Manage e-books (convert, catalog, view, etc.) and sync e-book readers with Calibre

With the recent release of the iPad, the topics of e-books have come to center stage. To put it simply, the e-book industry is (still) suffering from an identity crisis – there are no set e-book standards such as e-book reader, e-book format, etc. Truly the people that suffer from this lack of direction of the e-book industry are us, consumers. Which reader to buy? Where should I buy an e-book? Will the e-book I purchase come in a format that will work on my reader? What if I decide to use a different reader, will it work on there? Well, those questions – and more – are yet to be fully answered because there is no answer as of yet. However, if you are an avid e-book user, you can mitigate the lack-of-congruency in the e-book industry by using Calibre, your one-stop-shop (literally) for e-book management.

Calibre is a software that helps you manage your e-books. With Calibre you can do things like catalog e-books; convert e-books; view e-books; edit the metadata of e-books; download news articles from hundreds of websites (in English and other languages) or “custom sources” (i.e. feeds from websites that you must input manually) and convert them to e-books; and “talk” to various e-book readers to easily import/export e-books from/to the devices. (One thing Calibre won’t do, however, is read DRM protected e-books (not Calibre’s fault, mind you). Calibre can, though, still manage the DRM protected e-books for you.)

These are the input and output e-book formats supported by Calibre:

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

Output Formats: EPUB, FB2, OEB, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PML, RB, PDF, TCR, TXT

These are all the e-book devices supported by Calibre:

SONY PRS 300/500/505/600/700/900, Barnes & Noble Nook, Cybook Gen 3/Opus, Amazon Kindle 1/2/DX, Longshine ShineBook, Ectaco Jetbook, BeBook/BeBook Mini, Irex Illiad/DR1000, Foxit eSlick, PocketBook 360, Italica, eClicto, Iriver Story, Airis dBook, Hanvon N515, Binatone Readme, Teclast K3, various Android phones, and the iPhone.

The one thing to note is that Calibre does not explicitly support the iPad (yet), but it does support the ePub format, which is the e-book format iPad uses. So, if you are an iPad user, instead of having Calibre take care of all the “talking” with the iPad, you will need to use the Save to disk function of Calibre to export e-books to your computer’s hard drive then manually transfer the files to the iPad, or save the e-books directly to the iPad’s hard drive if you allow the iPad to be treated as an external drive when connected to your computer.

Here is a short 9 minute video where the developer demos Calibre showing its major features (I suggest viewing the video in full screen to see it in best quality):

One of the best parts about Calibre is that it is cross platform – it works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. (Plus it is open source.)

So, what are you waiting for? Go download Calibre and ease your e-book pains today. You may grab Calibre from the following links:

Version Reviewed: v0.6.46

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/Win7 | Mac OS X | Linux

Download Size: 28.4 MB for the Windows version

Calibre homepage [direct download - Windows version]

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13 comments

  1. Stilofilos

    Having just stumbled upon an .epub that triggered my interest while not having any app to open it, i followed Ashraf’s advise and downloaded Calibre.
    I opted for the portable version, hating apps that needlessly mess around in my system.

    Well, it just was NOT ABLE to open it, despite the format being mentioned as readable.
    So I quickly and decidedly removed the thing in disgust.
    Afterwards I still had to clean 15 registry entries…
    What is ‘portable’ ?

    Then I found a much better solution using AVS Document Converter to convert it into .docx
    (into the older .doc is not possible) – perfect result.
    (OK, it’s not free, but you pay a very reasonable price once, for which you can download all their software for lifetime, and they do have pretty decent things , mostly audio/video, and I’m particularly fond of their firewall as well and that saves me a lot on yearly subscriptions…)

    @ Ashraf :

    thanks lots and lots for your always interesting and informative posts.
    However (referring to Ron’s comment (5) above), I would love you to also include info about the reviewed app’s impact on the system – guess many of us would appreciate.
    You know, somewhat in the style of mike at GOTD.

  2. Adrian

    @Ron: No such problem with me. Uninstalling was very quick with Revo.
    @Joji: What is “Lunix” LOL
    @Ashraf: That version of Linux is quite interesting. Any idea where to download it? Anyway, it’s a disappointment that there isn’t any portable version.

  3. Khader

    Just last week I completed a determined search on the net and settled on Calibre to operate as my “Reading Station”. I line up all the eBooks and eMags I want to read… kind of like an eBookshelf and whenever I have the time to do some reading, I load up Calibre. I would recommend this to anyone who has a large collection of eBooks and has never gotten down to reading any of them.
    I’ve not begun to explore the full extent of what it can do – ebook management. It is still v0.6 and one may come across some issues now and then. But for the price and what it does… it is a useful piece of software.

  4. Ron

    After downloading the setup file, I set a System Restore Point, and then started the last freeware version of Total Uninstall (2.35 I think) to monitor the installation. I installed Calibre and then finished off the TU monitoring

    After the installation, I started up Calibre to give the program a try:

    1. It took forever to start.
    2. It tried to call out (and I blocked it with my firewall).
    3. The interface is very non-standard.
    4. It doesn’t have an easy to access help file, but does come with a documentation file.
    5. After spending a lot of time trying to figure out the process, I tried to convert an .epub file to .rtf and it either failed to do so, hid it somewhere or else I got something wrong.
    6. I shut the program down and it took a long time to do *that*.

    I decided the program wasn’t what I was looking for and decided to remove it:

    1. I first used the Add or Remove Programs Control Panel module to uninstall the program (I could just as easily have used Revo Uninstaller, but oh well.) This took a REALLY long time. Almost as long as removing MS Visual Basic 2005 SE a few months ago.
    2. A more thorough removal with Total Uninstall followed (to remove any leftovers), and that took about 10 full minutes. As it did the removal, I noticed just how many files Calibre had installed -  hundreds – and how many registry entries it had either created, removed or altered – thousands. In fact, the only other time I’ve ever seen that many registry entries was (again) when I gave MS Visual Basic 2005 SE
    3. After TU finished, I rebooted and then used System Restore to go back to the Restore Point I had created.

    Finally, I *erased* the Calibre setup file (as opposed to simply deleting it.)

    Overall, I have to say this was a most unpleasant experience and I won’t be looking at this program again in the near future. Perhaps the reason it was so bad is that the program may have ported from a version for some other OS, I don’t know.

    I think it’s just as important for us to mention programs that we have problems with just as much as it is to mention good stuff.
    Regarding Calibre though, of course YMMV.
    A workaround for converting epub files…change the .epub to .zip…unzip file…one of the directories created will have the book in multi html format…convert to whatever you require…
    hth

  5. Giovanni

    FOXIT READER and/or PDF VIEW XCHANGE are two great (free) alternatives to (heavier) ADOBE READER…and work like a charm as PDF reader.

    That said I have a question for you:  does anybody know if there is a  program (preferably FREE….LOL!) similar to today’s giveaway to compress huge PDF files?

  6. Grant

    It’s a nice looking piece of software.. I just happened to try this about a week ago. When it installed and ran initially, it was at about 50MB ram, but after I loaded about 40 or 50 books into it to organize, the ram usage jumped up to about 500MB! After restarting it, it kept jumping up. No idea why…

  7. Joji

    Wow… that’s a very nice theme the guy is using in the Youtube video. I believe he’s using “Windows Blinds”?
     
    Too bad Windows Blinds lags like crazy on slow computers. :( Otherwise it’s a great program… but on the other hand, it lags games too.
     
    ~Joji~