eBook Management

Welcome to the e-book Management module!
calibre-logo

Information in today’s society is easily available at the click of a button, but it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that we take in everyday. In order for all of this information to be useful, we need to find new and innovative ways to organize and manage it. This week we will be exploring a useful tool that can help users make the most of their e-books and other forms of information, the e-book management software program provided by Calibre.

Calibre is a free and open source software program that allows the user to download, save,  catalog, organize, and manage their ebooks. Calibre runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux platforms.  It supports a variety of formats, and also provides users with the ability to open, read and sync with e-books from a variety of e-book readers. Calibre can also convert e-books between different formats. E-books can be downloaded directly into Calibre, and an uploading feature allows for e-books to be directly sent to handheld readers and/or other portable devices.

Check out Calibre’s Grand Tour Video for an introduction to the main features:

Features

Library Management and Organization:

  • Users can organize their personal libraries by using Calibre’s functions to apply and make use of metadata fields to sort and group their e-books.
  • Metadata can be sorted by such fields as title, author,  cover images, date added, publication date, ISBN numbers and many more. This metadata can be pulled down from the internet from sources such as Google Books, LibraryThing, and Amazon. Calibre also offers both basic and advanced keyword, author and title searching.
  • Tags can be added, which allow users to categorize their collection, and comments can also be added and used for such things as book descriptions and notes.
  • Calibre can generate a complete catalog of the e-books within the library shelf list, providing a complete listing along with all relevant metadata. It can also manage both the collection of books within the computer library, and the collection stored within the user’s e-reader device.

Calibre Main Interface

Explore this great tutorial on how to organize your e-book collection with Calibre.

Formats:

One of the most useful features that Calibre has to offer is its ability to provide users with format independence.  This means that users can purchase an e-book in any format, and Calibre will automatically reformat the e-book as it is being loaded into the device. Users are now no longer limited to the seller that they purchased their reader from; a Kindle user can now purchase an e-book from a seller like Barnes and Noble, which is maintained in a different format. A user can also search for a desired title, and Calibre will find and list suppliers, along with prices listed in descending cost order.  This is both convenient and time saving, as users no longer have to search individual websites to check for the availability of a title. Also, since format dependence is no longer an issue, users have greater flexibility in determining their purchases and gain the ability to compare prices and choose the best deal. Each selection is hyperlinked to the supplier, so once a selection is made, Calibre links the user directly to the supplier’s website to purchase the e-book.

  • Calibre currently supports 22 e-book formats, to include EPUB, LIT, PDF, and MOBI. These formats can be converted into 16 formats for output on readers such as the Sony Reader, Nook, and Kindle.
  • The format conversion capabilities of Calibre to create ePubs provides a venue for users to convert and publish their own ebooks.  Check out this link which provides more information about creating books for e-readers.
  • Calibre also contains a built-in e-book viewer that can support such functions as bookmarks, CSS, printing, searching, copying, embedded fonts, and more.
  • Editing and conversion actions can be done either by individual e-book, or in bulk if the user would like to edit a larger number of e-books simultaneously.

The Calibre website provides a full list of e-book format conversions the software supports.

The above-mentioned format conversion capabilities of Calibre are represented in the image below. Dropdown boxes provide selections that users can utilize to specify the desired input and output formats of their materials:

E-book conversion

Open Books:

Calibre offers a site called Open Books, which allows users to browse DRM-free ebooks by genre, tag, type, publisher and series.  It also gives users the opportunity to submit links to these ebooks for addition to the database.

A quick look at Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Commercially purchased ebooks often have digital rights management restrictions in place to limit the usage of the digital work after purchase. Although Calibre does not support the removal of these restrictions for the purposes of conversion and editing of ebooks, there are free plug-ins that can be used to add this capability.

RSS Feeds:

RSS feeds can accomplished through a toolbar button called Fetch News, which will gather information from various selected sites and convert the information into an ebook. This capability also extends to downloading entire newspapers and magazines. Calibre offers the ability to schedule the download of these news feeds by either selecting specific days or a number frequency of days between downloads. See http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/download-entire-newspapers-blogs-ebook-reader-calibre/  for further information.

Content server:

  • Calibre’s built-in web server provides a browser for internet access, which allows users to access their ebook collections from anywhere in the world.
  • Calibre makes connections easily, through the use of the toolbar button Connect/share. This tool allows the user to connect to folders on their computer, connect to iTunes, connect to Calibre’s web content server, and also to connect to Calibre through email.
  • Calibre supports devices from all of the major manufacturers, such as Amazon, Android, Apple, and Barnes and Noble. It has support for mobile devices like smartphones, and provides the capability for books to be emailed and news to be downloaded automatically.
  • In most cases, the tablet or device will be directly connected to Calibre via a USB cable. However, users have the option to use a wireless connection to interface with Calibre through applications on their mobile devices. For instance, the iPhone applications of Stanza and MegaReader work with Calibre .
  • For Android users, Calibre has produced their own Android application, called the Calibre Companion.

Below is a screenshot of Stanza for the iPhone, showing it connecting to Calibre:

stanza_and_calibre

The Calibre website provides more information on the devices supported by Calibre .

Plugins:

Plugins are software components that allow users to expand the functionality of a larger software application. Calibre provides a database of plugins within the software, that users can search and use to customize their program according to needs and preferences. Users also have the flexibility of adding to the current database of plugins.

For users that utilize the website Goodreads to track their reading progress and rate books, Calibre has a plugin to sync with the website. It uploads information from that site and updates items within the library shelf list.

Explore

The Calibre discussion forum  provides a great place for Calibre users to discuss such issues as:

  • Development
  • Related Tools
  • Recipes
  • Plugins
  • Devices
  • Conversion
  • Library Management

Reflect

In this week’s blog or in the comment section at the bottom of the page, reflect upon some of the features that you’ve learned about with Calibre.  Some questions to consider:

  • Consider your interaction with your patrons,  would you recommend Calibre to them?
  • What specific features does Calibre provide that would be of greatest benefit to your patrons?
  • What features did you find most interesting and/or innovative?

Additional Resources

Advanced Tutorial for more Calibre features

General Information about Calibre (a search on this site will link to many more articles about Calibre and its features)

Calibre Facebook page

Calibre Twitter link

Format Conversion

E-book formatting tutorial

Creating and formatting documents for e-readers using ePub

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One Response to “eBook Management”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Week 5: Exploring Two Top Trends | Learning Hub 2.0 - April 3, 2013

    […] has identified as the top trends in Academic Libraries: eBook Management and Online Chat. In the eBook module, you’ll learn about the open source software program Calibre, which can help users to manage […]

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