Calibre

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You don’t need a dedicated device to enjoy ebooks. There are some excellent free apps around for reading them on your desktop too, and Calibre is one of the best. 

Calibre is a free, open source ebook reader that’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux, with an extra portable version for Windows PCs. This is particularly handy, because you can keep on a USB stick or other removable storage device along with your book collection, enabling you to read them on any PC.

Calibre also supports RSS feeds, so you can gather news from your favorite magazines and news sites in one place without opening a web browser.

User experience

Calibre’s interface has been designed with care and attention, making it easy to manage your ebook archive. The icons are big and bold (great for touchscreens) and even complex options are only a couple of clicks or taps away. All the controls are well labelled, but also have tooltips so you can hover over anything you aren’t certain about for an explanation – a small feature, but one that’s missing from many ebook readers.

Calibre makes it simple to transfer books between your desktop machine and any ereaders you own – either wirelessly or via a USB cable. Just set it up the first time you use the software, and Calibre will automatically convert books to the best format when transferring them to your device.

Unlike most free ebook readers (with the obvious exception of Amazon’s own software), Calibre can open books in AWZ format. It won’t let you read DRM-protected works though, which rules out literature that’s still in copyright. That’s the only real drawback here, but it’s likely to be a dealbreaker for anyone who’s hooked on the Kindle store.

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