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Dear Jane: Can I use Calibre to manage my paper books?

Dear Jane:

You mentioned something last week 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.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Mireya
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 06:39:04

    I can’t use a barcode scanner with Calibre, right? I am asking because years before Calibre was developed, I had a little piece of software (purchased) that I could use to catalog books, music CDs and DVDs. All I needed to do was scan the barcodes.

  2. Mason Canyon
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 06:41:21

    This program could be of great help trying to keep track of all the print books I have, as well as a few I have on my computer. Thanks for the video, very helpful.

    Thoughts in Progress

  3. Tweets that mention Dear Jane: Can I use Calibre to manage my paper books? | Dear Author --
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 07:48:18

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nimue and NGs_Calibreforum, dearauthor. dearauthor said: New post: Dear Jane: Can I use Calibre to manage my paper books? […]

  4. Jane
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 08:15:35

    @Mireya: as far as I know, you can’t use a barcode scanner.

  5. Kate N. (Yzhabella)
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 10:37:08

    I’ve just stumbles upon this post, and I think I’d love software such as this to catalog my library!

    Were can I find it?

  6. Jane
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 11:15:14

    @Kate N. (Yzhabella) It would help if I put the download link in, wouldn’t it? You can download Calibre at

  7. Kate N. (Yzhabella)
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 11:43:09

    That’s very awesome! Thank you!

  8. Mireya
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 15:49:10

    @Jane: I kinda knew, but was hoping I had missed something. :D

    I’ll figure something out, I don’t want to start adding each book manually.

  9. Beth
    Jun 21, 2010 @ 07:27:46


    There is a program called Collectorz that lets you use a barcode scanner to input your info. It’s available for DVD collections, CDs, books and other things. It’s not free, though :)

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