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Old 08-19-2012, 01:50 PM   #1
FreeBeer
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[Android App] Calibre Companion as 'branch library'

I was very pleased to see someone making such an app and rushed over and bought it. Now for my three buck investment I will try to influence its features to be exactly what I personally want

I would like to put in a vote for being able to initiate downloads and do some other simple functions from the Android device. I have Calibre on a home server and view it as my repository for all my e-books. It has about 10,000 books which is more than I will ever read, but so does the main library in my town and in both cases I like that the variety is there to access when I want to. I put all books in there as I get them, acquire or fix metadata, back them up, convert them, etc. Because of the number of books and because all books come into there, I need and appreciate its rich UI and array of features. What I don't do is actually read the books on that computer's screen, I read the books on my mobile (Kindle and Android tablet) devices.

The mobile Android device I would like to work like a branch library. It would only have a subset of books (maybe < 20) actually on it at any one time. I would like to be able to see a catalog of local books (that I am currently reading or brought local in anticipation of a trip or something) or to see the full catalog on the server. In either case I would like at least the important metadata and covers. I would like it to take advantage of the tablet screen size rather than be limited by what a phone could show. The full catalog I would like to not have a restriction on how many matches are found for a search, just a paging mechanism (e.g. Next 50 Matches button) to limit how many are downloaded at once. I would like to easily move (copy actually) a book or books from the server to the local device after automatic conversion if necessary. All this done from the Android UI, no need to access the 'main library' server UI. I would like to be able to remove books from the local device, with a special easy one-click variation of that which removes the book locally and marks it 'read' on the server.

Have I used up my three bucks worth of influence yet?
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Old 08-19-2012, 03:44 PM   #2
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Can't be easy to please everyone...

I have mainly ePubs, and I figure they are on average around 0,5 MB in size for a novel. Usually less, actually. Assuming that I have 20 GB free on my tablet, that is room for around 40 000 ePubs. Some of my books are bigger, especially nonfiction PDFs. Still, that will allow me to store at least 5 000 - 10 000 books on my tablet. That is many more ebooks than I have. So for now I store every (good/interesting) ebook I have on my tablet. The number of books slowly increase as I get/buy more books and fix up old books with bad metadata or bad covers. But most likely I will have room for every one of my (good) ebooks, on my tablet, for the forseeable future. This is great when traveling, since I don't have to decide what reading material to bring. I always bring everything.

Long before my current tablet is full I will most likely have bought a new and better tablet with more storage room.

Currently I use an external 32 GB external memory card to hold the ebooks on my tablet. That allows me to sync from Calibre using a folder as a device. I would like to be able to instead sync the files on my tablet, using CC over WiFi, after any changes or additions. It would be more convenient.

On my 32 GB removable card I have room for at least 64 000 novels in ePub format. I actually only use around 5 GB for books at the moment. Both PDFs and ePubs. Gives me plenty of room for some music and audiobooks and the odd movie.

On my computer I have my main Calibre Library, and it is there I fiddle with metadata and so on. I also have a few generations of backups on a NAS in the cellar.
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:52 PM   #3
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Can't be easy to please everyone... :chinscratch
No, it isn't.

The amount of storage available has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of RAM available to the device. Big SD cards are nice, but having lots of slow storage doesn't help the processor at all. For example, the Nook Color, a device that is creating no end of problems for us, can have lots of SD storage but usually has almost zero program resources. We have already made trade-offs to reduce problems on such devices that dramatically slow down more capable devices.

Current phone-like devices have similar computing capabilities to machines first available in the early 90s, yet people think they should have the capabilities and performance of desktop machines available today. Attempting to meet such expectations is incredibly difficult, preventing development of features of more general interest. We will see if that trade-off will need to bend one way or the other.

Last edited by chaley; 08-19-2012 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 08-19-2012, 05:05 PM   #4
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Sounds like you're similar to me in thinking of your computer with Calibre as your 'official' library but like to have all your books copied to your tablet instead of just a subset. That would change the relative sizes of what I'm calling the local catalog and the server catalog but maybe that's all. Or would you want only the ability to view a local catalog, if you're copying everything anyway? Are you ok going to the computer's Calibre UI to initiate copying or would you like to be able to initiate from the tablet? I liked the idea of tablet-initiated so I could do it from anywhere in wifi range, any time, like from the couch without trudging all of 30 feet to the computer.
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Old 08-20-2012, 12:37 AM   #5
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I use a custom field in Calibre to specify what books I consider to be good enough to keep on the tablet. Then when I sync I select them all and changes and additions are transfered over.

So all the books that I would like to have access to are on my tablet already.

After I have added new books to Calibre or fixed some metadata I would like to transfer the changes to the tablet at once. So I would actually like to be able to initiate the sync process from my computer.

Today I have to remove a memory card and insert it into a card reader, then I can use Calibre to very quickly sync my entire collection. But that is a little tedious. That is why I am hoping for CC.

Another way might be to sync from Calibre to a shared folder on the network, and then use some software on my tablet to sync a local copy of that. But that is also one step too many.

Every time I sync there are only a few books that has changed or been added.

Last edited by Adoby; 08-20-2012 at 12:44 AM.
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Old 08-20-2012, 01:01 AM   #6
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Today I have to remove a memory card and insert it into a card reader, then I can use Calibre to very quickly sync my entire collection. But that is a little tedious. That is why I am hoping for CC.
I may be wrong, but I believe popping the memory card into the computer's card reader and using the Connect to folder option to manage your books will always be less tedious then using CC to handle your collection.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:27 AM   #7
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If it was easy to connect over wifi, only a few books/changes would have to be transmitted every time. It could even happen automatically in the background.

I am just now experimenting with the other alternative I mentioned above.

I use a shared folder on my NAS as a device and send books and sync metadata to that folder using Calibre.

Then I use sync software on the tablet to sync, over wifi, the shared folder on the NAS to a folder on the tablet. I have it set up to automatically sync in the background every 5 minutes, but only if charging. I use the app FolderSync. Finally I run Mantano to import the new books and remove missing (possibly renamed) books.

Seems to work fine and minor changes are quickly transfered. Also I can initiate the update from the computer as long as I am charging the tablet. But not very elegant... Still, an improvement to popping the memory card.

Last edited by Adoby; 08-20-2012 at 03:35 AM.
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