My iPad workflow as an Android convert who uses Calibre to manage PDF books and a Linux user
I thought I would share here my use case and the workflow which allows me to finally convert from an Android tablet to an iPad.
**Few gotchas first**
* My workflow requires a little code (I don’t plan to share it so don’t ask) which any seasoned Linux user can easily implement even as a shell script
* I’m not really fully converted yet as I’ve been using a somewhat neglected iPad Pro which was gathering dust and will only get my own personal device later
**My main use case**
Keeping a meticulously organized local PDF book library on a tablet in sync with a Calibre library.
Be able to quickly open any book for reading without needing to import, export or any other nonsense.
**How do I manage my books**
I have a large “master” Calibre library with books on my desktop machine, mostly non-reflowable formats, PDFs and a limited number of DJVU files.
These are properly tagged, making use of Calibre’s hierarchical tags feature which builds a tree structure for categorizing books.
I also add a special tag “Local” for all the books which are synced to my tablet.
With this Local tag I can filter the master library and copy the books to create a smaller local Calibre library which is synced between my ~~computer~~ computers (atm Syncthing, but I’ve been using rsync, unison and osync).
There’s no synchronization between the master and local libraries just one-way copy but it fits my needs.
**Previous workflow on Android**
Calibre Companion (CC) connects as a wireless device to the master Calibre library and then with a click of a button in Calibre I send the books from the filtered list of the tag Local to CC.
While CC does not includes a book reader it can open them in other apps and setting a default reader, all one need is to tap on a book and it’s open in the default reader.
I had Xodo for quickly going through books and lecture notes, open them in tabs to quickly switch between them, can set bookmarks, add marks, and etc.
I also had a smaller number of books which I was more invested in, “copied” to Moon+ Reader and was reading them from front to back.
This setup couldn’t work as I want with an iPad as CC for iOS does not include a viewer, meaning each time I would want to open a book it will bring the sharing menu, might duplicate the file, and probably other limitations.
It seems like CC development has been frozen for the last couple of years, so it’s not something I would want to depend on and pay a premium on a hardware based on its availability and proper function.
**Current workflow on iOS**
Remember the local Calibre library which is synced between my computers? with not so much complicated script you can easily process this library and build a network-shared folder with the same structure of the hierarchical tag tree. This could includes symlinks, hardlinks or actual copies of the books.
Now add this network share as a resource to the Documents app by Readdle on iOS and enable the sync feature of Documents for this folder and you got yourself and auto-synced book library.
Documents also allow me to manually copy books to the Apple Books app so I can choose to keep a smaller list of books to read in the Books app.
**Why Documents by Readdle is so great?**
For me, Documents gets (almost) everything right. In particular:
* Internal PDF viewer. Also plays audio, video, edit txt… but does not make coffee afaik.
* Supporting multiple shared resources including SFTP(SSHFS), SMB, Google Drive. As a Linux user this great, and if you’re wondering about the last then you should check out Insync.
* Fast rendering and fast page scrolling.
* Supports PDF table-of-contents (anyone mentioned Google Drive?), including:
* Listing entries in a single view instead of opening each expanded entry in a new view which means you can’t review the whole TOC tree, and also requires navigating back and forth with a lot of unnecessary taps. Allot of apps failing here including Adobe Acrobat.
* Once the TOC was chosen from the widget of Bookmarks/TOC/Remarks, only a single tap is needed in order to view the TOC.
* Remembers the state of the TOC, which entries were expanded and which are collapsed.
* Supports PDF bookmarks.
* Can change the background of PDF to sepia and revert the color for dark mode reading.
* Can crop PDF page margins.
* Support tabs.
The only faults I found with the Documents app are:
* The expand button/arrow for TOC entry is located to the left of the entry title which for me makes it more difficult to reach with the thumb. It would have been better to put the button between the entry title to the page number. Maybe even supporting swipe gesture to expand and collapse entries would be nice.
* Does not support the DJVU format.
Kudos to Readdle for making this amazing app free. I just bought one of its bundles to show my appreciation.
With this app, I can finally move to an iPad, great work Readdle.
Calibre Library -> code generates a properly formated folder with books -> SFTP(SSHFS) share -> folder sync function of Documents by Readdle app on iOS.
**edit: fixed a few typos**