©2016 Donald R. Snow
This page was last updated 2016-03-07

These Freeware Corner notes are published in TAGGology, our Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG) monthly newsletter. They are also posted on my Freeware Corner Notes page on  where you can just click on the links and where they may have corrections or updates after the printed version.
CALIBRE is an open source program, and hence free, available from .  It is an ebook library manager, reader, converter, viewer, and editor.  It works with many different ebook formats to catalog, manage, and use them, and will convert ebook files between many different formats.  It also has features to go to the Internet to find ebooks you want.  It is cross-platform so there are versions for Windows, OS, and Linux.  With ebooks in CALIBRE you can transfer them to your mobile device by connecting it to your computer and waiting for a few seconds until CALIBRE detects it, then highlight the ebook and click Send To Device and it's transferred.  If it isn't already in the format needed by that device, it will convert it to the needed format as it transfers.  It is then ready to read on your mobile device.  This note will consider a few of CALIBRE's many features.

The author, Kovid Goyal, has a 10-minute tutorial video at .  The same video is on YouTube at .  The CALIBRE Users Manual is at  with lots of information about the program and is worthwhile browsing before you get too deep into using it.  The Users Manual can be downloaded in pdf, epub, and Kindle (AZW3) formats.  It can be imported into CALIBRE and then the epub and Kindle versions can be viewed immediately by highlighting and clicking on the View button at the top.  More about importing ebooks into CALIBRE below.  The CALIBRE "About" menu, , lists categories of help and information.  Under Library Management it says that it will manage your ebook collection, including finding online information about your ebooks such as author, complete title, publication date, etc., and will allow you to enter tags and comments of your own.  It has a search box to find all your ebooks with any of the terms in the titles or metadata or tags you select.  Under E-book conversion it can convert ebooks to and from a huge number of formats, including all the major ones.  It allows changing font sizes and can automatically detect or create chapter formats and tables of content.  CALIBRE allows you to sync between any of your computing devices and can change formats of the ebooks to suit the device used.  It has RSS feeds from several large newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time to download news articles and save them as ebooks to be read on your devices.  It has a comprehensive ebook viewer and allows you to access your ebook collection using a browser on any computer or device.  This means that if you can get to the Internet, you can browse, read, or download your ebooks to or from any of your devices.  It has a built-in ebook editor for the two most popular formats, epub and Kindle (AZW3).  A very helpful 14-minute YouTube tutorial by the author describes some of this at .

There are 4 panels or boxes for information; the list of ebooks, their categories and tags that you have added, their metadata, and a box to enter terms for searching among your collection.  By clicking on a book title you see its information and you can click to edit any of it.  At your request it will search the Internet for information about the book and bring back additional metadata and even book covers that have been used on the hardcopies and you can select any of this to have it included in the metadata.  The book titles can be sorted on the data in any column, e.g., author, date published, publisher, etc., by clicking on the column name, and you can add additional columns that you might want.  CALIBRE makes copies of the ebooks you import into it and puts them into the CALIBRE folder you set up at the start, so your originals remain untouched wherever they are on your computer.

A 7-minute YouTube video discussing how to import books into CALIBRE is at .   This one also includes how to import a pdf into CALIBRE to form an ebook. This is one of the uses that appeals to me since I deal with so many pdf's and want to have them in other formats to read on my smartphone and tablet.  However, the Users Manual mentions that pdf is the most difficult format to convert from, so your mileage may vary.  For example, I have downloaded from FamilySearch the large Erastus Snow biography book that the Snow family commissioned Andrew Karl Larson to write in 1971.  It downloads from FamilySearch Books as a pdf and FamilySearch provides the pdf text layer with it, so it is completely searchable.  I imported it into CALIBRE and requested that it go online and find a better cover photo, a more complete name and publisher's data, and the rest of the metadata, which it did.  Then I tried to convert the whole thing into epub format for my smartphone and tablet, but the final result was terrible.  The book is an 800-page volume and was pdf'd two pages on one, so it has about 400 pdf images.  Because of its size it took nearly an hour (53 minutes actually) to convert, but I'll have to redo it with other settings.  Before I run the entire book again, I'll experiment with smaller pdf's to see what the option settings need to be.  But even without converting, CALIBRE found the complete metadata which I now have with the pdf version.  For converting from an rtf or doc file, it seems to work great and give good results easily.  As a book is being converted you see a small rotating circle at the bottom right to show that it is working.  Clicking on the circle opens a menu that shows you the progress of the conversion and how long it has taken so far.  For large ebooks I find it helpful to keep the conversion menu open so I can see that it is working and the progress it is making.  After converting a book you see the new formats added to the metadata in the information box on the right side of the screen.   Highlighting a book title and clicking on the View button at the top opens it in the built-in ebook reader.  Clicking on the format type in the metadata opens the file in your default program for that format.  Double-clicking on a book title opens the CALIBRE folder where the book, its metadata, and other formats are stored, so you can click there and open the copy in your default program.  If you always want epub's to be read with the CALIBRE's built-in reader, set CALIBRE as the default reader for epub's on your computer. 

If you have many ebooks, or even just pdf's and doc files you consider as books and articles, you can import them into CALIBRE and set up the metadata, author, titles, etc., and you will have a catalog that is searchable for your collection.  They seem to be searchable in their imported formats, even if not converted, but that may only be if they were already searchable.  I need to experiment further with that.  With the title named appropriately you can have CALIBRE go out to the Internet and find additional information about it or related articles and books.  By entering an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) you can have it search the Internet for the full title, author, publication data, etc., and form a catalog entry, even if you don't have the ebook itself or if you only have a hardcopy of it.

It also has a Get Books search feature where you can enter a book, author, keywords, etc., and it will search various websites on the Internet to find titles that match that description, where they are available, and the price.  I tried this by searching for As A Man Thinketh by James Allen which has been out-of-print for many years.  It found many copies available to download, including several that are free, so I downloaded a free epub version from Amazon.  I also tried a keyword search for "Janes genealogy" (without the quotes) and it found the book The Janes Family which is a genealogy book that I have been using for cousin-descendancy research on one of Erastus Snow's wives' lines.  I downloaded an epub version that is completely searchable with the built-in CALIBRE Viewer.  The Get Books search in CALIBRE looks at about 50 book websites, many of them free, including the Internet Archive, a great source of free genealogy books.  But it would also be nice to be able to add additional sites such as FamilySearch Books to the search list.

In the Wikipedia article , and elsewhere, are lists of free and commercial apps that work with CALIBRE on mobile devices to allow you to access your CALIBRE library to update your mobile device wirelessly on your home network.  That way you can download the books you want from your library to your mobile device for reading or to work with.

Here are some additional tutorials, reviews, and information about CALIBRE.  Most review websites rate it as the best free ebook reader and manager.

Tutorials and user manual -- 
Review -- 
Goodreads review -- 
SnapFiles info and reviews -- 
PC World - info and review -- 
Gizmo's review - the best free ebook reader -- 
Software Informer review -- 
Tutorial -- 

We have only considered a few things CALIBRE can do, but I selected it for this month's Freeware Corner topic so I could learn about it myself.  After working with it, I think it will be helpful, particularly for things like genealogy books, family history instructions, and users manuals, both on my main computer and to read on my mobile devices.  I hope you find it helpful, too.=====================================