Monday, April 11, 2011

Writerly Tools: calibre

So, I realized that I mentioned a useful program last week before discussing it as a writerly tool. Oops! Well, today we'll rectify it, because I'm about to introduce you all to Kovid Goyal's calibre.

calibre (and yes, it's lowercase) is one of those programs that doesn't immediately sound like it would be helpful for writers. It's an open source e-book library management program. However, I'm a really big fan of being able to read unpublished manuscripts on e-readers, so I find calibre pretty useful.

I've talked about this before, but manuscripts + e-readers = reduced eye strain, a laser focus that lets you read instead of edit, and a note-taking system if you desperately need to say something. There are several different ways to get your manuscript on an e-reader, but calibre is a program that makes it easy.

I downloaded calibre to convert files, but it turned out to be so much more than I expected. If your curiosity is the slightest bit piqued, read on and let me tell you five reasons why calibre is worth checking out:
  1. calibre is designed for reading
    Sure, you can do a bunch of awesome converting and stuff, but you also read everything you have in calibre. The program included an intensive e-book viewer that supports CSS, tables, and every e-book format. You can also download periodicals to calibre and store your data online for access on-the-go.
  2. calibre converts everything
    Say you want to convert your manuscript to an e-reader format so you can share it with your beta readers, but you don't know how. Well, calibre is your tool. It can convert everything into everything else. That's 15 different e-book file formats people, including PDF, EPUB, and MOBI.
  3. calibre works with everything
    It doesn't matter if you have a Kindle or a Nook or one of the less popular e-readers because there's a high chance that calibre will sync with your device. There is a hardcore list of compatible e-readers though if you want to double check. Also, there are versions of the program for PC, Mac, and Linux.
  4. calibre is an organization mastermind
    If you have e-books floating around on your desktop, calibre will help you organize them into a delightful, virtual bookshelf. You can also edit and sort via metadata tagging, a custom tagging system, or, if you're really desperate, separate libraries.
  5. calibre is under active development
    It's also advertised as being "developed by users of e-books for users of e-books." This is cool because if a new e-book feature comes into play (ie: Amazon's "real" page numbers), you can bet that calibre will whip out a quick update to get everything compatible.


Brenna Braaten said...

Sounds like an interesting program. I'll have to check it out if I ever get an e-reader.

Sarah Robertson said...

Supposedly there are downloadable galleys? It might be helpful to organize those or something?

But yeah, the best feature is the conversion engine, which it helps to either have an e-reader for that. Or work on self-publishing things, I guess.

Brenna Braaten said...

My galleys are all organized in Adobe Reader. Seems to do well for me.

Sarah Robertson said...

*shrug* Yeah, I don't use Adobe Reader, so I wouldn't know about organizing anything in it. But whatever works, right? :D

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