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Calibre – Mighty eBook Management Software

Simon Slangen 12-01-2010

eReaders aren’t just portable displays to read your eBooks on the go. The difference lies in the display technology.


Where normal displays use liquid crystal-filled pixels, and beam the image on your retina with what is in fact a big flashlight, e-ink technology uses no additional light-source. In fact, they really use an ink-like set-up. The result? No eyestrain at all!

Earlier this week, my own eReader finally arrived; the Sony PRS-300. Five inches of pure bliss. No, not a Kindle. They’re not only more expensive, but are less crisp and have added glare thanks to their touchscreen-layer. But don’t mind that, of course touchscreen is necessary to read an eBook!

After playing around with the sample books, it was time to fire up the Calibre eBook management software. The default Sony application works like a charm, but its got nowhere near the features of this eBook management suite.

The application is available on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.


Calibre is open source eBook management software. Despite some of its flaws, it’s quite possibly the best free eBook solution, even beating most paid applications. You can use it to import and manage your collection, convert between formats, synchronize devices, download RSS news and even retrieve book covers, ISBN information and ratings from the internet.


ebook management software

Even though I’ve written this article in the spirit of eReaders, Calibre is also compatible with the iPhone Stanza application, and can be used as a local eBook management solution.

Building Your Own Library

You can import single files or entire directories to Calibre. The application will try to determine the book’s title and author from the filename. Note the emphasis on ‘try’, mistakes are often made. As I recall, Silmarillion never wrote J.R.R. Tolkien.

free ebook management software


Unless all your books are stored as Title – Author.file, be sure to double-check the imports. If you’re uploading a lot of books, you can also adapt the recognition filter in settings.


Once you’ve got your titles right, you can retrieve additional meta data, like ratings and summaries, as well as a cover. This can be done manually, searching Google Books and for a match (as depicted above), or automatically, for a number of eBooks at once.

Uploading eBooks can take a long time – even more than looking for meta-data. If you’ve got a big directory to import, best do so overnight. This, together with repeating misclassification, make up the flaws of Calibre.



Even if you don’t plan on keeping an eBook collection, Calibre is an excellent tool for file conversion. EPUB, FB2, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PDF, PMLZ, RB, RTF, TCR and TXT are all available formats.


The Calibre eBook management software will try to retain the (now correct) eBook information, as well as the book cover. Depending on the output format, you can tweak the appearance (font size, text justification), auto-detect chapters, and generate a Table of Contents. For use in conjunction with eReaders, there are over a dozen default output formats.

This, of course, does not conclude all there is to Calibre. More advanced users are only getting started. After tweaking the application to match your eReader, you can set up several RSS feeds to be automatically converted to eBooks, as well as setting up a content server to access your books from afar.


What eBook management application do you use? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Calibre, Ebooks, eReader, Reading.

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  1. mak
    March 2, 2010 at 2:13 am

    The problem that I see i calibre is that it Move the file that you have in your directory to another directory that you set in preferences and create many folder as many autors the your collection of ebook have , so it sort ebbok in folder by author....
    does anyone know if is possible to avoid the moving of the file from MY folder to Calibre folder.....????

    • djangelic
      March 2, 2010 at 10:04 am

      I remember reading in the calibre forum that he said that he did it on purpose because calibre should technically be able to better organize your library. I know thats not really true but ive looked and there is no way.

  2. writings of french geek
    January 23, 2010 at 1:49 am

    Thank you for the article! For information, the eBook Sony PRS-600, contrary to Kindle de Amazon, allows the reading of files ePub. I explain in this article how to create your files ePub. Good continuation!

    • Simon Slangen
      January 23, 2010 at 6:48 am

      Yes, but the 600 has the same glare problem as the Kindle. The PRS-300 and PRS-500 don't. Just sayin' ;-)

  3. djangelic
    January 13, 2010 at 12:50 am

    yeah, it works pretty well with android, although at first its a little infuriating how you have to make sure ur comp has a static ip address for ur android device to find your library... you also need to install an app from the market called wordplayer. Hope u enjoy it! Its an extremely well made piece of software...

  4. Sarah Rainsberger
    January 13, 2010 at 12:38 am

    I was going to ask about Android support, but djangelic mentioned being able to share with an Android device. Sounds like this will be awesome for synching my macbook with my new enTourage eDGe!

    Thanks for the tip!

  5. djangelic
    January 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I have been using calibre for about 6 months now, and it is truly an amazing program! I am able to share my books across my network to my android device, and with a library of over 14500 e-books (mostly science fiction) its hard to organize books, but not with calibre. it took a whole night but it seperated the books into authors, and titles and allows me to easily search and rate my ginormous library :) I love it!

  6. jollyrogue
    January 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I've been trying to use Calibre for the past week to get books onto my HTC Hero (via Alkido) so this article should become handy :)

    I just need to know where i can get ebooks from. Especially new reads and ones that aren't big chart toppers. Most "sources" i find have poor formatting and i don't know of any official sites that do ebooks.

    It's just a shame there isn't a kindle app for Android like there is for the iphone.