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Author Topic: Calibre - e-Book (Personal Library/Document) Management - Mini-Review  (Read 17797 times)
IainB
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« on: January 23, 2012, 08:32:43 AM »

Original post:2012-01-23
Last updated:2014-04-12

Basic Info
App Name Calibre
Thumbs-Up Rating Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup
App URLhttp://http://calibre-ebook.com/
App Version Reviewedv1.32 (64-bit)
Test System SpecsWin7-64 Home Premium
Supported OSes
  • Windows XP, Vista and 7
  • Windows portable
  • OSX
  • Linux
Support Methods
Upgrade PolicyFREE - as and when available (Calibre is open-source software).
Trial Version Available?FREE. NO limitations.
Pricing SchemeFREE (Calibre is open-source software.)
Screencast Video URLGrand Tour introductory video

Screenshot of the main GUI pane:
(Click image to enlarge.)


Intro:
Update 2014-04-11:
Added note for Calibre v1.32  (latest).
Calibre now seems close to a Nirvana state in terms of breadth and scope of document library and reference management, and support for reading/viewing on various different reading devices.
The automation of document meta-data collection from across the Internet is superb.

See the list of new features by version: http://calibre-ebook.com/whats-new
This information is split into:
___________________
The full list of changes to Calibre is available here.
There is an excellent demo/video of Calibre in action - Grand Tour introductory video. (This is well worth watching.)

Calibre is a free and open-source library manager to view, convert and catalogue e-books. It runs across OS platforms (Linux, Windows and OS X).
Calibre organizes, saves and manages e-books, supporting a variety of formats. It also supports e-book syncing with a variety of popular e-book readers and will, within DRM restrictions, convert e-books between differing formats.

Formats: Calibre  supports the conversion of many input formats to many output formats. It can convert every input format in the following list, to every output format:
  • Input Formats: CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, DJVU, EPUB, FB2, HTML, HTMLZ, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDF, PRC, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT, TXTZ
  • Output Formats: EPUB, FB2, OEB, LIT, LRF, MOBI, HTMLZ, PDB, PML, RB, PDF, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT, TXTZ

Devices supported: At the moment calibre has full support for the SONY PRS line, Barnes & Noble Nook line, Cybook Gen 3/Opus, Amazon Kindle line, Entourage Edge, Longshine ShineBook, Ectaco Jetbook, BeBook/BeBook Mini, Irex Illiad/DR1000, Foxit eSlick, PocketBook line, Italica, eClicto, Iriver Story, Airis dBook, Hanvon N515, Binatone Readme, Teclast K3 and clones, SpringDesign Alex, Kobo Reader, various Android phones and the iPhone/iPad. In addition, using the Connect to folder function you can use it with any ebook reader that exports itself as a USB disk.

There is also a special User Defined device plugin that can be used to connect to arbitrary devices that present their memory as disk drives. See the device plugin Preferences -> Plugins -> Device Plugins -> User Defined and Preferences -> Miscellaneous -> Get information to setup the user defined device for more information.
Quote
(From Calibre website "About - Features")
Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories:
  •    Library Management
  •    E-book conversion
  •    Syncing to e-book reader devices
  •    Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form
  •    Comprehensive e-book viewer
  •    Content server for online access to your book collection
Quote
Wikipedia - Calibre features:
  • e-books can be imported into the calibre library by either adding files manually or by syncing an e-book reading device.
  • calibre supports all the currently commercially relevant file formats and reading devices. Most of these e-book formats can be edited, for example by changing the font or the font size and by adding a auto-generated table of contents. Next to editing, printing is also supported.
  • calibre helps organizing the personal e-book library by allowing the user to sort and group e-books by metadata fields. Metadata can be pulled from many different sources (ISBNdb.com, Google Books, Amazon, LibraryThing). Full-text search including the whole library is possible.
  • Online content-sources can be harvested and converted to e-books. This conversion is facilitated by so called '"recipes"', short programs written in a Python-based domain specific language (DSL).
  • E-books can then be exported to all supported reading devices via USB or via the integrated mail-server. Mailing e-books enables e.g. sending personal documents to the Kindle family of e-book readers.
  • The content of the library can be remotely accessed by web browser if the hosting computer is running. In this case pushing harvested content from content sources is supported on a regular interval (subscription). If the hosting computer is not always on, a hosted calibre solution[1] can help. In this case the library is not accessible but the subscriptions are pushed to the reading device on schedule.

Who this app is designed for:
People who:
  • Need a library manager;
  • Require the library manager to view, convert and catalogue e-books;
  • Require the library manager to manage the ebook deployement to various reading devices.

The Good:
Seems to be very effective in what it does (I am still putting it through its hoops).
I am using it together with Qiqqa, which has some overlap with Calibre, but the two generally seem to complement each other. (For more info on QiQiqqa - Reference Management System - Mini-Review)
Good GUI ergonomics, though I initially found it rather counter-intuitive (because I charged in and started using it before reading the user guide).

The needs improvement section:
The main observation I have here is that when I initially gave Calibre a very large library to start with, it locked up all of the CPUs in my Intel i7 processor, and the system seemed to freeze. Reboot time. (However, other subsequent comments in this discussion indicate that it is not a common problem.)
I have not yet figured out whether you can confine the CPU utilisation to (say) just one or two CPUs (as you can do in Qiqqa, which had a similar initial problem - now fixed).

Why I think you should use this product:
Seems to be an excellent product.
If you are looking for a decent open-source library manager to view, convert and catalogue e-books - and across platforms (Linux, Windows and OS X) - then I would suggest that Calibre could well be worth a look-see.

How does it compare to similar apps.:
I have no basis of experiential comparison, other than the Qiqqa reference management system (mentioned above).

Conclusions:
  • An excellent piece of software, and well-supported by its developer.
  • I was rather blown away with what this software did, and how well it did what it does.
  • Seems very impressive, and I have kept it to manage my library from hereon.
  • Ability to "pull" metadata from many different sources is very useful.
  • Ability to "harvest" online content-sources and convert them to e-books is a brilliant idea (not yet tested by me).
  • Ability to de-DRM ebooks and translate them into other, non-proprietary formats for reading on other eReaders/software is a real bonus.

Links to other reviews of this application:
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 07:23:22 AM by IainB; Reason: Updated 2013-12-21. » Logged
cranioscopical
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2012, 09:42:51 AM »

I find Calibre to be excellent. Thanks for the review IainB!

(How large was the large library?)

See also here, on DC.
 
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Chris
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2012, 12:33:16 PM »

+1 with Cranioscopical!

I've been using it heavily for over a year now and I find it exceptionally useful. I've even set it up for a few clients, all of whom have given it rave reviews. And financial contributions.

One is currently experimenting with its webserver capabilities to see if it could function as their private corporate e-library system.

Also kudos for that mention of Qiqqa. That's another essential research tool that deserves to be much better known than it is.
 Thmbsup

« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 12:38:37 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2012, 12:48:49 PM »

I use Calibre to convert most any e-book format into EPUB format for use on my phone.  Works very very well in this regard.
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2012, 01:41:53 PM »

Another calibre fan here. Recently bought a Kindle, and Calibre is great for managing my book collection, and converting epub files to Kindle-ready mobipocket format. Highly recommended!
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IainB
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2012, 03:23:22 PM »

(How large was the large library?)
See also here, on DC.
Library size: (Apologies for omitting the library size) the one that "froze" Calibre is 1,174 files, 2.8Gb in total size. I do not know what proportion of those files Calibre would be able to translate/manage.
It was a relatively smaller part of my overall library, but I called it large because it seemed to be large enough to bring Calibre to its knees.

The link you gave was interesting - thanks. I had not seen that before. I usually try to scan DCF for prior reviews/references of any software that I am thinking of doing a review of, but I was being maddeningly interrupted at the time I was researching Calibre, and, this probably distracted me sufficiently to use the wrong search term (I probably used something like "Calibri") and thus I entirely missed the reference you gave.    embarassed

Interestingly, that thread also mentions CPU utilisation in a comment by J-Mac
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IainB
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2012, 03:37:59 PM »

...I've even set it up for a few clients, all of whom have given it rave reviews. And financial contributions...
...
One is currently experimenting with its webserver capabilities to see if it could function as their private corporate e-library system.

Also kudos for that mention of Qiqqa. That's another essential research tool that deserves to be much better known than it is.
 Thmbsup
Oddly enough, I am considering suggesting it for a client of mine (a property management company specialising in apartment block bodycorp administration) - along with Qiqqa. They have a huge library and a big DM (Document Management) problem, due to a lot of their output and company records being in .PDF format. Their current DM practices and use of IT are anachronistic (which is putting it mildly), and there will be a significant cost attributable to that - one which I estimate could be reduced by approx. 80% by the more intelligent application of technology and automation.
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40hz
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2012, 03:51:20 PM »


Oddly enough, I am considering suggesting it for a client of mine (a property management company specialising in apartment block bodycorp administration) - along with Qiqqa. They have a huge library and a big DM (Document Management) problem, due to a lot of their output and company records being in .PDF format.

Must be the real property industry and it's relatives.  Grin

Mine is a mortgage broker service. Same deal with them. Tons of transmissions and scans. All in PDF.

Luck! Thmbsup

If I hear anything worth repeating I'll let you know.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2012, 08:07:37 PM »

Library size: (Apologies for omitting the library size) the one that "froze" Calibre is 1,174 files, 2.8Gb in total size. I do not know what proportion of those files Calibre would be able to translate/manage.
...
Interestingly, that thread also mentions CPU utilisation in a comment by J-Mac
Thanks for the info. Calibre is looking after 1.3Gb for me and I've seen no problem at all. It's almost amazingly fast on all of my machines. Either I've simply been lucky or the threshold for trouble is >1.3Gb.
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Chris
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2012, 06:33:02 AM »

I got myself a Kobo eReader late last fall, about the same time that I ran across Calibre.  I got it originally because I wanted to be able to carry around my collection of out of print Traveller rules books.

Well, *that* was a disappointment - for old stuff like those Traveller books, you get image scans of pages and not real pdf documents.  Still, if I don't mind going blind occasionally (over 50 eyes) I can still read them.  I later discovered a program that would actually OCR scan a pdf file and give me the text!  Awesome, and I am now converting my collection to text, so that I can re-lay it out and convert to ePub which is the native format for the Kobo, although it handles others.

Of course, I am totally foolish to spend this much time on such a project, quite likely *more* time than I will spend reading the blasted things.  Yay OCD!

So, I have been adding to Calibre about a dozen at a time, as I get them converted.  I also have been combing the Gutenberg Project for old out of print science fiction and recently added from there, a collection of Charles Dickens books.  I actually read A Christmas Carole over the holidays, after being a devoted fan of the 1950's movie starring Alistair Simm.  It was fun to discover the movie does not stray far from the book.

So, so far, my experience with Calibre has been flawless.  It's ability to handle copious eBook formats in it's library, it's ability to convert between them, being cross-platform *and* (haven't tried this one yet) it comes with a server you can run on your network and use wirelessly to reload your reader has me bowled over!

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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2012, 06:36:52 AM »

Looking back over this thread, I wonder has anyone done a review of Qiqqa?

I followed the link to their site, but as I am not an academic, I'm not certain I would have a use for this program.

I'm going to download it anyway such is the power of a DC recommendation - I'll try *any* program you folks suggest, to see just what it can do for me.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2012, 01:43:57 PM »

(over 50 eyes)
Wow, with >50 eyes you sure must read fast!
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2012, 05:32:58 AM »

I tried running this on my previous computer and it would constantly lock-up my system. Then again that PC had graphic card conflicts that often caused problems with certain programs. Anyway after importing a lot of PDF ebooks Calibre was spinning out of control - 50-60% CPU usage & a big chunk of memory. Couldn't shut it down without going into safe mode.

New 'puter now - maybe I'll give it another try.

Thanks!

Jim
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2012, 02:05:15 AM »

Looking back over this thread, I wonder has anyone done a review of Qiqqa?
I don't think so, but I have been thinking of doing a proper Mini-Review, having used Qiqqa for a few months now. It's a superb document and information/reference management system.
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IainB
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2012, 05:42:10 PM »

New Calibre Release: 0.8.38 [03 Feb, 2012] available:
See all new features of v0.8 here.
Changelog - Release: 0.8.38 [03 Feb, 2012]:
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app103
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« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2012, 06:21:29 PM »

I used to be a user of My Ebook Library until the services and community associated with the application shut down, and you could no longer retrieve book information from the internet.

I tried Calibre as a possible replacement but quickly uninstalled it when it insisted on destroying my well organized book collection by moving all my books into a single folder. That was a deal breaker for me.

Have they done anything to make that optional yet? I want to keep my books right where they are, organized in folders by subject (non-fiction) or author (fiction).
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2012, 10:47:12 PM »

@app103: The version of Calibre I am using does not move anything around, but copies (duplicates) your documents (Word and PDF) into a folder, and changes the filenames a bit:
Example: C:\Users\[User]\Calibre Library\[Author ID]\Document file name.ext

Calibre also puts metadata in that folder, and seems to include any other files that it thinks might be related/relevant - e.g., as the cover page.
It appears not to scan and OCR PDF files with images containing text, so you will search in vain for (say) the string "toffee cats" that is in such a file.

By comparison, Qiqqa does that brilliantly. lt builds its own (duplicate) library of your PDF documents, with the PDF image documents all apparently OCR-scanned in the process and made text-searchable. Very handy. I'm not sure that it handles Word docs though.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 05:42:56 AM by IainB; Reason: Minor syntax correction. » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2012, 03:30:55 AM »

I've been using Calibre since I bought a Kindle and quite frankly for what it does there is not much better available. However there are a couple of things that it doesn't do too well. I am talking about 95% brilliant and 5% could be better to give you some idea of scale of my comments.

Libraries
It doesn't manage large libraries at all well, I'm talking about 1000+ books (I'm on i7 with 8GB) and I am not sure it was ever intended to cope with libraries that big in the first place. I think the storage needs to be ported to a proper database structure instead of the folder method that's being used now.

Kindle Collections
Kindle Collections is an extension for Calibre and I find it can be hit and miss at times. I use it to organise my collections but when I restart the Kindle it is seldom the way I organised it.

Small change in return for what it does do well like manage metadata, covers and the downloading of news is worth it just for that alone. I have made donations for both Calibre and Kindle Collections and I would urge anyone using it regularly to the same.

Kindlean
I have just purchased Kindlean which does nothing but manage Kindle collections and it is beautiful, functional and efficient.

Alfa Ebooks Manager
I've been looking at this for managing my library. It is the best I have seen so far. The free version really doesn't do much but point out what the paid version would do. The full version is not cheap ($40) but if it did what it says it does it is probably worth it. The only problem I have struck is that on one of my laptops (both Win7 64Bit) it throws .Net errors when it tries to start then fails completely. Spending that much money on a product that won't even start makes me nervous even though the other laptop runs it perfectly.

To sum up I think I need three applications because I haven't found one application that does everything well.
  • Calibre to manage what goes from my library to my Kindle
  • Kindlean to manage the collections on the Kindle
  • An Ebook Library manager as yet undecided.

Thanks for the article on Calibre :-)
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2012, 06:35:50 AM »

(over 50 eyes)
Wow, with >50 eyes you sure must read fast!

Doh! Yeah. And it takes hours to clean my glasses when I've been out in the rain.
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2012, 10:13:01 AM »

@app103:[/b] The version of Calibre I am using does not move anything around, but copies (duplicates) your documents (Word and PDF) into a folder, and changes the filenames a bit:
Example: C:\Users\[User]\Calibre Library\[Author ID]\Document file name.ext

So I'll need to buy another hard drive just for Calibre?  huh

Does it at least give you the option not to put all of that on your OS drive?
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« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2012, 11:19:57 AM »

I had not heard of Qiqqa, had a look and it appeared something for me.  However after download  and attempting to install on xp service pack 3 the error "service pack 2 required"

Please can anyone help?
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« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2012, 12:46:11 PM »

I had not heard of Qiqqa, had a look and it appeared something for me.  However after download  and attempting to install on xp service pack 3 the error "service pack 2 required"

Please can anyone help?

@wales - That's got to be frustrating. Especially since you have SP3 already installed.

For installation issues, your best bet is to put that question directly to Qiqqa since their developers would have a better idea what's causing the problem is and how to solve it. Their support link is here:

https://getsatisfaction.com/qiqqa

 smiley
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« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2012, 01:54:35 PM »

Thank you for your reply.   I have contacted qiqqa and a no reply email has said that they are busy and will try to answer my question asap.
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« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2012, 02:09:46 PM »

So I'll need to buy another hard drive just for Calibre?  huh
Does it at least give you the option not to put all of that on your OS drive?

eBooks aren't all that big, so it's a reasonable choice to take a copy of them into it's library tree, rather than try & track changes that would occur if it just tried to reference them 'outside'.  I've currently only got just over 1000 books in mine, and the library around 912MB  (Mostly ePub, rather than PDF though).

One advantage not mentioned is that using Stanza on the iPad or the browser on a Kindle, I can access them wirelessly via Calibre's server & WiFi!

It does allow you to choose where to place the library (and to have more than 1 if desired), including moving an existing library tree around.
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« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2012, 04:01:02 PM »

  • Ability to "pull" metadata from many different sources is very useful.
  • Ability to "harvest" online content-sources and convert them to e-books is a brilliant idea (not yet tested by me).

@40hz has had a look at this feature (copied from another thread):
re: calibre: Ok, I just gave it a workout. What it does (i.e go out and get a feed at a scheduled time, download it, and create an ebook out of it) works quite well.

per the developer of calibre:
Quote
The news downloading feature, one of calibre's most popular, has an interesting story behind it. I used to subscribe to Newsweek, back when it was still a real news magazine. But one fine day, Newsweek simply stopped being delivered to my house and no matter how much time I spent on the phone with various sales reps, it simply would not start again. Since I'd just got my first e-book reader at the time, I decided to add the ability to download and convert websites to calibre. From the beginning, I decided to make it as modular as possible, so that other people could contribute "recipes" for different news sites. The calibre cookbook has kept on growing and now calibre has recipes for over three hundred news sources in many different languages.

The limitations, however, are annoying. Each feed gets made into its own book. You can't combine feeds using the standard scripts provided by calibre. I'm guessing you could if you were to combine them in you own script. But that defeats some of the convenience being sought.

The other problem is that a new book gets created for each source each time the "get news" button is pushed. So if you were tracking 10 feeds daily, on Monday you'd find 10 books in your library list. When it ran again on Tuesday you would then have 20 books in your library unless you deleted Monday's run. Not a real problem since you could just select all and delete. But what happens when you add something in that only gets checked weekly - and for which you want to keep a few back issues on hand? Since calibre doesn't allow you to set up folders, it starts getting excessively "manual" keeping your newsrack pruned. Which, in all fairness, may only be a problem for tech news junkies like me.

I'm in the habit of closely tracking about 30 feeds daily - and well over a hundred additional between those I peruse on a weekly or monthly basis. So having somewhere between 100 and 150 "books" in my library just for that doesn't really work for me. I suppose I could do it using a portable installation of calibre which would be used just for feeds and act as a super-newsreader. But it's kind of a kludge. And it still doesn't combine multiple feeds into a single book. I don't want a library's periodical room. I want a geek's version of Reader's Digest.

What I was hoping for was something that could support a few different collections of RSS feeds. Something that could take three different feed lists and use them to produce a daily newspaper, a weekly journal, and a monthly magazine, all on an fully automated basis.

calibre can't do that. But it's soooo close it makes me want to scream.

But that won't accomplish anything worthwhile.

So now I'm firing up my email program and composing an extremely polite message to calibre's developer Kovid Goyal to ask what it would take to get that capability added.
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