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Downloading, installing and customising Calibre
angels, fly

Calibre is just about the best thing to organise libraries (in my humble opinion). It’s safe, multi-functional, relatively easy to use once you learn your way around it (that’s what these posts are for LOL), it’s constantly being improved and best of all, it’s free!

To some, this will probably seem like a rather long-winded explanation for something that’s a pretty easy process. Feel free to skip parts, I’m just trying to be thorough. Things you really should read will be bold. If the portable version requires something different/extra, it will be in green italics.

I : Downloading Calibre

You’ll start your journey here: I can’t vouch for all versions, but the Windows and Portable versions work perfectly.

If you’re keeping your entire library on a single portable form of memory storage, you might consider the portable version. This comes in handy if you regularly use different computers. It’s fine for (even large) books and fics, but I’ll be honest, it does feel more sluggish in its use. You’re adding an additional step to the process, after all.

Considering that all my computers are windows, I’ll talk you through that installation process. I apologise if I’m too long-winded on occasion, but I’ve learned to never take people’s understanding for granted. ^-^

The more internet-savvy can probably skip the following explanation and jump immediately to point 2: Installing Calibre. For the rest of us:

      1) click here:

      2) if you’re installing it on a portable hard drive or something, plug that device in first.

      3) now select your type of computer by clicking on its name, or on the portable version if you’re doing that.

      4) you’ll be directed to a new page. You should see a line of text containing different links. The first is for immediate downloading (it has the symbol for the type you selected in front of it), the second will inform you what changes have been made to recent editions of the program and the third link is an alternate download location. I’d suggest you use the first link, especially for your first time. It’s less hassle that way.

Depending on how you’ve set up your computer, it’ll start downloading immediately to whatever location it is you download to or you’ll first have to specify where you want to save this file. Just make sure it ends up on the drive or partition you want to use the program on. (you can easily paste it in the right location after it’s downloaded if you messed this step up) Make sure you can find the file after you’ve downloaded it!

II : Installing Calibre

Click (or doubleclick) on the downloaded file.

If you chose the portable version, you’ll have downloaded a zipped file. You need to un-zip it first.   Open the folder (there may be an additional folder inside the first, but just open that as well). Inside, there’ll be 3 folders and an application called calibre-portable. Remember these four need to stay together and preferably shouldn’t be moved again once the installation is complete, so if you want to move them, do so now. Unzip everything. Click or doubleclick the application. From this point onward, your installation process should be the same as the others.

The installation wizard should take over at this point. You’ll have to check ‘agree with the licence agreement’ to continue. Then simply hit install. (unless you want it to run from somewhere else than your C:\Program Files\ , then you need to click ‘advanced’, but beware: you’ll have to do other stuff manually as well so this is not for the computer-illiterate)

Like with any installation, you should always read carefully what the different screens say and not just click ‘next’ or ‘OK’ indiscriminately.

Calibre will ask you what language you want to use. If you’re a non-English user, think about this carefully! The translations are pretty well done (as far as I can judge), but virtually all online support is in English. If you’ve got a problem, it’ll be a lot easier to get technical support if you don’t have to translate every term. While you can always change your language again later on (Calibre is nothing if not flexible), it is something to consider.

At a certain point in the installation, Calibre will also ask you where you want to store your library. Think about this carefully! This is the folder where all the books will be stored, so it needs plenty of space. It should also preferably be on the same partition as the program for faster interactions. You’ll also want to note the exact location of that folder, so you know where all your stories are being kept. ;-)

The portable version will suggest a library folder on the same drive as the application is on. Unless you insist on fiddling,  just agree to it. Trust me when I tell you it’ll make your life easier in the long run. LOL

Calibre will also ask you what your e-reading device is. If you’re just using the program for its library function, picking generic will be fine. Otherwise, take the time to select your device. It makes no difference now, but when you start transferring fic from your computer to your reader, you’ll be grateful. I’m using an iPod Touch, so most of my future explanations will focussed on that device.

III : Customising Calibre

I’ll discuss Calibre’s many functions later on. For now, I’m just giving you a few quick tips:

  • Always hit ‘apply’ when you make any changes to Calibre’s preferences. Most changes will require closing the program completely and restarting it before you see them.

  • For small screens: Calibre’s standard view has a wide band on the right side that displays individual books’ information. This takes up valuable screen space. You can either hide it completely by simply dragging the edge of the booklist to the right, or you can move it to the bottom by clicking (at the top): preferences > look and feel. You will see several tabs. On ‘Main Interface’, you have ‘User Interface Layout (needs restart):’ The standard setting is ‘Wide’. Change it to ‘Narrow’, then hit ‘apply’. The program will warn you this will require a restart. Hit OK, close the open window and close the entire program.

  • plugins: There are a few things you can get that make Calibre even more fun to use. You can find a list of all available plugins here: preferences > advanced > Plugins > Get new plugins. If you click on the name, you’ll see a short description below.
  • I really like de ‘Find duplicates’ plugin. It lets you find duplicates of stories that may have a slightly different title or author. To install a plugin, simply click the name, then click install. Calibre will always warn you that plugins may pose a security risk, but I haven’t encountered any problems yet, so I generally just click past that warning. It may then ask you where you want to install the button for the plugin. Just make sure you’ve selected the mainmenu bar, the rest aren’t that important. (but don’t select too many locations, or it’ll become a button-chaos)
  • If you use or similar sites, you’ll love the fanficdownloader plugin. Once it’s installed, you just click the button and past the URL to your story in it. Make sure all settings are adjusted to your liking, then download the story. It will appear in your booklist with the metadata filled out and everything. (Metadata is information about the book/story like title, author, tags, summary…)

Coming soon: coping with youtube, or: how to tame the deluge


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