File Organizers: Calibre

A long time ago, I had a look at Calibre to organize my e-books, but chose not to use it mainly because of one issue: Calibre uses its own directory structure to organize its e-books (library/author/title (id)), and also renames the files accordingly (truncated title - author.extension).

How should I ever find a book again, I thought, if the tool ignores my structure of sorting files? After all, I already created some kind of order on my file system, so that I should know where my books are.

Well, in the course of cleaning up a soon-to-be shut-down machine, I noticed that my e-book collection instead was really a huge mess, spread over several machines, discs, and directories, full of duplicates and copies – recognizable by file name or file size.

So, let’s throw it all on Calibre.

The nice thing about Calibre is that it stores its metadata not in the e-books, but in a local SQLite database and a metadata.opf OPF file for every book.

Also, using tags to organize books is more flexible and powerful as compared to the tree-like directory hierarchy of traditional file systems.

Still, I wanted to keep the original filename of any catalogued e-book, so I added the GetFileName plugin which automatically adds the original filename in a separate user-defined column.

To keep track of all the books I always wanted to read, and those I have already read, I installed the Reading List plugin.

Since Calibre warns you if you want to import a book already imported, and I always ignore those warnings, a lot of duplicates are going to end up in my e-book library. That’s where the Find Duplicates plugin is going to be helpful in the future.

Until then, a generic [todo] tag adorns all my Calibre books until the metadata is cleaned up.

Though still early in my book-cataloguing adventure, I already stumble across problems I still need to figure out.

  • How do you handle different spellings of an author’s name (plain name, with middle initial, with middle name) or pseudonyms?
  • How do you import HTML books spread over several pages?
  • How do you handle e-books split into chapter-wise PDFs?

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