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Old 01-02-2012, 01:21 AM   #1
Madmick
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iPad is Superior to Android for Importing Calibre-Organized PDF's (Show Me I'm Wrong)

I'm on a WiFi-only Asus Eee Pad Transformer, and so far I've found my Android OS/Apps outright inferior to the iPad/iBook for this specific task. In fact, I think iPad is superior to them all put together. I have a Calibre library with over 14,000 titles right now (about 8,000+ are MOBI and most of the rest are PDF), and I've meticulously edited all of these titles so that the Titles and Authors are perfect.

When my brother asked me to import a few thousand of these into his iPad, I simply selected the books he wanted in Calibre, then exported them from Calibre to my iTunes (I'm on a MacBook Pro, btw), and then from my iTunes via USB- he had the adapter- into his iTunes in his iPad.

iBook immediately recognized the import, and automatically added all the books to its shelf. Of course, all the MOBI and other non-PDF formats were automatically converted to EPUB as part of the export to iTunes, but ultimately, all these EPUBS and PDF's showed up with the proper titles and authors in iBook's visually astounding shelf interface where I could organize and search using the author/title fields.

In my quest to perform the same task on my Eee Pad, I've come to learn the shortcomings of Android. I have 16GB internal on my Eee Pad, then another 32GB inserted as an external Class 10 MicroSD card. Preferably, I want to store my books on the external card. So here's how the process has played out making this attempt on Android:

************************************************** ***********
*Update*

Mantano Reader Free (4.5/5.0)
So far, this reader has best addressed my problems and become my default reader. It allows me to choose where to store my library (and this includes the external microSD card). I can edit the Title for every book. I can edit the author for about half my books; for the other half, I can't edit them individually since they all share the same "unknown" author, and I can only edit that folder. In the meantime, this reader has done the best job of allowing me to modify PDF metadata to allow for cleaner sorting. It also has the most filters, and my 3rd favorite graphical interface of all eReaders (behind #1 iBook and #2 Aldiko). MOBI/EPUB metadata transfers perfectly.
Practical Value:
My default reader. I'm keeping Aldiko because right now it's the only reader that will recognize my Calibre Content Server as an OPDS catalog (Mantano, FB Reader, and Cool Reader all boast this feature but aren't working). I'm keeping Cool Reader for CHM support.

************************************************** ***********

Aldiko (3.0/5.0)
I learned quickly that Aldiko- the only market app that has a visual interface on par with iBook's- will not allow me to choose where to store my library. It automatically creates a folder on the internal SD and duplicates all imports to that folder. I have too many GB of books for this to work. This is a dealbreaker. Also, even though it supports PDF's, and will add them to its library, it doesn't recognize the tags I spent all that time cleaning up in Calibre. The author name will often be something like "aadwcz" or the ISBN-13 numbers with intermittent periods; there's the same lack of organization of the titles. iBook simply owns Aldiko, here.
Finally, when I removed the test library, I got really annoyed by remaining ghost files in the "Author" library; the program didn't seem to recognize that these files were no longer in its library. Furthermore, when I went to delete these files, I couldn't "select all" and delete them in a batch. I couldn't even delete by author. I had to individually delete every book by an author before the author's name disappeared from the library listing. Pffft. Garbage.
Practical Value
For local storage: aesthetic only. It has my favorite graphical interface, but all the apps below do what it does better. I do know how to run a Calibre Content Server, so when I'm at home, I leave this server running, and I like Aldiko for browsing my entire library at will. The problem is that I want these books stored locally because most businesses where I live don't support WiFi (nor do many of my friends homes), and though my tablet is only WiFi capable, even if it could surf 3G/4G, I also want books available when I'm out of the range of a cellular network or not allowed to use one (like on a plane).
Ergo, Wifi/Cloud/OPDS cataloging and syncing isn't a viable alternative and I don't require instruction in it. Right now, only Aldiko is recognizing my Calibre library, and it has the prettiest interface, so on those features alone it scores a 3.0 instead of a 2.0- I'm really unimpressed with the its programming in general


MyLibrary (Asus Default Reader) (2.5/5.0)
As a PDF Reader, it is actually superior to Aldiko because it immediately recognizes PDFs that I download to the device wherever I store them: including the external SD card; however, like Aldiko, the authors aren't always recognized, so my library is a jumbled mess. It also has a really limited interface for interacting with the books (pretty much limited to zooming in and zooming out). However, the shelf is wonderful. It's on par with Aldiko and iBook.
Practical Value
None. I'm waiting for Ice Cream Sandwich and a decent kernel for it to root, but once I do, getting rid of this app is one of the first jobs on my list.


FB Reader (4.0/5.0)
Next I tried FB reader. It allows me to choose where I store my library, and even puts it on the external SD without a hitch, but its biggest flaw is its lack of format support: it doesn't support PDF, MOBI, or CHM (it's pretty much exclusive to EPUB). For example, to test it, I placed one author's folder in the library I designated on the external SD card; this author had many books in EPUB, PDF, and MOBI format. It immediately recognized all the EPUBS, and I could sort by author or title. Awesome. Ironically, it even recognized and showed the MOBI files' book covers in the graphical interface (although there was some scrambling in the text fields), but I can only read the "Book Info"...when I go to actually read the book text, a blank black page shows up as 1/1. PDF's and CHM aren't recognized at all; it can't view them in any capacity.
Practical Value
Will probably become my default reader for all EPUBs since I love the ability to choose where to store my library, and it has the cleanest, simplest, easiest import- I merely drag and drop Calibre folders there, and they show up by Title or Author immediately. If I want to remove them, I delete the files. There's no "ghost" files where I've removed the actual data yet the book/author remains in the library's graphical interface (this was a problem with Aldiko and Coolreader).
Ultimately, though, if I can avoid converting my MOBI files to EPUB, I'd prefer that. I understand that MOBIs convert pretty reliably, but over the course of my life using computers, I've learned that nothing works flawlessly all the time in file conversion (video, audio, eBook, or otherwise). For example, one MOBI I converted to EPUB was Alex Archer's "The Dragon's Mark". Unfortunately, in FB Reader's library (and also in Moon+ Reader), it shows up as "The Dragon’s Mark." This didn't happen in iBook.
Most importantly, I still haven't found a solution for my PDF's. I understand that converting them really isn't an option. So my search for an iBook equivalent continues.


Coolreader (3.5/5.0)
I thought this would improve on FB Reader. It supports MOBI, CHM, DOC, RTF, and TXT where FB Reader does not. Like FB Reader, it also allows me to store my library where I desire. I simply drag and drop the Calibre folders to the external SD card, then from within Coolreader, I ask to Scan these files, and it automatically adds anything in those folders or subfolders to the library. Alas, it doesn't work for MOBIs. If I open a MOBI manually, from a file browser like Astro, then yes, it adds it to the library. But if I scan, it only picks up the EPUBs, not the MOBIs. I simply don't have time to add 8,000+ MOBIs manually. Also, like Aldiko, I noticed that once I removed the files, there were ghost folders in the library. The authors whose books I deleted remained. I surf to the author's folder in the library, and there's no book in it...so why the hell is the folder still there?
Practical Value
CHM/DOC/RTF/TXT reader. I don't have that many files of these types, so I suppose I could just keep Coolreader to maintain a library of these file types. For EPUBs, I strongly prefer FB Reader.


Moon+ Reader (2.5/5.0)
I love the interface of this app, but it suffers from the same problem as the others: no PDF support. Unlike FB Reader and Coolreader, it doesn't appear to support external SD storage, either.
Practical Value
None for me. I could use it for CHM's, since I prefer its interface to Coolreader's, but unlike Coolreader, it doesn't support RTF or DOC, so it's a redundant program.


Adobe Reader Free (No Rating- Not a Complete Reader)
A very limited by very stable PDF Reader. I can't find a way to move the "Adobe Digital Editions" storage folder for "Documents" outside internal storage, but at least it recognizes the basic tagging from Calibre: all the PDF's I place in that folder show up in the app with the title first followed by a hyphen, then the author's name. I can't sort. But it's better than anything else on Androids for PDF's so far.
Practical Value
I can store some of my PDF library in this folder since Asus's MyLibrary will recognize book formats it supports wherever I put them. This way, when I know the title of a book that wasn't recognized by MyLibrary (so is jumbled and lost in the mess), and I don't want to sift through several thousand books on the shelf looking for it, I can just bring up Adobe Reader and find the book more quickly.


Sony Reader (0.0/5.0)
Is there anything in this world Sony doesn't f**k up? No wonder they did so badly this quarter, and likely posted losses in the billions for a fourth straight year. I only downloaded this because of the PDF support: like Kindle or Nook, I assumed its only practical use would be for content purchased through the app itself (and why would I go with anything besides Kindle for that?). "Scan Storage" didn't locate any files on internal or external storage. I have no idea how else to import books to the library besides manually opening them. The interface is terrible. Utter garbage.
Practical Value
To teach programmers how not to do things.


************************************************** ***********

So that's where I'm at. Thus far, ALL the free Android apps put together are inferior to iBook by itself. I truly hate that Apple is forcing me to use iTunes, but at least it integrates seamlessly with iBook and supports these major formats. This has been my experience with Apple over the course of my life. People badmouth it, but when all is said and done they just make superior products that their competition shamelessly copies (but never really gets it right).

How is ezPDF Reader? It's the highest rated Android reader for PDF's, but it's $3, and I don't particularly want to spend $3 to find out that it won't actually do what I want. Any suggestions? Am I being a total smacktard here? Is the answer right in front of my face?

Last edited by Madmick; 01-16-2012 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 01-02-2012, 03:14 AM   #2
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Don't see your problem, personally... I don't have a lot of PDF files, (and those I do have are made up for a 5" and 6" (4:3) screen, not a 7" (16:9)).

First, I put the books wherever I want them. I just moved them from my internal memory to my external SD card. No problems there. For epub, I use ezPDF (was a sale a few weeks ago) or the internal HTC PDF reader (as I can use my pen with that). They both allow me to get the PDF's from all locations, including external SD cards (though, the HTC app is rather limited as it doesn't have a shelf of any kind).

All my other books are in epub, all put on my device using Calibre. I use Mantano as reader, as I find that one the easiest to use. (Aldiko doesn't support highlighting, or at least, didn't when I was looking for a good app to use, which makes it useless to me).
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Old 01-02-2012, 04:25 AM   #3
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Don't see your problem, personally... I don't have a lot of PDF files, (and those I do have are made up for a 5" and 6" (4:3) screen, not a 7" (16:9)).

First, I put the books wherever I want them. I just moved them from my internal memory to my external SD card. No problems there. For epub, I use ezPDF (was a sale a few weeks ago) or the internal HTC PDF reader (as I can use my pen with that). They both allow me to get the PDF's from all locations, including external SD cards (though, the HTC app is rather limited as it doesn't have a shelf of any kind).

All my other books are in epub, all put on my device using Calibre. I use Mantano as reader, as I find that one the easiest to use. (Aldiko doesn't support highlighting, or at least, didn't when I was looking for a good app to use, which makes it useless to me).
I realize that my post was a wall-o-text, but that's because I was thorough. In it, I mentioned that I was able to store PDF's on the external SD with Asus's default reader MyLibrary, and use it to open and view them; however, I mentioned that it doesn't recognize my organization of Title/Author from Calibre for many of those ebooks.

For example, in Calibre, a book's title will be "Starting Strength" and the book's author will be "Mark Rippetoe". But on MyLibrary's shelf the title will might be something like "000abqwccStrength" or "978.0982522738.Starting.Strength.Rippetoe". Often, the "author" in MyLibrary won't bear a resemblance to the title or author at all. This wasn't the case with iBook on the iPad. It recognized the author and title for every book. Sorting by author or title was a breeze, and everything was easy to find- I have several thousand PDF's, so finding the one I'm looking for in a library with that lack of organization would be impractical.

I finished my post by asking about ezReader: are you saying that it meets my most basic criteria?
(1) PDF Support (yes, obviously)
(2) Customizable Location for Storage including External SD
(3) Recognizes Author/Title and other tagging from Calibre for every PDF (not just some)?

Heck, I'll take highlighting and other enhanced interactivity with the eBook file as icing on the cake. I don't even care which screen size the PDF's were originally optimized to be viewed upon. I just need to be able to store the massive amounts of memory on the external SD, and I need the reader to recognize the author/title from Calibre so I can sort and search easily.

$3 is NOTHING if it can actually do that. But Coolreader said it supported MOBI, and it turns out, it's limited. I'd have to manually add 8,000+ MOBI's or choose to convert them (and accept the hiccups that presents). I don't want to spend $3 to find out that something promised in the item description doesn't actually work the way it was implied.

Is Manzano not better? I saw this thread:
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=131997
But the TS mentions interactivity with PDF's as the big bonus. He doesn't talk about title/author sorting being properly imported from Calibre. That's my biggest concern here.

Last edited by Madmick; 01-02-2012 at 04:37 AM.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:00 AM   #4
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Ah, I didn't realize Mantano had a free version. I just downloaded it and it's the best PDF reader so far. I can choose which folders to sync (so I can store the library on external SD), and it has a very pleasing graphical interface; however, like Aldiko, it isn't recognizing my author/titles.

For example, Robert Bruce Thompson's "Building the Perfect PC" shows the title "Building the Perfect PC- Robert Bruce Thompson" but displays "unknown" for the author. I can add tags, and I can even edit the title, but I can't seem to edit the "Author" field.

Well, it's definitely the best eReader I've found on Android so far, but it's still no iBook. I'm still waiting for day that Calibre gets ported to Android. That will end the insanity.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:08 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Madmick View Post
For example, Robert Bruce Thompson's "Building the Perfect PC" shows the title "Building the Perfect PC- Robert Bruce Thompson" but displays "unknown" for the author. I can add tags, and I can even edit the title, but I can't seem to edit the "Author" field.
I'd suggest that you contact the bookstore that you bought the book from, and advise them that the metadata for the book are incorrect. A good publisher should correct these errors quickly, and allow you to re-download the book.

Where did you buy the book from?
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:21 AM   #6
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I'd suggest that you contact the bookstore that you bought the book from, and advise them that the metadata for the book are incorrect. A good publisher should correct these errors quickly, and allow you to re-download the book.

Where did you buy the book from?
Why should I need to contact anyone when I can simply edit the metadata in Calibre myself? Why aren't any of these reader apps recognizing Calibre metadata for PDF's? Why only EPUBS?
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:26 AM   #7
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Because, as I understand it, Calibre can't actually re-write the metadata in a PDF file. I'm sure that someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

As I say, this really is an error by the book's publisher. If they're told about it, everybody benefits.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:44 AM   #8
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Because, as I understand it, Calibre can't actually re-write the metadata in a PDF file.
Aha. I hate my life.
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Old 01-02-2012, 11:28 AM   #9
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I have a Calibre library with over 14,000 titles right now (about 8,000+ are MOBI and most of the rest are PDF), and I've meticulously edited all of these titles so that the Titles and Authors are perfect.

When my brother asked me to import a few thousand of these into his iPad...
You need to get out more. I read a lot. I seriously doubt I've read more than 3000 books in my lifetime. I might make it to 5000 by the end. I might not.

In truth, your basic problem is you're trying to force these systems into doing a job that almost no one needs. The designers never anticipated that anyone would handle this sized library. I'm glad iTunes worked so well. That's Apple's good design skills and tight control over the hardware/software environment showing. Don't expect that in a diverse environment.

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Old 01-02-2012, 01:30 PM   #10
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FBReader does read mobi. I use it all the time for that purpose.
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Old 01-02-2012, 01:48 PM   #11
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Last edited by Moe The Cat; 01-02-2012 at 08:00 PM. Reason: It looks like I was wrong and Madmick is correct!
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Old 01-02-2012, 04:12 PM   #12
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FBReader does read mobi. I use it all the time for that purpose.
Wanna explain how or maybe give me an example of a MOBI you've opened in FB Reader and where you purchased it (I'm assuming Amazon)? I explained in detail my experience trying to open MOBI with FB Reader. The app's download page at the Android market specifically states:
"Supports epub, oeb and fb2(.zip) file formats."

So I don't understand why your FB Reader on your device is supporting them. I tried on my Asus, and it certainly didn't.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:55 PM   #13
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To each their own, but IMHO anything that requires that pile of smelling c**p known as iTunes to just work is an immediate fail in my book.

I use Mantano on my CM7 nook color and I'm pleased with it.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:02 PM   #14
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This whole thread smells like troll bait.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:03 PM   #15
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To each their own, but IMHO anything that requires that pile of smelling c**p known as iTunes to just work is an immediate fail in my book.
I prefer to call it a heaping mound of donkey shart, and I totally empathize. That, the hardware specs, the dock w/full QWERTY keyboard + extra battery + extra ports, out-of-box HDMI porting, and the $250 Black Friday tag are the reason I went Android.

But so far, for eBooks, it's been outperformed.
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This whole thread smells like troll bait.
I'm not a troll. I wanted a provocative title because I wrote a wall-o-text, and thought it'd give me a better chance of getting views.

In fact, I'm a moderator at a forum that's subforums would swallow this place.

Last edited by Madmick; 01-02-2012 at 07:30 PM.
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