Managing collections of books (we'll call them "libraries") used to be easier. E-books introduce new complexity. Thanks to competing formats and technologies, e-books that play on one e-reader might not on another, even when it's supposed to be compatible. Calibre Portable is a free e-book manager that not only serves as an e-library but also converts electronic text between various formats. It also handles a wide range of e-readers.
Since it's portable freeware, you can save Calibre Portable's program folder virtually anywhere, though we had to relocate the database folder after saving the program to one disk and running it on another, which could be an issue in some systems. We've seen every style of e-book manager, and many use 3D graphics and game-style functionality to add the "feel" of handling real books. But Calibre's basic Explorer layout is refreshingly familiar, making it very easy to add books from our existing collection, get new titles online, edit metadata, and perform other functions.
The left-side panel numbered and categorized our collection by Authors, Languages, Series, Formats, Publishers, Tags, and other identifiers, and we could sort, match, and manage titles in various ways. Selecting a title in the central list window displayed its metadata and cover image in the right-side panel. The download includes one title, "Calibre Quick-Start Guide" (there's also an excellent manual accessible from the Help button). We were more interested in the "Convert books" button, though. Clicking it with a title selected opened an impressive, comprehensive wizard that not only converts formats but also configures Metadata, Look & Feel, Heuristic Processing, Page Setup, Structure Detection, and other aspects of the program. There's even a Debug feature.
With thousands of free titles available and soaring sales, the e-book market is poised to take off, once it sorts itself out. Until that day comes, e-book lovers will need tools like Calibre Portable to help them get the most out of their collections and accommodate the ever-changing parade of e-reader technology. This sophisticated freeware seems capable of handling whatever books you can throw at it without ducking.
Calibre Portable is program to manage your e-book collection. It acts as an e-library and also allows for format conversion, news feeds to eBook conversion, as well as e-book reader sync features and an integrated e-book viewer. It features library management, format conversion (all major eBook formats), syncing to eBook reader devices, fetching news from the Web and converting it into eBook form, viewing many different eBook formats, and giving you access to your book collection over the internet using just a browser.
What's new in this version:
- Cover Grid: Dynamically adjust the size of the in memory cover thumbnail cache based on the window size to ensure flicker free rendering even on very large screens.
- Template tester: Remember last used template
- Get Books: When downloading books show a popup message telling the user that the books will be added to the calibre library automatically, to help new users understand what is happening. The popup message can be disabled.