Thursday, December 15, 2011

calibre portable: A great holiday gift

For a very long time calibre was tied up to the computer on which it was installed. Although the calibre content server allowed for access to the calibre library through a browser, it still required the computer on which calibre was installed to be on and accessible through the internet. But since version 8.5 a new portable calibre build was made available by Kovid for your convenience. This version of calibre can be put on to a USB stick and carried around with you. The USB stick would contain both the calibre installation as well as the calibre library. It can be then plugged into any windows computer and used to access the library on the stick with calibre.

To download calibre portable go to this page (You can also get here by going to the usual calibre download page here and then clicking on the usb stick icon shown in the figure below), where there is a link to download calibre portable. When you click on the link you will be prompted to save a zipped file. Once you have downloaded it and unzipped it transfer the contents to a USB stick. After you have done this the USB stick should contain a folder named "Calibre Portable". That folder should contain three sub-folders named "Calibre", "Calibre Library" and "Calibre Settings" and an executable file called "calibre-portable.exe".

To include your current calibre library in calibre portable just copy the entire contents of your current calibre library folder on your computer to the "Calibre Library" folder in the "Calibre Portable" folder on the USB stick. Now you are all set up, so safely remove the USB stick. To run calibre portable on another computer; this part only works on windows machines; plug the USB stick in to the windows computer and double-click on the calibre-portable.exe file mentioned above. calibre portable will open up and its ready for use. It has all the features any other calibre installation has. The only difference is it will always start up with the library called "Calibre Library" in the "Calibre Portable" folder. You can of course switch the library while using it but the next time you start calibre portable it wont remember the library switch and will again start up with the library called "Calibre Library" in the "Calibre Portable" folder. But you can manually switch the library each time.

calibre portable as a holiday gift:
calibre portable makes for a great personal and affordable christmas gift. Just go buy a USB stick, 1GB is quite enough for the purpose. Follow the steps outlined above to get calibre portable on to it. calibre portable is absolutely free. Then taking into consideration the likes and dislikes of the recipient there are many excellent places to get books to populate the library. For the classics there is Project Gutenberg, where a huge number of public domain ebooks are available as well formatted ebooks absolutely free. Then there are a number of sites that sell their ebooks DRM-free so your recipient can make the most of this gift. These sites include Baen for speculative fiction, Carina Press for romance, Smashwords, BeWrite BooksXinXii and many more for a variety of genre.

Following image is courtesy  this site.

calibre maintains its own catalog of DRM-free ebooks from various sources and it is made available through its website Open Books. Open books now has a collection of over 2825 ebooks to choose from and features content from over 1095 authors and from 35 stores. Open books includes over 150 free ebooks and over a 1000 ebooks priced less than $3.00. Note that open books only catalogs DRM-free ebooks from various sites and provides links to them. Open Books was set up to promote authors of DRM free ebooks but Open Books does not sell any ebooks.

So get together some ebooks that your recipient would like and put it into the "Calibre Library" folder in the "Calibre Portable" folder. You can even use calibre to spruce up the metadata and add covers to make all the books look good. You can also add a couple of news magazines your recpient would be interested in using the calibre "Fetch News" feature for free. This makes a great gift, very personal, useful and can be treasured for a long time to come.

Use calibre portable to be a thoughtful Santa and Happy Holidays to all of you. The next calibre blog post will probably be early in the new year. I will be decreasing the frequency of the blog posts since a lot of the major topics have been covered. Please use the comments section to make requests for topics you would like covered.


  1. This looks interesting. Any plans for MAC, iPad or Android?


    I asked my cousin what he wanted for Christmas and he said "nothing".

    Next day I got an email saying "I just bought a book reader, for myself for Christmas can you please fill it with books".

    No worries! I have lots on my HDD, so I just set up a new library in Calibre for the books he wants (Totally different to what I read) so, now, when he comes over on the weekend, I can just upload HIS set of books and voilois!!

    I also have another 'library' of books for my father-in-law who's 85 and spends most of his day reading. Calibre makes it simple to keep the libraries separate so I don't have to troll through a thousand (literally) books looking for what he'd read. I've also installed it on his computer and taught him how to look through it to decide what book he wants to read next. (Much easier than looking through the eReader's list)

    Kovid, I can't thank you enough for developing this programme. It's utterly amazing. I have recommended it to many, many people. I only hope they've all donated, as I have.

  3. @larysa: You're welcome and thanks for the donation. I too am the general ebook provider for my extended family, which is part of the reason I wrote calibre :)

  4. Wow, I didn't even know I wanted a portable calibre until you introduced it! You are a GENIUS!

  5. I was asking myself what could be the wording for a search on Google to find OPDS adresses on the net.... Some use DropBox but it is public hence referecned no??

    Someone have an idea??

    Thanks Henri

  6. Question:

    I apologize if this is placed in wrong forum. But, I do not have a kindle, however I do have an Iphone. I have kindle for Iphone and pc. How do I transfer those kindle books to calibre? Again, I do not have a kindle device just the kindle app for pc and iphone.

  7. Unfortunately the instructions for downloading and installing are not as clear as they could be.

    One 'obvious' step is missing -- the file 'Calibre Portable' has to either to be extracted, or copied, to the portable drive from which one wishes to run Calibre.

  8. I realize it's been forever since this post, but .... really?

    "Once you have downloaded it and unzipped it transfer the contents to a USB stick."