Using Calibre To Track Print Book Purchases - Part I

Welcome to Dear Jane, a weekly column based upon reader mailbag questions on anything relating to e-books. No question is too simple or too mundane. We are all learning together. Send your questions with "Dear Jane" in the subject matter.

Dear Jane:

You mentioned something a few weeks ago about using Calibre to track my wants and to-be-reads and purchases for my print books. Is that possible?


Dear Lauren: Yes! I created a short screencast to walk you through adding books to create a library of your print books. The process is fairly simple. You can watch the full screencast (link to a full screen version) or read on below. Download Calibre here (compatible with Mac, PC, and Linux).

If you don't want to watch the screencast, here are some screenshots to help you get started. First, click on the grey arrow by the "add books" icon on the upper left hand corner:

Add Empty book calibre

A window will pop up asking you how many empty book records you want to add:

Once the empty records are entered into Calibre, the next step is to edit the metadata and get Calibre to pull in the book information and book cover automatically. You can get Calibre to look up information for books in three different ways: Title, Author, and ISBN. Select the empty book entry that you want to edit and then click on "edit metadata information."

This will bring up a new screen where you enter the Title, Author and ISBN. As I state in the screencast, you don't even need to know the exact title or Author to bring up the information.

Once you have entered "Title, Author, or ISBN", you then click the "Fetch metadata from server" button. Calibre goes out and accesses the Google Books and database for information and presents you with choices. The more exact information you give, the better choices will be returned. In other words, if you enter the ISBN, you are bound to get the exact book you want. If you enter just the author and no title, you will have to do a little hunting to find the right entry.

Select the correct record and the ISBN will be filled in with a bunch of other information such as the publisher, publishing date, the rating and the tags. The rating and tags come from Amazon.

Once the ISBN is filled in, you can now ask Calibre to download the cover for your book.

You now have a basic entry for your book.  

Next up is how to use the new column feature to personalize Calibre for your own library cataloguing needs.


For more discussion about the Sony, please see RT's Reader Forum: E-book Questions Answered Here.

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