#52Tech Week 36–Calibre 2.0

If you write in MS Word, and deal with e-publishing, or collect ebooks, you most probably are aware of the free app, Calibre. With Calibre 2.0 recently released there’s even more of a reason to have Calibre on your system. It’s got editing functions.

Calibre as an Ebook Library

Calibre – in my own thinking – started off by being a useful (and one of the few) ebook library system. It can find just about all types of ebook file types, and allows tagging and comments, plus a workable sort filter to provide a library for them. Calibre even goes out to the internet to find metadata such as ISBN numbers etc, for purchased ebooks.

Your ebook collection is kept online, via a content server. This lets you access your ebooks from any computer, or email them to yourself. The server also supports sending books to your mobile devices, as does the Calibre library on your desktop also.

There are various methods for getting an ebook from the Calibre library out to an ereader – including simply emailing a book to yourself, then clicking on the book within your mobile device email, and opening in any relevant e-reader app (there are many). Another option uses the Connect and Share functions within Calibre.

Connect and Share

The Connect/Share action supports connecting your ebook to a folder (useful for mobile device readers, say on a USB key), connect to iTunes, start the content server so that you can browse to that book, or setup email sharing of the book.

Calibre Ebook Conversion

For e-publishers, Calibre has always been a primary toolset. Writers looking to the KDP publishing platform either use the recommended tools to produce the .mobi files required, or can use Calibre for file conversion. Saving manuscripts from MS Word to html format, and into Calibre – where ebook files can not only be converted to .mobi for Kindle, but epub files for other platforms, and PDFs also.

Calibre conversions are also useful for times when, as a reader you’ve obtained one format of a digital book, but want to read it on a different device.

A Typical Order of Business in Ebook Production.

  1. Upload the new book file in from Word (html in a zip file works best)
  2. This file will be converted to epub format.
  3. If you have problems with cover images, take a look at Epub Options – suppress SVG images if your cover skews across the page, then convert again.
  4. Once you have an epub file, convert to mobi.
  5. If you have a problem with table of contents, look at Mobi Output Options and check off the table of contents option – fiction writers generally don’t need one.

Calibre and DRM

Of course none of us condone infringements of copywrite, but Calibre’s conversion options have long been recommended for converting from one format to another to allow ebook readers to choose their device.

Kindle books, for instance, when purchased, sometimes have digital rights management included by the author, sometimes not. But for where no full DRM is included, they still remain locked to the kindle format – you can only read them on the Kindle app or Kindle devices. Using Calibre, I can convert a purchased book which is only available on that platform, into epub format, allowing me to read it in other ebook reader apps on my mobile devices. Of course, I lose all the whispersync and bookmarking functions available to me up through Amazon.com, but it’s helpful for certain situations.

Other books on Kindle which do have DRM fully applied are no longer convertable in Calibre – they may have been in previous versions of either .mobi or ACW or Calibre itself, but in my testing I’ve found books which are no longer convertable in this way. Thankfully some are –

My example here shows the conversion of Randy Ingermanson’s great new book out “How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method” from my Kindle copy into epub and pdf formats. The PDF format conversion isn’t fantastic – it loses the page margins, for instance, but is a nice-to-have additional copy of my purchased books which I can dump into Evernote for PDF reading across all my devices. It also makes using forms and templates sometimes included in books useful when in PDF format.

Calibre Conversion 1

Calibre Conversion 2

Calibre and News Reads

Calibre can automatically fetch full news articles from over 300 websites or RSS feeds, format the news into an ebook and upload to a connected device.

Calibre Ebook Viewer

I find this particular function really helpful. As a Windows desktop user, but predominantly Amazon Kindle orientated, I’ve kept away from buying books in iBooks form, and also discluded other book retailers for the same reason. The Calibre ebook viewer provides me the ability to view and read ibooks and other epubs on my desktop, change size of fonts etc.

Calibre and Editing

The release of Calibre 2.0 (still free) provides an editing function. The integrated e-book editor that can be used to edit books in the EPUB and AZW3 (Kindle) formats. The editor shows you the HTML and CSS that is used internally inside the book files, with a live preview that updates as you make changes. It also contains various automated tools to perform common cleanup and fixing tasks. Further details and tutorials are found here.

Calibre App

  • Website and App Downloads – free. The website has many good tutorials online in the manual also. http://calibre-ebook.com
  • Calibre is available for – Windows (Win 7 and above), Mac OSX, Linux, and as a Windows Portable version (put onto a USB key, and all the files including your ebook library are kept self-contained).
  • Used with plugins – different free or zenware plugins are used for metadata population, connection to services such as GoodReads and even some recipe websites, etc.
  • Content Server lets you access your ebooks from anywhere, including through mobile devices.
  • Connect/Share supports iTunes,and emailing a book through to mobile devices for reading through your ereader app of choice.
  • Ebook Viewer lets you view many different formats of books.
  • Ebook Editor for epub and AZW3 (Kindle) formatted ebooks.
52tech year#52Tech: This was Week 36 post in the #52tech goal – to investigate and share one technology post once a week for 2014. You can find all the posts indexed via the #52tech tag, or top menu option at hunterswritings.com

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