We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Utilities software Reviews
15,669 Reviews

Calibre review

Free

Manufacturer: Calibre

File-management utility Calibre can archive and organise your growing e-book library.

File-management utility calibre can archive and organise your growing e-book library.

You've finally bought that Kindle, Nook or Kobo that you've been dreaming about, and in a frenzy of future anticipation, you've purchased dozens of e-book bestsellers. Then, delighting in libraries offering more than 1.5 million free, public domain works - as well as thousands of magazines and newspapers - you've loaded your e-reader with the literary goodies you have always meant to read. At the end of the day, your e-reader now holds scores or even hundreds of e-books. In time, that could easily grow to thousands. Organising and searching among that myriad of books, periodicals and newspapers on your device may require more time and effort than it's worth. That's when you'll want to turn to free library-management program Calibre.

Calibre helps you catalogue your e-book collection. First, it surveys all the e-books and other relevant files residing either on your hard drive or your e-reader, and then inserts them into Calibre's main directory. Once that information is in the directory, you can use it to organise, categorise, annotate, search, rate and save to disk. You can customise or delete any of the data fields Calibre fills in, or add your own.

On the left side are searchable and sortable categories: Authors, Formats, Publishers, Ratings, News and Tags. For instance, under Authors, Calibre's defaults rank all authors according to how many of their works are in the library. Click a specific author to display all his or her books in the library.

To the right of the main fields, a column displays plug-in information on the highlighted e-book or publication: cover art, a list of formats in which the e-book is available, tags (either downloaded or added by the user), and the file path on your PC or e-reader where the work is stored. Beneath the path is the publisher's description or summary of the e-book. Although you can't customise this window, you can specify what plugins to use to automatically download information into it. Scores of plug-ins are included, and you can add others created by by Calibre users to your plug-in lists.

On top of the interface are the commands that transform Calibre from a static directory to an e-book-management powerhouse. Every function you can think of for easy access and guaranteed readability is here. You can add books from many different sources, edit and organise information about the author (or anything else you want associated with the work), convert various e-book formats to the one your e-reader uses, and download e-books to your PC or any other device. And then there's Fetch News, a cornucopia of thousands of free newspapers and other periodicals, in dozens of different languages, that you can download directly to your e-reader, as well as regularly schedule daily or weekly downloads.

As with most other Calibre components, the commands are highly customisable. And because Calibre is open-source software with a dynamic community forum, it adds to the list of components, features and free materials daily.

The down side of Calibre is that not everything works smoothly, and there are some gaps in functionality. For example, the directory cannot see any e-books stored in your e-reader's archives. If you want to add that information to the library, you must first recall the e-book to your e-reader's active directory. Another problem is that Calibre doesn't keep track of where your e-books are stored, so you don't know if a specific e-book happens to be on your PC, e-reader, smartphone, tablet or other device. And being such a powerful and versatile utility, the user is occasionally faced with a bewildering array of choices and options, without having a clear idea of what to do next, or why.

Download: calibre 0.6.52

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Group test: What's the best e-book reader?
More free downloads
E-book reader reviews
Digital Home Advisor

Calibre Expert Verdict »

Windows XP/Vista/7
30MB hard-disk space Mac OS X

?Even with its quirks, Calibre belongs on every serious e-bookshelf as the best way to manage your electronic library.

  • Google Books for Android

    With the Google Books app for Android you can purchase and read new e-books or browse a multitude of free, expired-copyright classics.

  • Kobo eReader for Windows 8 review

    Kobo eReader for Windows 8

    Kobo eReader is a free e-reader app for Windows 8. Read our Kobo eReader review to find out more.

  • Sony Reader PRS 300 Pocket Edition review

    Sony Reader PRS 300 Pocket Edition

    The Sony Reader PRS 300 Pocket Edition is one of the most affordable e-book readers around. And there is plenty to like about it.

  • Sony Reader Touch Edition (PRS-650) review

    Sony Reader Touch Edition (PRS-650)

    As its name suggests, the Sony Reader Touch Edition (PRS-650) eBook reader comes with a touchscreen in the form of a six-inch, 16-level greyscale e-ink display. The Sony Reader's touchscreen can be manipulated with your fingertip or the included stylus, which slips snugly into the side of the device.

  • Sony Reader PRS-505 review

    Sony Reader PRS-505

    Sony's latest Reader for electronic books adds audio playback and compatibility with more formats.


IDG UK Sites

Very best Black Friday 2014 tech deals UK: Latest bargains on phones, tablets, laptops and more...

IDG UK Sites

Tech trends 2015: 3D printing grows up

IDG UK Sites

10 mind-blowing Oculus Rift experiments that reveal VR's practical potential

IDG UK Sites

Black Friday 2014 UK: Apple deals, Amazon deals & other Black Friday tech offers