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How to organize and manage your entire ebook library

Calibre is one of the best apps for keeping your ebook library in tip-top shape

A Kindle tablet displaying a page of Nightmare Alley on the screen. Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

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If you have a Kindle, the de-facto way for getting books onto your e-reader to buy them on Amazon and send them straight to your device. That's fine, but if you like getting your e-books from other sources, like your local library or a third-party bookstore, you'll want another way to manage all your books.

That's where Calibre comes in. Think of it like an open-source iTunes for managing everything e-book related, but without a digital storefront. Once your books are all loaded into the app, you can manage the metadata for author, title, publish date, and other tidbits you may need to keep things nice and tidy.

Onboarding

Screenshot of Calibre's preferences settings.
Credit: Calibre

You'll be happy to have downloaded Calibre.

There’s good new and bad news—you'll need to do a bit of work to get Calibre set up, but once all that work is done, you'll have a nice little hub to view, manage, and sync all your e-books to your liking. You can even have it automate tasks you'd rather not have to worry about doing manually.

After you've downloaded the app to your computer, tablet, or phone, make sure you know what format you want all your ebooks to be in before you start adding them to Calibre. So, if you're using a Kindle, you'll want to have any ebook converted to a Kindle-friendly format like AZW3 or KFX, or for a Kobo you could just stick to the standard epub.

Either way, once you know what file formats your device supports and what format you want to use, go into Calibre's preferences and select Behavior then set the preferred output format to whichever file type best suits your device.

Then, go back to the Preferences menu and select Adding Books under Import/Export The second tab should be titled Adding Actions, and then check the box that says Automatically convert added books to the preferred output format.

To the right of that is a tab that says Automatic Adding, which you can use to let Calibre monitor a particular folder for ebooks and automatically add them straight into your library, then convert them without you having to do anything.

Once you've gotten the automated stuff taken care of, it's time to mess with some plugins to give Calibre some added functionality.

Finally free

Screenshot of plugins.
Credit: Calibre

Calibre lets you manage your ebook library outside of Amazon.

If you want to get ebooks from Amazon's bookstore to your Calibre library, whether for safekeeping or to get them onto a non-Amazon device, you'll need to remove Amazon's DRM from the files. This will ensure that non-Amazon devices and software, like Calibre, can read and edit the files. To be clear, DRM-stripping software should only be used on ebooks you purchased for personal use—it should not be used to infringe on the copyright of the author and/or publisher.

To install the DeDRM plugin, simply download the .zip file from Github, and unzip the file. From there, go into Calibre's Plugins menu under Preferences and choose Load plugin from file.

From there, select the unzipped folder, and select the new zip file inside (don't unzip this one). You should get a notification that the plugin has been installed and be prompted to restart Calibre.

After that, you'll have to configure it, which is straightforward. If you're using a Kindle, you'll need to input your Kindle's serial number, which you can find under Content and Devices on Amazon.

Picture Perfect

Screenshot of a library of ebooks.
Credit: Calibre

Everything nice and neat in one place!

If you like having all your shows, movies, and books to have all the right information and look good on whatever device you're viewing them on, you'll need some plugins to handle the metadata of your ebooks. To find them all, just go back to the Plugins menu and select "Get new plugins" from the bottom.

Kindle hi-res covers is a simple way to find high-resolution versions of covers for your ebooks. If you're unhappy with a particular book's cover and want to swap it for an alternate one, or the one your book came with just doesn't look right on your device, tidying it up is just a right click away.

Quality Check is a handy plugin that lets you easily scan all the ebooks in your library based on a number of parameters, to find any issues Calibre might have missed. You can use it to find duplicate titles, which books you haven't rated, or if any of your book's covers are below your ideal resolution. If you're a metadata fanatic, this is the plugin for you.

These aren't the only plugins you can install to beef up Calibre's capabilities, but they're a good start. As you build out your library, you may notice a thing or two that just doesn't sit right with you. If that happens, check out the plugins section of Calibre and see if some clever tinkerer figured out a way to alleviate your woes.

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