At a Glance
- Powerful, versatile, customizable interface; Provides extensive list of free periodicals in many different languages; Converts many e-book formats into the one that works with your e-reader
- The veritable array of options can be confusing; It’s not always obvious where a specific e-book currently resides
This Swiss Army-type utility that can archive and organize your growing e-book library.
You’ve finally bought that Kindle or Nook or Kobo that you’ve
been dreaming about, and in a frenzy of future anticipation, you’ve
purchased dozens of e-book bestsellers. Then, delighting in
libraries offering more than 1.5 million free, public domain
works–plus thousands of magazines and newspapers–you’ve loaded
your e-reader with the literary goodies you have always meant to
read. At the end of the day, your e-reader holds scores or even
hundreds of e-books. In time, that could easily grow to thousands.
Organizing and searching among that many books, periodicals, and
newspapers on your device may require more time and effort than
it’s worth. That’s when you turn to Calibre.
Library management program Calibre v0.7.20 helps catalog your e-book
collection. First, it surveys the e-books and other relevant files
residing either on your hard drive or your e-reader, and then
inserts them into Calibre’s main directory. Once that information
is in the directory, you can use it to organize, categorize,
annotate, search, rate, and save to disk. You can customize or
delete any of the data fields Calibre fills in, or add your
On the left side are searchable and sortable categories:
Authors, Formats, Publishers, Ratings, News, and Tags. For
instance, under Authors, Calibre’s defaults rank all authors
according to how many of their works you own. Click a specific
author to display all their books in the library.
To the right of the main fields, a column displays plug-in
information on the highlighted e-book or publication: cover art, a
list of formats in which the e-book is available, tags (either
downloaded or added by the user), and the file path on your PC or
e-reader where the work is stored. Beneath the path is the
publisher’s description or summary of the e-book. Although you
can’t customize this window, you can specify what plugins to use to
automatically download information into it. Scores of plugins are
included, and you can add others created by by Calibre users to your
On top of the interface are the commands that transform Calibre
from a static directory to an e-book management powerhouse. Every
function you can think of for easy access and guaranteed
readability is here. You can add books from many different sources,
edit and organize information about the author (or anything else
you want associated with the work), convert various e-book formats
to the one your e-reader uses, and download e-books to your PC or
any other device. And then there’s Fetch News, a cornucopia of
thousands of free newspapers and other periodicals, in dozens of
different languages, that you can download directly to your
e-reader, as well as regularly schedule daily or weekly downloads.
These commands are highly customizable. And because Calibre is open
source software with a dynamic community forum, you can add to the
list of components, features, and free materials daily.
The down side of Calibre is that not everything works smoothly,
and there are gaps in functionality. For example, the directory
cannot see e-books stored in your e-reader’s archives. If you want
to add that information to the library, you must first recall the
e-book to your e-reader’s active directory. Another problem is that
Calibre doesn’t keep track of where your e-books are stored, so you
don’t know if a specific e-book happens to be on your PC, E-reader,
smartphone, or whatever. And the user is occasionally faced with a
bewildering array of choices and options, without having a clear
idea of what to do next, or why.
Even with its quirks, Calibre belongs on every serious
e-bookshelf as the best way to manage your electronic library.
Note: This program is donationware. It is free to try,
but the author accepts donations towards further development.
–Sally Wiener Grotta & Daniel Grotta