Organizing and reading e-books with Calibre

Slashdot it! Delicious Share on Facebook Tweet! Digg!
donatas1205, 123RF

donatas1205, 123RF


Calibre lets you bring some order to your digital library. You not only can restore reading material lost on your hard drive, but you can also convert digital books into a format of your choice.

If you read a lot of books, you know the problem: Where do they go? Did you classify your copy of Just for Fun in biographies, computer science, or science fiction?

Do you really classify books? Who are you anyway? Sheldon Cooper? And, if the book's not in your bookcase, did you lend it to someone or is it propping up a table somewhere? If you're not a librarian with OCD, you'll probably have to ransack you whole house to come up with that elusive paperback title you so desperately want to reread.

It's pretty much the same with e-books. They're guaranteed to reside within the four metal walls of your computer, but trying to find them on the hard drive, because of the pure volume and disorganization of your collection, will not be how you want to spend your Sunday afternoon.

This is where Calibre comes in. The program manages e-books in various folders and displays them for reading on your request. In this article, I'll took a closer look at the newest version 1.11 on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

Chapter One

After loading the software (see the "Installation" box), call it up either on the command line or from the program menu. On first startup, the program manual is available only as an e-book (Figure 1).


Many distributions provide installations for Calibre, but they're often outdated. Therefore, developers suggest copying and pasting a command that matches the distribution from the project homepage [1] to the terminal.

Although Calibre has no uninstaller, the authors guarantee that deleting the specified directories removes 99 percent of the project files. The developers also provide a command to update the software to the latest version or even revert to an older one.

Compiling Calibre from source proves to be complicated because of the many dependencies, and even the authors discourage it. Even so, the process is documented on the project homepage.

Figure 1: Clicking EPUB under the book's title image or double-clicking an entry in the library listing opens the reading window.

To open the book and read it, click Formats under the image of the book title. This opens a reading window that shows the contents of the book (Figure 2).

Figure 2: On the left side of the reading windows are the buttons for navigating and opening other views.

Your Own Books

Adding your own books is an important function in helping you navigate through your library. Click the book icon on the left to get a selection dialog.

The selection is impressive in regard to supported formats. Apart from EPUB, LRF, HTML, LIT, MOBI, Topaz, Text, PDF, SNB, and digital comics, Calibre recognizes various text processing documents that it reads in from diverse archive versions. Once you successfully add a book, it appears in the library listing in the middle part of the window.

Taking time to add descriptions for new books is definitely worth the effort. To do this, you can click the Edit meta information icon at the top and choose the book from the list. Figure 3 shows the dialog with some incomplete data.

Figure 3: You can add or modify the metadata for a book.

With the buttons to the left of the reading window, you set your preferred reading environment. The available print function somewhat defeats the purpose of the e-book, but at least it works.

Especially interesting is being able to extract metadata from the Internet. Press Ctrl+D and then Configure Download and identify the various metadata sources (Figure 4). After that, click Download only metadata (Figure 5) and you will see the added metadata.

Figure 4: Instead of adding metadata for a book manually, you can easily extract it from one of many sources on the web.
Figure 5: When Calibre finds metadata on the web, you can easily add it for the book.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF

Pages: 4

Price $0.99
(incl. VAT)

Buy Ubuntu User

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content