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Calibre is a free, open-source, cross-platform e-book manager for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and OS X. You can use it to edit, convert, view and catalog e-books in all major e-book formats; fetch metadata for your books, download newspapers and convert them into e-books.
Currently, it is probably the most famous e-book manager, viewer, and converter.
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E-book readers are everywhere. There are choices for everyone, both free and paid and new ones are coming into existence on a daily basis. Finding out which one is best for your needs can result in a lot of trial and error. This is also true of e-book creation tools, although your choices of these are not as numerous. Finding one program that serves both purposes can cost you a small fortune. Calibre provides you with the ability to read, edit and create e-books and it does so at a cost that fits everybody's budget -- free. What's more, the quality of this program equals that of ones costing over a hundred dollars. Let's take a look at Calibre and see if your search for the ideal e-book reader/creator has finally come to an end.
Calibre calls itself an e-book reader and that is what it was initially designed to do. It is also where the majority of its features reside. It is one of the few readers that offers versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It also has a portable Windows version that allows you to load Calibre on a thumb drive. This means that you can use Calibre anywhere your travels take you. Calibre is also designed to detect the type of files your reading device can read, and it will automatically change most files to that format. For example, you have an e-book you usually can read on a Nook, but you happen to have a Kindle available. Usually, you would be out of luck. With Calibre, however, that file would be converted so that you can read it on either device.
Calibre can read almost any file type. The one kind of file it won't read is one that is DRM protected. This means you can't read copyright protected work you would otherwise not have access to. Other than that, you have control over what format you prefer files saved as.
The icons are easy to see and the print large enough for less-than-perfect eyes. Small print can be a problem with many readers and tired eyes become such a nuisance you can't enjoy what you are reading. This is not the case with Calibre. You can concentrate on the content of the material and not the effort of trying to see the content.
The list of magazines and news RSS feeds that you can find on Calibre is extensive. You no longer have to get your daily news over a number of devices. Whatever the format, Calibre will automatically access your subscribed-to feeds and have them ready for you when you want them. The ability to support a Table of Contents comes in handy here as it allows you to see a list of what articles appear in a feed.
The e-book creation mode of Calibre isn't nearly as impressive as the reader portion, but it is something worth exploring. Creating your own e-books can be difficult, especially when you need to deal with learning how to format them. Calibre provides several ready-to-use templates that allow you to start composing immediately. You can spend time writing and not have to worry about how the material will look when you finish.
Templates included in Calibre include those for writing novels and non-fiction books, magazines and picture books. Unfortunately, there are currently no comic book or photo album templates, but with the program growing constantly, I wouldn't rule that possibility out in the future. At this point, you also can't add video or music files to your e-books, but that is also something that may change in the near future.
For now, the e-book creation part of Calibre is sufficient for the majority of writers who use it. It is easy-to-learn, avoids the learning curve of most creation programs, includes a picture enhancement feature, so any included photos are optimized, and doesn't require having to download yet another program.
There are hundreds of plug-ins that help you enhance Calibre. You don't have to go searching all over the internet for them either as they all reside within the Calibre library. Because it is open-source, Calibre makes it easy for users anywhere to design enhancements that they feel are needed. It is unusual to want a feature and not have it appear within a few days if you mention it on a forum.
It's already been mentioned that Calibre is usable on the three major operating systems. In addition, it is also available in several languages: English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
The details you are able to add for each e-book is also extensive enough that you can search for a particular book by name, author, notes, your star rating, genre, publisher and more. You can categorize your books in the way that makes the most sense to you, not somebody else.
What learning Curve?
Calibre is easy to use. The creator states that you are "never more than three clicks from your goal" and that is undoubtedly true. In most cases, you don't need three clicks. The menus and icons are all self-explanatory, but there is also added information available by hovering over a certain item. To make things even easier, the Calibre site offers many tutorials to help those of us who are less technically inclined.
The one thing I find this program is missing is the ability to highlight text or add notes to your pages. Considering all the positive features, this is a minor annoyance at most.
Calibre is possibly the last e-book reader and creator you will ever need. It has been around long enough to prove its worth. You can spend hundreds of dollars looking for more bells and whistles, but in the end, you are just as likely to find them in this program. Anybody who has a collection of e-books needs to check this one out.