books

The 22nd Century Library


You’re like me, you love reading books, right? (RIGHT?!)

You’ve always dreamed of making a special room in your house, bathed in sunlight dripping in through immense glass panes, and walls covered in books, of all sizes, colors, theme and age.

You know it’s not gonna happen, right ?

What didn’t work

The little suitcase

As a student, one of my greatest pleasures was going to used books shops, or stalls, and buy books. Lots of them, especially fantasy books (reality’s graphic enough, why read about it?).

I’d buy whole series at a go, and just loose myself for a couple of hours a day, in page-turning bliss.

Then, I’d have to leave the country, and face the agony of not being able to take my books with me because of their weight. It happened to me twice, and I was crushed twice.

Dust in the wind

My passion for reading, I got from my grand-father. I almost remember him, reading about Belerophon and other fantastic mythology heroes, in a voice that now has no timbre but only colour.

When he passed away, he left a huge (in my young eyes) collection of books, locked in a small dark room, behind his bedchamber. For years, this room was all but forgotten, until I came back one year, and decided to look through it, hoping to recapture the feeling of awe and wonderment I’d once had.

The books were there, ensconced in boxes and crates, like patient rocks. But as soon as I picked the first one up, it almost crumbled in my hands. I was devastated.

Times change

Paperback and hard cover have their charms; some will fiercely contend that the texture of paper, the musky smell of yellowed pages, the “ementhally” porousness wrought by age and mites; those are all essential parts of the experience of reading.
I snort and retort:

I like the story

I live in a French-speaking west African country where books are rare, and my kind of books rarer still, and books written in English virtually impossible to find. So I buy my books off the Internet, in electronic format.

Introducing Calibre

As said by its author, Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories:

  •  Library Management
  • E-book conversion
  • Syncing to e-book reader devices
  • Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form
  • Comprehensive e-book viewer
  • Content server for online access to your book collection

It’s written in Python, using QT (hmpf!) as its graphic library.

 How it shines

In every way. Literally.

Calibre can categorize, index and tag your books, fetch metadata and covers from the Internet, group books by series. It can handle almost all the ebook formats available under the sun.

It has a web interface that ebook apps can connect to, so you can browse your collection on almost any mobile device, such as tablets (which for me are the naturally evolution of books and magazines).

It even has versions for those “other” OSes.

Give it a spin, and enjoy the ride :-)

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