Caliber is a Swiss Army e-book tool • The Registry


FOSS Fest Friday In this week’s edition of our free and open-source software column, El Reg looked Caliber, which converts almost any file type to almost any other file type, so you can play what you want, where you want, regardless of what format it’s in.

It is free and works on Windows, Linux and Mac.

E-books aren’t limited to the Kindle, of course, with devices like Kobo, Nook, and Onyx Boox. The author’s Sony Reader was still working fine when I gave it to a friend a year ago.

Buying consumable content online for immediate consumption is wonderfully convenient, but the problem is that you can lose it again just as easily, or the company may close its store. It’s worth learning how to download your digital content – and once you have it on a computer, what you can do with it suddenly expands.

This doesn’t just apply to printed books either: although comixology is subsumed in the Bezos juggernaut, don’t despair. There are other ways to transfer items from the cloud to electronic paper.

If you’re an Amazon buyer, for example, hover over the “Account and Listings” button and you should see “Manage your content and devices.” (This may not work for Amazon pages in other countries, but for UK it is here.) For each one, under “More Actions”, you should find a link to download it to your computer.

Once you have local copies of your ebooks, you can upload them to Calibre. The most charitable thing to say about the app’s UI is that it’s weirdly distinctive, but it works and it’s pretty easy. The first toolbar button allows you to add new books, either individually, by folder, or directly from compressed archives.

Once they’re in Caliber, you can convert between formats and save them. If you connect your ebook reader via USB, Caliber will detect most templates and a new toolbar button should allow you to send them directly to the device in a format it can display. If your drive has expandable memory, you can choose where it should go.

Caliber is extendable with plugins, and a popular option is DRM removal. DeDRM is one such plugin, available at GithubGenericName, as are instructions. There are others, such as commercial Epubor.

We’ve tried it on a protected Comixology title, and so far it hasn’t worked – but Amazon’s Comixology titles download option is fairly new. We believe support can be added over time. Currently, Caliber can import and convert between several unprotected comic book formats such as CBR and CBZ.

Obviously, you shouldn’t share this stuff, but this feature has perfectly legal uses. For example, it makes it easy to extract text from ebooks, make it easier to read using a screen reader for people with visual impairments. Not everyone likes slow audiobooks. ®


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