Which books are in your personal collection?

This is how you can access your eBook collection from anywhere in the world

If you have an eBook reader, chances are you already have a collection of eBooks that you sync with your reader from your home computer. What if you are away from home or not at your computer? Learn how to download books from your personal collection anywhere in the world (or just from your garden).

You have an eBook reader, you have an eBook collection, and if you remember to keep your books in sync with the collection on your computer, everything will be rosy. What if you forget or if the syncing process is a bit of a hassle for your device? (We're looking around, iPad.) Today we're going to show you how to download eBooks to your eBook reader from anywhere in the world using a cross-platform solution.

What you will need

You will need a few things for this trick to work with the books at a distance. Make sure you have:

  • A Windows, Mac or Linux PC with access to your eBook library.
  • A constant internet connection
  • An e-book reader or e-book application on a portable device that can access the web or remote collection; B. Kindle, iPad / iPhone, Rooted Nook or Android device.
  • A copy of the open source, cross-platform eBook management tool, Caliber.

If you've never used caliber before, miss this. It's one of the most robust e-book management tools out there, and it syncs with dozens of e-book readers and applications. We won't go into installation and setup in this tutorial (we assure you it's easy), but we will direct you towards the introductory video and Caliber User Guide. Meanwhile, read our instructions on how to convert PDF eBooks to ePub and Word documents to ePub with Caliber.

Setting up caliber for network sharing

At this point it assumes you've installed Caliber and added a few books, either manually or by pointing to your eBook directory. Caliber is a great tool for direct syncing when you are right in front of your computer with your eBook reader. However, we do things wirelessly so you can access your library anywhere.

It's worth noting that this is not a synchronization hack. When you're done, our books can be downloaded anywhere you can access the Internet with your compatible eBook reader. However, you cannot send them back to your collection from the eBook reader.

Click on Settings (the gear icon at the end of the toolbar) and then click Share over the web in the sharing section. You should see a screen that looks like this:

Take a moment to find the port, username, and password as you see fit. Since we had another application via the 8080 port, we switched ours to 2600. Make sure to add a password (unless you want to make your book collection public). Check "Run the server automatically at startup," then click Start Server.

At this point, you will likely need to set up an exception in your local computer firewall and router firewall (or both) to access your eBook collection when you are not on your private network. This guide provides information about adding exceptions to Windows Firewall and the information about port forwarding in this guide to streaming music. Learn how to configure your computer and router to allow outside access.

Access your eBook collection through your eBook reader

Once you have the caliber server up and running, all you have to do is access it through your eBook reader. The essential function of your eBook reader or eBook application is accessing the Internet and downloading books. We'll demonstrate how to access the caliber server with the iPad running Stanza e-book reader software and Kindle using the experimental Kindle web browser. Let's take a look at the iPad first.

Install Stanza on your iPad and open it. You'll see the two books that came with the app: Alice in Wonderland and a welcoming guide from the Stanza team. The reading list is a bit sparse; Let's upload it from our personal collection.

Click the Get Books icon at the bottom of the interface. Stanza searches your local network to see if a computer is sharing books. If your computer is not found, this isn't a big deal. We'll add the private and public faces of your book server manually.

Click the + icon in the top right corner. First enter the local information. When you're in your house or garden, you'll want to connect directly to WiFi instead of forwarding your book downloads over the larger (and slower) internet. Enter the name and URL of the computer on the local network where your books are located. In our case we call Win7Desk to remember which computer the books are on and the internal IP address, followed by the port number:

Repeat this process for the public face of your book server. Replace the external IP with your internal IP address and the port you assigned when you set up port forwarding on your router.

Once you've logged both servers into Stanza, it's time to test the connections. First click on the local network connection to make sure that caliber is working properly. After you've determined that the local book transfer works, test access over the Internet. First, download a book using the local WiFi network. Click your local connection, then choose how you want to view the books. We'll look at them sorted by title.

Click on a book for more information Click Download to get a copy for your eBook reader. The information displayed here (title, abstract, tags, author) is all provided through caliber. If you want detailed summaries, make sure you have updated your library in caliber and that all books have a full compliment of supplementary information.

After you've downloaded a few books, go back to the library screen and see the results. The reading list says a little less Spartan.

Success! We downloaded a book for our e-book reader without a cable or in moderate proximity to our computer.

Remote access to your eBook library through the Kindle and other simple e-book readers may not be quite the experience using a full-color tablet like the iPad, but it works. How to access your library through the Click Menu -> Experimental -> Launch Web Browser Enter the IP address and port number of your caliber server. Make sure to bookmark it right away. Entering numbers on Kindle is extremely tedious.

The interface on the Kindle is significantly more Spartan than the one on the iPad with Stanza. You can search for books, change the sort order, scroll through your collection, and download books by clicking the formatting button next to them. It's worth noting that the Kindle can only download .MOBI. AZW, PRC, and TXT files. So, if you want remote access, you need to convert all other formats like .EPUB beforehand.

The process for other e-book readers with web browsers is similar to that of the Kindle - a simple web-based interface that allows you to download device-specific formats.

Even if your eBook reader is using an application to sync or manually transfer files over a USB connection, the caliber server can still help you. All you have to do is borrow a friend's computer while on vacation and access the caliber server with a traditional desktop web browser to capture the files before transferring them to your e-book reader. It's not as impressive as the server-to-device model, but it's better than not having access to your books at all.

Are you experienced with caliber and remote access to e-books? Do you have any other solution to the problem of accessing the e-book remotely? Share your tips and tricks with your fellow readers in the comments.