Converting Ebooks with Calibre

Calibre libraryEven if we’re not “Kindling the Classroom,” there are a lot of us out there using ebook readers for our own reading. Here’s the catch: a lot of the materials we want to read don’t come from whatever bookstores might work with our readers. We might want to load journal articles, books from Project Gutenberg, or even our own work onto our readers. We might even want to read a file format that the reader we own doesn’t support. Depending on the reader we own and the format of the item in question, we may be able to just sideload the content—but that might not work for everything.

Enter Calibre.

Calibre’s a nifty little cross-platform (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux) application that allows you to manage an ebook library and convert books from one format to another. It supports an amazing number of devices, far beyond just the Kindle, NOOK, and Sony. In this post, I’ll focus on Calibre’s conversion and transfer capabilities.

Adding a book to your library is simply a matter of clicking the “Add books” button and navigating to the file you want to add [Click on any of the images below for a larger version]:

Calibre add books

As you can see from the list the dialog box, Calibre can import a wide variety of file types.

Converting from one format to another is also simple. Select the item you want, and click the “Convert books” button:


Again, there are a lot of output formats supported.

Once you’ve added the books and converted if necessary, getting them onto your device is easy: just connect the device to your computer via USB. Calibre will let you know when it’s recognized the device, and a new “Send to device” button will appear in the toolbar. Select the book you want, click the button, and wait for Calibre to do its thing. (If your device is a Kindle, Calibre will ask if it should convert to that format before putting the book on the device—tell it to go ahead. And yes, this means that you can read .epub books on a Kindle, provided they’re not protected with DRM.)

What’s been your experience of using Calibre? Are there other applications you’ve found that do similar things? Let us know in the comments!

[All images by Flickr user cavenderamy / Creative Commons licensed]

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