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Creating a compact and portable ereader library using Calibre!


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The question of service manuals comes up fairly often.  I won't go into finding those here as there are plenty of threads on here already about that.  But I realized that I do have an interesting solution that most people may not know about.  There is an AWESOME and free open source software out there called Calibre for ebook management.  Calibre can be found here.

 

The software initially came out in October of 2006.  I was a very early adopter too.  I had purchased one of the early Sony readers, I think it was the PRS 500, and found that they were not cross platform friendly.  I think I could only buy books from Sony in fact.  The very first ebook I ever purchased was not ironically, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts. I also remembered just how MASSIVE of a headache it was to get it paid for and then downloaded.  I don't think that e-reader had wireless.  I paid for a couple more books I think, but the process was just too much back then.      

 

In my search to find a solution that would allow me to download books for free from anywhere (The Pirate Bay was alive and kicking at this time), I found Calibre.   Initially it was just to get free content, but I quickly discovered it was MUCH MORE useful.  

 

First off it is a REALLY good way to organize a big library of random stuff, and rotate it in and out as you want to read certain things.  The older readers were pretty limited in space, so this was actually a really important feature.  These older readers can also still be found on eBay for some pretty reasonable prices.  For traveling, this is a much better option than a higher profile tablet or laptop.  Also the e-ink readers can be used for long periods of time between charges.  Even the early ones were not power hungry.  

 

Next, it allows you to convert certain formats into other ones.  In the earlier days this was a lot more important than it is now.  Today it probably is at least mostly non-issue if any at all.  

 

If you are motivated enough and poke about some, you can also setup devices not necessarily ereader centric, with an actual ereader library. 

 

The most valuable feature of this free software though is this, it keeps old devices relevant and usable!  My last Sony reader finally died a few years ago.  It had LONG since become unable to connect with the (now closed) Sony store.  I have a few more readers purchased since then that for whatever reason will no longer to connect to their original stores to allow me to purchase new content for them.  But I can easily manage them and move content, free or purchased, on and off of them.  And store that content offline on a laptop (or desktop).  

 

Myself, I prefer e-ink readers.  They feel the most like a real book.  They are gentle on my eyes, and there are now backlighted ones out there.  I LOVE my Book Glowlight.  But the e-ink readers do fall short in one regard, if you are using them to display picture heavy content, like owners manuals or magazines.  None of my e-ink readers have been able to handle PDF file formats well, the most common format things like manuals and instructions are found in.   Devices like the Nook Color can deal with this really well.  The wife has a Nook Color that is now obsolete and won't connect to the internet/wifi anymore.  I can still utilize it though using Calibre!  

 

Recently the wife bought a new e-ink reader as she never used her old Color Nook.  It was too much like a tablet, and she would use it more for browsing, than reading.  This is the same problem I have with tablet based readers or trying to read a book on my laptop.  Too many distractions.  I want to pick up a book to get lost in it and focus on that.  Anyways when she bought that I was looking at the other options and Barnes and Noble had a Nook 10" HD color designed by Lenovo.  A quick bit of in store research found out that it is simply a branded Lenovo M10 tablet, without any hardware differences between them.  I needed an Android tablet anyways, and this has AWESOME specs!  And it was on sale, so it was half the price of buying a Lenovo M10.   

 

Here is where it gets even cooler though.  Tonight I discovered that the Calibre software is now available for Android and IOS devices!!!  As of yet I am not sure what exactly this means.  I can download whatever I want from the library on my laptop to my Lenovo "Nook" tablet.  But I suspect it might give me the added ability to possibly store the whole library on my Lenovo Nook, to transfer as I want to my Nook Glowlight e-ink reader!  I am going to play with these devices over the next few days and see if that is the case, it would be SUPER cool!  I can pop a big enough micro SD card into the Lenovo, to store a SERIOUSLY large library on it. 

 

Relevance to the Toy home and RV life?  Well I have done a lot of "wandering" and traveling over my life and LOVE to read.  I used to have a MASSIVE library of books, but they were obviously impractical to pick more than one, maybe two books to take on backpacking adventures.  When I started traveling more by car, this became less of a problem, but moving hundreds of books was a MASSIVE headache each time I moved.  E-readers and digital music solved those issues for me.  (I had 3-4 thousand CD's at one point, those were HEAVY to move...)

 

And I am sure more of us on here feel the same way and already have e-readers.  But I also suspect many of us don't have a good way to organize not only our book collection onto our readers and tablets, but even more importantly having access to all the repair manuals one could possibly need while out on the road.  

 

Thinking about this actually gets me excited to go and try and track down some of my other books and resources I keep on hand at home, but are way too big to bring out on the road.  Like the SAS Survival Handbook.  Wow, I found that in about ten seconds!  I have a few other really big survival volumes sitting on my shelf that wouldn't be worth the weight to take in paper format, but are WELL worth having on hand if they don't cost me space or weight.  

 

Anyways Calibre is such a crazy awesome tool that if it ever did somehow become a paid software (It never will), I would happily pay for it.  Over the years, I have actually made a few donations to the project.  Anyways big sidetrack here from what I was working on, but I thought it might be a helpful tool for others to utilize too!  

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