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Calibre and Kindle

19 Jul

I get a lot of the books I read via author newsletters. I sign up to these via freebie offers and then try a free book. If the author’s style appeals then I’m likely to buy more and I let the newsletters keep coming. Some of my favourite authors, particularly in the romance, fantasy and crime genres, reach me that way.

So far, so good.

The only strange thing is the way their publishers or distributors don’t seem to have caught up with the way a lot of people actually handle e-books ā€“ downloading, transfer to e-reader, etc.

They go into long, convoluted explanations of what they consider is the best way to get the book. This often seems to rely on my willingness to order the book by typing on the keyboard on my Kindle Fire.

I would only do that if there was absolutely no chance of getting the book any other way!!

Then they warn me that the mobi version they are sending me might not download straight to my Kindle. Duh!! Then there’s another long and equally convoluted explanation of what to do.

What I actually do is to get the mobi version downloaded to my hard drive. Or an epub version. Or almost anything, really. Then I load it to my Calibre. Calibre is free (though they do ask for donations and I have occasionally donated because they do such a superb job). I then make sure Calibre either has the mobi version or has converted whatever it was to mobi. This takes about three seconds and the information shows nicely in the sidebar. I connect my Kindle to the computer and tell Calibre to upload to the Kindle main drive. Hey presto!

There are lots of plus factors here. I have a copy on my hard drive and can even save it to disc. I am not totally tied to Amazon. I have the glory of my Calibre library which shows me the covers and metadata and is much more easily organised than the Kindle for PC library (though I use that for books I have bought directly from Amazon). I can then add notes, reviews, star ratings and even cover pictures for the books that start without one.

I also use Calibre to check that my own books look right in various versions. There are dire warnings (again) on all kinds of helpful sites and blogs, about how they might not look exactly right. Well, I check against the way they look on friends’ computers once they’re actually published, and there has never been a problem of any kind. I don’t use embedded graphics or even many odds and ends like italics or accents so maybe I just don’t need to worry? And whilst Smashwords and Amazon are at daggers drawn over the best way to insert an active table of contents, it isn’t really a big deal for a fiction book that starts at the beginning and moves smoothly through the middle to the end. For me, Calibre does a superb job.

I first found Calibre when I got my first Kindle. You might have gathered that as well as published books I read a lot of fanfiction. Nowadays, I get most of it ready converted to mobi by AO3 and then just upload it the same way I upload mobi versions of published books. But I used to access a lot of it via social media and had to rely on Calibre to convert it for me so that I could take it anywhere on my Kindle.

About the only glitch I have found with Calibre is that when you switch to a new laptop and transfer your information you must never ever ever alter the path to the file/folder by renaming things or putting them in umbrella folders or it all disappears. I have no idea where it goes but go it does. Fortunately, I have never been in the position of having a crashed laptop and no means of retrieving it. And I do have some IT experts in the family.

So ā€“ Calibre makes life easy and Kindle makes carting my ‘library’ around even easier. But publishers and distributors don’t seem to have understood yet!

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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in publishing

 

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