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Old 09-19-2011, 04:58 PM   #286
Starson17
Wizard
Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.Starson17 can program the VCR without an owner's manual.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwidude View Post
It is a bit like a fun "debate" Starson17 and I have had a few times about the value of the "random tags" that you get if you take in tags from Google Books. His argument is that it is quite cool to be able to do a search for some arbitrary criteria like a character name or location and have matches come back. Now I agree that would be very cool - if it "worked" properly. But it is garbage in, garbage out. There is no quality control over the tagging process (just like there is no consistency or rules over what a publisher/author puts in the synopsis for a book), hence it is down to dumb luck as to what search results if any you will get back. For his purposes, some results are better than none, so it works great for him.
After two weeks away from civilization, I'm back, and kd's correct. I like mining the original data. I have tags that are consistently applied by me and the original "garbage" tags. Instead of deleting the original tags, I just add new ones. I can find everything that I've tagged and still enjoy searching the rich variety of tags that others have applied.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:53 PM   #287
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starson17 View Post
After two weeks away from civilization, I'm back, and kd's correct. I like mining the original data. I have tags that are consistently applied by me and the original "garbage" tags. Instead of deleting the original tags, I just add new ones. I can find everything that I've tagged and still enjoy searching the rich variety of tags that others have applied.
Welcome back.

I'm with kiwidude on that particular tags issue.


Last edited by unboggling; 09-19-2011 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:26 AM   #288
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Latest version is also the start of a new thread:

Methods and Examples for New calibre Users.

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Workflow with Examples for New calibre Users, Version 0.90, 2011-09-24


Changes
Spoiler:

Changes, This Version:
  • Title: Changed again.
  • Throughout: Refined workflow, many minor content changes, several major.
  • Throughout: Deleted discussion of internal format metadata, Copy to Library vs Save/Add, and abbreviated tags except Format Quality Ratings (from kiwidude).
  • Set: Split into three reorganized sections—Set, Create, Maintain.
  • Set: Added to Set calibre Preference Settings, explanation regarding Kindle and iPad page outputs in conversions (from itimpi and dwanthny), and settings for iPad (from GRiker, except re Output Profile).
  • Create: Added new subsection, Create Searches and Restrictions (from dwanthny).
  • Maintain: Added paragraphs—Update calibre; Leave calibre Library Files Alone; Save Libraries Periodically.
  • Edit: Split into three reorganized sections—Edit, Standardize, Read.
  • Standardize: Added, new subsection Apply Convention to Author Name, for Edit Metadata in Bulk search/replace in regex mode, authors "FN LN --> LN, FN" and "LN, FN --> FN LN" (from chaley and Mixx in July). Added detail on standardizing metadata across author, series, and library.

Older Versions:

__________________________


Orient
Spoiler:

Start An Iteration. The workflow starts here. When the steps of the workflow cycle are completed, the workflow restarts here for the next iteration of the cycle. Doing the workflow is like being a runner on a circular track, with each lap around being an iteration, and the benefits of repeated laps or multiple-lap runs accumulating over time. By iteration I mean repetition of the process, applying the results to any results of prior use of the process.

Orient to Workflow Map. This is a map of my workflow for managing eBooks with calibre. I want to streamline my use of eBooks, calibre, and software tools to facilitate the ultimate purpose, reading eBooks on mobile devices. When someone suggests different strategies, methods, or practices might work better, I test how those work during iterations through the workflow cycle. If they work better for me than what I was doing, I adopt them into the workflow on a more permanent basis, and integrate them into the workflow map. That enables progress in small steps toward sounder strategies, more effective methods, and better practices. So the map changes as actual workflow changes and both improve over time.

Code:
       
       
       
       
       
       
  --->  Orient  -->  Learn  -->  Set  --->  Create
                                            
          A                                   |
          |                                   V
                                             
        Read                               Maintain
                                               
          A                                   |
          |                                   V
                                                   
     Standardize                             Get
                                             
          A                                   |
          |                                   V
                                                   
        Edit  <---  Fix  <---  Assess  <---  Add
Understand Why. When I first started with eBooks and calibre, I wished I could find more examples of how other people used calibre to manage eBooks. Examples help me learn. That's all this is—examples of what one user does, put together in a workflow map for using eBooks and calibre. Calibre's flexibility and features allow people to use it for different purposes and in different ways, so this workflow map may not meet other people's needs. And the workflow changes often. So this is intended as a snapshot of one person's use of calibre at the moment, with some reasoning included to give the examples context.

Keep It Simple. The sum of my explicit advice for people new to calibre is to keep it simple. When I keep it simple, I can venture into learning any new area using small steps from that simple base.

Set Learning/Testing Goals. After the first iteration, set goals for the next iteration for learning and trying various features of calibre. Also set goals for trying any new strategies, methods, or practices for managing eBooks using calibre along with various tools for fixing formats or reading on devices.

Incorporate Changes. After the first iteration, revise workflow accordingly to adopt any new strategy, methods, or practices that were learned and tested with positive results during the last iteration. Also revise to accommodate any new learning/testing goals.



Learn
Spoiler:

Learn from Help Documentation. Read it carefully initially after calibre installation, reread as necessary, and generally use it as reference. That's the Quick-Start Guide in the library at installation and the Help documents available on the calibre site consisting of the Frequently Asked Questions section of calibre User Manual, the other sections of the User Manual that seem appropriate at the time, and any relevant tutorials. The video tutorials are helpful too. I keep finding things I missed the first few times I went through it all, plus sometimes parts of the Help are updated.

Learn from MobileRead. Learn initially about eBooks, calibre, reading device(s), and Digital Rights Management by reading various entries in the MobileRead Wiki, reading recent threads in MobileRead Forums, and browsing various internet sites, then continue to stay abreast of recent developments.

Learn more about Digital Rights Management (DRM). Learn initially how to deal with DRM as it relates to converting eBooks to format of choice for reading device of choice by searching for "Apprentice Alf" on the internet and reading that blog, realizing DRM plugins are not supported or endorsed by MobileRead Forums or the calibre developers. Periodically read newer blog entries and check for updates.

Learn from Mouse Tips and Stickies. Pay close attention to Mouse Tips and Stickies. The little boxes that come up when hovering the cursor over something contain important help messages about how calibre works. They are more up to date than the manual and tutorials due to the calibre software changing so rapidly through revisions, additions, and updates. That's also true for many Stickies at the top of the calibre forum and each calibre sub-forum.

Ask Questions in Forum. After the first month, I thought I had a handle on everything and didn't ask questions right away in the appropriate calibre forums when I couldn't find an answer in the Help documents. That was a mistake. For example, after 8 months of using calibre, I asked a question about how to right align data in a column and found out I'd never thought to double-click a column heading and use any of the commands to be discovered there—mildly embarrassing, but worth it for productivity. When I ask a question, I put the specific question in the title of the post with a question mark, such as "How do I right-align a column?" then repeat it with any necessary details about the question or problem and its context in the body of the post—that way people can see at a glance whether they know the answer to the question from the title, and get all the necessary details to fill them in from the body of the post.

Keep An Open Mind. There is usually more than one way to accomplish something in calibre or anywhere else. Remembering that helps me change strategy, methods, or practices when circumstances indicate change would be good. And helps me keep an open mind and be less defensive when people on MobileRead Forums suggest solutions or other ways.

Learn Other calibre Features. Learn and try all the calibre features, gradually, one by one. I want to learn and then use these calibre features soon: more sophisticated regex for Edit Metadata Search and Replace, more sophisticated regex for Conversion Search and Replace, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), both to be applied during conversion. I only recently started using Get Books and Fetch News, after ignoring them for months thinking they'd be difficult to learn or not meet my needs—and learned neither was difficult to learn or do, and both meet needs and simplify getting books or getting news and reading it in eBook form. I've had no need yet to use the Content Server and Command Line Interface features, other than trying them a few times to see what general capabilities they provide.

Learn Gradually. Learn gradually over the long-term more about formats, conversions, fixing format problems, regular expressions (regex), Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), software tools, devices, and other eBook or calibre related knowledge and skills.



Set
Spoiler:

Set calibre Preference Settings. Initially, most calibre Preference settings are fine at default until getting a feel for what each one does by reading the documentation and testing it. Later, double-check relevant settings early in each workflow iteration and also before starting significant bulk operations such as saving books to disk or converting a lot of books at once. Test any setting change enough to know what it does before changing it globally or permanently. As examples, some of my current Preference settings are listed below.

Interface:
  • Look and Feel/Main Interface. Interface Layout: Narrow. Interface Font: Lucida Grande 14. Checked, Enable system tray icon. Checked, Show splash screen at startup.
  • Look and Feel/Book Details. Unchecked, Roman Numerals. Displayed Metadata, Checked: Title, Series, Authors, Formats, Identifiers, Path, Comments, FQR (Format Quality Rating), Genres, Kinds, Status. Default Link Template for wikipedia:
    Code:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?search={author}
  • Look and Feel/Tag Browser. Partitioning method: disabled. Unchecked, Show average ratings.
  • Look and Feel/Cover Browser. Unchecked, both options. I don't use it.
  • Look and Feel/Column Coloring. _q0 value in FQR (Format Quality Rating) for red text in columns: Authors, Series, Title, Tags, Formats, FQR, Genres, Kinds, Prizes, Status.
  • Behavior. Checked: Show notification of new version, Yes/No columns have 3 values. Unchecked, both News options. Preferred Output Format: EPUB. Preferred input format order: 1 EPUB, 2 MOBI, 3 LIT, others default order. Use internal viewer for: all formats, including PDF; helpful for initial assessment of format using viewer. I use Open With plugin to open a format in any associated application for further assessment or fixing. Restriction to apply when current library is opened: nothing selected.
  • Add Columns. Discussed below as a Library feature, because unlike most other calibre preference settings that apply across all libraries, custom columns apply only to the library where they were created, unless specifically copying structure while creating new library.
  • Toolbar. Set main toolbar and library context menu to my convenience, and device toolbar to vaguely match main toolbar. Library context menu is where I apply suitable plugin commands to current book selection. Application menubar for Operating System is set with only Choose Library, Preferences, and Help. I rarely use others.
  • Searching. Checked, Limit the searched metadata to: title, authors, tags, series, publisher, #dlgroup, #formats, #fqr, #genres, #kinds, #prizes, #status, #temp. Other settings unchecked, unused, default.
Conversion:
  • Conversion/Input Options/Comic Input. Checked Disable conversion of images to black and white.
  • Conversion/Common Options/Page Setup/Output Profile. Set to Kindle. I leave this intentionally set on Kindle, because I read most books on Kindle, and most of my books are text-based fiction with few graphics. I use the iPad more rarely, for reading complex layouts, graphics-laden content like comics, or technical things with code or equation syntax, which usually works best by leaving them in native format (usually PDF) and reading them without conversion where possible. For most of those, even after a conversion with the Output Profile set to Kindle, they're readable on iPad anyway, but if necessary doing a conversion and choosing iPad as Output Profile in the Conversion Dialog will replace temporarily the global Kindle Output Profile setting in Preferences during conversion.
  • Conversion/Common Options/Page Setup/input Profile. Set to Default Input Profile.
  • Conversion. All other conversion options at default.
Import/Export:
  • Adding Books. Checked: Read metadata from file contents. Checked, Copy To Library preserve date. Unchecked: Auto-merge. Unchecked, Swap author last and first name. Tags to Add: _Working. Regular Expression box for adding by filename, normally use this one:
    Code:
    (?P<author>[^_-]+) -?\s*(?P<series>[^_0-9-]*)(?P<series_index>[0-9]*)\s*-\s*(?P<title>[^_].+) ?
  • Saving Books. Checked: Save cover, Update metadata in saved copies, Save in OPF, Convert Non-English. Other settings default. Default save template:
    Code:
    {author_sort}/{title}/{title} - {authors}
  • Sending Books. Automatic Management, everything else default.
  • Metadata Plugboards. Templates for Kindle and iPad for putting series and series index in Title. Haven't yet had need to put other templates/columns in plugboard for either device. Template for Kindle:
    Code:
    {series}{series_index:0>2s| - | - }{title}
    Template for iPad:
    Code:
    {series}{series_index:| |: }{title}
Sharing:
  • Sharing by eMail. Set up, tested, seldom used.
  • Sharing over Net. Set up, tested, for Content Server, seldom used. Set up for iPad with Connect to iTunes by following sticky instructions (Links section, under Devices, Calibre + Apple iDevices: Start Here) with exception of leaving the Kindle chosen in Preferences/Common Options/Page Setup/Output Profile rather than changing Output Profile to iPad.
  • Metadata Download. Downloaded metadata fields Comments, Published date, Publisher. Sources checked and configured: Amazon (1; Comments, Published date, Publisher), Google (3; Comments, Published date, Publisher), ISBNdb (1; Comments, Publisher), Open Library (3). Sometimes for testing purposes I change sources or adjust configurations.
Advanced:
  • Plugins. For calibre-supported plugins, calibre provides convenient update method and a message under booklist when plugin updates are available. DRM plugins need periodic manual checking for updates, and manual installing. See Maintain section, Plugins, for more discussion.
  • Tweaks. Publication date (year only): yyyy, Title and series sorting: strictly alphabetic.
  • Miscellaneous. When necessary, I use the relevant buttons. I install command line tools when I need them, otherwise I don't bother. Opening the calibre configuration directory is useful sometimes, particularly to preserve settings by copying that folder prior to a complete calibre reinstall, then after the install, replacing files in the new configuration directory with files from the old one. Though doing that may not be supported or recommended and might cause problems.
  • Keyboard. Default, not used yet.
  • Template Functions. Default, not used yet.


Create
Spoiler:

Searches and Restrictions:
  • Learn About Searches and Restrictions. Initially, these steps introduce how searches and restrictions work. Set other searches and restrictions during future iterations as desired. Restrictions are created automatically when a Search is saved.
  • Know What Tags Are. Tags are just words, labels, or other information that can be either in the Tags column or in custom columns. For this example, type the word TestTag as a new tag in the Tags column for one book.
  • Create a Saved Search. To create a Saved Search using the Tag Browser, click the arrow to the left of the relevant Category in the Tag Browser. For this example, that's the Tags Category for the Tags column. Click the tag TestTag once. In the long Quick Search box above booklist, this search criterion appears:
    Code:
    tags:"=TestTag"
    To the right of the Quick Search box, type the word TestTag into the little menu box labeled Saved Searches. All the way to the right of that, click the little square button that's green with a white cross. That saves the search for the tag TestTag as the search named TestTag. Click the down arrow on the Saved Searches menu box to see a list of saved searches—it's now there as a saved search. All the way to the left of the Quick Search box, click the arrows on the Restrict To menu box - TestTag is now there too, as a Restriction choice.
  • Un-Apply a Saved Search. To un-apply a Saved Search, delete the text by clicking the button with pointy black rectangle with white X in it to the right. Or delete the text manually and press Return or click the Go button to right.
  • Delete a Saved Search. In Tags Browser, right-click on the search name in the Searches category. Or right-click the Searches category itself, select Manage Saved Searches on context menu, select it from the menu list of searches, and click the Remove button.
  • Try Out a Restriction. Calibre automatically created a Restriction named TestTag In the Restrict To menu box. Click that Restrict To menu item, TestTag. Now the library is restricted to all books with the tag TestTag in the column Tags. The restriction is reflected in the lists of tags by Category in the Tag Browser, now limited to tags existing only in books with the tag TestTag. Similarly, making mistakes with Edit Metadata in Bulk is no longer a risk that can affect other books in the total unrestricted library, just TestTag books. And searches are also now limited to only those books within the restriction, allowing simpler search criteria on searches. Restrictions provide some of the benefits of separate libraries, within just one library.
  • Un-Apply a Restriction. In Restrict To menu box, select the blank menu item at the top, or a different restriction to apply.
  • Delete a Restriction. Delete the Saved Search it is based on, and the restriction is deleted automatically.
  • Open a Library in a Restriction. To open the current library in calibre with a restriction already applied, in Preferences/Behavior, select a restriction in the menu box for "Choose a restriction you want in place", then restart calibre. To open the current library in Content Server with a restriction already applied, in Preferences/Sharing Over the Net, select a restriction in the menu box for "Restriction (saved search) to apply", then restart calibre and restart Content Server. To remove either of those startup restriction, select the blank menu item in the relevant Preferences menu box.
  • Note, My Current Restrictions. Currently I use these restrictions:
  • Fiction, based on [i]not[/] _Other in Genres column. Includes books tagged with _Working in Tags column.
  • Other, based on the tag _Other in Genres column. Includes books tagged with _Working in Tags column. I assign _Other as primary genre for non-fiction, reference, poetry, drama, biography, and so on.
  • Working, based on the tag _Working in Tags column. That tag is automatically assigned by calibre as books are Added to the library, according to the Preferences/Add Books setting for Tags to apply when adding books, where I entered _Working.
  • Note, on Informal Searches. Informal searches typed into the Quick Search box above the booklist are useful for searching on the fly quickly without using the Tag Browser, Saved Searches or Restrictions, and Column Names, colons, equal signs, or quotes. To do this just type something in the Quick Search box. A list of records will be displayed, where the informal search matches anything in any of the records in the library (or in the restricted library) per settings in Preferences/Searching. If using tags with spaces in them, surround the tag in parentheses:
    Code:
    (science fiction)
  • Note, My Search Settings. My settings in Preference/Search are: Checked, Limit the searched metadata to: title, authors, tags, series, publisher, #dlgroup, #formats, #fqr, #genres, #kinds, #prizes, #status, #temp. Other settings unchecked, unused, default. To get more precise results, I leave the column Comments (long text box seen in Edit Metadata dialog box) out of that "limit to" list. If checkbox is checked for Search as you type, unchecking it will give faster performance. If checkbox is checked for Highlight search results, unchecking it will group search results all together, checking it moves the results to wherever they belong in the sort order and highlights them. Alternatively, the Highlighting button toggles that on or off—that's the button with 3 blue lines with red slash to the right of the Quick Search box.

Custom Columns:
  • Add Columns. Initially, Add custom columns as desired for one library, then in future iterations review those decisions regarding effectiveness and ease of use, and change them with forethought when warranted. While most Preference settings are global across all libraries, custom columns are not—they're specific to each library where created, except when creating a new library with the option checked to copy structure from the current library.
  • Note, My Custom Columns. I try to minimize the number of custom columns. The more metadata kept, the more work later to maintain it consistently. And the more complex automation in computed columns, the more work later to change something. I use these custom columns:
  • DLgroup - Text, for DownLoad group and other source info.
  • Formats - Text, built from other columns, to see a books' formats at a glance in booklist.
  • FQR - Comma separated text, for Format Quality Rating tag and format problem tags.
  • Genres - Comma separated text, for genres.
  • ISBN - Text, built from other columns, to see at a glance in booklist.
  • Kinds - Comma separated text, for kinds such as anthology, collection, omnibus.
  • Pages - Integers, format for numbers {0:,}, for page-count from Count Pages plugin.
  • Prizes - Comma separated text, for awards.
  • Status - Comma separated text, for series-up-to-date, series-multi-author, my-rating, and other status tags.
  • Temp - Comma separated text, for Temporary tags, grouping books for batch operations, also a temporary storage place for column information when restructuring library columns, or moving metadata around in bulk.
  • Note, on Hidden Columns. I don't use the default columns Languages, Modified, and Ratings, so keep them hidden unless testing something with one of them.
Libraries:
  • Note, My Libraries. Currently I use two libraries: Core and Test. Core is the primary library for all activities—including processing new books and storing processed books—except for Test's activities, including testing possible new library structures or big changes in dealing with books. Test is temporary, frequently deleted then recreated empty to match Core's current structure so I can test from that baseline on books copied from Core. After eight months, I stopped using and deleted a third library called Add dedicated to processing books, evaluating and fixing formats, and working on the metadata, and now do book processing and permanent storage in Core.
  • Note, Reasons For One Library. Many reasons support using just one primary library rather than two or more of them:
  • Restrictions. Restrictions based on Saved Searches provide some of the benefits of separate libraries, within just one library. Restrictions or Separate Libraries each do the following: allow simpler search criteria, protect other books from blunders with Edit Metadata in Bulk, and give a sense of accomplishment when moving newly processed books from one restriction or library to another more permanent restriction or library. To give the latter an example, while in the Working restriction, when I delete the tag _Working from a fiction book it moves automatically to the Fiction restriction without extra steps or even moving from its place on the hard drive.
  • Copy and Paste. Copying and pasting metadata across Libraries involves using Library/Quick Switch and search to find the item to copy, copy it, Quick Switch again, and then search to find desired paste location. So it means more time spent or more typing of metadata such as series information when adding new books.
  • Library or Metadata Restructuring. After I learn something new or realize something I'm doing isn't working as smoothly as it could, I avoid changing library structure—adding columns then moving metadata around, or changing metadata structure by changing/moving a lot of it—until I have plenty of time and it's early in an iteration. With more than one library, it's more work to implement library and Metadata structure changes across Libraries to make them consistent.
  • One Library At a Time Features. These features only work across whatever books are selected in one library: Edit Metadata in Bulk, Search, Catalog, Tag Browser Lists. Content Server presently allows access only to whatever library it was started from.
  • Two Libraries, Two Computers. With two libraries, the simplest way to work in Library 1 and see all the metadata in Library 2 at a glance is to use 2 computers side by side, Computer 1 and Computer 2, each running a separate instance of calibre, Calibre 1 and Calibre 2. This can be done wirelessly, through a cabled external drive, or through a file hosting/syncing service—and each of those ways has its own various hassles and caveats. Currently, it's vital that Calibre 1 and Calibre 2 don't look at the same library files simultaneously, and that they don't make changes to the same library files successively which means Calibre 2 can't also write to Calibre 1's library files without messing up file permissions (in operating system), metadata.db (calibre's database as shown in booklist or Edit Metadata), and OPFs (Open Packaging Format, describe structure of book file in Extensible Markup Language, XML, and contain metadata fields too). So the safest way to do this is to access a copy of Library 2 from calibre 2 on Computer 2 and treat it as read-only, which is also a hassle.
  • Avoids Unnecessary Convolutions. Using just one library for everything except testing big changes avoids all of those unnecessary convolutions, extra steps, and associated headaches.
  • Create Other Libraries. In the Main Toolbar, under the Library icon, is the command to Switch/Create Library. If still necessary, use that to create new libraries. For each library to be created: In the dialog box, click the square button next to New Location box, navigate to where the new library will be created, click New Folder button to make a new folder and name for new library, click Choose button. Select the button for Create an empty library at the new location. Check the box for Copy structure from the current library, otherwise it will be created with default columns and no custom columns that are in the current library. Click okay.


Maintain
Spoiler:

Insurance:
  • Maintain Raw Books. Initially, set up a folder Raw Books, for downloaded formats that calibre copies during Add Books, for the originals that can be kept outside of calibre and have nothing to do with calibre's book folders. I set Raw Books at the top level of the same external drive where I download to a Download folder that is also at the top.
  • Maintain Pending and Processed. Initially, set up sub-folders in Raw Books named Pending and Processed, referring to whether books have been Added to calibre or not. Keep all original incoming book formats in one of the other. They have bad metadata or haven't been cleaned up but keeping them available is an insurance policy against future need. The Raw Books folder functions as a backup, but a raw one. I've found myself searching Raw Books/Processed numerous times and adding book formats from it into calibre for one reason or another, and still rely on it being there.
  • Leave calibre's Library Files Alone. Treat each calibre library folder and all its contents like a black box that will shock or burn, if messed with directly out in the Operating System.
  • Backup calibre Libraries. Periodically copy all libraries to a Calibre Library Backups folder on a different disk than the original libraries. Quit calibre first, so there won't be any file-locking issues during the Operating System (OS) copy. ((Edited 2011-10-07)) Save Libraries Periodically. Periodically, either once per iteration, or once a month or so after a number of iterations, Save To Disk all the books in each library into a folder at the same level as Raw Books named something like Library Saves, into subfolder named Library Name (for example, Core). Use relevant Save To Disk settings in Preferences. This is another type of backup, with the benefits that these saved books are now accessible out in the OS with no dire calibre consequences, are well organized by author, include cleaned-up formats, and have good metadata. The last three benefits don't apply consistently to Raw Books.
  • Maintain Backups. Initially, set backup software to do periodic backups automatically. My working disk drives are backed up automatically to other drives, hourly for the disk with calibre libraries, and daily for the disk with Raw Books and Library Saves. I have file hosting/syncing services such as DropBox but haven't used them with calibre and eBooks because I don't want another layer of complexity yet, and in the future if I do use one of them, I'll continue doing my own automated backup rather than depending on a server owned by someone else. I've had to restore library files from backups three different times after making various blunders.
  • Set Security. Set antivirus software to auto-scan all disk volumes but to exclude calibre library folders from scans. The books that are added to calibre were previously scanned at download, scanned again if they were accessed by other applications like compression expander or eBook reader, scanned again when calibre copied during Add Books. Doing this prevents antivirus software causing slow-downs in calibre performance.

Performance:
  • Update calibre. Updates of calibre are released every Friday. I always update right away because I want to see and work with any changes as soon as possible. While downloading new versions of calibre, I read the What's New change-log tab and review the Major New Features tab. They help with knowing what's new or changed, and sometimes those changes provide opportunities to improve methods or workflow for managing eBooks.
  • Minimize Automation for eBooks. Initially, keep any eBook-related and calibre-related automation as minimal and simple as possible. That means initially avoid using complex scripts and macros in other applications or in the operating system, and complex computed columns that rely on custom columns, complex regular expressions, and complex templates in calibre. Trying to combine different types of automation both inside and outside of calibre when I didn't know what I was doing led to me feeling frustrated and overwhelmed the first couple of months. It is better for me to do a process manually for a while until I'm familiar with it before trying to automate it. And not try to automate it at all until I have a better knowledge and feel for the technical parts of the automation. I'm happier when I keep things as simple as possible, to avoid confusion, frustration, and extra work from unnecessary complexity.

Plugins:
  • Wait, Initially. For new users just starting out with calibre, I'd suggest getting comfortable with calibre for at least a month first before installing any non-default calibre-supported plugins. Initially, I waited four months. In Preferences/Plugins, the Get New Plugins button brings up a list of calibre-supported plugins, and calibre will install any selected plugin automatically. The button Load Plugin from File is for any plugins that were manually downloaded from sites. In the Links section, there's a link to the Index of Plugins on the calibre Plugins Sub-Forum, which has descriptions of each plugin available and the actual plugin files that also can be manually downloaded.
  • Customize Toolbars and Menus. Plugin commands that act on the current selection are most useful with the context menu for library booklist (right click selection), which allows leaving those plugins' icons off the main toolbar, while plugins that act on the whole library are most useful with icons on the Main Toolbar. I try to match most icons on the Main Toolbar with icons on the Device Toolbar so they look relatively similar, but I don't use plugins in device booklist, so don't bother to set up the device context menu with them.
  • Update and Maintain Some Plugins Manually. For any plugins that aren't supported by the calibre team and MobileRead, such as DRM plugins, remember to periodically check for updates and install those manually.
  • Minimize Enabled Plugins. The more plugins enabled, the longer the time calibre uses for startup because the enabled plugins all have to initialize. So I try to minimize the number of plugins enabled, with care not to disable anything calibre might need in my general day-to-day operations. There was a significant decrease in startup time after disabling unneeded plugins in the Device Interface category for devices not owned, and removing calibre-supported third-party plugins in the categories Metadata Source and User Interface Actions that I installed originally for testing.
  • Note, Plugins Frequently Used: Count Pages, Extract ISBN, Find Duplicates, Open With, Search Internet.
  • Note, Plugins Occasionally Used: Quality Check.
  • Note, Plugins Tested and Removed. Sometimes I install and test other plugins to see if they'll fit specific needs. There were and will be many. I remove each after testing unless it meet needs well enough to keep.


Get
Spoiler:

Strategy:
  • Determine or Revisit Strategy. Decide, reaffirm, or change strategy for obtaining books. Mine currently is to "go slow" browsing, downloading, and adding books into calibre, and deal with only one author at a time. There are learning curves for calibre's more advanced features and for eBook formats and conversions. The more books in the library, the more work to do in applying newly learned knowledge and skills across an entire library. Upgrading 100 books takes significantly less time than 10,000 books. This strategy boils down to browsing, downloading, and adding books to calibre slowly by one author at a time.

Exceptions:
  • Deal with Exceptions. Initially, in early iterations of the workflow, deal with exceptions already on the computer but not yet in calibre that aren't easily dealt with on a one-download-source with one-author basis. I use DLgroup (DownLoad group) as meaning a group of books usually by just one particular author from one particular download site. In Raw Books folder, in its Pending folder, create a folder called Exceptions. In Exceptions folder, create a folder called Exceptions YYYY-MM-DD. The date makes the name more unique to avoid folder name conflicts later. Move all books elsewhere on the computer and other handy computers that are not yet in calibre into that Exceptions YYYY-MM-DD folder, organized by DLgroup if known, by Author if known, a combination of those, or any other way—but don't spend much time reorganizing them. This includes all books that aren't yet in calibre. For workflow purposes this initial Exceptions YYYY-MM-DD folder becomes a special DLgroup folder with multi-author and multi-DLgroup characteristics—possibly a large one containing many authors and DLgroups.
  • Deal with Other Exceptions. Handle other exceptions in later iterations similarly to previous Exceptions step, using a new Exceptions YYYY-MM-DD folder in Exceptions for any books that aren't feasible to Add to calibre in small batches of one DLgroup with one Author.
  • Deal with Download Folder. If any books are sitting in Downloads folder, move them to Pending folder in Raw Books, in groups by download source. Enter the source (usually site name) in DLgroup folder name, put downloaded books by one author into it. Repeat for all the different authors and different download sources existing in the Download folder.I usually name the DLgroup folder like this: "Amazon - Tom Clancy - YYYY-MM-DD. Add time to that name if it needs to be more unique. If each downloaded book file doesn't include a good author name in the filenames, prepend it to each filename, for example "Tom Clancy - Original Filename"; if there are too many or there isn't good source or author information, put them in a DLgroup Exceptions folder.

For One Author:
  • Choose an Author. Choose one author to focus on.
  • Search that Author in Raw Books/Pending. Do operating system Search on Pending folder in Raw Books, for all books by that author.
  • Search that Author in calibre. Search in calibre for that author by using Tag Browser or Search Box to get a list of all books by that author in the library. Make sure the list includes all books by that author singly plus those with co-authors, as well as any wishlist items by that author.
  • Search that Author on Good Internet Site. Determine if there are any other books by that author to possibly obtain now. Use good internet site such as Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB), searching the author there, and seeing a list of all books by that author. Also, keep this site open in separate browser tab or window for later use.
  • Do new Wishlist Items. If there are any desired as new wishlist items—to obtain later—I add wishlist items to calibre library now. I do this now because frequently I change my mind about wishlist, and want to buy and download right away instead of waiting.
  • Note, on Wishlist and Empty Books. I don't use the Empty Book command to create a book record without a format, except if I want to immediately drop a format into the Edit Metadata box for formats. I created a folder containing empty text files titled Empty01 through Empty10 by author "Empty AAA", at first as text files then later converted to EPUB format and saved back out to disk. When needed for wishlist items, I add a group of 10 of those "empty" book formats and change the metadata of one or several appropriately, assigning tag _q0 indicating it's a wishlist item.
  • Browse eBook Distribution Sites. There are two ways to do this. Search by author's name in calibre's Get Books feature, or navigate by browser to a likely site such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Get Books is great for those sites it includes, provides price comparisons, and shows which books have DRM or not.
  • Download Books. Excluding any books that are already in Pending folder or in calibre, buy any desired books from any one particular source if they're not free, and download them (bought or free) to computer rather than device to avoid extra steps.
  • Get Source Info. While still on Download site, enter the source (usually site name) in a DLgroup folder name, put those downloaded books by one author into it. I usually name the DL Group folder like this:"Amazon - Tom Clancy - YYYY-MM-DD". Add the time to the folder name if it needs to be more unique (24 hour clock): "Amazon - Tom Clancy - YYYY-MM-DD-TTTT". If each downloaded book file doesn't include author name in the filenames, prepend it to each book filename, for example "Tom Clancy - Original Filename".
  • Get Other Information. Optionally, add other metadata I want now from the download site in associated new folder-names or a text-file. I rarely want any extra information like that at this point.
  • Download Direct to Device? If the site allowed download only directly to device, then copy from device to the computer, then into a new DLgroup folder for that author.


Add
Spoiler:

For That One Author in One Download Group (DLgroup):
  • Double-check Preferences/Adding Books. Ensure Preferences/Adding Books is set like this: Add the tag _Working to Tags column. Automerge unchecked. (Later when the little dialog box comes up asking "Add Duplicates?" always choose to add them, to see and possibly assess any new duplicates of book records or even formats before any deletion.)
  • Set Preferences, Adding Books, "Read Metadata From". Decide "Read metadata from" methods for the Add operation and set them. I prefer to use Checked (checkbox) "Read metadata from file contents"—because it's easiest, fastest, and works with most relatively recent retail EPUBs and MOBIs. Where that doesn't work well, Unchecked "Read metadata from file contents" will read from the file name according to the regex selected in the Add using filename menu box.
  • If From Filename, Choose Method. If reading from file contents doesn't work well, there are several choices of methods to use with reading from filename to standardize the necessary metadata and get it into appropriate columns in calibre:
  • Before Add, in Operating System. Standardize author, series, and title in the filename out in the Operating System first before Add Books, either manually or using successive passes with different regexs in a file renamer tool to standardize all of the file names to match a chosen regex for Add Books by filename.
  • During Add. Successively Add Books in small batches, each batch matching a regex already on calibre's Add menu or written on the fly to suit that batch of books' different file naming convention, with the regex automatically putting the different elements into the correct calibre columns for author, series, and title. This one seems easiest and fastest for someone with sophisticated regex skills, which I don't have.
  • After Add, in calibre. Standardize author, series, and title from the filename inside calibre after Add Books imports them all as a mess, either manually or using Edit Metadata in Bulk, Search and Replace, Regex mode. The first six months I usually chose this "Add it all as a mess" option and did the corrections manually in calibre because I wasn't familiar enough with regex to do it the other ways.
  • Add Books from a DLgroup. Add books by that author out of a specific DLgroup folder. Select the book files out in the Operating System (OS) and drag and drop them onto calibre's library view booklist.
  • Enter DLgroup. For that group, Edit Metadata in Bulk, enter the DLgroup info from that DLgroup folder-name, including at least the name of the download site.
  • Repeat Add. If that author exists any of the Raw Books, Exceptions folders (do an OS search), repeat from top of Add section for that author in Exceptions, put those into a new DLgroup Exceptions - AuthorName - Date folder, because now there aren't too many to do for that one author, and move that folder from Pending's Exceptions folder to Processed folder.
  • Repeat Get and Add. Go back to the Get section, Browse eBook Distribution Sites, and repeat for that same author for each other DLgroup from any other sources, assigning DLgroup folder name, Adding from each DLgroup. Then move all of those folders from Pending to Processed, within Raw Books.
  • Define Current New Author Group. When done with all of the repeats of Gets and Adds for this one author, the group of books by this one author is named the Current New Author Group. It is now ready for further processing in calibre.
  • Note, on Repeat. There are two reasons for Adding by each DLgroup folder with one author one by one, rather than all of that author as one combined batch of all books by that author. Each set of books from each different download site may need a different choice of add method. And a combined batch might contain books from different download sites, causing confusion with naming the correct source from correct DLgroup for each book.
  • Note, on Raw Books and Author Folders. I don't bother to re-organize all books by one author into one relevant author folder throughout the Raw Books folder. Excluding any Exceptions, New books go into Raw Books by DLgroup folder, not by one complete one-author group folder mixing various DLgroup sources. Operating System (OS) search can find an author name wherever it resides across the entire Raw Books folder as long as author name is relatively intact somewhere in the folder path or filename. Sometimes there are multiple formats of the same title, with various filename standards, and multiples of the same title and the same format, so trying to put all of these into order into one author folder without having filename conflicts is time consuming and not worth it. These formats are insurance, just there if needed in the future on a case by case basis, per author or title search in OS. But I do organize Raw Books' Processed folder by folders for download source (Amazon, Gutenberg, MobileRead), putting the relevant DLgroup folders into those. To rely less on Raw Books for emergencies, early in the next iteration, do the step in the Maintain section to periodically Save To Disk each calibre library, which will nicely organize books from each library by author, with good metadata included, using relevant Save To Disk settings in Preferences.


Assess
Spoiler:

For Current New Author Group:
  • Convert to Preferred Format. I convert everything to EPUB including problem PDFs. EPUB is usually a good format for initial assessment, possible clean-up, reading on computer in calibre viewer, reading on iPad, or conversion to MOBI for Kindle. Most EPUBs are usually a good enough quality conversion for my fiction-reading purposes, after cleaning-up a few problem formats, excepting specific types of PDFs or other formats that are graphics-laden or have complex layouts. Those exceptions can be dealt with later.

For Each Book One by One:
  • Assess Format. I do this using calibre viewer for EPUBs. For other formats, the Open With plugin will open each in Acrobat for PDFs, Kindle Previewer for MOBI based formats, or any other tools for other formats when necessary.
  • _q0 is wishlist item or bad format, both useful placeholders.
  • _q1 is needs-fix" if I delayed fixing until later; and don't delete original format.
  • _q2 is for rare cases of more than minor annoyance, not fixable; and don't delete original format.
  • _q3 is okay, readable with only minor annoyance.
  • _q4 is good, readable with no annoyance.
  • _q5 is excellent. I don't bother with this, except for a few examples.
  • Note. I also use _q0 as the basis to color a record's text red. For bad formats, it saves the trouble of using an empty book or empty book placeholder format. When using catalogs or content server with devices, it indicates wishlist items. For catalogs, it goes into the Read section's choice of columns (FQR) to get a checkmark indicating wishlist item.
  • If Decide Not to Fix Now. If the format's clean-up needs look beyond present skill level for fixing, or fixing will be delayed for some reason, tag it _q1, which means "fix later", and also tag the kind of format problems it may have. If problems are serious and it wasn't free, try to get money back from vendor. Now this book has been assessed, go to the next book to assess, the previous step.
  • If Decide to Fix Now. If want to read it soon and it looks like it can be fixed in a short period of time, proceed with preliminary decisions about how to fix the format.

Choose a Format and Tool for Fixing. If a conversion is necessary, I want to use the cleanest and least converted format available as the conversion Input Format. That's usually the Original Format that was added to calibre, before any conversions. If the Original Format isn't already one of the format choices listed below, a conversion is necessary. Choices of Conversion Output Format to use in Conversion Sequence for fixing include:
  • RTF for fix in Open Office, Word, or other editor.
  • EPUB for fix in Sigil or other EPUB editor.
  • HTMLZ for fix in any HTML editor, might be useful after I learn HTML.
  • PDF for fix in Acrobat or other PDF editor.
  • MOBI for fix in MOBI editor.
  • TXT or TXTZ lose formatting such as Bold/Italic, but are sometimes useful.

Choose a Conversion Sequence. Skip the first conversion in the sequence if a fixable format already exists. The last two sequences are generally best for quality of results, but they have learning curves and I'm not yet comfortable enough in HTML to edit directly in Sigil or an HTML editor. EPUB innards are mostly XML, XHTML, and HTML, plus images, but the Sigil sequence uses the fewest conversions when Preferred format is EPUB and is more friendly than editing HTML directly in HTML editor. Presently I usually choose #1, which is convert to RTF and fix in Open Office, save to ODT, convert that to EPUB in calibre, though I'm not quite as comfortable in Open Office yet as in Word - but Open Office is so far best for me in simplicity and ease combined with minimizing conversions, resulting usually in good readability though not finely tuned format quality. Some of the conversion sequences I've tried, listed in approximate order of easiest first with best results less important, for people like me who don't know HTML well enough to edit it directly:
  1. Original Format --> RTF --- Open Office fix, save as ODT --> Preferred Format.
  2. Original Format --> RTF --- Open Office fix, save as RTF --> Preferred Format.
  3. Original Format --> HTMLZ --- Unzip, Open Office fix, save as HTML, zip --> Preferred Format.
  4. Original Format --> RTF Word fix, save as DOCX --> Open Office ODT --> Preferred Format.
  5. Original Format --> RTF Word fix, save as RTF --> Open Office ODT --> Preferred Format.
  6. Original Format --> RTF Word fix, save as RTF --> Preferred Format.
  7. Original Format --> RTF Word fix, save as HTML, zip--> Preferred Format.
  8. Original Format --> EPUB --- Sigil fix, EPUB, save as EPUB --- Already was/is my Preferred Format.
  9. Original Format --> HTMLZ --- HTML editor fix, save as HTMLZ (or HTML then zip) --> Preferred Format.
  • Note 1: Calibre supports Open Office's ODT as input format but not as output format.
  • Note 2: Calibre does not support Word's DOC and DOCX as input or output formats.
  • Note 3: Writer2ePub extension to Open Office is an option for converting to simple EPUB after fix in Open Office.


Fix
Spoiler:

For Each Book One by One (continued):
  • Convert. Convert if necessary to choice of fixable format. I chose to use the RTF --> ODT sequence this time.
  • Double-check Save To Disk settings. If necessary change settings to include checks for Save cover separately, Update metadata in saved copies, and Save metadata in OPF file. I also check Convert non-english characters to English equivalents.
  • Save To Disk. Save out the book including all formats existing in the record. Save into a Fix Formats folder.
  • Open Format in Clean-up Application. Drag and drop the format to be fixed (RTF) onto application (Open Office) icon.
  • Choose Edit Menu, Find & Replace. Choose options in Find & Replace carefully.
  • Replace problems with fixes. For a person like me who is not sophisticated yet with Regular Expression (regex) syntax and convolutions, this usually means using character mode rather than regex mode, and multiple passes for each different problem. For fiction, I always want to get rid of headers, footers, and page numbers and avoid splitting paragraphs in the process. As a rule of thumb for using character mode, the first pass finds/replaces the longest and most complex string, next pass the longest and most complex existing string, next pass the longest and most complex existing string, and so on until that find/replace sequence is done and that particular problem fixed. Less frequently I'll spend time to fix other annoyances, such as pagination problems by removing all page breaks then inserting page-break to precede each chapter heading; bold style applied to all of some chapters but not the others; margins, indents, and section breaks. Because I don't generally use Table of Contents (TOC), I only fix TOCs that need work if it's a very large omnibus or story collection.
  • Keep in Mind:
  • Stick to Time Limit. The maximum time I'm willing to spend for clean-up of one format is five minutes. When I started out it was 15 minutes per, sometimes allowing it to stretch to 30 while learning how to fix things. It all requires practice and care to do it well. The more regex I learn, the faster the clean-up process is accomplished. The more books I clean up, the better my related knowledge and skill-set. Now, if it exceeds the time limit I stop, tag it _q0 format quality along with tags describing the format problems, and it's demoted to placeholder.
  • Stick to Goal. My goal as a reader isn't a perfect eBook, but to spend the least amount of time to make it "readable by me with as little annoyance as possible."
  • Use What Works. I'm comfortable in Word so I had been using the conversion sequence discussed above that includes Word DOCX. The conversions from RTF to DOCX to ODT each reduced size considerably but I'm not experienced enough with evaluating formats to know much about the resulting quality except that it "looked okay for me to read now." During this current iteration of calibre use, I want to reduce the number of conversions and simplify that process so now I'm using RTF to fix in Open Office to ODT.
  • Learn better ways. After I'm more sophisticated using regex, I'll switch to using calibre's conversion search and replace to remove headers, footers, and page numbers. Once I learn enough HTML to be more comfortable, I'll switch to cleaning-up using the simplest path available, Sigil or HTML editor, or calibre's Tweak EPUB or Conversion Search/Replace, or a combination of any of those things for various problems. I'm making it a high priority to learn regex, Sigil, CSS, and HTML.
  • Minimize Conversions. Minimizing the number of conversions in a clean-up sequence saves time, simplifies workflow, and most important, achieves higher quality of format. Like photocopying copies of copies of copies, or successively converting audio files through "lossy" compressions or types of recording media, each conversion loses more formatting and content information while introducing more errors.
  • Avoid Extremes. There are two extremes regarding fixing format problems. One is to just want to read eBooks and not care much about the formatting and any format problems. The other is to want to make each format as perfect as possible, while skills tend to keep increasing, generating a need to periodically spend a lot of time going back to re-fix older books to bring them up to par across the library. I want to sit the fence between these extremes. I don't worry about all format problems, just the ones that annoy me the most that I currently know how to fix.
  • Revisit Older Unfixables. Occasionally, when processing books for an author, I see old formats tagged with various format problems that I couldn't fix months ago, and realize I can fix now because along the way I learned something, which is why tagging unfixable formats with tags for types of format problems is helpful. So any of those get added to the books to fix during this iteration.

For Each Book One by One (continued):
  • Save as ODT to Fix Formats folder. Save it as ODT into the same folder in FixFormats that calibre saved out, into the subfolder holding the other formats. Then quit Open Office.
  • Add into calibre. Add book from Fix Formats folder back into calibre.
  • Convert to EPUB. Convert ODT to EPUB.
  • Assign Format Quality Rating (FQR) Tag. Do quick assessment of that new EPUB. Rate its format quality. Enter tags in FQR column for the rating and any more still-existing format problems.
  • Remove ODT Format. If new EPUB format looks okay, remove the ODT format in the new record. If it doesn't look okay, either convert the ODT to EPUB with different conversion settings to fix it, or go back to Fix Formats folder, open that ODT in Open Office, and go back and proceed with steps to fix it better, re-add to calibre, re-assess. Continue when the fixed fomat converted to EPUB looks okay, or downgrade the Format Quality Rating (FQR) to _q0.
  • Keep Original Format If Problem. If the Original Format didn't convert well to EPUB, I keep it in the book record along with the EPUB that was generated for initial assessment. This happens with PDFs with complex graphics, old image-based PDFs, or technical PDFs with complex layouts. In these cases I add a specific tag _q2 that means "keep original format".
  • Delete Original Incoming Format When Have Good EPUB. If it wasn't an EPUB to begin with, and it converted well to EPUB or cleaned-up well, I delete the original incoming format from calibre's book record. I still have the downloaded original out in Raw Books. Most formats that I keep in calibre are readable with only "minor annoyance" or "better" on my reading devices, once metadata has been updated and corrected and annoying format problems cleaned up. If a format is not readable without major annoyance, I either delete it completely or tag it as "bad format" with _q0 along with tags describing the format problems, keep it as a placeholder, and don't read that book yet, hoping I'll find a better format someday or learn how to fix those problems in the future.
  • Go to Next Book to Assess. Go back to Assess section, For Each Book One by One sub-section, and assess the next book, until they've all been assessed and those chosen for fixing now have all been processed.


Edit
Spoiler:

Column and Edit Metadata Order:
  • Note, Column Order. Moving from left to right, my columns are in this order: Authors, Series, Title, Tags, Size, Pages, Formats, FQR (Format Quality Rating), Genres, Kinds, Prizes, Status, DLgroup (Download Group), Temp (Temporary), Published, Publisher, ISBN, Date. I don't use Modified, Languages, or Rating default columns. I'm most comfortable leaving columns in my preferred order for browsing books in library booklist, rather than working with different column orders for different things. The View Manager plugin allows switching to different column orders and sorts at the click of a button, such as between a Browse view and an Edit Metadata view—but I don't want to do that.
  • Note, Metadata Editing Order. The general progression for entering and editing metadata is similarly left to right, with a few exceptions that don't match the order of columns.

For Each Book One by One:
  • Enter Format Quality Rating Tag. If it wasn't entered yet, put appropriate Format Quality Rating tag in FQR column, that was determined during Assess or changed during Fix.
  • Correct Authors. Correct the author(s) name(s) in Authors from information in the book itself. Open it with calibre viewer to the title or copyright page areas and double-check information there. Alternatively, use a good metadata information site like ISFDB, but it's also good to double-check in the book.
  • Correct Series Name and Series Index. Use whatever series name and index number is in the book, or on the convenient web site. This will be corrected later manually by referring to a good metadata site, but is useful for quickly finding the right series on that site.
  • Correct Title. Do necessary Title corrections. Include edition information (EdNo: 3; Ed: Editor's Name) and variant titles in parentheses (vt: The Variant Title) as well as titles of major elements of omnibuses (Title of E1; Title of E2; Title of E3). So a search of Title column later will find all that information. Temporarily this extra metadata meant for Title column goes into the Temp column leaving Title pure for the purpose of metadata download, then is appended to Title after the metadata download. Use the info in the book, or the info on the web site.

For Current New Author Group:
  • Count Pages. The Count Pages plugin does the work on selected books if they're EPUB or MOBI. This is one reason I convert all formats to EPUB, even when I know the conversion will be bad—can always delete the EPUBs later in those cases, which are tagged with Format Quality Rating _q2 to know which records need to keep the original format.
  • Extract ISBN. The plugin does the work on selected books. This facilitates a more specific and accurate metadata download.
  • Do Metadata Download. Prior corrections in Authors and Title columns are vital for Metadata Download, and ISBN narrows it down. Double-check Preferences/Metadata Download has checked only the desired fields for download, to be certain not to overwrite any of the columns just edited. Do the limited Metadata Download. My download choices usually are: Published date, Publisher, Comments, Cover. Calibre grabs ISBN automatically if it's not already in the record. I keep only a few sources checked (figuring the more checked, the slower the grab). Amazon's metadata seemed more consistently accurate with broader item availability than others. By default I also use ISBNdb and Open Library. Others I keep unchecked and only use on a case by case basis when needed or when testing something. Optionally, change settings to do testing of various metadata download sources and options.
  • Find All Books by that Author. If not done already, use the Tag Browser or Search Box to find the older books in the library by that author including any with co-authors, and group those with the newly added books. Those become part of Current New Author Group now.
  • Deal with Duplicates. If duplicates exist, deal with with them. I do it by eye in booklist or I use the Find Duplicates Plugin command in the context menu. Then I compare Format Quality Ratings (FQRs). Correct metadata in whichever record has the better FQR if necessary, then delete the record with the worse FQR.


Standardize
Spoiler:

For Current New Author Group:
  • Set Author Sort. Set the author sort. Select all the books in Current New Author Group, Edit Metadata in Bulk, put check in box under Author(s) field to automatically set author sort, click OK button.
  • Apply Convention to Author Name. Apply preferred convention of FirstName Initials LastName or LastName, FirstName Initials to all the authors within the Current New Author Group. Now I use "FN I. I. LN" including the dots after initials because that is most useful for copying and pasting author into search boxes on internet sites that want the "FN I. I. LN" convention. When I started out I changed everything to "LN, FN I I" without dots after the Initials, which required extra steps, time, and manual intervention on complex names like Melissa de la Cruz or A. E. van Vogt after using regex to do the switch automatically. There are several ways to apply the preferred convention:
  • Manually. One by one, type or cut and paste as necessary to apply the convention.
  • Edit Metadata in Bulk, Manually. Sort on the Author(s) column to put similar groupings of authors together, resulting in books with just that author's name in the Author(s) column first, then books with that author's name along with co-authors in various orders (they should all have primary author first per the title page), and with various primary co-authors. For each unique Author(s) subset, copy the Author(s) field of one of them, select the books in that subset, open Edit Metadata in Bulk, paste into the Author(s) field, edit that manually to apply the convention, click OK button.
  • Edit Metadata in Bulk, Regex. Sort on the Author(s) column to put similar groupings of authors together. For each unique Author(s) subset, select the books in that subset, open Edit Metadata in Bulk, Search and Replace tab, select Regular Expression in Search Mode menu box, and either write a regex, or choose from Load Search/Replace menu the regex that will apply the convention. Initially, to set those up and save them: in Search Field, select Authors. In Destination Field, select Authors. Those set the origin and destination fields. Enter the regexs below for FN LN --> LN, FN then check results in the boxes at the bottom and if they look okay, name it FN LN --> LN, FN then click Save button. Set the Search and Destination fields to author again, enter the regexs for LN, FN --> FN LN then check results in the boxes at the bottom and if they look okay, click Save button. Click OK button.

FN LN --> LN, FN

Search for:
Code:
(.*) (.+)
Replace with:
Code:
\2, \1
LN, FN --> FN LN

Search for:
Code:
(.+), (.*)
Replace with:
Code:
\2 \1
  • Reset Author Sort. Reset the author sort. Select all the books in Current New Author Group, Edit Metadata in Bulk, put check in box under Author(s) field to automatically set author sort, click OK button.

For Each Book One by One:
  • Enter Tags in Relevant Columns. On the new books, enter my tags in appropriate columns. I use my own tag scheme for these. Now I know enough from the format assessment and downloaded metadata such as comments to decide on what tags I want to use for Genre, Kinds (book-type: omnibus, collection, anthology, short story), and so on. I include a tag for "To Read" on any book that I want to read soon. I recently switched from using the default Tags column to custom columns for most tags, to enable more precise searching and have less of a mess in Tags column, which is now used only for _Working tag for newly added books, any testing of tags, and some miscellaneous things like notes that don't fit anywhere else.
  • Delete Testing Tags. Delete any temporary tags I may have downloaded for testing after noting how they compare to my own regarding standardization and consistency across similar kinds of books (which has been poorly so far, even Goodreads tags).

For Current New Author Group:
  • Delete Unnecessary Formats. Delete any remaining unnecessary formats. Nearly all of my book records, after assessment, possible fix, and entering/updating metadata, contain just one format, EPUB, while a few contain EPUB and PDF. For most records containing PDF format and tagged Format Quality Rating _q2 (readable with more than minor annoyance but retained anyway) these "problem" PDFs are usually more readable in native format PDF on computer (use Open With plugin), Kindle, and iPad, than in a converted format.
  • Move Extra Metadata to Title. Copy any extra metadata belonging to Title from Temp column where it was stored temporarily, appending to Title using Edit Metadata in Bulk Search and Replace in Regex Mode with Append menu choice. Then delete those from Temp.
  • Consider, Less is More. That's a good rule of thumb to remember while entering metadata in tags or columns. Less is more. I'd rather have fewer tags and columns that are relatively consistent and standard than a whole lot of tags and columns in which the information is an unstandardized and inconsistent mess. Making the metadata consistent across a library requires a lot of work, steadily increasing in time required as the library grows and I want to make changes, and the more metadata there is per record, that requires even more time. So less is more. Less time for maintaining the library. More time for reading.
  • Consider, Loss Isn't Less. I postpone any decisions that result in losing metadata until becoming aware of potential ramifications by asking about it on MobileRead or learning for myself through further experience. I don't want to simplify or streamline things to the extreme of losing data. Examples of what I did in all libraries that needed considerable work later to fix: deleted the articles "The", "An", and "A" from Title; changed publishers like Spectra (an imprint of Bantam) to a higher-level parent name (like Bantam) so publishers were more consistent; used only one of the 3 or 4 co-authors of an anthology rather than taking the trouble to enter all the authors.
  • Choose a Site for Metadata Standardization. I like Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) best for standardization and consistency (except for genre tags, where they're not) and for series name standardization, awards, covers, ISBN13s, identifying elements of omnibuses, etc. Sometimes I also use the original download site (indicated in DLgroup column), author's site, Amazon, WorldCat, or Wikipedia. It's important to use good web sites that have relatively standard conventions across metadata categories. Most of my books are speculative fiction so using ISFDB where possible works well for me, even for some paranormal romance. In cases where the books are not speculative fiction, the author's web site is usually best for accuracy. For thriller, suspense, romance, or other-genre novels Wikipedia is often okay if it's a popular author. I use the plugin Search the Internet sometimes, but when I'm not looking for one specific book title it's easier to go to a site navigating by browser address box or bookmark.
  • Do final additions and corrections. For the entire Current New Author Group, I double-check all metadata in all columns, and add more or correct it manually if necessary by comparing with existing books in calibre by that author and using good web sites to correct and standardize metadata across all books by that author. I get better covers, and correct ISBN13s for editions, edition metadata, Series Name and Series Index, Published-dates, or other relevant metadata from relevant internet sites. My overall goal here is to make all the metadata standardized and consistent for that author and series. Consistently doing this in each iteration increases metadata standardization and consistency across the entire library. More specifically, I also:
  • Use One Convention Each for Series and Series Index. Pay particular attention to Series and Series Index, standardizing them across author and series, which may be a multi-author multi-subseries series requiring additional searches on the metadata site and in calibre, expanding the group of books being worked on. Try to use just one convention for Series and just one convention for Series Index consistently across all authors and series.
  • Assign Status Tags for Series. Use tags to indicate multi-author series and if series is up to date. I put these in Status column.
  • Enter or Correct Genres. Use tags to indicate primary genre and any other secondary genre info.
  • Enter or Correct Kinds. Use tags to indicate the type of book (collection, anthology, omnibus, short story, etc).
  • Enter Prizes. Use tags to indicate awards at the book level. I don't bother with awards for lifetime achievement or other multi-book type awards; usually do only the most prestigious awards like Hugo and Nebula, Pearl, RITA; usually only care about awards for novel-length and not anything shorter; and don't care about awards for anything other than speculative fiction and some paranormal romance.
  • Standardize Publisher. Often the Metadata Download brings back inconsistent tags for any one publisher, such as "PubisherName", "PublisherName Group, Inc.", PublisherName in slightly different form like some have Initials and some don't. I standardize these to the one that is most common for that publisher.
  • Assign Status Tags for Missing. I use tags to indicate if cover or ISBN don't exist, such as for a single short story. These go in Status column. Some people do this with automatic yes/no columns.
  • Convert ISBN10s to ISBN13s. I use a web site, ISBN Convert, that does conversions from ISBN10 to ISBN13 to change any remaining ISBN10s (Links section, Metadata, ISBN Convert).
  • Delete the Tag _Working. Delete the tag _Working from the Tags column for the Current New Author Group. That Current New Author Group is now completed and is as readable as possible to make it at this point, so this group of books graduates from Current New Author Group to join the rest of the processed books in the library.


Read
Spoiler:

For Relevant Selections:
  • Generate Catalog. Select all books in library, create catalog with only "Books by Authors" checked in the Catalog dialog box and wishlist items based on the setting in Catalog E-Book options, Read Books, FQR (Format Quality Rating) column, "_q0" column value. That will put a checkmark next to wishlist items. When created, I tag the catalog with a "To Read" tag, to catch it in a search when I want to load a device. Using a Catalog on a device is an easy way to compare two different Libraries simultaneously (one in calibre, the other on device in Catalog), or to look at two different parts of one library simultaneously.
  • Search for "To Reads". Search on the tag used for "To Read" to get a list of those books.
  • Convert Before Device Loading. Select whichever books and newsfeeds to be read next. If necessary, convert to whatever format is necessary for the desired device, such as MOBI for the Kindle. Preferred conversion input format is the EPUB I converted to originally after Adding, or the cleaned up EPUB that replaced it. In cases of problem PDFs or other formats, I'll try reading each in native format on a device that can handle that format. Kindle and iPad both can handle PDFs.
  • Load Device. Load a reading device with any books tagged "To Read" that I want to read now, plus the most recent catalog and the most recent newsfeeds. I load a device only a few books at a time, usually less than ten counting catalog and newsfeeds. If I travelled more frequently, I'd load more books. Other considerations: different reading devices have different characteristics and capabilities (such as weight, color display or not) that make them suitable for different types of reading, so generally I use Kindle for fiction and iPad for technical, graphics, and problem-PDF reading.
  • Read Some Books. Read some books on the reading device. This is the reward for all the hard work.
  • Rate Each Book Read. After reading a book, rate that book's content quality with a rating tag in Status column (or alternatively if using a yes/no column for read, a checkmark in Read column and stars in Rating column) and correct any other metadata as necessary with the new knowledge about the book from reading it.
  • Delete "To Read" Tag. Delete the To Read tag on the book just read.
  • Redo FQR for Problems. In cases of problem PDFs or other formats, where trying to read it in its native format didn't work well, or in cases of EPUBs where more serious format problems were discovered, change each one's Format Quality Rating to _q0 for downgrade to wishlist/placeholder, and add tags on each book for any other format problems discovered trying to read it.
  • Delete Book from Device. After rating a book and updating the metadata, delete it off the device using calibre directly while device is connected.
  • Delete Conversion Format for Device. If a format was created by conversion just for reading on that device, such as MOBI for Kindle, delete it from the book record.
  • Note, Collections. I don't use collections on devices or in columns, because I find it easier to refer to tags in calibre while avoiding doing any extra work for what I feel to be a redundant tagging effort for collections. If I traveled more without a laptop handy I'd reconsider that and probably use collections and the Kindle Collection plugin.

For Next Iteration:
  • Go Slow. I don't want Pending to hold thousands of books. Less than 200 max seems good. I try not to Download more than I can process out of Pending into calibre at a slow, relaxed, and comfortable pace. Go easy on the fuel pedal. The process is fueled by downloading more books. Learning and experimenting are fuel additives that enable smoother engine performance, better mileage, and less wear and tear on the vehicle and its owner/operator. With periodic re-supply of fuel and additives the process improves and never ends.
  • Restart. Go to first step of first section of workflow map, and start the cycle again for the next iteration.

__________________________


Links
Spoiler:

Links Key:
  • Some links are for information, some are for software tools to use in conjunction with calibre. Tools recommended by experienced people at MobileRead have "recommended" in parentheses. Any I haven't tried enough myself are indicated with "noted" in parentheses.
  • Internal links for MobileRead Threads or Posts are for information, or in rare cases for a script and labeled "script".
  • External information links are for wikis and other information sources.
  • External links for tools are for software.

KISS Principle:
Calibre:
File Renaming:
Metadata:
Workflow:
Devices:
Digital Rights Management (DRM):
eBooks, MobileRead, Reader Software, Stores:
Formats, Conversions:
EPUB:
HTML:
HTML (Alternate Browsers & HTML Readers):
Graphics:
MOBI (or related Kindle formats):
PDF:
TXT, RTF, DOC:


KISS
Spoiler:

Goals. KISS my use of eBooks, calibre, and related software tools. Determine strategies and methods for gathering, managing, and cleaning up eBooks. Gradually learn relevant "best practices." Learn to use calibre and supportive software tools better. Manage eBooks better. All to facilitate the ultimate purpose, reading eBooks.

Definition of KISS. I use the "verb" form of the principle "Keep It Simple Stupid" as meaning "to simplify a complex project or series of tasks in order to improve results." The word "Stupid" in the principle is not used or intended in a pejorative manner. When I say "to KISS" I mean "to simplify and improve." Link to brief explanation of KISS Principle at Wikipedia.

Reasons to KISS. When I started out new to eBooks and calibre in January 2011, I frequently felt overwhelmed. Paper books are fundamentally different from eBooks, generating a need to determine different strategies and methods for managing and using eBooks, which I hadn't done yet. The calibre eBook library management application allows new users to use it in simple ways while also accommodating more advanced users with many features and complexities. I didn't know much about eBooks in general, let myself get tangled in complexities and sidetracks, felt overwhelmed and frustrated at first. Gradually the more I learned about eBooks in general and the more I consciously simplified my use of calibre, the more success I experienced managing eBooks.

History. At seven months using calibre, I wanted some discussion on strategies, methods, and work habits, so laid out what I was doing as the original post of the thread "KISS for New calibre Users". After some discussion, recast the KISS posts from "giving advice to new users" to "documenting what I'm doing, as one slightly experienced user." Mid-August 2011, re-started at baseline zero each for eBooks and calibre by uninstalling calibre and deleting nearly all eBooks, resulting in a situation similar to that of a starting-out new user of eBooks and calibre, with the addition of some experience-based perspective.

Plan.
  • Add books slowly.
  • Learn, and integrate into my own use: CSS, HTML, Sigil and other relevant editors or tools, other advanced calibre features.
  • Continue revisions of KISS/Workflow posts corresponding to my own experience, testing suggestions or recently discovered other new ideas and incorporating them—permanently when better—into my workflow and then into the next revision.

Request Comment. Request comment after each revision is posted. The posts are offered not as advice but as examples of what one relatively new user is doing, struggling with, or trying to do. I hope this may be useful to new users, increasing in usefulness over time as it is refined in successive iterations. Feedback, input, and discussion will be helpful in correcting or improving any assumptions, strategies, methods, practices, and workflows.

Thank You. Thanks to everyone who posted on MobileRead, where I learned most of the content contained in this post. Particular thanks to those of you who posted in the KISS thread.


Last edited by unboggling; 10-21-2011 at 07:54 AM. Reason: Link to newer version.
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:45 AM   #289
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Request comment, discussion, criticism, ideas, other tools or info sources you recommend for links section, notice of any glitches in the workflow that I missed.
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Old 10-12-2011, 03:42 PM   #290
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I'm not happy with the last version I posted, but have been having a hard time revising it.

I'm trying to do too much in one document, mixing up things like tips for new users, methods for accomplishing something, examples of how I do whatever, a sort of imagined ideal workflow, what I logically think my workflow is, and the actual workflows I use in varying circumstances. Complicating matters with workflow, I've been rapidly changing mine the past two months. There are a lot more variables to deal with than I first thought. Calibre is flexible. A map or blueprint of calibre workflow isn't as flexible as actually doing things in calibre. The map is never the same as the territory, the picture is never what was captured in the image. The story of what happened is never what actually happened, per eyewitness accounts all varying. The explanation is never the real thing.

So I'm giving it a rest to let it all percolate unconsciously. Maybe that will bear fruit. Meanwhile, I'm reading some books.
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Old 10-12-2011, 04:30 PM   #291
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Originally Posted by unboggling View Post
Meanwhile, I'm reading some books.
It's surprisingly easy to get caught up in building a perfect library while forgetting what a library is actually for. I'm reading some books, too.
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Old 10-15-2011, 08:54 PM   #292
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I've been using Calibre for close to a week now. I haven't been playing with any of the settings as I'm getting some fair results as standard.
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Old 10-16-2011, 01:25 PM   #293
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starson17 View Post
It's surprisingly easy to get caught up in building a perfect library while forgetting what a library is actually for. I'm reading some books, too.
The ever chimeric and illusive perfect library, perfectly fixed book, perfect workflow, perfect anything…

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProjeKtWEREWOLF View Post
I've been using Calibre for close to a week now. I haven't been playing with any of the settings as I'm getting some fair results as standard.
Welcome to calibre and MobileRead, wolf. How well do the claws work on keyboards?
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Old 10-16-2011, 01:59 PM   #294
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OMG! You have just given me so many ideas to fix my library problems! Thank you so much - and I'm definitely in the User #2 category. Working with 2 libraries and "rating" copies - I've been driving myself crazy trying to upgrade my copies and accidentally overwriting "better" copies! Again, thank you unboggling, for your post -
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Old 10-17-2011, 05:35 PM   #295
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OMG! You have just given me so many ideas to fix my library problems! Thank you so much - and I'm definitely in the User #2 category. Working with 2 libraries and "rating" copies - I've been driving myself crazy trying to upgrade my copies and accidentally overwriting "better" copies! Again, thank you unboggling, for your post -
You're welcome. I was firmly in the "Two Library" camp until I learned more about searching using the search box. Then I listed pros and cons for multi-libraries vs one-library. And switched camps.
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Old 10-19-2011, 02:10 PM   #296
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How do you "clean up" formats not in ePub? Right now, I use Sigil to clean ePubs, and unfortunately haven't found anything to let me go into Mobi formats to clean them up. In other words, everything I convert into ePub, clean up, then reconvert to mobi for my Kindle.

I've been thinking there's got to be a better way. Especially when I'm only deleting headers/footers/page #'s.

Can I ask you, what do you use to clean up your books?



Quote:
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You're welcome. I was firmly in the "Two Library" camp until I learned more about searching using the search box. Then I listed pros and cons for multi-libraries vs one-library. And switched camps.
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Old 10-19-2011, 04:35 PM   #297
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Quote:
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How do you "clean up" formats not in ePub? Right now, I use Sigil to clean ePubs, and unfortunately haven't found anything to let me go into Mobi formats to clean them up. In other words, everything I convert into ePub, clean up, then reconvert to mobi for my Kindle.

I've been thinking there's got to be a better way. Especially when I'm only deleting headers/footers/page #'s.

Can I ask you, what do you use to clean up your books?
If you know Regular Expressions well, use regex to strip header/footer/page# during a calibre conversion, in the Conversion dialog box, Search&Replace tab. I've done this to strip "Amber LIT Converter" headers but am not good enough with regex yet to strip anything else. See Manichean's Conversion Search & Replace sticky.

I usually use Word or Open Office. Convert to RTF in calibre, Save To Disk to a "Fix Formats" folder. Open the RTF in Word or Open Office. If in Word, use Edit/Find/Advanced Find&Replace. If in Open Office, use Edit/Find&Replace. If you know Regular Expressions well, use Regular Expression mode. If not, use character mode (the default mode). Search for the problem, replace it with nothing or a solution. Using character mode, for each string to replace, basically choose the longest or most complex string and whittle it down in successive passes. Repeat for all problem strings until done. Use the Word or Open Office help to figure out how to represent digits and paragraph, line feed, tab marks in the search/replace strings. Discussed in more detail in the last Workflow post.

For MOBIs you may be able to use Kindlegen or Mobipocket Creator for editing purposes. Links for those are in Links section of last Workflow post. I'm not sure about those. I don't work with MOBIs. I have a Kindle but prefer keeping everything EPUB and generating MOBIs on the fly from the EPUBs.

Edit: If you're skilled at stripping headers/footers in Sigil, you know more than I do. Why ask me?

Last edited by unboggling; 10-19-2011 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 10-19-2011, 05:45 PM   #298
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Quote:
Originally Posted by friktion View Post
How do you "clean up" formats not in ePub? Right now, I use Sigil to clean ePubs, and unfortunately haven't found anything to let me go into Mobi formats to clean them up. In other words, everything I convert into ePub, clean up, then reconvert to mobi for my Kindle.

I've been thinking there's got to be a better way. Especially when I'm only deleting headers/footers/page #'s.

Can I ask you, what do you use to clean up your books?
1. change extension to .prc
2. use mobiunpack to extract pics and html
3. clean html
4. use Mobi Creator to change cover, add pictures and to make new prc
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Old 10-19-2011, 07:23 PM   #299
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Edit: If you're skilled at stripping headers/footers in Sigil, you know more than I do. Why ask me?[/QUOTE]


Good one! But I'm a stickler for Table of Contents and try to make sure I get one hopefully at least for my favourite books.

Thanks for your input, you've given me many new ideas - for instance, the color-coding for different quality books. I'm going to definitely use that one!
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Old 10-19-2011, 07:49 PM   #300
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Posts: 1,053
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Southeast US
Device: PRS-T2, Nexus 7, KindleT, iPad1, Kindle3KB
Quote:
Originally Posted by friktion View Post
But I'm a stickler for Table of Contents and try to make sure I get one hopefully at least for my favourite books.

Thanks for your input, you've given me many new ideas - for instance, the color-coding for different quality books. I'm going to definitely use that one!
Regarding TOCs, I don't usually care that much about them. But I just read in the calibre blog recently the latest entry on format conversion, which discusses generating TOCs in MOBIs automatically. Here's the link: Calibre Blog - calibre tips and tricks. Quote from blog:

Quote:
MOBI Table of Contents: For the specific case of converting to MOBI, the eighth option on the left menu is "MOBI output". For MOBI output calibre generates a Table of contents (TOC), which is inserted by default at the end of the ebook. When the "MOBI output" option is selected in the left menu you can choose "Do not add Table of Contents to book" if you do not want the TOC or choose "Put generated Table of Contents at start of book instead of end" if you want the TOC at the beginning of the book. The TOC calibre generates is hyperlinked to the chapters.
Edit: Regarding color for different quality of book formats, I rely on that quite a lot.

Last edited by unboggling; 10-19-2011 at 08:02 PM.
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