Calibre is a free eBook management program that serves multiple purposes, but today I’ll focus on the ability to change the format of your eBooks. As I’ve stated in multiple posts, I’m not technologically savvy. I’ll keep this as simple as possible, but you will need some basic computer knowledge to follow the instructions below.
The examples I give are for the Amazon Kindle using Microsoft Windows since these are what I use. Using another eReader or computer program may involve different steps, but my hope is that they are close enough that you’ll be able to figure it out using my examples below.
Why change the eBook format?
Since the eBook industry is still relatively new (and maybe even if it wasn’t), different eBook providers use different formats. The Amazon Kindle uses the MOBI format, Barnes and Noble uses the EPUB format, etc. Some eReaders can only read a single format. Others read multiple formats, sometimes with the addition of special apps.
Sometimes a book you really wish to read is only available in one format, like those that are part of the KDP Select program at Amazon. Without going into too much detail, authors who enter their books in KDP Select gain certain promotional benefits, but must offer those books through Amazon exclusively.
Maybe you bought a book on Barnes and Noble, but your eReader broke. Now you decided to buy a Kindle. In order for those books from Barnes and Noble to be used on the Kindle, the format needs to be changed from EPUB to MOBI. This may seem confusing, but Calibre makes it easy!
An eBook’s formatting can only be changed using Calibre if that individual eBook does not use DRM. DRM stands for digital rights management. If an eBook uses DRM, this means it is illegal to change the format. I will NOT tell you how to change the format of an eBook using DRM because it is illegal, not to mention I have no clue how to do so. None of my books use DRM because I believe the owner of a book should have the ability to switch them from eReader to PC, to wherever else they want. If you own a print book, nobody would force you to keep it on a specific bookshelf in your house.
Calibre has more options than I know how to use. I only use it when I change eBook formats. If you prefer to check out the program before reading on, click here to visit the Calibre home page.
Before you can use the free program, you need to install Calibre on your computer. I’ve used this program for over a year and have never had any issues or inadvertently downloaded viruses.
This part is what I spoke of earlier when I said you would need basic computer knowledge. You need to be able to download the program and install it on your computer. Your eBook also needs to be transferred from your reading device to your computer. Again, this is something I’m hoping you know how to do already. I may do a blog post on this some time in the future.
A quick description would be to connect your eReader to your computer. Open the file containing your eBook. Open the file on your computer where you wish for the eBook to reside. Drag and drop, or copy and paste, the individual eBook file from your eReader to your computer. This is how it’s done with a Kindle, but I can’t say for sure with other eReaders.
How to change the format of your eBook using Calibre
Once Calibre is installed on your computer and your eBook file is in a folder of your choice, you’re ready to begin.
1. Start the Calibre program.
2. In the upper left corner of the Calibre window, you’ll see an icon that looks like a red book with a plus sign on it. Beneath this button are the words, “Add books.” Click on this icon now. This opens up a window to choose the file where your book is located.
3. Browse to the folder on your computer where your file is stored.
4. Click on the eBook file to highlight it.
5. Click “open” in the bottom right corner of the window you’re currently browsing. If the eBook you chose is one of the formats Calibre can read, it will automatically load the book into the program. Calibre can only read certain formats. The obvious formats are MOBI, and EPUB, but this also works using PDF, RTF, TXT, and a few others.
6. Once the eBook is uploaded, its name and other details appear in a list in the center of the Calibre window. Click on the eBook in the list to highlight it.
7. Once highlighted, right-click on the eBook and a drop-down menu will appear.
8. As I said before, Calibre has a ton of options, but the only one to concern yourself with now is, “Convert Books.” Move your mouse until it is over the “Convert Books” option. Another small window will appear to the side with a couple more options.
9. Click on the option that reads, “Convert Individually.” The other option is to bulk convert, which will convert every one of your books to a given format. This is something you may be interested in for the future, but ignore it for now.
10. Clicking on the “Convert Individually” button opens the formatting change window. This window contains a bunch of information you may want to learn how to use in the future. For now, the only two areas to concern yourself with are in the upper corners. One reads, “Input Format,” and the other reads, “Output Format.”
11. The box to the right of the “Input Format” button should display the original format of your eBook. If for some reason it does not, click on the box displaying the input format and a drop-down menu will appear. Choose the correct input format and click on it.
(Input format is the format your book originally came in. If it was originally from Amazon, the format should be MOBI. If it were from Barnes and Noble, it would be an EPUB format.)
12. The box to the right of the “Output Format” button automatically displays the MOBI format. By clicking on this button, a drop-down menu will appear. Choose the format in which you wish to change your eBook. This may require some research on your part, but I’ve already discussed the two primary eBook formats. MOBI is for the Kindle, EPUB is for the Nook. PDF files can be read on Kindles or your PC. I suggest learning which format your eReader uses before using Calibre.
13. Once the input and output are correctly entered, click on the “OK” button in the bottom right corner of the formatting page. This will take you back to the original Calibre page. A small pinwheel type graphic will spin in the bottom corner letting you know Calibre is currently working on a job. Once that pinwheel stops, your eBook has been converted.
14. Calibre keeps both formats, your original and the one it was just converted to. Now that the conversion is made, all you have to do is locate the Calibre Library folder. Books will typically be listed alphabetically by author name. You can open this folder, then the book folder, and all the formats available for that eBook will be listed. Simply drag and drop, or copy and paste, the file you need into your eReader’s book file.
There you go! Your eBook format has been changed! Happy reading.
If you have any questions about Calibre, feel free to ask. Keep in mind I only have limited use. If you have questions about where your files are stored on your eReader or on your computer, I suggest checking your eReader’s User Guide.
If you’ve read and enjoyed The Fall of Billy Hitchings or In Search of Nectar, be sure to sign up for the Kirkus MacGowan newsletter for future updates and giveaways. Click here to join. My second John Reeves novel, WRATH, will be released on August 28th! Click here to read the first chapter.