needs. The beauty of using a PDF printer is that you can convert anything printable into a PDF, EVEN if it's password protected, which then allows you to edit the metadata. I also have full Adobe which is nice to edit the PDF's to remove any "dead space".

I've also heard pretty decent things about the web based converter Zamzar, although I have no personal experience with it, as of yet. I do plan on taking that endevor on soon. Just to see what happens.

I do find that Calibre does a fantastic job at converting, which I think I originally mentioned, to epub. In the past I've tried a few different programs to do this. I am impressed with Calibre being able to edit metadata while converting. ALTHOUGH, I am not a fan of how when I "Save to disk" it saves it in a folder within a folder, along with a jpeg of the cover and another file that I can't remember offhand. I just want the epub, no more, no less. I know the jpeg will let the cover be shown while I'm reading on the touch screen but that's unecessary, at least for me.

I just don't understand what everyone else likes it for. Even organizing - what's the point? I delete everything out of Calibre as soon as I convert it. All my books are organized the way I like them on a 12 gig Flash DriveFlash Drive, so there is no purpose in having them in a second place.

I can't remember right this second what other programs I have used, or currently use but I will takle a look when I'm out of work as I'm heading to a meeting right now. I do know that I've used, and not liked I'd like to add, ABCLit to convert lit files.

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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

Sounds like you have more experience in this stuff than I do, Laughing. I've spent alot of time on it all though, probably too much. When it comes to eReaders I'm lazy: I just want to be able to throw an ebook on my reader and have it work perfectly right off the bat, no fuss, no muss, but it seems like I end up having to fight with almost every ebook I want to read, which I just don't have the time for anymore.

PDF's seem to be the biggest problem for me; they never look right on my Nook, with the way the formatting is. If I zoom out enough to see the entire layout, the print is too small to comfortably read, and if I zoom into a normal font size, alot of things just don't show up anymore, like some of the extra pictures, etc., plus like ya mentioned, there's alot of big blank spaces sometimes, and wierd formatting.

Nowadays, I try to get anything I want to read, already created as an epub, hoping that helps, which sometimes does and sometimes doesn't. Sigil is a really nice epub editor with one major flaw; the webkit used to render it is dog slow and can get unbelievably frustrating when it acts up. I've also used eCub, which isn't too bad. I just noticed this program that looks interesting too, but haven't used it yet.

I think the thing with calibre is it's just nice to be able to add tags, sort by author, sort by year, by series' and a butt-ton of other things, and all the books are shown in one list, with columns showing some metadata. Plus when you click one you can see a bunch of it's metadata, summaries, cover, etc. in the right window pane, and you can launch/read any book in the list by clicking it instead of having to open explorer find the folder ya want then run each book you might want to read. Plus the news sources really is pretty cool, especially how you can create your own. They're updating calibre, I swear, almost every time I start the program, so maybe by now you can do some of the stuff ya didn't like about it saving to disk. For instance, you could have it point to your Flash DriveFlash Drive with the folders on it, and just have Calibre use that as it's working folder so no new ones are created, it just uses those, and in the options you can tweak it to save the folder names exactly how you like them. Dunno if you've already tried the highlighted things below, but if not, it might be worth toying with:

calibre ebooks
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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter
STaRDoGG wrote:

Sounds like you have more experience in this stuff than I do, Laughing. I've spent alot of time on it all though, probably too much. When it comes to eReaders I'm lazy: I just want to be able to throw an ebook on my reader and have it work perfectly right off the bat, no fuss, no muss, but it seems like I end up having to fight with almost every ebook I want to read, which I just don't have the time for anymore.

PDF's seem to be the biggest problem for me; they never look right on my Nook, with the way the formatting is. If I zoom out enough to see the entire layout, the print is too small to comfortably read, and if I zoom into a normal font size, alot of things just don't show up anymore, like some of the extra pictures, etc., plus like ya mentioned, there's alot of big blank spaces sometimes, and weird formatting.

I rarely have much of a problem, other than the dead space which I honestly can deal with. I have 300-400 ebooks currently and have gotten a good percentage of them formatted nicely. Or at least nicer than they were, and more importantly edited the metadata so that they are organized nicely. I just recently started to go back through my old books that I converted to PDF and starting reconverting to epub. For no valid reason other than I have some mental issue with things being very precise and organized.

STaRDoGG wrote:

I think the thing with calibre is it's just nice to be able to add tags, sort by author, sort by year, by series' and a butt-ton of other things, and all the books are shown in one list, with columns showing some metadata. Plus when you click one you can see a bunch of it's metadata, summaries, cover, etc. in the right window pane, and you can launch/read any book in the list by clicking it instead of having to open explorer find the folder ya want then run each book you might want to read.

This is a prime example of what I don't get. One would think with as detailed and methodical as I am, that I would love this level of organization. I WOULD love it, if it were on my Nook; I don't see the point in having my ebooks here, when they are on my Nook (and aforementioned flash). I suspect if I did not have an ereader that this would be a great program to utilize in order to read ebooks.

STaRDoGG wrote:

For instance, you could have it point to your Flash DriveFlash Drive with the folders on it, and just have Calibre use that as it's working folder so no new ones are created, it just uses those, and in the options you can tweak it to save the folder names exactly how you like them. Dunno if you've already tried the highlighted things below, but if not, it might be worth toying with

I've tried. At least in the past, maybe the new updates will render a different result. Previously, when having it sent directly to my flash, it still created undesirable files. That was annoying, because instead of taking the ONE file I did want and moving it, I had to find the ones I didn't and delete.
All in all, I love my Nook, and have very few complaints with it, or the ebooks I read on it.

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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

Ditto. Smile When my Nook is firing on all cylinders it's the Cat's's ass, but I've had to lay the smack downwith mine quite a bit already. Word 'round the campfire though is a juicy new update is coming up within the next couple of weeks, so I'm hoping it rocks my fr0.

I read a lot of PDF "For Dummies" books which have alot of weird layouts, so that's one of my biggest problems with the "flow". Laughing

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Re: Calibre eBook Manager and Converter

End of this month! 1.5
It's like Christmas in November!

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