Continuing on my tech-themed installment of New52 posts, spread out so as not to cause anyone’s brain to explode. (Non-tech readers, feel confident that you can skip by these posts and live a full, happy life!)

Calibre Software

Several weeks ago I made a “To Do” list of things in my personal life that I felt either needed to be added as “new” or that needed to be figured out because they’d been abandoned. Reading was #1 on that list, and it’s something that has always been a very valuable part of my life from the time I was a kid (and read every single Nancy Drew book that the library carried back-to-back).

In 2009 I bought my first eBook reader, a Sony PRS-505, and immediately fell in love. I thought I’d miss the feel of a paper book in my hand but I quite honestly NEVER have. In the first year that I had my Sony Reader I read 40 books and felt like I’d rediscovered an old friend. In 2010 I added about 20 more books to that running count and then … time got away from me. Two full-time jobs, my addiction to reality TV, my dedication to memory keeping – take your pick.

As far as my Sony Reader goes, I stopped using Sony’s proprietary software fairly early on when Christine alerted me to a donation-ware software called Calibre, which gave me a lot more options as far as customizing my book library. The Sony software was always buggy and was fairly limited as far as the organization I wanted to do as my book library grew. If you have an eBook reader (including the Kindle line, the B&N Nook, iPads/iPhones and Android Tablets) and find yourself less than thrilled with the software that came with it, I suggest giving Calibre a try for managing your library.

Also if you have a variety of eReaders in your household, Calibre is also handles eBook conversions. Which is nice when you want to be able to read one book across multiple devices, or if you used to have one eReader and switched to a new one. Mainly I just like to have non-proprietary software for my electronics because I don’t want to reinvent the wheel if I change manufacturers one day and I don’t like being dependent on the whims of gadget manufacturers who often don’t put as much time into their software as they do their hardware.

I’ve mentioned how Tom claimed my Sony Reader as his own a few months back (and has read more books in the months since than he has in the past few DECADES of his life – seriously, get an eReader, folks!) and I really made peace with that because if I wasn’t reading, at least someone was!

Which brings us to when Tom bought me my Asus Transformer for our anniversary and I found a convoluted way of getting my ePub formatted eBooks onto my tablet by dropping them into Dropbox then going to my tablet and  importing them into Aldikowhich is a free eBook application for Android that will render the ePub format.

For the record, I can purchase books online through the Android App Store and other eBook retailers and download them directly to my tablet, but I like to keep all my books in my library on my computer for a few reasons – 1) so that they’re all in one place and I don’t re-buy a book I already have, which I’ve done a few times with books I purchased on my Droid phone and 2) so that I can re-tag them in Calibre with the genres and other identifiers that are important to me before they hit my device, otherwise I wind up with a messy library on my device and that drives me a little crazy.

So back to my “To Do In Life” list, I needed to find an easier way to make my books accessible on my tablet and given the fact that it’s WiFi capable (and my Sony Reader was not) I knew there had to be some way to stream my library over our WiFi and still be able to search my library by all the metadata I’d so carefully created over these past three years in Calibre. Having never investigated this possibility before, I was thrilled to see that Calibre has a built-in content server that allows me to stream my  library from my computer, on my home network or around the world.

Just a few clicks within the Calibre software and a quick entry into Aldiko and I could access my entire eBook library, my personal metadata organization intact, from anywhere in the house. I’ll tackle “around the world” when the need arises, which I don’t see happening.

For anyone keeping track, I’ve read 3 books since I got my library up and running. It’s amazing how much my laziness can win out over my desire to read. It fills me with a enormous sense of pride to be able to cross “Read more books, dummy!” off my ongoing To Do list for a happier life.

About This Project

New52 is a cooperative project between Christine and I that invites participants to live outside the box a little bit more and try things outside their comfort zone. Just because it’s 52 things for us doesn’t mean it needs to be 52 things for you. If you participate this week, please leave a link to your blog post, scrapbook page, photograph or other recorded history of your walk on the wild side in the comments below. It isn’t about making a life-altering changes every week, it’s about keeping an open mind and embracing little changes in your life.