There's plenty of tools to keep your music organized, categorized, and complete with up-to-date metadata. But how can you treat your eBook library to the same care?
That's what Calibre—the free eBook library app—is for. With Calibre, you can edit metadata, convert an eBook from one format to another, download news directly to your eReader and sync your literary collection between your devices. Best of all, Calibre is cross-platform, meaning that Windows, OS X and Linux users can all benefit from the power and versatility that Calibre offers.
We've already looked at how to convert your eBooks with Calibre, so in this tutorial, I will show you how to manage your eBook collection with Calibre. I'll also introduce you to a number of plugins designed to further enhance this already-powerful program.
One of the greatest things about Calibre is that it's cross-platform and works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Although it may vary in appearance depending on the platform, the basic function is still the same no matter where you use it. With this in mind, let’s take a peek at the Calibre interface, shown on a Mac in this tutorial.
Once you have downloaded and installed Calibre, you will be presented with Calibre’s main screen. Here, you can import your entire eBook collection into your Calibre library to ensure that it is backed up should your eReader get lost or stolen, and easily transfer each eBook to multiple devices throughout your household.
Running along the top of the application are several icons to help you manage your eBook collection, many of which I will expand upon in this tutorial. Perhaps the most important icon to begin with, however, is the Add Books icon so that you can start building your Calibre library. Or, you can just drag-and-drop your books into Calibre from Finder or Windows Explorer. To get the most out of Calibre, you'll want to keep all of your books in it, so it's your one-stop-shop for reading material.
Tip: If you’re running low on reading material, the website Project Gutenberg has over 42,000 eBooks for you to browse and download for free.
Every eBook in your collection is embedded with metadata. That's the essential information pertaining to each eBook, such as the title, author and publisher, which will help categorize the book correctly once it is sent to your eReader—or just help you keep everything looking sharp on your computer. Your books will likely have at least some of their metadata already, but very often you may discover that the metadata for a particular eBook is incorrect or incomplete.
Whether you're particular about having every detail correct, or just want to easily find your books, it's best to have all of your metadata up-to-date. Calibre has every metadata option you could imagine, and plenty you'd never have thought of tracking. Just select the book you want to edit, then click Edit Metadata to edit its metadata, as well as generate a cover, add a comment or rating and tag each eBook. Tagging is an effective way of categorising your collection in-app as it enables Calibre to sort each eBook by type, such as autobiography, biography and so forth, ensuring that your library is easily searchable.
Tip: You can share your Calibre library with multiple users by clicking the Connect icon located on the toolbar and then selecting an option from the menu.
Convert Your Collection
Say you have recently made the jump from Kobo to Kindle, for example, and wish to transfer your entire eBook collection to your new device. One problem that you will almost certainly encounter is the Kindle's lack of ePub compatibility, since its designed only for AZW and MOBI-formatted material.
Happily, Calibre includes a file conversion feature which can convert your collection from one format to another. Simply click Convert Books and then select an output format of your choice to begin. For a step-by-step guide to converting your eBooks with Calibre, and a look at the other options you'll find when doing so, check out our How to Convert an eBook Using Calibre tutorial.
Once your collection has been successfully converted, you may then transfer each eBook to your new device and settle down to the literary work of J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King or whomever else you desire. Mug of hot chocolate and blanket optional.
Calibre's most impressive feature is its ability to fetch news from various websites and convert it into an eBook which can then be sent directly to your eReader. With over 1,500 sources available, there is bound to be something for everybody. If not, you can always create a custom news source of your own by clicking Add a Custom News Source.
News can be scheduled for download by checking the Schedule for Download checkbox and then selecting a frequency from the menu, however, you will need to leave Calibre running if you choose this option so that the application can work its magic.
Calibre includes a number of user-built plugins to give you even more control over your eBook collection. For the uninitiated, a plugin is essentially a software component that is added to an existing application in order to enhance that application further.
Take the Harry Potter series by author J.K. Rowling, for example, which is available to purchase as one 4,167-page eBook. Installing the plugin EpubSplit will split the entire series into several eBooks, making the series easier to manage and significantly less daunting to read. EpubMerge, on the other hand, will merge the entire series back together again as a single file, which is useful if you prefer to catalogue the series under one listing.
Goodreads is a popular plugin for those experiencing the age-old problem of missing metadata. Not only does Goodreads source both the metadata and cover from the Goodreads website, it also includes the genre of each eBook as a tag, too. That'll save you hours of tedious editing in the Metadata editor we mentioned before.
Create your own recipe book with BBC GoodFood Recipe Reader. Simply copy and paste the URL of any BBC GoodFood recipe into Calibre and the plugin will generate a personalised eBook, enabling you to recreate each mouthwatering dish.
There are many more awesome plugins available for Calibre and I highly recommend taking the time to check out each one.
In this tutorial, I have shown you how to manage your eBook collection with Calibre and introduced you to a number of plugins designed to enhance this already-powerful application further. Calibre is undoubtedly the best eBook management application available right now, and the fact that Calibre is open-source and cross-platform means that it is accessible to all, no matter your budget or which operating system you run.