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Managing eBooks on Linux

With the popularity of eBook readers such Kindle, Nook, and eBook apps on iOS and Android tablets, eBooks have come a long way.

This article provides some hints and tips to eBooks lovers on how they could enjoy their eBooks on Linux desktops and laptops.

eBook Stores

There are many good eBook stores out there. However, not all of them are easy to use with Linux. For example, the Apple iBookstore is designed for iOS devices, and there is no way I'm aware of that will allow one to read eBooks purchased from the iBookstore on a Linux device. So before you start building up your eBook collection, it's important to make sure the eBooks you'd be purchasing is compatible.

The best option is to buy DRM free books in the first place. Not only are these easy to access from any device (including Linux, of course), you also won't have to worry about the DRM vendor going out of business locking you out from the books you purchased. A good list of eBook stores that sell DRM free books can be found at the mobileread.com article Dealers and Publishers without DRM. Examples of publishers that support DRM free books include oreilly.com. I strongly recommend you consider supporting these dealers and publishers by buying from them directly.

For more extensive book collection, Google Play and Amazon sells (mostly) books with DRM that can nonetheless be read from a Linux device. The rest of this article talks about some technical options of reading eBooks from all these different book sources.

Managing ebooks with calibre

calibre is a free, open-source e-book management software. It includes a comprehensive ebook viewer, helps manages your eBook library, support converting between different eBook and document formats, and supports syncing your eBook library with your device of choice. With calibre, you can easily import, manage and read DRM free books you purchased from multiple sources.

(You can also use calibre to manage books you purchased that have DRM, although you'll need a specialized reader supporting the DRM in question to read them.)

calibre can be easily installed using apt-get

	sudo apt-get install calibre

After calibre has been installed, run calibre. We can use the Add Books menu to import the books that we want to manage using calibre.

Once a book has been imported, double clicking on the ebook entry in the calibre library will open up the eBook Viewer, from which the book can be read.

Transfering ebooks to eReader app

calibre includes a content server. This makes it easy to transfer ebooks to an eReader app. To start the content server, simply select Start Content Server

The port that will be used by the content server is controlled by Preferences . This will be useful for communicating with the eBook reader later.

You'll also need the hostname or the IP address of your machine. One way to find that is by using the ifconfig command.

A popular eReader app for the Android platform is Aldiko Book Reader. One can install the app from the Google Play store. Open up the app, click on the store icon, and select My Catalogs from the drop down menu.

If you haven't done so already, add an entry for your content server. Name it anything you want, and enter the appropriate URL (based on the IP address and port at which your content server is running).

Clicking on the catalog entry will open up the list of books you have available for download. Clicking on the epub button will cause the book to be downloaded, and Aldiko will automatically import that to your library.

If you prefer to use a different eReader app, you can point your favorite browser to the content server URL and download the book from there. Once that is done, open your eReader app and navigate to the book you just downloaded.

Reading Google Books and other eBooks with Adobe Digital Editions

ADEPT (Adobe Digital Experience Protection Technology) is a widely used digital rights management (DRM) system. eBook vendors that uses it include Barnes and Noble and Google Books.

Adobe provides a Windows application that can be used to read eBooks that uses ADEPT. The software can be downloaded at Adobe Digital Editions.

Install Adobe Digital Editions

It is possible to run Adobe Digital Editions on Linux using wine. Install wine if you don't already have it. On Ubuntu, you can either go to Ubuntu Software Center, or just run the following command

	sudo apt-get install wine

When that is complete, follow instructions to install Adobe Digital Editions.

Download ebooks from Google Play

To download ebooks from Google Play, log into Google Play and got to My Books . Click on How to Read.

Scroll to the bottom, and click on the Download link in the epub section. This will download a ACSM file to your computer.

Open the ACSM file using Adobe Digital Editions.

This will open the ebook in a window.

Note that Adobe Digital Editions have downloaded the epub file to the directory ~/My Digital Editions . You should open the epub file using Adobe Digital Editions in future. (Opening the ACSM file will cause the epub file to be downloaded again.)

If you have a ebook reader that supports ADEPT (e.g. Aldiko), and would prefer to use that instead of the Google Books app, you can also use calibre to transfer the epub file to your mobile device if you wish.

Reading Kindle eBooks on Linux


Written by Mike Kwong