Calibre, Oh How I Love Thee. Let Me Count The Ways

Kindle (or other e-reader) owners gather round.  I’m going to tell you about some truly awesome software:  Calibre.

Where has this software been all my life?  It’s free and easy to use.  Someone at Absolute Write mentioned it eons ago but I blew it off thinking, “meh, I can just pay the whopping fifteen cents to Amazon to have them convert then send my documents to my Kindle.”  After I figured out how to use Amazon’s free document conversion feature, I still scoffed at the necessity to download and learn a new software program to do this…

…until I started buying e-books from sellers other than Amazon, in formats other than Amazon’s AZI and MOBI formats.  E-PUB’s weren’t supported and PDF files did NOT fit my Kindle in portrait mode.  Turning them to landscape mode sucked all the fun out of using my Kindle to read.

Enter Calibre, oh new love of my reading life.

Not only does this baby convert PDF files to lovely portrait-oriented MOBI files, but if you connect your Kindle to your PC while you’re using Calibre, it will put the freshly converted e-book on your Kindle.  How cool is that?

Here’s how my Calibre looks when I first launch it but before I connect my Kindle to my PC:

You can see a few recent e-books I’ve purchased or won from Evernight Publishing and/or its authors.  One of my own novellas is in the list too, as is a freebee from Carina Publishing.

Using Calibre is as simple as clicking “Add books” to initiate the process.  You will be prompted to navigate to the location where your e-book download (or any other document) resides.  I usually just leave mine in my Download folder after purchase then immediately bring them into my Calibre library with the “Add books” function.

Plug your Kindle into your PC or Mac and give it a second for your computer to acknowledge it has a lovely new drive attached.  Your Calibre program will add a couple of new icons at the top: “Send to Device” and “Device”

If your document type is PDF and like me you HATE PDF format on your Kindle, Click to convert the file first to MOBI (there are 16 formats to choose from) using the “Convert Books” icon.  Watch the mesmerizing spinning wheel in the lower right corner to see the progress.  You can convert more than one at a time.

Click the title of the freshly imported e-book or freshly converted MOBI document(s) you wish to read on your Kindle, and then click “Send to Device”.  Calibre will prompt you if it needs to convert a format not compatible with your Kindle.  For these file types you don’t have to convert first.  If you forget to convert a PDF file before sending to your Kindle, that’s what you’ll find waiting for you.  No worries, just convert it and send the converted file to your Kindle.  You’ll have two versions after the second send.  A quick delete while on the Kindle to wish that nasty PDF into the cornfield and you’re golden.

Easy right?

But there’s more!

For you authors and beta readers, you can put those manuscripts on your Kindle and add your own cover art.  Simply add the manuscript to the library using the “Add Books” function.  If you want to add a cover, click on your newly added document, then at the top, click “Edit Metadata”.  A new window will open and you’ll see “Change Cover” functionality.  Browse to find your cover art file, or if you’re not in the mood for anything fancy, select “Generate Cover”.  The latter will give you a sort of cartoon book with the author and title metadata you supply added to the cover.

Is this not the cat’s meow?!

Sometimes the best things in life ARE free.  Calibre is one of them, though they happily accept donations and I would encourage you to make one.  This has been a public service announcement from your local Kindle reader geek.  You’re welcome!

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