Calibre in the Cloud

I've mentioned before that I keep my entire e-book collection in my Dropbox folder, and I can access it anywhere I have a Web connection. I didn't come up with the idea myself; instead, I shamelessly stole the idea from Bill Childers. I suspect he stole it from someone else, so feel free to steal the idea from me.

Basically, it involves two programs, both free (well, three, if you count Dropbox). First, create a folder inside your Public folder that resides in your Dropbox folder. You can name this folder anything you like, but because it will be hosting all your e-books, it's wise to name it something no one would guess.

Then, in Calibre, click on the bookshelf icon (upper left), and click "switch library". Then, select that new secret folder you made inside your Public Dropbox folder. Calibre will move your entire library to that folder, so make sure you have enough free space in your Dropbox to handle your entire e-book collection. If you have too many e-books, you could create a separate library inside Calibre and just keep a select few books in that Public folder.

Now you should have a working install of Calibre that stores your e-books and database inside your Dropbox. You simply can open this library file with Calibre on other computers that sync with Dropbox, or you can go one step further and create a cloud-based repository that you can browse from any computer. And, that's where calibre2opds comes into play.

calibre2opds is a Java application that creates a Web site from your Calibre library. Download the Java application from, and launch it with your favorite Java runtime environment. Once it's launched, you'll see many options for tweaking how your library will look. The first thing you need to do is make sure the Database Folder is pointed to the secret folder to which you moved your Calibre library. Then, you'll want to set the Catalog Folder to something. It's okay to leave it set to _catalog, which is the default.

Figure 1. calibre2opds is a GUI Java application.

Next, you need to decide what sort of Web site you want to create. If you want to be able to browse it with any Web browser, leave the "Compatibility Level" at "OPDS". If you want to browse directly with your Android device, you can choose either TROOK or ALDIKO, and calibre2opds will generate a catalog that those readers can access directly. Once you tweak any other settings to your liking, click the Generate Catalogs button on the bottom, and it will create all the files you need right inside your Calibre database folder.

Because you did all this inside your Public Dropbox folder, you can look for that _catalog folder and find the index.html file inside it. Right-click on index.html, get the Dropbox public link for it, and see the result. (Note: you may need to find the index.xml file if you're trying to browse with Aldiko or Trook.)

Figure 2. Here is my e-book collection, created by calibre2opds.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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Much simpler setup: a cloud ebook library

Felix Ding's picture

I used to use Calibre + Calibre OPDS, but the setup is bit complicated and regenerating the catalog every time manually is annoying. So I end up with a simple Web service I programmed, It helps me to organize all my ebook collections and it gives a up-to-date OPDS feed. All I need to do is to upload my ebooks, and these ebooks will appear in the library and the OPDS feed.

I would like to invite you to try it out, anyone interested? Please drop me a mail to felixding[at]

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amitro926's picture

I consider it's no longer mentioning staying ones MP3s beneath Dropbox, solely having your own MP3 backups associated with copyrighted content in public places (ie Shared to your globe) folders.

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so called cloud computing

Anonymous's picture

So we have what is basically main frame computing over the internet, using javascript to make it download faster. How is this new? Why would I want to put my personal, non-public information on some else's computer system, where they keep backups of it, so that even if I delete things, there is still and always will be a copy, on their systems? Sounds like a bad idea, to me.
Wake up and realize the hype. Why would I want to pay someone to put my stuff online, to be able to view it from anywhere, there is an internet connection, that I can use, when storage media, such as sdhc, external usb disk drives, are so cheap and compact? And I can view it from anywhere there is power. And for free!
And if you need an id and password to view an online account, why would there be an issue, about putting copyrighted material on there?
Wake up!

copyrighted is ok

Jabmist's picture

as long as it is not in PUBLIC folders.
PUBLIC=shared and thus you are
distributing copyrighted materials.

Dropbox is cancelling accounts of calibre2opds users

t4nec0's picture

Pay attention following these instructions: there's a post on calibre2opds blog
that informs about Dropbox closing accounts because of the material suspect of copyright infringement (books!) in the Dropbox public folders.

That seems pretty dumb

Eric Mesa's picture

So I can't use dropbox to backup mp3 files from bands? It seems pretty dumb for dropbox to say you can't have copyrighted materials in it.

Only in PUBLIC folders

Craig W's picture

No, it's not talking about keeping your MP3s in Dropbox, only keeping your MP3 backups of copyrighted material in public (ie Shared to the world) folders.