There are probably a hundred or more tutorials out there to do this very thing but I figured I’d give it a shot too since my tutorials tend to be more visual than the others. For the sake of giving you an experience that will more closely resemble your own I performed a fresh install of Calibre on one of my PC’s so you can see Calibre without the tweaks I’ve made to it.
So here is the default layout of Calibre. I tossed a few books in there for the sake of the illustration.
You can click the Connect/share button and then click Start Content Server to start the server immediately, but you’ll probably want to do a little configuration prior to doing so.
So let’s get into the configuration piece.
Click Preferences – It’s that gear icon right next to Connect/Share.
Inside Calibre Preferences you’ll find an icon that looks like a networked device and the text under it will read Sharing over the net. Click Sharing over the net.
It’s important to note that your PC isn’t going to start sharing your books out over the Internet unless you open a port (hole) in your firewall to allow that traffic into your home network. Personally, I don’t do that because I don’t feel as if the benefit is worth the risk. You can decide for yourself but doing so is beyond the scope of this article.
Back to configuration. In the Sharing over the net preferences you have a few options.
Server port: The default is 8080 and in most cases this is going to be fine. If you are going to open your firewall up to the outside world you may want to change it to something higher like a random number between 10000 and 65000. This just provides the tiniest bit of security by obscurity.
Username: The default is calibre and again in most cases this is going to be fine. Unless you’re going to be serving your books over the Internet. In that case, it may be wise to protect your library with a Username and Password. My content just shares inside my house, so I don’t bother.
Checkbox: Since I always want my library sharing within my house, I put a checkbox next to the option below that says Run server automatically when calibre starts. You do have to manually start the server once to get this setting to go into affect. I’ll show you how below.
Click Apply in the top left hand corner.
You’ll get a warning that a restart is required. Click OK.
You’ll be back in calibre-Preferences now. Go ahead and close that window.
You’re back in the main Calibre app view now.
Click the Connect/share button and then click Start Content Server.
One of two things is going to happen.
1) The Content Server will start and you’ll be ready to start accessing your books on your other devices via the server.
2) The Content Server will fail to start and will let you know that the port you chose is in use. No big deal. Just go back into Preferences / Sharing over the net and choose a different port number. In setting up this demonstration I had this happen to me. I had to change my Content Server to port 8081.
You’ll know your Content Server is running when the Connect/share icon turns from blue to green.
Congratulations! Your books are available from any device on your network. To access what we’re sharing you’ll have to visit your machines IP address or name. My PC is named WHS in this example, so my URL would be http://whs:8081. Remember I told you that port 8080 was used on my test box so I had to switch to 8081. It’s also possible that your network may not handle the PC name well, so I could also use my PC’s IP address. In my case here it would be http://192.168.1.3:8081.
It is very unlikely that your PC name or IP address will match mine so the URL will be unique to all of you, in most cases.
If you aren’t sure how to find your IP address – [ here ] – Ignore the Via the web option because that will show the public IP address of your Cable/DSL/Dial-up modem and your PC likely has a private IP address unless you connect directly to the modem and directly to the Internet.
Now that we know the address of our Content Server, let’s see what it looks like.
Click the images for the full (non-blurry) look.
Here is after clicking the link that says Switch to the full interface (non-mobile interface).
There is a Get button below each book cover. If I click that I see the following:
If I click Open in “iBooks” I see the following:
On NOOK Color & NOOK Tablet:
You’ll see the familiar mobile-view again.
I’m going to click on the epub button next to the Calibre Quick Start Guide. You’ll see it begin to download in the notification bar below.
To find the file you go to library. Click my stuff.
Click My Files. Click My Downloads. Anything that you download from your Calibre Content Server will download into this directory.
It’s not pretty but it’s functional.
I tried to see if this would work on the NOOK Simple Touch but it seems as if the v.1.1 update disabled the hidden web browser.
The iPad interface immediately loads to the full site version as opposed to the mobile version. Otherwise, functionally, it’s the same process as the iPhone.
If you have a large eBook library and don’t want to have ALL of your sideload content installed at once taking up precious room then Calibre Content Server is a good option. The more books you have, the more you’ll probably love this option. For those of you who are constantly asking about Genre options – you can populate the tags feature with the genre type. Then when you’re looking for a good fantasy read, you click the fantasy tag. When you want a horror novel, click horror to bring up your books in that genre.
I have never bothered with the option of serving content outside of my firewall to the web for a couple of reasons. The greatest reason is any open port in your firewall is another door for an attacker to enter through. It may never happen, but I’d rather not take the chance. It’s pretty likely that I’m going to know if I’m near the end of a book. I can pull down my next read, or my next several books if I’m on vacation, while I’m on my home Wi-Fi. But to each their own. My co-worker has his Calibre library shared out and has never had an issue.
I hope you enjoyed this and found it interesting. I hope it gave you a idea of how to get started with the Calibre Content Server.