This post is part of TeleRead's "Using Calibre for E-Book Management" Guide: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11
TeleRead’s Juli Monroe did a great job explaining what a Calibre plugin is, and how to install one. But of course, every e-book user has their own special needs and preferences, and my own Calibre plugin mix is slightly different than hers. So, for my part of the Calibre wrap-up, I’ll tell you which plugins I use, why I use them, and why you might choose to add them to your own Calibre installation.
1. ePub Split
As the already-covered ePub Merge plugin joins two EPUB files together, so does the ePub Split tear them asunder. Why might you want to do this? For me, the primary reason was that I had accumulated a lot of really large anthologies, and they were unwieldy to manage. They took a long time to load onto devices with less than robust specs, and they took up a lot of space on my devices. It was simpler to load them and read them in more manageable pieces.
Sometimes, too, I found that I bought a certain collection just for one thing, and wanted to pull that out, read it and finish it without worrying about the other stuff. I bought a good version of the complete Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because I wanted to own the illustrated Holmes stories, but I didn’t care much about the historical novels, or the new-agey spiritualist writings and so on. Pulling the Holmes stories out into their own book meant that I could read them and check them off as ‘done’ without the OCD side of me wincing that I hadn’t actually finished the book at all.
Some books also have content that might be part of more than one series, and keeping them locked up inside an omnibus made it harder to keep track of what I’d read and what I hadn’t. If I’d already read Poe’s poetry, for instance, I didn’t want to have to read it again in his complete works omnibus. Breaking the omnibus out into separate books meant that I could pull out just the unread stuff and leave out the second copy of the poems. I could more easily tell what was left to read, and if a title is part of a reading list or series (Harvard Classics, Great Books and so on), I could tag it and work with it as its own entity.
Once you have the plugin installed (see Juli’s excellent instructions for the how-to), using it is easy. It will install a button on your toolbar. Just highlight the title in your Calibre booklist and press the button. You’ll see the following dialog:
The chapter titles are conveniently displayed. Just highlight the chapter or chapters you want to include in the new book, like so:
Then press the ‘new book’ button. It’ll pop up the standard metadata screen, with the data from the parent book already filled in. Change the title, description and tags, press ‘ok,’ and Calibre will work its magic and present you with your new book. You can load it, read it and work with it like any other book. Happy reading!
2. Generate Cover
Calibre has an option to automatically generate a cover for your e-book. The plain-vanilla option which is built in is pretty simple: it puts in the title and author as listed in the ‘edit metadata’ screen and then a Calibre logo, and that’s it. Why might you want more control over this? The primary reason for me has been that, like Juli, I have a bit of a weakness for fanfiction—less so now than I used to, but still, I had a few dozen old favorites that are like comfort food, and I wanted to keep them and make them look pretty.
And that’s not the the only type of book you might have that might benefit from a one-click custom cover, either. For commercial books, I can usually find a cover I like online, and add it in the metadata. But I have some self-created books that obviously won’t have such things available. For example, I took an online course a few years ago and saved some of the course notes and discussions for use on my reader devices. How nice to be able to put a proper cover on it. and have it be treated like a proper book!
How to use it? Easy! It will, like ePub Split, install a button on your toolbar. Highlight the book title in your Calibre list and press the button. Voila!
See that little plus sign right beside the ‘select image’ box? That’s how you add your own image for Calibre to save for later. In this example, you can see that I’ve saved a stock image (from a Google Search) for every show for which I have a story. All I have to do to make a cover is pick the one I want, tweak the font settings if I wish, and press ‘ok’ to exit the dialog. Calibre will generate the cover of my choosing. I can tweak the font, adjust the dimensions (I prefer to stretch the image to fill the whole screen) and I can adjust the text in the contents screen to display the title, author, series or some custom text. It’s that easy!
The WikiReader plugin is an incredibly useful tool that can pull content from one or more Wikipedia articles and make it into a book for you. It installs in the menu, unlike the other plugins I have discussed. Just click in its name and then select the Wikireader option.
The following dialog will pop up:
Open your Web browser and navigate to Wikipedia. Search for the first article you want to include in your book, and select its URL. Then copy it the same way you would copy any text. Go back to Calibre and put in the title and URL in the appropriate boxes.
Want to add a second article? Click on that little green plus button and go for it, giving your new chapter a title and pasting in your URL. Repeat until you have all the chapters you need, then click ‘ok’ and let Calibre work its magic. That’s all there is to it!
Those are the plugins I use most frequently. The Plugin preference is easy to navigate though and to explore on your own. Check it out and see what other options there are for customizing your Calibre experience!