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Old 08-29-2010, 04:33 AM   #1
Gremlin
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Lightbulb Catalog Software

Hi All,

I scanned this forum for the answer for this question but didn’t found one. What software you're using folks for cataloging yours' e-books?

Like many of this forum members, over the years my virtual bookshelf grew to several thousands (to say the least) of e-books. On the other hand, the year is 2010 and we're managing nationwide stores with billions of items by wireless handhelds up to resolution of item / per location. So, I've wondered one day (while searching my library for a book on a particular topic) what do the market have to offer to us, book lovers. And the answer was quite frustrating – not much. Other than some starter projects, there were only a few mature pieces ready to use. I'll review here shortly the ones I've found – feel free to add and correct my reviews:

Calibre – Very nice piece of software as far as converting is concerned. But I'm struggling to understand why "Calibre" copies each book I add to its library folder? Isn't that obvious that each book I add is already on my hard-drive? Isn't that wasting the HD space making it double (in terms of MBs)? I sure I don’t understand something.

Alfa Ebooks Manager – Very nice looking software. Don’t get me wrong but I do expect for something more than just a database. I'm able to build one myself but in mine humble opinion catalog software should provide me with comments/ratings on a book from Amazon (other big reseller), cover slide show, portability or secured web access, database export etc. On the other hand, this software got some low recommendations on this forum and I was unable to find any other sound review.

eLibrary - Very sound software for e-book cataloging but if only the GUI could be improved. It does most of the functions I expect from such software to do but I'd like the GUI to be improved. Otherwise, I'll resort to this software for utilizing some order in mine library.

We can have a poll over here after we start gathering answers, but anyhow what do you say folks, what do you're using for keeping your virtual bookshelf in order?
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Old 08-29-2010, 05:52 AM   #2
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I'm using calibre and be fine with it.
There's been a lot of discussion why calibre keeps his own library instead of just storing the books location on disk. To be happy with calibre you need to get used to that behaviour.

One good thing about calibre is that it's still improved and developed very frequently.

Have a problem, need a feature ?
Join the calibre thread, open a ticket and you may get a solution soon. Or kovid will explain why this wouldn't/couldn't be done.
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:10 AM   #3
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I can see the logic behind copying each file to another location if you consider "Calibre" to be converting software. Nobody usually read more than several books at a time on their device, so the space wastage disadvantages are greatly overcome by keeping all versions in order.

I can't see the logic behind doubling the disk space if you consider "Calibre" to be catalog software. Catalogs are called (by definition) for dealing with huge amounts of staff. When remembering what each book that you have contains, its table of contents, where have you placed it (each book can have multiple tags, while multiple folders/shortcuts are not feasible) is generally out of reach. Doubling several gigs is quite costly in terms of disk space and generally should be avoided without an extremely good reason.

Last edited by Gremlin; 08-29-2010 at 06:21 AM.
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Old 08-29-2010, 08:40 AM   #4
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Sure, copying the books and keep the original doesn't make sense.
For that reason i'm deleting books from the original location once they are imported and leave the directory handling up to calibre.
Personally i'd like to handle directory structure and location by myself but calibre doesn't offer that. So after a hard fight with myself i gave up in favor of calibre.
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Old 08-29-2010, 09:30 AM   #5
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Sigh, in 2010 a GigaByte of hard disk space costs between 8 and 12 cents. http://ns1758.ca/winch/winchest.html

Get over it.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:40 AM   #6
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1. It's not a question of costs but of reasoning. Maybe for some functionality additional copy will be needed in the future. So (maybe) I should "get over" triple wastage of disk-space? Please, let leave "Calibre" where it is. It does wonderful job where it supposed to, but please do not force it where it doesn’t belong.

2. Mine library (as many others) is located on mobile hard disk, hence I'd like to leave it where it is.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:49 AM   #7
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Sigh^2

1) You are willing to create a duplicate copy for "some unspecified functionality in the future" but refuse to create a copy for calibre? Reasoning, really?

2) So create your calibre library on your mobile disk. In fact you can run calibre itself from your mobile disk.
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:09 PM   #8
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kovidgoyal, the question was over how much wastage should I "get over" (x 3 in my example). The answer is 0. Catalog software should only list the titles I own in a convenient way.

You've created a really wonderful (& useful ) software and I'm myself using it for converting e-books for formats, more suited for 6" reader than PDF. But in mine humble opinion, cataloging is not its strongest side.

And I asked this question for hearing about more than one option. Any other recommendations and personal opinions?
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:16 PM   #9
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If you want software to simply manage a list of entries, there are hundreds of such examples out there: Off the top of my head: tellico, gcstar, any spreadsheet/database program, pybliographic,

There are even web based versions like: librarything, shelfari, etc.

just google "Cataloguing software"
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:29 PM   #10
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Sigh^2
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Old 08-29-2010, 04:30 PM   #11
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kovidgoyal, not simply manage a list of entries. You may look at Alfa Ebooks Manager.
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Old 09-12-2010, 01:38 AM   #12
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I'm with you Gremlin. I've got a ton of ebooks, I want them organized my way, but a lot of them need to be renamed and organized.

I tried Alfa and it was just a pain to even get the authors named right. No idea what was going on there, but I gave up after doing five or so. As far as I know, I don't need to convert between file formats, at least right now (the only thing I think I might want to convert is some comics, but my comic reader will do that.)
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Old 09-12-2010, 02:06 AM   #13
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I just found one more - eBook Organizer . I haven't tried it and it's hard to tell from the website how good it is, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

I think I'm going to try eLibrary - the guessing function looks interesting.
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:32 AM   #14
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I suspect the reason Kovid is sighing is he has heard the complaint about calibre copying books to its own library so many times, he's tired of it. Calibre doesn't just catalogue your files; it manages your books. The traditional folder/filename tree system of organizing files is grossly inadequate since books can be classified in more than one genre, in series, etc., so Kovid has come up with a way to organize BOOKS (not files) that utilizes metadata (tags) for sorting, searches, etc. Calibre will do anything you could mucking around in your files, only better. There is no reason for you to ever go into the calibre library folder for anything. If you need a list of your ebooks to put into a Word or Excel file, calibre will do that. You can also get a list in e-book form. Calibre will put your books on your e-book reader for you. If you want to look at your book on your computer, it will open it for you. You can set it to use its own reader or, by setting the file association, your computer reader software of choice. It will convert books from one e-book format to another. There is no reason to ever go directly to the file itself.

Could Kovid have just linked calibre to existing user files? Maybe, but he didn't and it doesn't really matter. Calibre works well with its present system, well enough it has around a million users. I can understand new users feeling uncomfortable trusting calibre to make a copy of their files and not keep the originals. An easy way to deal with that is just go ahead and keep your originals wherever you want, organized however you want. It's not really needed because if you ever decide to abandon calibre for another program, you can save your books to one or more folders with whatever filename structure you want using the Save to Disk feature. In essence, you would be recreating your original files, though the odds are the filename structure would be more consistant than originally. I'll admit that I'm keeping my original files in a folder "just in case" (hey, I'm old and paranoid) but I have yet to go into them to access a book once I've put it in calibre. There is absolutely no reason to go into calibre's library folder(s). In fact, you will probably muck things up if you make any changes to anything. I keep my calibre folders hidden so I (or anyone else) won't accidentally (or otherwise) mess with them. Calibre is able to find them just fine.

One huge avantage to calibre is it is still under development and will be for some time to come. Improvements are constantly being made with updates coming out almost weekly. It's not necessary to upgrade every time if you are happy with how the version you are using is working. Kovid accepts suggestions for improvements and often implements them. The calibre forum here is very active with many knowledgeable users willing to jump in and help you. They have helped me many a time once I gently reminded them I need simple instructions since I know very little about computers. Calibre is a large, complex program that is user cutomizeable so it does have a bit of a steep learning curve so give it a chance. You can't learn much about it just playing with it for 30 minutes or even an hour or two.

Calibre is free (even though donations are requested) so it can't hurt to give it a serious workout to see what all it can do for you. Believe me, if I could find a better program than calibre (free or otherwise), I would be all over it like stink on skunk. Hasn't happened yet (and I do look; I checked out the ones mentioned in this thread). Kovid is young so he is not likely to retire anytime soon, abandoning the program, but even if he did, there are enough people who have been involved in the development, someone is bound to pick up the ball and run with it.

Last edited by Lady Fitzgerald; 09-13-2010 at 01:37 AM.
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Old 09-13-2010, 02:48 AM   #15
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Calibre is free (even though donations are requested) so it can't hurt to give it a serious workout to see what all it can do for you. Believe me, if I could find a better program than calibre (free or otherwise), I would be all over it like stink on skunk. Hasn't happened yet (and I do look; I checked out the ones mentioned in this thread). Kovid is young so he is not likely to retire anytime soon, abandoning the program, but even if he did, there are enough people who have been involved in the development, someone is bound to pick up the ball and run with it.
As with you, I've looked and looked and looked again for a tool that will help me organize my books. But I still haven't found it. I don't like Calibre, because it doesn't do the most important function (or rather, what I find the most important function): some sort of folder-like structure.

I do have an application, BookLibrary from WenSoftware. It's not free. I've been using it for a long time, for my paper books. With some tweaking, I managed to make it so that it'll work on my ebooks as well. It's not perfect, but it does the job better for me than Calibre does.
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