Whether you get frenetic when asked about your eBook collection, or happen to be a peaceful eBook reader, the software used for handling these files can greatly influence your efficiency. And by handling, I don't just mean organizing or reading them. I also mean sorting, converting, creating, reading and actually transferring them to a specific device.
Calibre is the open source, cross platform application for eBooks that doesn’t just manage your eBook collection, but it is also capable of transforming news sources into eBook format, as well as syncing them to a specific device.
In order for Calibre to handle your eBooks, you first need to tell it where to look for them. When Calibre first starts, it asks for you to select the directory where you wish to store your eBooks. If you already have an eBook folder, you can select that particular folder. In case you've missed the startup wizard, you can go through it again by selecting it from the Preferences menu (the upper right icon).The Looks
The latest Calibre version has a very flexible interface. Let’s say you want to create a yes/no column for the eBooks you’d like to share with your friends. You do that by going to the Preferences menu, clicking on "add your own columns", and then on the "+" button. Don’t forget to choose yes/no for column type.
Calibre has three areas for displaying eBook information. The main one is the "Book list" section, listing them and their corresponding metadata (details such as author, publisher, date, etc). The right side of the window shows "Detailed information" about the selected eBook. As the name says, it gives you more data on the specific file, from cover to metadata. Click on the eBook icon in the bottom right area to show or hide the "Detailed Information" area.
Another way for viewing book information is the "Tag Browser" in the left hand side. Again, click on the appropriate icon, in the bottom right side of the window, to hide it or show it. Tip: the bright yellow lines around the "Book list" section shows you that the other eBook information areas are hidden.
I am a big fan of colors and images, so my favorite mode of browsing my eBooks collection is "Cover browser". Simply click on the little icon to the bottom right of the window, named "Cover browser." It has a bit of the feel of an iPod’s "Coverflow". But it has a lot more functionality, since you can access and modify the eBook's metadata or send it to your mobile device by using the menu buttons.The Features
Undoubtedly, many discussions on the subject of eBooks are about the eBook format. We obviously need our software to handle the formats supported by our device. The main benefit of using Calibre – and this is how I started using it – is that it does a good job at converting eBooks to specific formats. It constantly converted them better than any third party applications I had previously used. Conversion from some PDFs to EPUB isn't always the best, but Calibre did a fairly decent job at creating a readable eBook in an open format.
Now, if you read your eBooks on your laptop or desktop computer, things are simple. Calibre has a very flexible built-in eBook viewer that does a great job at displaying my eBook formats, from DJVU to LIT and PDF.
Another great feature is that of organizing your news sources in eBook format. To do this, simply click on the fetch news button and choose from a list of predefined news sources. Alternatively, those of us more source code oriented can try adding a custom news source.Hardware support
Calibre is widely appreciated for its speed at integrating support for the latest eBook devices. While we haven’t had a chance to try out Calibre with most eBook readers, follow us in two weeks time for a more detailed article on using the latest Kindle device in Linux.
The "Save to disk" button allows you to export eBook files to any device that acts as a USB disk. This means that there’s no need to worry if you can’t find your eBook reader in the official list at http://calibre-ebook.com/user_manual/faq.html#what-devices-does-app-support
Currently, Calibre supports a long list of eBook readers, including the more popular Amazon Kindle, Sony eBook readers, Barnes & Noble Nook, Cybook Gen 3/Opus, BeBook/BeBook Mini, Iriver Story, Kobo reader, various Android phones, as well as the iPhone/iPad.Bugs
Speed isn't really Calibre's best feature. Neither when downloading news or converting eBooks. On a fairly low spec system, with a 1 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM, Calibre's bulkiness and memory hunger proves to be quite troublesome.
Occasionally, Calibre 0.7.24 froze when I was working with long lists of eBook files in HTML format. To be honest, I found the previous versions (up to 0.7) more stable. Their interface, however, was less flexible (dragging items to Tag entries wasn't quite a la mode those days).Conclusion
Undoubtedly, we all have our own reading habits. An application that touches on the area of reading has to satisfy a wide range of finicky users. That’s why Calibre’s impressive features make it an exciting and complex application for eBook management.