Friday, January 29, 2010

Calibre for ebooks

Update: Cool!!
... One of the few disappointments I had with calibre was that there were no Danish news sources amongst the many, many international sources in the list. So I went to the MobileRead forum, the calibre room, asked, got referred to the "custom recipe" thread, asked there, and user kiklop74 created a "recipe" for me to load the three Danish newspapers I'd mentioned offhandedly. I followed his instructions to load them into calibre, and now I can read Danish news on my Kindle! So kool!

(I should mention that I generally prefer magazines to newspapers. What they call "news" is 97% stuff which depress you, and you don't need, and of dubious truthfulness.)


Calibre is a nice cross-platform application for managing a wide variety of types of ebooks. It can also create ebooks, for example in the EPUB format, from other formats. (EPUB is used on iPad and other devices, and unlike PDF it allows for the reader changing font size, and the device will re-flow the text.) It seems EPUB is a variety of XML, which I understand to be a sort of hyper-HTML language for text formatting.

A cool feature of calibre (the author spells it with a lower-case c) is that it can be set to check with various news services and magazines on the web, and download them automatically and format them for a good ebook format for whatever ebook reader device you happen to use. Very neat.
... In fact there's a huge wealth of news and magazine type resources. Calibre will convert them to a format your preferred ebook reader (including phones etc) can handle.)
Calibre can also automatically send the articles (books) to you via email. I guess to your Kindle's email address, for example.

Hey, I have Dilbert on my Kindle! And when I get an iPad, it'll be in color too.
... I also have Wired Magazine, The Guardian, The Onion, The New Yorker, Mac World, Discover Magazine, Digital Arts Magazine, and these are just a few I'm trying out to see how it works. Everything seems to be perfectly formatted, and eminently readable, although I do look forward to the bigger and more contrasty screen of the iPad.

I hope the iPad will read aloud to me. The Kindle does, it's very understandable, and I love that feature.

... Talking about the Kindle, I do like it, but even in version II, there are some odd choices. For example, I'd like the Home button on the right to be a "page back" button, I need that much more often. And the home button should be a different shape and sit higher, because if you hit it by mistake, in some documents it's quite a trek to find your way back.
And with a grey screen background, why on Earth did they select to make the Kindle white? If it were black, it would not only look kooler, but the screen would appear brighter by contrast. This would help both the public image of the device, and the reader's eyes.

Just in case the main Kindle engineer is reading this... separate buttons for "text larger" and "text smaller" would be very helpful.


James said...

Eolake - Thanks for bringing Calibre to my attention!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

My pleasure. It was a delightful accidental googling discovery.

Monsieur Beep! said...

It is important that the companies are getting feedback about how their useful appliances are performing in an everyday environment, to make them just that tad better to become a thing of near perfection.
I also monitor your personal impressions, just in case I might one day purchase a similar gadget.
Your coments on the iPad (when you have it) are very valuable to me because the thing is in the upper section of my "must have" list.
Wishing you a beautiful weekend. Beep.

Kiklop said...

If you need support for some Danish magazine let me know.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, Beep.

And thanks, Kiklop. Denmark is a small magazine market, I don't even think they have their own photo magazine these days (in the seventies there were two). But I'll keep it in mind, thanks.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

What, can´t you find someone with talent and a steady hand who will PAINT your Kindle black? For a very modest fee?

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Including the keyboard, there's a LOT of buttons on the Kindle, I a-fear that paint may clog them up.

(Besides, it's not a big problem, my comment was more of a principle thing.)