Whether you've stuck a toe in or are fully immersed in the e-reader revolution, you might want to file away a reference to Calibre when you discover you need to start managing your e-library.
Free and open source, this program allows you to add searchable metadata such as tags and comments to your collection. It can also be used to search the Internet to find book metadata based on existing title/author or ISBN information in your library and download various types of metadata and covers for your books, automatically.
The most useful feature of Calibre is probably the ability to convert from one format to another:
The full list of formats can be found here.
The conversion engine has lots of powerful features. It can rescale all font sizes, ensuring the output e-book is readable no matter what font sizes the input document uses. It can automatically detect/create book structure, like chapters and Table of Contents. It can insert the book metadata into a "Book Jacket" at the start of the book.
Syncing e-reader devices is another important feature:
Syncing supports updating metadata on the device from metadata in the library and creation of collections on the device based on the tags defined in the library. If a book has more than one format available, calibre automatically chooses the best format when uploading to the device. If none of the formats is suitable, calibre will automatically convert the e-book to a format suitable for the device before sending it.
Here is the current list of supported devices.
I'll never be weaned away from my physical books; however, as an avid reader (and I always like to take books with me when I travel), I can think of some good uses for an e-reader, so I think there's one in my future. With so many devices to choose from, I've been waiting for things to settle out a little — not to mention, wait for the prices to come down on some of them. When I take the plunge, Calibre might come in very handy.
How about you? Have you acquired an e-reader device, and do you have any recommendations? Let us know if you decide to give Calibre a try.
Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and IT Security blogs.