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Calibre version 1.0 released (calibre-ebook.com)
313 points by kseistrup on Aug 25, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 121 comments

Calibre (and the plugins to remove DRM) is the only thing that makes e-books worthwhile, despite still being overpriced. I wouldn't be wasting money on e-books if I couldn't use them as freely as physical books.

iPad, Kindle, Nook etcetera, it's all the same incompatible DRM-crippled crap. Without the existence of Calibre it's pretty much impossible to have your own virtual library.

This software should get way more credit and support. Especially from publishers that support DRM-free books, like O'Reilly.

I find e-books very convenient to read, but am annoyed that it is harder to lend them to friends (if they themselves don't have a reader), and that I have nothing to put on my shelf.

What I really wish for would be someone to offer physical books at price X and the combo physical book + DRM-free ebook at price X+0.50€ or X+1€ or something small like that. (I can understand that e-books by themselves are not dirt cheap, since most of the cost goes does not come from the printing and physical distribution process. But in a bundle with a physical book that is already paid for through the price of the physical book, so one just needs to tack on a little bit to make a nice profit). I'd take that option everytime, turning the small extra into almost 100% profit.

The shelf thing annoys me greatly, but I don't want paper copies for the most part - I'm on a clearing-out-the-house spree, digitizing everything.

But I'm concerned about what that does both for my relation to the media, and how it will change how my son gets introduced to things. So many of the ways I got introduced to books and music etc. was via what my parents had on the shelves or left out, or the radio the played etc.

I think this is part of a huge societal change we don't talk enough about: Our exposure is changing dramatically. E.g. we play much less music out loud at home than my parents did, because most of my music listening is with earphones from my phone during my commute. While we have quite a few books out (which I'm ironically, given my concern, quickly changing), most of what I read is never "visible" to my son unless/until he hacks my laptop.

I wrote a long piece about it on my blog a couple of weeks back: http://www.hokstad.com/the-hidden-library

It's not just for my son either - I find that I feel I have a different relationship to books that are out on the shelf: I get constant reminders about them, and refresh my memory, and will often flip through on or etc., while I've found myself even forgetting books I was right in the middle of on my Kindle app because it's not visible unless I pick up a device and start the app and look for it.

I've started thinking about what I want to do to address it, and one approach I want to play with is picture frames - exposing "content as art" in the form of jacket covers from books, albums etc. automatically on a few digital photo frames around the house, coupled with organizing a full "family library".

I've tried to move all of my CDs to an mpd server, and even that has been only partially successful. It's just so much easier to browse in a physical space. It might help if tagging wasn't such a pain for non-pop music.

Have a look at MusicBrainz Picard. They have a massive community database with audio fingerprinting.

It's not %100 though so you do have to do a quick verification that it got the right one (some tracks can end up on compilation discs). Normally a normal lookup is better/quicker than the fingerprinting.


I've been using it, but it's still pretty bad for classical and most jazz.

> and that I have nothing to put on my shelf.

Why do you need anything to put on a shelf?

I, for one, am glad that books don't need to take up physical space anymore.

Why do you need anything to put on a shelf?

Because it adds to the room. I realize this is very much a question of personal taste, but I find that a room with a wall covered in books can be a beautiful design detail that adds warmth and character to a room. Plus physical books are pretty awesome in their own right.

I get it is asthetic taste, but I love whenever I move somewhere and I literally have nothing but white walls, bare floors, a desk, a bed, and a few drawers of clothes and necesssary accessories.

It feels very clean to me. I don't like cluttering up space for no reason than to occupy it.

As I said, it's all a matter of taste, but I love 'clutter'. As long as it's my clutter placed by me to my exact specifications (other peoples clutter is different matter all together). I find it really hard to concentrate or relax in a too sterile environment.

Same here. I especially like being surrounded by books. This is probably why I have WAY too many books in my apartment (it looks like the apartment of the book guy in that movie Unfaithful but more cluttered) and why I often go sit at the Barnes & Noble cafe to work, as opposed to going to, say, Starbucks or Panera Bread.

I'm a fan of e-books and definitely think they have their place (I've purchased a total of 3 Nook devices over the years), but I am not ready to wholesale walk away from dead-tree books either.

Same here. Plus, those of us that do move once in a while know that books weigh a ton. When I helped my dad move, I think the boxes that had his books weighed more than his fridge ;-).

Pack boxes of 50% books and 50% clothing/computer parts/bedding/everything else to make the boxes lighter and get a good indication when you have enough books (i.e. when they really do make up 50% of the content of your boxes).

Use smaller boxes for books, and buy or hire a sack truck.

Or even better, hire people to do the heaving lifting for you.

I feel that a physical book is like a lover.By the time you read the last page you either establish a bond with it or throw it away..I never felt that kind of bond with the contents of my eReader(which feels more like a one night stand :)

I agree with you re: aesthetics, yet part of me still can't believe that, in the age of iPhones and self-driving cars, we still transmit large amounts of information by grinding up trees and shipping them all over the planet. I'll miss books, but I won't be sad to see them go.

Plus, walking into someone's house and seeing a bookshelf full of awesome books is a good way to know that I am probably going to like said person.

And, conversely, up until ebooks existed, walking into a flat without any books was a clear indicator that I’d be rather bored by the person living there.

I believe amazon added twitter integration to ebook ordering four years ago, so from a social signalling perspective, going virtual doesn't mean going in cold.

There are interior decorators who know about our observational biases and will specify books on shelves to match a "look" although the client will probably never crack the book open. Once I learned that, the utility of analyzing bookshelves dropped a bit.

Have to actually read to be interesting, merely owning an unread book isn't very interesting. This impacts the public library user pretty intensely, because they can read a lot without having the interior decorating to prove it.

I’m not part of the age group yet where people would be able to afford books only to look good to their peers. And while you are certainly right that public libraries might make it possible to read many books without owning any, I found that most people who like books use them to read more books, but still get the usual 5-10 books per birthday/christmas/you-name-it to fill their bookshelves.

Of course it is a heuristic and there are both false negatives and positives, so YMMV.

"I’m not part of the age group yet where people would be able to afford books only to look good to their peers."

Agreed that probably pretty expensive if you're trying to pose as a foodie complete with "Modernist Cuisine" and all that.

On the other hand, "Vintage classic worn leather covers, organized on the shelf by color" that stuff is shoveled out by the pound. The expensive part is hiring the interior decorator, not buying the shoveled books.

Bringing it home to HN I suspect for many here, there are some copies of Knuth, and the little scheme series, and numerous others, on some peoples bookshelves that look nice but have avoided reading...

Ha! I swear to god, I will read those Knuths one day even if it kills me. I have travelled a good portion of this planet, and the one thing that has always travelled with me is my 3 volume set of TAOCP. They've frozen in a tent with me in Alaska, been homeless with me in Hawaii, seen the rocky mountains and are currently chilling with me in central Europe.

I have to say one of the main reasons for this is that they are beautiful books. The design and printing of them are awesome, I even used them as inspiration for designing my friends first novel (self published) which took me six months of researching typesetting and fonts and hacking away on InDesign. I don't think I could ever bring myself to throwing/giving them away.

But I've never really had the chance to use them for posturing, non of my meatspace friends are remotely involved in IT, so have no idea about the books. But many a person has been impressed by the aesthetic quality of them, believe it or not...

I don't buy books to look good for my peers. I buy books because I like reading them, lending them, etc. The social signalling is just a side benefit.

Discoverability and serendipity.

I want my son to be able to pull down an atlas and noodle through it, or Brewer's dictionary of phrase and fable, or {insert long list of books here}. That's harder for him to do if they're all stuck on a disc somewhere.

I agree with this totally. Also, I have friends who have shelves loaded with all sorts of interesting books. When left alone for a moment in their lounges, whilst they head to the kitchen to make a cuppa, it's nice to be able to peruse their collections of art, cookery, fiction books etc. They become a talking point and a single book spotted on a shelf can initiate many hours of pleasurable discourse.

If these were digitised they'd most likely be stored on the same device as their personal and private matters, and one does not out of good manners, automatically fire up their PC's or tablets to go and have a rummage around.

I have hundreds of books and I'd find it hard to decide which ones should hit the recycler. To this day yet even my scrappy 1970's paperback copies of stuff like 1984, Brave New World or The Ginger Man still elicit long conversations because visiting friends can freely browse your shelves.

It sounds awfully romantic, but who needs it?

Give your kid a tablet, and they have instant access to more books, films, television shows, etc. than you could ever hope to fit in your home.

Why flick through an atlas when you have services like Google Maps which are more useful (route planning, satellite imagery, 3D visuals, etc.)?

Why flick through a physical copy of Brewer's, when you can scroll through a digital copy, or just browse the Internet and find all that information and more?

But people don't find that stuff on the internet. it is presented to them via sites like digg, reddit, HN, b3ta, etc etc.

curation is important.

On the other hand searching for some text in a hundred physical books is very inconvenient.

Also with an ereader travelling is fantastic. A library in less than 300 gm.

It's also easier to access that library on your phone which is with many people all the time.

Not to mention access for your kids to millions of legal free ebooks.

On the other hand searching for some text in a hundred physical books is very inconvenient.

Search _is_ one application where electronic copies definitely can surpass physical books.

Though if I know the author and work, I can often flip to a page pretty quickly. Especially if there's an index, but even without, I have a pretty good sense of where in a book a passage occurred, even position on the page.

readers are brilliant, and I much prefer taking a device than a book when I travel.

but the legal stuff is annoying. when I die my books are legally dubious - do they get handed down in my will or does the licence make them non-transferable. and removing drm is a criminal offence.

It is decorative, visitors can easily get a glance on what I am reading and might pick out something that interests them, and last but not least: archival purposes. I feel confident that, say, 50 years from now, most of my physical books will still be around somewhere (maybe in a room, maybe in a moving box), and waiting to be picked up to be read.

With my ebooks I am not so sure that I'll be disciplined about keeping backups on contemporary storage material, have a reader still able to read the format or a tool to convert them easily.

>50 years from now, most of my physical books will still be around

I must admit I don't share your confidence in modern book making methods. I've had books fall apart after a couple of months, so I don't see 50 years happening.

Its the same with CD & DVD...we are promised many years of safe storage but in practice they fail soon.

I have good chunk of books that are 25+ years and still look close to new, so 50 years sounds easy to achieve for all but the most well worn books.

For my digital media I'm paranoid - I have a mirrored NAS, rsynced to a third drive, copies on my laptop, and two offsite backups of most of my media, and I'm still concerned about how easy it is to lose it.

Especially as most of my early writing (of little value to anyone but me, but of great sentimental value) only survives on printouts - even faded acidic printer paper from the early 80's to early 90's have long outlasted the storage media holding the files it was saved on. Not because disks can't live long, but because the density and relative fragility makes it so much easier to lose or damage the data.

>I have good chunk of books that are 25+ years

Exactly. They were made 25 years ago. I'm talking about books being printed right now. Quality is not what it once was.

A lot of the recently printed books I have are printed on substantially higher quality paper than a lot of the older books I have - I really haven't seen that loss in quality.

It varies greatly by book.

A sewn cloth binding, archival-grade acid-free paper, and good inks will last centuries.

Pulp paperbacks may fall apart after a single reading, though I've got a few I've had for 20+ years and multiple readings, though a few of those have a fair bit of packaging tape on them.

Several of my college textbooks fell apart distressingly fast, and I've got a number of softcover books whose pages are getting unglued (varying vintages). Different cover materials can also have different longevities: a few composite / plastic covered books have had the covers crack off or break.

It depends where. In Japan modern books are still made to be very durable and have high quality, UV protected paper if you purchase a proper edition.

I think it hinges on the paper and print quality mostly. The binding can be repaired if one treats a book a bit rough (my library offers a workshop for that...). While I have heard that the usual paper quality used for printing has degraded, I haven't seen any indications of problems in my own books so far. I also regularly consult books in libraries whose printing dates range all over the 20th century. Of course, they may not be pretty any more, and the paper often becomes yellowish, but treated somewhat decently they seem to age well and still be completely usable.

CD's and DVD's are another matter unfortuntaly... I am now basically operating under the assumption that any CD or DVD will be unreadable after a few years.

>I also regularly consult books in libraries

If I'm not mistaken then libraries buy a higher grade of books designed to endure much more. I've seen it on Amazon. i.e. a book comes in ebook, paperback, hardback & then another category - the name of it currently eludes me though.

I agree on the re-binding though.

"Library Binding" may be the term you are looking for - though this is not necessarily available from the publisher and libraries get it done after purchasing a regular copy. Some publishers offer Library Binding editions of some of their books.

How about paying to license the material - an album or film say that includes lifelong access to digital versions. Then when your CDS or DVDS go off. Or your DVDs are superceded by a better format, you could just download a replacement. Loads of my CDs have holes in them from decay. And I'm feeling really ripped off with my DVD collection - some of the quality is atrocious. There's no way I'll pay again for the same film in a different format. Most of my VHS and DVDs have made there way to charity shops. I only hold onto the CDS because of the stupid law in the UK that outlaws you even burning a copy of your own CD - which is just stupid.

Vanity, mainly, along with the fun of pulling and exploring a title, and the feel and smell of a volume; and as others have mentioned, much of my scholastic head start came from the books in our family library. Was I precocious, or just a curious kid with a great resource at his fingertips? The latter, I think. (I moved into my father's study when my youngest brother was born and three boys age 4 and under in a small room was problematic--so I literally slept with books when I was learning to read.)

I also know my kids don't read nearly as much as I did, so encouraging them to peruse the media server just isn't the same as letting them chill in the home library, and procrastinate from formal assignments by checking out the old man's books. (I will admit to dog-earing the naughty bits of some of my parents racy paperbacks.)

Once expansive touchscreens are cheap, of course, we can display a virtual wall of bookshelves and instantly load a text on the device of choice, or even print on demand.

And I also know I haven't bought a hard copy book in several years and I love being able to travel with a substantial library (and music collection). All I'll ever need is a little electricity to keep a tablet charged. (Assuming an easy way to move my collection to the next gen device.)

Choice. Choice. Choice. (EDIT: Oh yeah--merci, Calibre.)

> Once expansive touchscreens are cheap, of course, we can display a virtual wall of bookshelves and instantly load a text on the device of choice, or even print on demand.

This is exactly what I had in mind when reading some of the comments. "Discoverability and serendipity", as DanBC pointed out is fixable by this technology. But you don't need huge touchscreens. A medium-sized one (55"?) with something like Cover Flow, where different books slowly move across the screen might be a pretty good solution.

> ...am glad that books don't need to take up physical space anymore.

The problem is that when stuff is out of sight, you don't even think that it is there. Look at the Internet: it's a massive amount of information and you just don't even know what you could ever find unless you spend time searching for it.

When something is physically tangible, it's way easier to locate it and to think about it. That's how our brains work.

I'm with you regarding the space. On the other hand I also think digital-only profoundly affects how I interact with books in a way I don't like (see a lengthy comment elsewhere with more on that). Putting a book on a shelf is much like putting photos on the wall to make them a constant part of your life instead of burying them in a photo album.

I too wish for such deals. I'd particularly like that for textbooks, where I expect to want to refer to them later on, and possibly when I'm far from my copy. I can't think of a good way to convince the editor that I haven't resold the paper version though. That would end up costing them a lot.

> I can understand that e-books by themselves are not dirt > cheap, since most of the cost goes does not come from the > printing and physical distribution process.

Umm... this is incorrect. Most of the cost does come from printing and distribution. The next largest chunk is editing, but it is still smaller than the other.

I have been a huge fan of e-books and spent hundreds of dollars on these. Now we have our own place, so we are buying actual physical books, mostly for decorations. Kind of funny, I think.

Yeah calibre was a boon back in my Sony reader years. Plus Kovid (the project creator) is a really great and helpful guy. Dang it's been a while, good old times hanging around the MobileRead.com forums.

The real shame is I've mostly become a dead tree book consumer, back from my enlightened epub ways. The status quo of ebooks is really bad, and as much as calibre helps, venturing out of the Kindle route was fairly high maintenance. I only hope we can take these freedoms back into the mainstream with all the 'own cloud' movements happening, that I may easily buy ebooks online straight into my cloud and serve them out to a smart ereader, to my phone, desktop browser, etc.

I don't know how hard it'd be to use Calibre for background/batch conversion, but Calibre + DRM plugins automatically pics up anything delivered to Kindle for PC now, which runs fine under Wine. So it should be reasonably simple to set up a script to run Kindle for PC under wine against a VNC server regularly, and run Calibre and trigger conversions now and again.

I push my Kindle stuff straight to my Android devices without caring about DRM, but only because I semi-regularly dump any new books to my Kindle for PC install and make sure I get DRM free copies for backup purposes, but I currently do this manually. My "exposure" is never more than a handful of books.

Otherwise I've bought a lot more than I otherwise would from O'Reilly because they're DRM free and happily sync my books directly to Dropbox etc.

My "own cloud" I currently handle simply with rsync - storage capacity on my devices grow faster than the content I want to have on the go for the most part, other than video which I do need to manage a bit.

"I've bought a lot more than I otherwise would from O'Reilly because they're DRM free and happily sync my books directly to Dropbox etc."

Pragmatic does the same thing; there's a directory called "Pragmatic Bookshelf" on my dropbox and inside that they automatically make a directory for each title. Multiple editions, when published, magically appear in the same title directory and they send an email to let me know. Source for this information is looking at my phone's dropbox while I type this.

Delivery of electronic goods via Dropbox seems to be turning into a standard.

Good to know. I've actually spent more money on books with O'Reilly than Amazon over the last year thanks to the DRM bit, and I might as well spread some of that love to Pragmatic as well. This is despite for many years spending maybe 90% of my "book budget" at Amazon with paper books, but partly I don't want to reward them for DRM and secondly that extra little tiny hassle to get my de-DRM'd archival copy adds just that little extra disincentive...

And despite having a ton of Android devices, Google Play has gotten exactly $0 for books, videos or music, since it's a massive confusion of rental and DRM and I just don't can't be bothered verifying what is DRM free, and to keep (e.g. for books, I don't know if there is a way to verify if they're DRM free before purchasing - I can't find anything after a quick look).

I've limited my consumption of eBooks to freely-available materials, or ePubs I've created on my own (from LaTeX sources, using Pandoc, from Calibre).

I find they're an advantage over Web pages in that all the annoying formatting is removed, you're left with a basic text and can focus on the content. It's also amazing to have your entire library available (and indexed) at your fingertips. For research, use of plugins to create and maintain a bibliography is also tremendously useful.

DRM is a zit on the face of knowledge.

And I'll plug Moon+Reader, for mobile, a pretty slick ebook reader in my experience.

Note that iPads and (some?) Nooks support DRM-free ePubs and PDFs. There are probably other readers that do as well. The Kindle is the worst when it comes to format support and vendor lock-in.

Well, Kindle supports PDF and DRM-free mobi files. What difference does it makes with the iPad when both of them have a proprietary DRM scheme?

Nook or Sony accept standard DRM epubs, iPad doesn't

There is no stanard DRM format for EPUB. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB#Digital_rights_management:

"An EPUB file can optionally contain DRM as an additional layer, but it is not required by the specifications.[24] In addition, the specification does not name any particular DRM system to use, so publishers can choose a DRM scheme to their liking."

Change to "de facto" standard if you like

What do you mean by 'standard DRM'?

The one that is used by all of the great devices makers, Sony, Kobo, B&N or Google in Play Books.

Change the wording to "de facto" standard

I still don't get it. Do they use all the same DRM?

Soft DRM is IMHO a possible way to go: You get freely usable files but the files get tagged with your name. It's AFAIK the kind of DRM Apple uses for music files from the iTunes Store.

Yes, they use Adobe Digital Editions DRM

Kindle supports DRM free books. I have hundreds of DRM free books on my kindle.

You don't even need DRM to sell on the Kindle store, it's optional for authors.

I've been using Calibre for several years now. It's managing my ebook library on every machine and I have yet to encounter a bug in any of its features. I use it to sync to my Nook, handle book metadata, convert from format to format, all without a hitch. In any ebook community Calibre has long since become the standard application. Many of the question are simply answered "install Calibre, it has what you need".

Kovid Goyal, the creator of Calibre has been, for me, as much of a poster-child of FOSS as Firefox or Linux. He has a point release every week, and you could just update the software without worry - nothing would break. He's open and frank about the development process - nothing hidden, or "thrown over the wall" no open-core features to abuse the power user, no excuses for stuff that isn't ready to release.

I have no idea why only now he reached 1.0 - it's been feature complete for my needs for a couple of years now. But as it stands, I wish to congratulate him for reaching the milestone and to thank him and everyone who supports the project - by submitting code, patches, bug reports, helping in the forums, donating money, and using the software.

I have to admit I was soured on the development when I read the how security issues were handled:


LWN did an analysis of the bug and response [1]. This issue aside, what I don't like about Calibre is it trying to be a library and device management solution, with a small amount of conversion on the side, while all I am interested in is the conversion. (I use a dropbox folder for library management.) The device management is what led to the suid security holes in the first place.

[1] http://lwn.net/Articles/465311/

I think it is rather unfair to criticise Calibre for being a one stop shop for all things ebook. For none technical people who I would assume are the majority of people reading books this is exactly what they need. Trying to get them to use different applications for different aspects of ebook library management will be a nightmare for whoever is trying to help them out into the world of ebooks.

Agreed. I only want a tool that will convert from one format to another.

My books are organized beneath ~/Books/ by author, series, and title. I don't need them "managed", I just want to be able to convert them, and once done I can copy them to the device via /bin/cp, etc.

I'm using the command-line tools from calibre and they work, but the GUI itself is redundant for me.

Agree. Calibre is best known as a ebook converter. Most of non-tech savvy the people I know, talk about Calibre that way.

I use Calibre and it's great to see how far it has come. That said, let's not pretend it's all kittens and rainbows.

It has all the problems people associate with GUI based FOSS. The UI is pretty terrible. It looks and feels like FOSS from seven years ago. It has about a million prefs / settings buried many layers down in a very confusing series of prefs dialogs. It shouldn't take you 3 hours to configure an ebook reader. It should just come with sane settings out of the box. As someone else remarked the UI often feels slow / sluggish.

The app is 253MB (OS X version)! Is it just me or is that crazy?

The true culprit for the massive size is Qt. It weighs in at ~23Mb for the python library, and about 100Mb for the bundled framework.

All in all python code and libraries accounts for 73Mb, and bundled frameworks for 143Mb.

That's the price you pay for writing an app with a UI in python.

You say that as if it's his fault. He did not write the app - he's just using it.

> You say that as if it's his fault.

I don't think he was. I read that as the unspecific "you", with the meaning being equivalent to "That's the price one pays for writing an app with a UI in python."

> The app is 253MB (OS X version)! Is it just me or is that crazy?

The bulk of that is Qt. If your OS had a standard Qt library thaf every application that uses Qt could reuse, Calibre wouldn't have to distribute Qt itself.

But since on McOS10 the preferred method is to distribute every depedency over and over again in each app that needs that dependency, you end up with that bloat. The common retort is, "253 MB? We have terabytes of storage now! Who cares about a few extra megabytes here and there."

Calibre is indeed my go to example when I need to demonstrate horrible FOSS GUI.

The beauty of FOSS is you can take your criticism and turn it into action by contributing to make it better!

I'm not sure if this was sarcasm, or simple platitudes about open source, but this whole "contribute to make it better" is really a hit-and-miss affair. Best case scenario is that the code is clear, easy to update the UI, and the only reason it hasn't been done is because no one cares about the UI. That seems incredibly unlikely (the caring part - someone built it, maintains it, and will probably be upset if you "fix" it).

On other projects, you first get a huge range of code complexity/quality, making contributing perhaps simply not feasible. After that, you can run into all sorts of stuff. My real world experience:

  "We won't take this because we use linked lists, not hashtables, because <original maintainer> likes linked lists." 
  "We won't fix this broken XML parser because this code is fast." 
  "Why did you fork and create those modules without telling us? That's really rude to all of us that spent so much time on this." (In response to an announcement a company had ported a project to another platform, and wanted feedback and was going to open all their work. They ended up just keeping it internally.)
And some of that is on projects that are actually very friendly otherwise and to which I've contributed large and successful pieces. (To those involved if you happen to read this: you already know my criticisms ;)).

In short, the whole "hey it's open so go fix it" is a rather trite simplification. It does not reflect the usual or even possible experience for the majority of users.

It wasn't really sarcastic, but it was my intention to point out that, unlike closed source, if your complaint about open source software UI means that much to you, you do have the option of actually putting your time where your mouth is, and helping solve the problem that is bothering you.

Your personal anecdotes are less about the software being open source and perhaps more about a lack of coordination with the existing developers. Every time I've contributed to an OSS project, I've opened a dialogue with the existing team ahead of time and had my ideas vetted before I put in a bunch of work. That or (now in the Github era) they were tiny/trivial patches where I wouldn't mind if my pull requests get ignored.

With closed source software that has shitty UI (and there's lots of that too), you have to just live with it...

Yes you can if you care enough. I don't read ebooks often and only open calibre a few times a year. My time and effort is better spent on projects I use frequently. Plus you're assuming I have enough knowledge about their underlying technologies to contribute. I don't know python and while I'm pretty good with UX and UI layouts I'm not a designer.

Indeed, "if you care enough" was exactly my point!

There are a bunch of uderlying scripts. These are great.

The rest of it - the UI, the workflow, the community - these are all horrible.

Now, the real question is whether or not Kovid Goyal (the maintainer) releases his iron grip on development. For years, seemingly any bugs are features, EVERY TIME. Good luck getting a commit accepted! You'll probably get an incredibly passive aggressive reply about why he doesn't see a need for it, no matter how obvious and simple to execute.

Can we get a real UI, autoupdates (and without needing to download the whole giant binary every time), a database that doesn't choke on realistically large libraries? How shaving some time off of the 45 seconds the application takes make an Amazon API call to grab metadata and a tiny cover image? These are just the obvious, major issues that have been present for years now.

Calibre is already that half-assed community project cliche. One that has so much potential at first, but falls apart since no one can see the forest among the trees. Has been for a while now.

A great example of this (IMHO) is the networkmanager bug:



I gave up on calibre largely due to the irratation caused by this bug. Sure the UI is not great but I could deal with the UI. I keep networkmanager installed on my laptop to keep some oddball VPN profiles available. 80% of the time I have NM disabled, pidgin and a host of other apps have no problem with NM being disabled.

Calibre is pretty awesome, congratulations to the team.

"Unfortunately" most of my books are non-fictional/science/textbooks etc. For the few fiction books I read, I pretty much use ebooks unless it's a comicbook or maybe some fine leather collectors item.

My main problem is that I scribble in, marker (multiple colors), take note, underline and do all kinds of stuff with my non-fiction books. I researched and the options to do all that were pretty underwhelming last time I checked. If any of you know about good "texbook tools" I'd be all ears.

I think for textbooks I'll never get used to ebooks. I also like being able to flip through them quickly, scan the content on a quick flip and so forth. The one major advantage of ebooks for my typical use cases is full text search (and theoretically links to other books on quotes and so forth).

I use goodreader on the iPad the same way you use textbooks. Only on the PDFs, but you can type, highlight, write, scribble draw all over the PDF. One feature that I like is I can then export just the typed up notes, so I have my own kind of cliff notes version of a book. Good if you follow the 'How to read a book' methodology.

This sounds interesting. I'll check it out...have been thinking about an iPad anyways because it has good support for virtual baordgames :)


>If any of you know about good "texbook tools" I'd be all ears.

Well the Kindle's support attaching notes to specific places in the book, but as you say its pretty underwhelming.

Realistically though what you describe is not really the envisioned use of an ebook. Perhaps in future readers...

print the page you need, scribble on that, stick it to the wall behind the monitor.

I have liked Calibre when I have used it a few times, but the GUI is pretty slow compared to most software these days. I attributed it to using python, but maybe thats not the case? has anyone else found some speed hacks that make it easier to use? (or maybe its time for me to upgrade the machine it resides on?)

There are plenty of blazing fast GUIs written in python; that's not the problem.

Such as... ?

My Veusz plotting package is pretty responsive and is written with PyQt. A few of the inner loops were recoded into C++, but the majority of the code is python.

Sublime Text 2 & 3.

Sublime Text 2 is written in C++


Dropbox, Anki, FreeCAD

Kupfer and Gajim



The slow startup time and general sluggishness was due to inefficiency with the database backend, rather than the GUI code itself.

The biggest new feature in 1.0 is a re-write of the 0.x data access layer. The application now starts almost instantly, and is much more responsive in general.

I'm pretty certain it's the Python side of things making it slow - I've been involved in a project which converted its PyQt interface to a native C++ Qt one, and the UI speed up in terms of responsiveness was significant.

Dropbox is written in Python too and the UI is far from sluggish.

It depends what the interface is doing - if it hasn't got deeply-nested layouts and widgets (like dropbox - it's just menus and simple dialogs), you can get away with it.

If you've got resizable windows with split nested views containing things like column lists or trees, you notice the overhead a lot more.

Any way to automatize updates on Mac, every time I open Calibre there is a new version and going on the site, download and manually installing is so 199X? :)

One way to get over that is to simply not bother updating. Make a reminder for every three months or so.

Indeed, Sparkle updates on the Mac would be very much appreciated.

I don't use Calibre to manage my library, I just use the News option, every morning at 7am it downloads rss/websites, parses them into a book, and emails them to amazon, so my kindle downloads them. Does mean I hardly ever get around to reading actual books though.

I just wish it would not insist on forcing the user to use its library and only its library. Just like my music I prefer to organise my ebook files myself. With calibre that is not possible.

You can export files into customizable directory structure.

If you want to arrange files to directories, you can export documents into arbitary directory structure determined by big number of attributes and even tags.

Content library tools that refuse to index arbitrary content should be considered broken. The mindset that you can only index content if the canonical copy of the data is in your database is just awful.

It's also at least a little bit problematic that there is little support for treating source books as special, which would be a nice feature given the fact that the convertors are not yet perfect (and last I looked they didn't work very hard to make semantically sensible conversions, which makes knowing the source book that much more valuable...).

Calibre is not just indexing. It's also modifying data.

Of course, if Calibre would have source book concept, it could treat arbitrary directory as sources and map converted and massaged documents and metadata to them.

Calibre is not only great for ebook management but an excellent command-line tool for converting between several ebook formats. It is like the swiss-army knife for managing ebooks.

On a related note, they now accept bitcoin: http://calibre-ebook.com/donate

Calibre accepts Bitcoin: http://calibre-ebook.com/donate

I've used Calibre over 5 years. It's being with me from Windows, then Linux, and now OS X, and always one of the first software installed when I setup a new computer. Thanks for your very hard work, Kovid Goyal and other contributors.

Despite its first 1.0 hit, for a long time, the project has been developing too actively for me to update every minor release (every week less or more).

This looks worth a look : https://register.blib.us

It currently only supports PDF books (search/share/...), and is broader than a book library (includes photo album support/openid/...), something related to Calibre.

Thanks for checking us out :)

We are at pre alpha stage right now and super excited about the opportunities.

Please register with your Gmail id and we shall get an account in an hour.

P.S. Also I have just posted a ShowHN link for Blib

Python again, sadly. I understand the appeal but I'd really like to see such an app written in a faster language.

Most of this code is actually C/C++.

Could someone help me understand why there is a x64 version? Naturally thats great, but I don't quite see why its a priority for an ebook tool.

The conversion with heuristics enabled benefits from it.

Seven YEARS! Finally.

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