Calibre 0.8.24 Review

excellent
key review info
application features
  • Library Management
  • (5 more, see all...)

Calibre is an eBook management software that is almost without equal, on any platform that runs it. A few years ago nobody could anticipate that eBooks will take our lives completely, but the rise of eBook readers and the fact that most books are cheaper in digital form, proves that it was inevitable for someone to take matters in his own hands and develop something that can actually manage an entire library.

The software was initially developed by Kovid Goyal and launched four year ago. In the meantime it reached version 0.8.24, and it got more and more complexed with each version. It supports all the available eBook formats, with the exception of DRM protected books, and it gets constantly updated with new types of eBook readers.

Installation

We've installed Calibre in Ubuntu 11.10. It can be found in the official software repository, usually at the latest version, but the developer is offering an alternative way of installing the app if you don’t want to use the repo.

As stated on the official website, Calibre has a binary installer that includes all its dependencies. It runs on 32-bit and 64-bit Intel compatible machines. To install or upgrade, simply copy and paste the following command into a terminal and press Enter:

sudo python -c "import urllib2; exec urllib2.urlopen('http://status.calibre-ebook.com/linux_installer').read(); main()"

For this binary file to work users need GLIBC 2.10 or higher and have xdg-utils installed on their system before running the installer.

Usage

When first starting the software, a wizard will guide users through some simple steps that will determine the default usage of Calibre. You just need to choose the directories for all the imported books and the type of eBook reader you use normally. We hooked up the latest Kindle device (the simple one, 4th generation, with ads), and it worked like a charm.

Calibre is an eBook management software, so you can think of it like a virtual library, but will all the books stored in a personal computer. The application has ton of options and even a some really useful plug-ins, that are not installed by default. Below, we’ll just enumerate some of the most important and most utilized functions.

The first thing any user will do is to import all his eBooks and start downloading fresh metadata for all the titles. The operation is very simple and it’s necessary in order to establish an organized library. Calibre connects to websites like Google Books and Amazon and downloads covers, synopsis, genre, and other data that can be used to sort the books.

In our case, some books were not in a file format Kindle understands, so we had to format them into something more manageable, like the .mobi format. Depending on the size of the book, the operation can take a maximum of two minutes. There is also a heuristic algorithm available, but it’s turn off by default because it must only be used when the standard method fails to deliver a proper formatted book.

If the eBook reader you’re using has network capabilities, such as Wi-Fi or 3G, Calibre can send the book directly from the right-click context menu, using settings that can be set very easily from the menu.

Another great feature is the News, and to the best of my knowledge, Calibre is the only software of its kind to provides this feature. All major news media channels of the world, in fact everything that has a website, is listed inside Calibre. The software can be programmed to download the news at a specific time and send it to your eBook reader.

Another great option is the possibility to create a local content server to distribute books to others machines in the same network.

The last feature we'll mention is of course the eBook reader. Calibre is an excellent eBook reader, if you can read on a PC display. I only use it to check if the transformation went ok, from one format to another, but there are quite a lot of people who got used to read on monitors.

The Bad

Some of the features don't really work like they are suppose to. In practice, the send to Kindle option (via email) should be simple, but Calibre cannot be used to send more than a couple of books at a time. It sends one of two emails and then it usually stops. There are other similar glitches, but most of the times they are harmless and benefits outweigh almost anything.

The Good

Calibre offers some features that are practically irreplaceable, such as converting formats and news downloads. I have no idea what we would have done if this software wouldn't exists. Just the fact that it's here, with all the problems, is a major plus.

Conclusion

Calibre is like a high performance athlete that is in race with no competitors. It leaves the impression that if there would be any competition, it would still win by a considerable margin. We can only recommend it for everyone who has recently bought  an eBook reader and for anyone who is interested in a great manager for a virtual library.


user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 
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