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Old 12-13-2009, 09:22 PM   #1
texasnightowl
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Experienced users - what are your best practices, hints and tips for a new user?

I've only barely played with Calibre...probably less than an hour total time, though I have used the command line ebook-convert successfully. However, I've done basically no conversions of any kind since September. I had some technical issues on my primary desktop...hardware followed by Win 7 install followed by adding a Windows Home Server and I've just about got things back where I want them or need them and can start playing with ebooks again.

That said, I've followed some discussions here and in particular about being able to tag books for organization and I am coming around to that concept. So I want to give Calibre a proper try.

So, those of you who have been using Calibre for a while and love it:

what tips or advice would you give to people/new users?
what do you wish you had known about it when you started?
what are your best practices? your workflow with your books?

Let's say someone is starting with a couple hundred Amazon .azw files (which will be dedrmed) and several hundred files from Fictionwise - combination of .lit, .prc, ereader, and a few .epub even - which will also have drm stripped.

Once the DRM is stripped, what are your processing and converstion steps?
Once the books are imported to Calibre, do you keep or delete the original files or the drm stripped but unprocess files? Do you convert to only the format you need (in my case .mobi for Kindle 1) or do you plan for the future and convert to epub or other too?

So, please chime in. I may not actually get started until January since I'll be travelling over the holidays, but this is my next "project" since my home server is up and streams movies and music to my PS3.
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Old 12-13-2009, 09:36 PM   #2
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Get your Meta-data in order

Great Topic

After importing books, I believe that getting the Meta-data the way you like is very important as it will carry through into any conversions you do.
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Old 12-14-2009, 06:57 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasnightowl View Post
what tips or advice would you give to people/new users?
If you find a bug / problem / wanted feature, post about it on the forum to see if there is a solution / it's being worked on / or requested a bunch of time. If there is no solution, it's not being worked on open a ticket. Any type of request is best put into a ticket in general but I use the forums to gage popularity when I'm looking at adding new features people have requested.

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Originally Posted by texasnightowl View Post
what are your best practices? your workflow with your books?
Try a straight conversion to you're preferred output format. If it looks good you're done. If not fiddle with the conversion settings to see if there one that fixes the issue you're seeing. If it still doesn't turn out right, convert to EPUB and try fixing it in Sigil or BookDesigner. If all else fails convert to TXT, fix it, use the markup syntax to mark things like chapters and add back the images. Convert to you're preferred format. You may have to adjust the TOC generation XPath.

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Originally Posted by texasnightowl View Post
Once the books are imported to Calibre, do you keep or delete the original files or the drm stripped but unprocess files? Do you convert to only the format you need (in my case .mobi for Kindle 1) or do you plan for the future and convert to epub or other too?
I convert to my preferred archive format and keep that one around. If I need it in any other format I will convert from that "master" to the format I need. As for purchased books, the original can be redownloaded from a number of the services you mentioned.
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Old 12-14-2009, 09:49 AM   #4
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1) Keep your originals in a safe place
2) Back up your library
3) Let Calibre deal with file management
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:32 PM   #5
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I didn't even learn about metadata and cover browsing until a year after I got the reader

Here is what I do:

1) Download the book, either from here or from the store I purchase it
2) Get it into acceptable format if not already e.g. liberate it
3) Load it into Calibre. I do not keep the original after that
4) Add the appropriate tags so they appear in my collections on the reader
5) Load to the reader

My process for secure eReader is quite laborious because the HTML never seems to come out right. So I open it in a web browser, copy it into Neo Office, resave it as HTML (this adds the line breaks between paragraphs). Then I open that in my web browser, copy it and paste it back into the file using Komposer (office suites generate terrible HTML and this step removes any bad code). Then I open it one more time in Text Wrangler and do a find/replace to remove extra line breaks. The end result is a nice, clean (albeit plain) HTML file.
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Old 12-14-2009, 05:50 PM   #6
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@ficbot, for liberating secure eReader files I recommend you look for version 0.09 of the script you're using on a place like pastebin. That version outputs both crappy HTML and PML. The PML can be fed into calibre for a much better conversion.
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Old 12-14-2009, 06:48 PM   #7
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Thanks to those of you who have responded so far! I hope we'll have more!

Re: metadata - the one thing I am torn on is what to do about series name. On the one hand, I'm just nitpicky enough about this type of thing to want things in their proper place. Title, Series, Number. On the other hand, when on the Kindle, only the title shows so you don't know which number in the series you are reading if you have several on there. So I've considered making the series title and number part of the regular title. But it bothers me to do it!

As for backing up...no problem...since I added a WHS at home, files get copied to the WHS and file duplication will be turned on so files will be on two sep. drives! And that's not including whatever backup I do to external drive or DVD or whatever!
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Old 12-14-2009, 09:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasnightowl View Post
Thanks to those of you who have responded so far! I hope we'll have more!

Re: metadata - the one thing I am torn on is what to do about series name. On the one hand, I'm just nitpicky enough about this type of thing to want things in their proper place. Title, Series, Number. On the other hand, when on the Kindle, only the title shows so you don't know which number in the series you are reading if you have several on there. So I've considered making the series title and number part of the regular title. But it bothers me to do it!

As for backing up...no problem...since I added a WHS at home, files get copied to the WHS and file duplication will be turned on so files will be on two sep. drives! And that's not including whatever backup I do to external drive or DVD or whatever!
I don't know about Kindle, But I use Calibre to create a series FOLDER.
Then I make a: Series_Index-Title_ID
Then I put Title-Author into that folder (allows for multiple formats)
This way,the series show in series order once I choose a series folder
Notice author is Last as some series have multiple author COMBINATION'S.
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Old 12-15-2009, 02:52 PM   #9
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Oh, I thought of another question too. Obviously Kovid is very involved and updates Calibre frequently. Example, I just download 0.6.27 the other day and 0.6.28 is now out!
So, how often do you as a user upgrade your versions? Any problems or caveats?
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Old 12-15-2009, 03:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasnightowl View Post
Oh, I thought of another question too. Obviously Kovid is very involved and updates Calibre frequently. Example, I just download 0.6.27 the other day and 0.6.28 is now out!
So, how often do you as a user upgrade your versions? Any problems or caveats?
I always check the Changelog-sometimes an update is more for a fix for a certain platform...but usually I just download it regardless I love frequent updates.
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Old 12-15-2009, 04:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by texasnightowl View Post
...Re: metadata - the one thing I am torn on is what to do about series name. On the one hand, I'm just nitpicky enough about this type of thing to want things in their proper place. Title, Series, Number. On the other hand, when on the Kindle, only the title shows so you don't know which number in the series you are reading if you have several on there. So I've considered making the series title and number part of the regular title. But it bothers me to do it!...
I have the same problem. I wouldn't mind changing the titles to include the series information, but DRM'd books from Amazon don't reflect the changes in metadata when I transfer them to Kindle. What I started doing is keeping a text file listing all the series that I read in correct reading order on my Kindle and referring to it when I'm ready to read the next book in the series.

Last edited by Frodolass; 12-15-2009 at 04:48 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frodolass View Post
I have the same problem. I wouldn't mind changing the titles to include the series information, but DRM'd books from Amazon don't reflect the changes in metadata when I transfer them to Kindle. What I started doing is keeping a text file listing all the series that I read in correct reading order on my Kindle and referring to it when I'm ready to read the next book in the series.
I'm actually thinking I might go for this...That way I can leave the metadata in it's correct fields!
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Old 12-15-2009, 07:22 PM   #13
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Can I suggest putting the series info into the ebook? I use the idea of the 'frontispiece' for mine. ie:

Code:
	<div class="Spine" id="Frontispiece">
		<h2>Nero Wolfe</h2>
		<ul>
			<li>. . .</li>
			<li>Too Many Women <em>1947</em></li>
			<li>And Be A Villain <em>1948</em></li>
			<li>Second Confession, The <em>1949</em></li>
			<li>Trouble in Triplicate <em>1949</em></li>
			<li>Even in the Best Families <em>1950</em></li>
			<li>Three Doors to Death <em>1950</em></li>
			<li>Curtains for Three <em>1951</em></li>
			<li>Murder by the Book <em>1951</em></li>
			<li>Prisoner's Base <em>1952</em></li>
			<li>Triple Jeopardy <em>1952</em></li>
			<li>. . .</li>
		</ul>
		<img alt="Frontispiece Image" src="images/frontispiece.png" />
	</div>
Just clipped it from the code for my current eBook project. It appears before the table of contents.

m a r
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:33 PM   #14
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Here's a gotcha that got me yesterday: Updated cover images in epub won't be sent to the device unless you convert the book from epub to epub first.
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:21 PM   #15
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I keep a separate directory tree for all my ebooks apart from Calibre. It's all organized by author and it's split into two. One tree I call depot and one final. Both are set up the same except Depot holds any books I haven't looked/verified/fixed yet and the Final tree structure holds the finished copies.

In each folder under depot is the original ebook which I then edit to create a properly formatted (to me) file. I build various versions (.html, .lit), keep an easily editable version for future corrections and move them to the final tree folder structure and delete the depot files. Then I take one, usually the .html, and import that into Calibre. I use Calibre to covert that to my book format of choice for my hardware reader, verify it looks good, has its ToC and stuff and delete source file in Calibre so only the reader version is kept.

Of course, in Calibre, all the meta data is added and a good cover picture. While this way duplicates the book once, I still like to keep my library separate from my tool (like I still do with mp3's and iTunes - I'll manage my own filesystem). It's not really that much space for peace of mind.

Then, I keep it all backed up six ways to Sunday.
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