App Spotlight: Calibre 3 Beta Now With Retina

4 min read

You could never chastise me for not reading enough.

I have been reading since I was three years old.

Mom and I weren’t exactly middle class so we would trek to the local library where we’d check out a mountain of books, all of which I’d read in about a week.

When I started school, we had the Weekly Reader and Scholastic book drives. I’d eagerly come home and read to my mom all the books I wanted, which were quite a bit. I’d read until past my bedtime, against my mom’s rules. I’d read in class when things got a little boring or I knew the material. I got in trouble for reading a lot.

Now, as an adult, I still have a passion for books. I read them in all forms: print, audio, and ebook.

I have a massive library 1, about close to 4,000 titles, of ebooks stored in several folders across my iMac 2.

How Does One Manage That Many ebooks?

I use a bit of open source free software called calibre. It isn’t the prettiest app – in fact, it’s quite ugly on macOS 3 but the app is powerful.

Kovid, the developer, recently released the beta of v3 and it brings a server where you can read your ebooks on practically any device browser, and retina graphics, which had been sorely missing from the app for years.

Adding Books

There are many ways to add books to calibre. The easiest is to drag them into the app.

Another way is to click the green Add Books button in the top left corner.

One of the things the app does is convert ebook formats. There are a ton of files you can convert from one to another. You can even strip DRM from books 4 with a plugin.

This is useful if you don’t want to read books you get from Amazon in the Kindle app and the app you want to read them in is an epub only app like Marvin. You can convert the mobi, azw, azw3 files to epub with calibre.

Adding Metadata

Editing metadata for your books is as easy as right or ⌥ clicking the book, or, selecting multiple books and ⌥ clicking and selecting download metadata. This will give you a couple of options like just downloading the metadata or covers or both. You can review the metadata before you add it to make sure it is correct.

Dragging Tags

In order to add tags that may be missing from your books you can drag the books onto the tags 5 you want to add.

Editing Books

You can edit books directly in the main interface but you get plenty more options by hitting e when a book or multiple books are selected. Here you can add custom metadata, if you’ve made your own columns 6, add star ratings, etc. I use this option all the time as it makes bulk editing and editing in general easier.

More Tips and Advanced Features in Another Post

These are the basics. Try it out, see if it is right for you and let me know what you like 7 about it.


  1. But not as many as this guy 
  2. By several folders, I mean the same copies in different folders that I need to catalogue and upload in different apps. For instance, my main book folder is Books for iPad and I’ve set up Hazel rules to move them to Books for Sideloading and Import which get uploaded to Dropbox and downloaded in Marvin.app and imported into Book Collector respectively. 
  3. Kovid Goyal, the developer, does not own a Mac to test but his Windows app is ugly, too. 
  4. Assuming you’ve bought them. The latest version of Kindle for Windows circumvents the DeDRM plugin. The creators are working on a fix. I can only imagine that feature coming to Mac sooner or later from Amazon. For now, we’re safe. 
  5. Provided the tag is there. If not you can always add it. 
  6. Will go over advanced features soon. 
  7. Or don’t.