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So I have a reasonable collection of ebooks, and it starts to be a mess. My collection is a mixture of ebooks from Amazon (Kindle) and pdf.

I have one laptop, one kindle, one android tablet and one main PC.

For the reader part, I'm fine with what I have: kindle for novel, adobe pdf reader for windows PC and laptop and a good reader for the tablet.

What I miss is a way to centralize and share metadata around those books: what I have read, not read, what's next, short comments, rating, ...

Right now I'm using Calibre on the laptop, because it was my main device. The drive is synced to my onedrive account, so I can access my books from every browsers and thank to portable Calibre install, I can even run calibre from any windows machine.

So basically I have many book management systems (Kindle, Calibre) that are synced by cloud, but this is not good for my tablet: Kindle and onedrive are storing the file in internal memory (short) while I have a big sd card. I also have no way to share my metadata with the table which starts to become my main reading device for pdf.

I would like to have a central library for metadata that I can update from many places, and a way to replicate my ebooks in all my devices, in my favorite location (sd card for Android) so I can read what I want without an internet connection. In addition this central library should be able to integrate with my kindle books and other library system.

Do you know if such a centralized software exists ? If no, what would be the closest thing to my need ?

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Ok, so here is my current solution, which is not perfect but that corresponds more or less with my current need.

  • PC with windows are using the portable version of Calibre. The library and the metadata are stored in a specific dir in my filesystem that is synchronized with my local onedrive directory.

  • Android devices are using the Calibre Companion app ($4) and are configured to use my onedrive cloud account. I'll probably change that in order to use a cloud synchroniser tool to mirror my cloud storage to the SDCard and point Calibre Companion to my local storage instead !

  • IOs: don't need it at the moment.

What needs to be improved:

  • possible conflict between metadata of pc version: I need to investigate if I can have a centralized version of calibre that can received updates from secondary devices. But right now I use the same machine for adding new stuff, so is is fine.

  • Need to find a way to push my ebooks with DRM to calibre. No really needed, because Kindle app is ubiquitous, but I would like to have one central place to organize my ebooks collection.

  • How has this worked out for you in the year since you have set this up? How automated is the synchronization of metadata between your laptop and desktop computers? I am considering using Calibre together with Syncthing (similar to Dropbox) but worry about creating conflicts from having Calibre running in two places at once. I am not using windows machines so the portable version of Calibre is not an option. – Steven C. Howell Mar 13 '17 at 17:42
  • It worked well until I got a new job where there's no access to online drive... Otherwise it is a good setup: I was able to add my books from whatever PC I was using and then to search/read the new books from anywhere (however the android sync is the most tedious) – Guillaume Mar 14 '17 at 9:21
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Yes, I have been calling for something similar for a few years now :)

The real question is DRM; I assume that you are not talking about moving books bought on Amazon because those can't be transferred by memory card. In fact, the Kindle app is really the only tool for viewing and syncing purchased content.

For me, any tablet I have contains the Adobe app (or Bluefire app) for storing Adobe DRM stuff, the Kindle app (for storing Kindle DRM stuff) and the Google app (for storing epubs -- encrypted and nonencrypted).

That means you are going to be spreading your content into three different apps.

I don't think there is a way to export your metadata from one library management system into another, especially if you are talking about encrypted stuff.

It's possible to use the same app for encrypted PDF and epub (like the Adobe Digital Editions). But I think it's still better to keep pdfs and epubs on separate apps.

One solution (a not-so-good one) is to keep your metadata on librarything or goodreads. But you'd have to input data manually. I know more about librarything, and know that you can store your inventory spreadsheets which you can sync via Dropbox. But you need to manually generate the spreadsheet each time.

If a solution comes which will bridge the gap between Amazon and the other digital book sellers, I expect that several big publishers would work together to make a central ebook management app which can display titles in each DRM universe and then launch the correct app if you want to open a certain ebook up. But it's unlikely that Amazon would allow personal ebook inventory to be listed by a third party application, if only for privacy reasons.

Until that happens (I think we will be stuck with several apps with their own DRM and syncing mechanism).

  • Thanks for your feedback. Yes, this is bit my problem, but I have a reasonable amount of PDF without DRM. I'm just annoyed that I can't share my metadata from device to device, or if I really want to, I need to use a server version running on another device... this is defeating my need. I'll check librarything. Maybe that's what I need. – Guillaume Oct 22 '15 at 14:35
  • In fact this librarything or goodread are nearly what I need, but I would like to have a local app, able to bridge my local content, metadata and readers. With that I would be able to have a central view of my books, a way to sort/categorize them, and keep them where I want in my drives. – Guillaume Oct 22 '15 at 14:41

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