Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Calibre and Aldiko Make Nook and Android e-Reader Tablets Even Better

Continuing my e-reader series, I get into what programs work great together to make your ebook library easy to use, and painless to organize. I use the Nook exclusively, but the apps and programs here work in other Android tablets as well.

Manage Your e-Book Library With Calibre

Calibre is an open source e-book management system that's simple to use, and offers tons of features, both natively and through plugins from third parties. It allows as much or as little customization and manipulation of your e-book files as you'd like, and is actively supported and updated by developer Kovid Goyal. It's one of the few open source programs that I donate to regularly to support its continuing development.

Calibre Desktop Interface Calibre is installed on your computer. Mac, Linux and Windows operating systems are supported. From there, you can add your books from various sources, and edit the details of the metadata with ease, which really helps keep things organized with very little fuss. Calibre also allows you to convert your ebooks to other file formats if they don't have digital rights management (DRM) encoded.

You cannot convert ebook files that are DRM protected. While Calibre does not natively support stripping DRM from e-book files, there are third party DRM removal plugins that are easily installed that work great. When you strip the DRM, you can then convert the e-book file format to one that's compatible with whichever reader you are using.

As a Nook owner, this allows me to purchase from any vendor I want, and convert to compatible epub files as needed. By doing the conversion in Calibre, and syncing the converted files to Aldiko on your e-reader (more on this reader app below), it's not necessary to switch between dedicated Kindle and Nook reader apps. This is a much easier way to keep track of what you've read, and what you want to read next, since everything is all in one place at one time.

Calibre also supports PDF files, which is really useful if you find you have a lot of them. It's nice to be able to read some of the larger multi-page pdfs on an e-reader screen than having to either print them out or fire up the laptop.

Aldiko Reader App Syncs Wirelessly With Calibre

So, now that you have all these great books, it's time to put them on your tablet, and get to reading. Calibre syncs with basically every e-reader and tablet out there, even Apple products (via connecting to iTunes). Hands down, the nicest open source e-reader program for Android is Aldiko, another of my favorites in the open source community that is well worth donating to regularly. Aldiko Reader on Nook HD+ You can use a usb connection to manually upload your epub and pdf files, but the best and most elegant way I've found is to take advantage of Calibre's web server ability and add your books to your devices wirelessly, any time you want. You just need to remember to have Calibre open and running on your computer to be able to gain access to the server. Aldiko Menu Other Catalogs With Aldiko, you can connect to the Calibre catalog (depending on which version of Aldiko, you find "other catalogs" under "store" or "get books") and add the books as you like, no other software or apps are needed as Calibre and Aldiko have these features already built in. Just be sure to have the files converted to epub or pdf files, as Aldiko doesn't read Amazon formatted files as they are strictly proprietary. No problem, since with Calibre you can strip any DRM and convert them easily. In my next post for this series, I'll share some ebook sources so you can fill your library for cheap, or even free, with good stuff.