How to convert e-book formats like a pro

Got a book in Amazon's AZW format and want to read it on your Barnes & Noble Nook? There's an app for that.

By , ITworld |  Consumerization of IT, Barnes & Noble Nook, drm

You can also set up a Calibre e-book server using the connect/share icon. Once it's up and running you'll have a Web server running off your PC's IP address. To access it, use your e-reader or tablet's Web browser to navigate to its address, for example, http://192.168.1.2:8080. You'll need to log into the server. The e-book server's default user name is Calibre and there is no password. Once there, you simply pick the link for the book you want and in a few seconds you'll have it on your device. You can, if you set up your network and firewall just right, access your home e-book library from anywhere. Considering the security problems you'll be courting, you should only try this if you're already a network expert.

Converting e-books with Calibre

If you have an e-book in one format but you want to read it on an e-reader that doesn't support that format, Calibre is your program of choice. In my case, I often want to convert PDF books, which I've scanned in from my own library, or Amazon Kindle books, which come in a variety of AZW formats, to the next best thing to a universal e-book lingua franca: EPUB. This format also happens to be the native one for my own favorite e-reader, the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet.

To make this happen, first you need to set up your default export format. To set the Preferred Output Format to EPUB, or any other format, go to the Preferences icon on the far right of the tool bar. Unless you have the program maximized on the screen, that icon may not appear. Once there, do Preferences -> Behavior and select EPUB for your default format. This format will also work for most Android and iOS-based e-readers. If you want to export books to the Kindle, choose AZW3 for your format. At this time, Calibre doesn't support Amazon's newer Kindle Format 8 (KF8), but all Kindles can still read AZW3 so that shouldn't be a problem.

When it comes to comes to converting books from one e-book format to another, you start by setting up your default format translations. (Image credit: ITworld/Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols)

Next, you'll need to find your e-books. Each PC e-reader program puts its book in a different place. Kindle, the most popular e-reader, keeps its books, on Windows machines, in C:\Users\\Documents\My Kindle Content. Check your program for your particular operating system to see where it hides them.

Once you know where your e-books are and you're set up, all you need to do is pick a book, hit the Convert Book icon, hit OK for the defaults and you're done. There's nothing to it.

With your default e-book conversions set, you then start translating files. In this case, I'm moving from a PDF I made myself to a much more e-reader friendly EPUB format for my Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet and iPad. (Image credit: ITworld/Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols)

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