Effective Ebook Management With Calibre

When did it become geeky to say that you are a voracious reader? Needless to say, I have no faith in the future of the society. Spitefulness aside, in my quest for better, easier and accessible e-book management, I found Calibre.

The name itself means a degree of excellence. We’re off to a good start! Does it live up to its name? Let’s find out!

I am one of those people who has a lot of ebooks in various formats. I also have a separate reader for each and every format: Adobe Reader for PDF files, Kindle for AZW and KF8, EPUB for epub, Microsoft Reader for lit and the list goes on and on.

Frankly it became quite exhausting after a while. I then figured that if I could convert all the ebooks in to one general format I wouldn’t require a whole lot of software to babysit. This is how I ran into Calibre in the first place. Don’t let it fool you though. There’s a lot more to it than just converting ebooks!

Download and Installation

Calibre can be downloaded from the website for free. The software is multiplatform so make sure to download the right version.

The setup is pretty sizable (46.3 MB). Double click on it and agree to whatever terms and conditions it gives you. The installation took me less than 10 seconds. And it doesn’t ask you about creating a desktop icon or a quick launch button, which is a good or bad thing depending on how you look at things.

User Interface

When you launch Calibre, you will find a set of huge books set on your desktop with tiny text above saying “Loading Calibre”. Amusing. The UI of the software is very user friendly and easily understandable. You will never have to go through the Help manual to figure something out.

The top panel of consists of the most frequent icons that you will be using on the application. The icons are huge and colorful like it was designed for a child. The left panel has auto created categories of all the books you have imported in to the software viz., authors, formats, languages.

Creating and Managing Categories

Initially, the default categorization of ebooks was a little too much and very displeasing. The good thing is that you can add and remove every one of them. You won’t be able to see any edit menu in the top. So right click on one of the categories in left pane of the application and select Manage user categories.

Type in the name and use the Category Filter to add your books. You can also drag and drop the books to the category of your choosing. Creating a sub category and deleting are all self explanatory.

The mid panel displays all your books with all the necessary information like the title of the book, size, author. Calibre lets you edit the columns too. Columns refers to the fields in the middle panel that shows title, author, tags, ratings etc. Most of them are absolutely unnecessary. Go to Preferences and add/remove the columns as necessary.

The right panel shows extra details of the book like cover art, formats, reviews, description and review. You will also find a link to the file location in the right panel.

The Real Test: Adding and Reading a Book

Now, let us try adding a bunch of ebook collection to Calibre. Click on the large icon at the top panel that shows Add books. You get a lot of options there like add books from single directory, add books from ISBN, etc. Select which ever suits you the best. Importing books doesn’t take up a lot of your time.

Once you add the books, they are neatly lined up in the middle panel. Double click on one of the books to see how it works. A smaller window opens containing the text with a line of icons in the left. It contains basic requirements like resizing the font, moving up and down a page, an icon to print the page, full screen mode etc. The top bar displays the page number, search and go to options. You’ll love it.

After I added the books, I was under the impression that when I double click the book from the actual location, it would open up with Calibre. But no! It opens with the same software if opened before I added the books. So in order to read the books using Calibre, open the application first or explicitly change the file permissions. I know it is a “Duh” moment but I wanted to give you a heads up.

You can individually edit the meta data of each ebook or in bulk. It lets you to change the book cover, tags, comments etc. By default, Calibre displays the review of the book from Amazon.com. When you import the for the first time, the application figures out the title and author of the book from the metafield. You can configure the behaviour of Calibre from Preferences -> Adding books.

Converting Ebooks

One of the many, many features of Calibre is its ability to convert an ebook from one format to another. And hey, it takes less an 5 seconds! Select a book or a set of books and click on Convert books. Choose the “Output format” of your book. It is found in the top most right corner of the application. It is nearly unnoticeable.

Calibre provides you with a rich set of formats to which you can convert your books into. The formats include LIT, LRF, MOBI, PMLZ amongst others. Select one of them and click Ok. After the conversion, your converted book is saved in the actual location of the book. Calibre also saves a copy for itself.

You can directly save your books to multiple hard drives or your system from Calibre itself. Although that is not really necessary, I like having that option. Connect the disk to your system and select one or more ebooks from Calibre and click on Save to disk.

It neatly creates a folder with the author’s name and a sub folder with the book’s name and saves the ebook in to it. Efficient, eh?

Wrapping Up

As an avid user, this software has been a boon to me. I neither require separate readers to open different formats nor require seperate software to convert the ebooks from one format to another all the time.

All I require is Calibre to organize my ebook collection. Highly recommended!


Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books.