So I thought I’d share a few favorite book-related websites and programs that I’ve discovered. Let me know in the comments section if you’ve tried them, or any favourites that you have, mkay?
Calibre for Ebook Management
How do I express how much I love Calibre? Before Calibre I was stuck with the Kobo desktop software, and I’ve already written about it’s limitations. The Kobo desktop software is really intended to buy books from Kobo, and that’s about it. Calibre lets you manage your ebooks, change the metadata, convert the format to a different file type, accepts most ereaders, lets you download books from any source and upload them to your ereader, read ebooks on your computer, share your ebooks…And best of all, it’s a free program to download (I love good freeware). It’s easy to use, updates are frequent, and the developer maintains a strong presence in social media and quickly responds to questions and issues. It’s not the best program for reading graphic novels–it will accept them to manage but not display them well. That’s actually the only complaint I could make, but that’s easily fixed by downloading an ecomics reader (I use ComicRack, also free to download).
I think my favourite feature is being able to change the metadata. It’s not always great on ebooks, and I like at least the title, author, and series information to be complete and accurate. Since my Kobo will only sort ebooks by the title or by the author, this becomes invaluable for series, especially long ones, since I can rename the title with the series name and number to keep everything in order. For example, there are currently 39 Discworld books by Sir Terry Pratchett. I can never remember what order they come in, and I don’t want to have to look the order up every time I want to read one to make sure that I read them in order (you should always read books in order. Just like you should watch a tv show in order. Otherwise there is CHAOS! CHAOS I SAY!). With Calibre, I can rename all of the books to Discworld 01: The Colour of Magic, Discworld 02: The Light Fantastic, etc. Then when I sort the books by title on my Kobo, they come up in order. This is even more useful for the media tie-ins for long-running series like Doctor Who and Star Trek, where there are literally hundreds of books, divided into multiple series, and by many different authors. It’s still not perfect for a few difficult mini-series that Star Trek has. They went through a phrase of doing mini-series with each book using a different crew (TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, New Frontier, etc), so each book had a mini-series number and a regular series number. For example, Star Trek: Invasion!: First Strike by Diane Carey is the first of the Star Trek: Invasion! quartet, but number 79 of the Star Trek: the Original Series books. I invented my own notation for the metadata to remind myself of the order it goes in, which is probably unnecessary to anyone who isn’t incredibly detailed about the order of their collection, but it’s my collection and it makes me happy, so there!
I also like being able to add a description of the book, even if it doesn’t show up on my Kobo. It helps remind me what a book is about when I’m browsing on my laptop to see what I feel like reading next. I like being able to change the ebook’s cover, especially to a cover similar to the physical book that I already own. Calibre can also find metadata on the web if what you have is incomplete–I find it works best if you have the title and author at least mostly correct. You go into the item record and click the ‘Edit Metadata’ record, and it will search Google, Amazon, and Open Library for metadata and covers and import it, so it’s easy to copy catalogue and then make any changes you want to personalise it. You can add tags and create your own cover. There’s a search box so you can look for certain things, you can order your library by title, author, series, date added, tags, etc., you can filter by author, language, series, format, publisher, etc. You can also browse through the covers or through a chart of your ebooks.
You can also use it to search 30+ different retailers for ebooks, and you can filter the retailers and search by author, title or keyword, and it will tell you if the book is DRM free or not. You can use it to regularly download news from more than 1500 news sources, and you can choose the language, the news source, in some cases the country, and when and how often you want it to download.
So, it’s easy to download and to use, it’s free, you can do a lot of personalization, you can correct metadata, and it lets you change file formats so you can buy books from anywhere (for example, I can buy Kindle .mobi books and convert them to .epub for my Kobo–really handy since Kobo ebooks tend to be expensive). I can’t recommend Calibre highly enough.