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Calibre - e-Book (Personal Library/Document) Management - Mini-Review

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Original post:2012-01-23Last updated:2014-04-12
Basic Info
App Name CalibreThumbs-Up Rating :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:App URLhttp:// Version Reviewedv1.32 (64-bit)Test System SpecsWin7-64 Home PremiumSupported OSes
* Windows XP, Vista and 7
* Windows portable
* LinuxSupport Methods
* User Guide.
* Instructional videos.
* FAQ.
* User Forum.
* Change log (for all versions).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.)
Calibre - e-Book (Personal Library/Document) Management - Mini-Review

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:
This information is split into:

* Changelog
* Major new features___________________
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:

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.
(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
--- End 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 (, 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.
--- End quote ---

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).


* 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:

* There are various reviews - one good one was CNET: CNET: Editors' review of Calibre
* Wikipedia: Calibre

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

(How large was the large library?)

See also here, on DC.

+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.

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.

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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