18 March 2014

The eMerging eReader #3: Desktop Software

The eMerging eReader @ www.BethFishReads.comNow that I've covered the devices I use for eReading, I want to talk about the software and apps I've found most useful for managing and reading eBooks and other materials. This is a big area and somewhat difficult to organize.

Here's my strategy: Today I'll cover the major software I use on my PC (Mac people can find the same programs or similar). In the next installment, I'll focus on the apps I use on my tablet (and phone). In the future, when I talk about sources for eBooks, I'll likely mention other apps that pertain specifically to that topic.

I have tried several different programs and apps for all my devices. Instead of confusing things by introducing programs I've abandoned, throughout this series, I mention only what works for me—at least for right now. If you've discovered newer and better software, please let me know in the comments.

Device-specific software. Most eReaders come with dedicated software for your desktop. These programs allow you to buy books from the manufacturer's eBook store, find the books you own, and transfer the books to your eReader. Frankly, I use the program only to check the Kobo store for specials and sales. To get the software for your particular eReader, go to your device's website and look for downloads.

Adobe Digital Editions. Adobe Digital Editions is a must-have program. If you download books from NetGalley, Edelweiss, your library, or from a variety of other sources, this is the most likely place you'll find the files. I, however, use ADE simply as a portal; books stay here only a short while. Among other issues, the program is clunky to use. For example, if you delete a book from the ADE library, you've probably just hidden the title from your virtual bookshelf. The file itself, even if it has expired, may still exist on your hard drive. Often, to delete the book for real, you have to you use (on a PC) Windows Explorer to find the My Digital Editions folder and delete the file from there.

Adobe Reader. I can't imagine that you don't already have Adobe Reader on your home computer, but just in case, I'll mention it. This is a free program that is specifically made for reading PDFs. I don't use Adobe Reader for pleasure reading, but you could use it to read eGalleys that are formatted as PDFs. Sometimes using a simple program that already lives on your laptop is the right choice.

Calibre. One of the most frustrating issues I faced on my journey to becoming an eMerging eReading was managing and juggling my eBooks. I had books on my old eReaders, on my Kobo, in Adobe Digital Editions, and in other folders on my PC. Some files were in ePUB format, some in old Nook formats, some in PDFs . . . you get the idea. Enter Calibre, the master program of all things eBook (at least for me). No matter how I obtain my eBooks (local library, bookstore, galley service), I transfer them to my Calibre library.

The program is dead simple to use for a number of important tasks. For example, when you want to delete an eBook, you have several choices, from deleting it off your bookshelf to removing it completely from all devices and various combinations in between. Most important for me, however, was the plug-in that allowed me to make my old Nook books compatible with my new Kobo and the ease with which I can transfer books from my computer to my devices. (There is also a Kindle plug-in, but I haven't used it.)

Database nerds will like the fact that Calibre allows you arrange your library in a number of ways. You can sort by author, title, publisher, publication date, and even tags of your own choosing. You can also set it up to synch with your eReader so you know at a glance what's on your device.

Now that all my books are in a single place on my computer, I can easily keep track of them, no matter which device, program, or app I plan to use for reading. Without Calibre, I had to open several programs (or folders) to find my all of books.

Note: Before using Calibre, you should know that it works by creating DRM-free eBooks. I consider this a nonissue; you may have different thoughts.

In the next installment of the eMerging eReader, I'll talk about the apps I use on my phone and tablet.

Acknowledgments: Besides the good people I've already thanked, today I want to give a shout out to @SuziQoregon, who first introduced me to Calibre.


SuziQoregon 3/18/14, 8:18 AM  

Yes - exactly to all of this. Another thing I like about Calibre is that I can fix the often wonky ebook cover images by replacing them with a better quality image.

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 3/18/14, 10:17 AM  

I love Calibre and find it essential for managing ebooks for all the reasons you mention plus it makes it easy to create a backup of all my books. I am not a fan of Adobe Digital Editions and use it only to read books heavy on graphics. Anything else gets converted to mobi.

Beth Hoffman 3/18/14, 10:29 AM  

I've never even heard of Calibre but I think I should check it out!

Unknown 3/18/14, 11:28 AM  

Because I live in a Mac universe and because of the nature of my work, Adobe is limited at best and tamper tantrum inducing at worst. For non-work reading, I use the nook, kindle and zola apps. For work, I dnload the pdfs and open them in either iAnnotate or Goodreader. The Mac Preview is a basic program that will do in a pinch too.

I always keep my work and non-work libraries as separate as possible, so even managing them in one program would be too confusing for me. I hadn't thought of combining my non-work libraries (probably because I'm lazy and have a suspicion that it will become moot in the the next couple of years.)

dog eared copy/Tanya

Jenn's Bookshelves 3/18/14, 3:44 PM  

I've learned something new today! Since I download ebooks (both egalleys and books I've purchased) directly onto my iPad, I haven't had the opportunity to check out any desktop ebook management tools. Quite the informative post, thank you!

Daryl 3/19/14, 12:54 PM  

as someone who reads only for pleasure, i have never attempted reading on the computer .. wait i lie, once i tried to read via my 'Nook' online (at BN.com) library but for some reasons after a few pages it wouldnt let me continue, it told me i needed to buy the book .. .DUH .. its mine, i bought it .. anyway i gave up and unlike me i didnt even attempt to harass BN.com's help desk

Kailana 3/21/14, 11:29 PM  

I add everything to Calibre, too. I consider it a non-issue. It got me to read PDFs because they were TERRIBLE on old devices.

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