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Old 10-05-2010, 05:16 AM   #1
lalebarde
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What exactly does "Add Books" ?

Hi,
When I read the guide included with calibre, I can read that :
Quote:
Click the 'Add books' button on the top tool bar, then select the e-books you would like calibre to import. When calibre imports your e-books it makes a copy of the book, storing it in the storage location you specified during initial setup.
Until now - before installing calibre - I have had an orginized directory tree with many pdf and chm. If I use the "Add Books" fonction, will it actually make a copy in another place ("the storage location you specified") ? If I choose my directory root as calibre bookshelf, am I going to get a mess ?
I wouldn't like that it change my directory tree not the place where my books are, nor have two or more copies of my books.
So my question is : how does "Add books" works exactly ?
My wish would be it keeps every book at the place they are and put their path in the database.
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Old 10-05-2010, 05:47 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by lalebarde View Post
Until now - before installing calibre - I have had an orginized directory tree with many pdf and chm. If I use the "Add Books" fonction, will it actually make a copy in another place ("the storage location you specified") ?
Yes. The storage location being the library folder Calibre asks for.

Quote:
If I choose my directory root as calibre bookshelf, am I going to get a mess ?
Yes. Don't do that. I think Calibre even warns against that when creating a library.

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I wouldn't like that it change my directory tree not the place where my books are, nor have two or more copies of my books.
So my question is : how does "Add books" works exactly ?
Like it advertises in the help text you referenced: It copies the book into the Calibre internal library, reads the metadata and enters the book into its own database. The book it copies from is left untouched.

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My wish would be it keeps every book at the place they are and put their path in the database.
That's not possible with Calibre. You do have a few options, though:
  • Use Calibre to access your books and (this is important) don't touch the library folder
  • Use Calibre to edit the metadata to your liking and export the books to a second folder structure that you can access as you like. You can very flexibly specify the layout of this structure in Calibre. You still shouldn't touch Calibre's library folder.
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Old 10-05-2010, 10:16 AM   #3
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One of the biggest stumbling blocks that new users run into is how calibre stores books. Calibre is not just a program that catalogs books and converts them; instead it is a book manager. Everything you could do with your old folder/filename tree system can now be done from within calibre plus a whole lot more. To do this, calibre uses its own simplified folder/filename structure to store e-books, added covers, and other meta data used to sort/find books. Instead of the traditional (and highly inefficient) folder/filename tree, calibre uses tags, also called metadata, to identify sorting criteria.

When you import abook into calibre, it makes a copy of that book, then allows you to add tags, such multiple authors (I have one book that has 15), genres and multiple genres, search words, series and subseries, publication date, ISBN number, date added to calibre, etc. You can even create custom categories for custom columns. If your old folder/filename structure is consistent, you can even tell calibre to do much of that automatically. It can also go online to look up some of the information. It will also convert books to other formats and can load them onto your reading device for you. It can also be used to create printable lists of your books. With calibre, one can search for a book using a variety of criteria and/or sort books by far more variables possible than with a folder/filename structure.

The part that really trips up new users is they still want to access their books from a folder on the computer and are dismayed because calibre uses a simplified structure to store them that makes it hard for them to find what they are looking for. With calibre, one no longer needs to access their books from the folder they are in and trying to do so runs the risk of messing up calibre. Worldwalker, one of the contributors here, likens the calibre library folder to a black box that is to remain umtouched. Everything you could do within the folder can be done within calibre, only more efficiently and with more flexibility.

If a user is uncomfortable with allowing calibre to totally take over your book collection, the user can always just keep their original folder/filename tree in its original folder and treat it as a backup. I confess to doing that although I trust calibre enough that, if I start running low on disk space, that original folder is history. If a user decides s/he doesn't want to use calibre anymore, calibre can be used to recreate a folder/filename structure that will probably be more consistant than your original one.

Calibre does have a bit of a learning curve but there many wonderful users (and the developer himself) on this forum who are willing to step up and help new users. I know they have saved my ample asset many a time. If allowed to work in its own way, calibre will do more for you in more ways than you will ever be able to do with your old folder/filename tree.
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Old 10-05-2010, 10:56 AM   #4
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Thanks very much for these deep and precise answers. I would have preferred it deals with my directories as they are and store the paths and meta-data in its database. As a general principle, I really don't want a software to change my habits. I have hundreds of documents, mostly pdf, stored along with personal projects and it would be non-sense to relocate them because reading these documents is a side activity I want to keep at my fingertips when I work on these projects.

I hope that in a future release, the author will let the choice for it.
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:32 AM   #5
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Well, you have to keep in mind that Calibre is designed as a ebook management tool, not as a personal document organization tool. It does what it says on the lid in the way the developers chose. That way has its advantages and its disadvantages, but I don't think it's gonna change very soon, if at all.
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Old 10-05-2010, 05:35 PM   #6
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No, no, projects are mine, but documents not. So that's not personnal documents. If I design an algorithm, them in my project I will have tens of orginized scholar thesis in pdf. And they are here at the right place.

I have a second argument : open source software philosophy is to have small software working together, but each dedicated to a small task and it performs it right and perfect. Having here a black box brakes IMO this principle.

Besides that, Calibre looks a great software and very usefull.
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalebarde View Post
I have a second argument : open source software philosophy is to have small software working together, but each dedicated to a small task and it performs it right and perfect. Having here a black box brakes IMO this principle.
That is your philosophy, not a general one. There are lots of OS products that don't follow it, providing extremely complex functionality that isn't at all a 'small task'. Some examples that I use in no particular order: PhPBB, Apache, Java, Gallery, Gimp, Open Office, VirtualBox, NetBeans, Eclipse, Tomcat, Firefox, Thunderbird, Linux, Samba, Sendmail, Spamassassin, MySQL, and the list goes on. All of these are as much a black box as Calibre. For example, it would be interesting to see how you could convince MySQL to use your source spreadsheets instead of copying the information into its tables, or to convince Tomcat not to copy the servlets into its webspace.
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalebarde View Post
No, no, projects are mine, but documents not. So that's not personnal documents. If I design an algorithm, them in my project I will have tens of orginized scholar thesis in pdf. And they are here at the right place.

I have a second argument : open source software philosophy is to have small software working together, but each dedicated to a small task and it performs it right and perfect. Having here a black box brakes IMO this principle.

Besides that, Calibre looks a great software and very usefull.
It's a black box that, as it appears, doesn't do things the way you like to you. To me and many others, it's a good ebook management program that does things in useful ways.

When I first tested Calibre, I disliked it for the same reasons you do. (Granted, that was way back, 0.5, I think, the program wasn't as refined as it was now.) It took three attempts to win me over. So my advice is: try it and see if you like it. If you don't like it, look for a software that does what you want.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:29 PM   #9
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The "black box" concept wasn't mine originally; unfortunately, I can't think of who I stole it from. They deserve the credit.

Something else to remember: drive space is CHEAP. I saw an external 1 terabyte drive at Target for $79.95, take it home and plug it in. Eighty bucks a terabyte, off the shelf. If your library occupies, let's say, a gigabyte of space, and calibre imports the books, taking another gigabyte, calibre's copy of the books is costing you eight cents.

So, if you really need to have copies of your PDFs along with something else, and they have to be separate from calibre's copies -- that is, a link to the file and calibre's viewer wouldn't suffice -- it's 8 cents a gigabyte to keep them there. I'm pretty sure most of us can afford that.

I'm pretty sure calibre won't be changing. It does what it does very, very well; you could even say "right and perfect". There would be no sense in regressing to doing that not-so-well so that a small minority of people could use their computer's filesystem to sort-of store metadata, given that pretty much the whole point of calibre is to use its own, much more detailed, metadata. That's rather like saying that a file manager should provide physical disc access instead of dealing with files.

And, as I always say, read my .sig.
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Old 10-06-2010, 03:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalebarde View Post
Until now - before installing calibre - I have had an orginized directory tree with many pdf and chm. If I use the "Add Books" fonction, will it actually make a copy in another place ("the storage location you specified") ? My wish would be it keeps every book at the place they are and put their path in the database.
I too went through this way of thinking when I started using calibre. It did seem a bit wasteful to take copies of my originals, so I have come up with a solution. I wanted calibre's library to contain only the ePub output from conversion and associated cover.jpg files, (plus of course the metadata), so I deleted all the following files from the calibre library structure: *.pdf, *.txt, *.zip and it worked - no duplicates and calibre works with no error messages.

However, it's really not worth the effort. Source books are relatively small, (about the tenth of the size of a music track or a digital photo), and so the saving in disk space is next to nothing.

One beneficial side effect of calibre's approach is that you have an automatic backup of your original in the event of an accident.

So I just leave things alone and let calibre work the way it works!

Last edited by Agama; 10-06-2010 at 03:05 AM.
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Old 10-07-2010, 04:19 AM   #11
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so I deleted all the following files from the calibre library structure: *.pdf, *.txt, *.zip and it worked - no duplicates and calibre works with no error messages.
I will cron a script that replace files by links to their original when they exist.

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One beneficial side effect of calibre's approach is that you have an automatic backup of your original in the event of an accident.
For me, that's backup of backups.

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calibre can be used to recreate a folder/filename structure that will probably be more consistant than your original one.
I really don't like the folder structure of calibre - but I understand this is not important thanks to tags. Nevertheless, I do prefer relying on a folder structure than on tags - just my own opinion and taste.
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Old 10-07-2010, 04:37 AM   #12
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I will cron a script that replace files by links to their original when they exist.
You really like taking chances, don't you? Calibre thinks that it owns that file, and thinks that it can do whatever it wants with that file, including changing its contents.

If calibre's storage choices offend you to this level, I suggest that you don't use it.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:02 AM   #13
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I will cron a script that replace files by links to their original when they exist.
Then be aware that calibre does not always keep the source file as the same file type when it copies to the library. My source files are .txt, .pdf and .htm and of these the .htm files get changed to .zip files in the library.
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:33 AM   #14
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For me, that's backup of backups...
So you depend on only one back up? One can never have too many back ups but, to be practical, having two back ups, one on site and one off site, should be considered a bare minimum. More is safer. It's a matter of how valuable is your data to you?

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I really don't like the folder structure of calibre - but I understand this is not important thanks to tags. Nevertheless, I do prefer relying on a folder structure than on tags - just my own opinion and taste.
You weren't paying attention. You can always keep your original files but, if you don't, by using Save to Disk, you can have calibre create a folder/tree structure of your choice separate from calibre's own library and, I'll wager, it will be more consistant than your original. Unless you had one that drilled really deep and/or was full of inconsistancies, it could be the same as your original one without any inconsistancies. Disk space is cheap nowadays; it just doesn't pay to be "storage frugal."

As far as your preference for folder/filename trees goes, you are saying you prefer inefficiency over increased versatility? People have a hard time letting go of what is familiar to them. This is a prime example. It's just like people not adopting e-books because they "like the feel, smell, looks, whatever, of p-books." With calibre, there is no need to ever go directly to the files themselves (heck, I keep mine hidden). Everything you possibly could do within any folder/filename tree you can do from within calibre, plus one heck of a lot more, and do it more efficiently.
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:46 AM   #15
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As far as your preference for folder/filename trees goes, you are saying you prefer inefficiency over increased versatility?
Lalebarde explained this preference earlier. It seems reasonable:

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Originally Posted by lalebarde View Post
I have hundreds of documents, mostly pdf, stored along with personal projects and it would be non-sense to relocate them because reading these documents is a side activity I want to keep at my fingertips when I work on these projects.
I must admit the plan to replace all those with shortcuts to the Calibre files is courageous!

Graham

Last edited by Graham; 10-07-2010 at 09:50 AM.
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