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Calibre is an open-source ebook program with awesome potential for language learning

Today I stumbled across Calibre, an open-source ebook reader and management suite. It’s a great idea in itself, and lets you do the following on any platform, amongst other things:

  • Manage your library of ebooks on various devices in pretty much any format
  • Read or view ebooks in the interface
  • Convert between ebook formats
  • Convert other data (e.g. Web) into ebook formats
  • Automatically download ebook metadata from a variety of sources
  • Search for ebooks to buy or download
  • Backup and sync your ebook collection

That’s a pretty impressive list, and it’s all free (in both senses of the word). I’m really impressed with this, as you can probably tell. I think ebooks are a great idea, but unfortunately they’ve been messed up with DRM is a class of controversial access control technologies”) in the early stages, and I think it’s going to take the world a while to sort that mess out. Calibre seems to be a step in the right direction.

Calibre for language learning

The main thing I want to talk about here is the potential use of Calibre in language learning. It’s attractive firstly because it works on any platform and therefore supports a huge number of language. It’s also awesome because it can help you track down reading materials in the language you’re learning.

Reading BBC News Chinese in Calibre

The way I’m doing this is making use of Calibre’s news download function. You can set it to automatically download news or magazine items from various sources in all sorts of different languages. There are quite a few Chinese sources, and I’m using Calibre to get hold of BBC News Chinese on a daily basis on various devices (desktop, laptop and Android phone).

It’s nice handling it this way, because Calibre just serves up the actual article content in a long stream, so you can just browse through it whenever you want without any distractions. It’s a really cool piece of software.

Link: Calibre ebook management

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