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Interview with Kovid Goyal of Calibre

by Donald Robertson Contributions Published on Dec 13, 2012 04:35 PM
This is the latest installment of our Licensing and Compliance Lab's series on free software developers who choose GNU licenses for their works.

calibre logo

In this installment, I interviewed Kovid Goyal, the creator and lead developer of calibre, via email.

What is calibre?

Calibre is a free ebook library management application developed by users of ebooks for users of ebooks. Calibre is a vibrant community with half a dozen developers and many, many testers and bug reporters. It is used in over 200 countries and has been translated into a dozen different languages by volunteers. Calibre has become a comprehensive tool for the management of digital texts, allowing you to do whatever you could possibly imagine with your ebook library. Reading is very important to me and one of my goals has always been to prevent either the fragmentation or the monopolization of the ebook market by entities that care solely for short-term goals. As the calibre community continues to grow, driven by book lovers, for book lovers, hopefully it will always present an alternative for people that love to read ebooks and want to be in control of their own digital libraries.

How are people using it?

People use it to catalog their book collections, to manage their reading devices, to get access to periodicals in ebook form, to create ebooks in different formats, to share their ebook collections with their friends and family over the net, to read their books on their computers. Calibre has been downloaded by over 12 million people.

Why did you decide to release it under the GNU GPLv3?

Because I do not want people creating proprietary software based on my work. Calibre (all my work, really) has always been about the sharing and free propagation of ideas and information. The GNU GPL helps make that happen.

What is the best way for volunteers to help with the development of calibre?

Calibre has had contributions from dozens of people over the years (a limited list), if there is some calibre itch you want to scratch, hop in at:

What is the best way for people without strong technical skills to help the project?

Translations, documentation, good bug reports, helping new users in the calibre forums, financial contributions, artwork, all of these are most welcome. Calibre would not be where it is today without its vibrant user community. Participating in a free software community like calibre is a great way to help make the world a better place.

What aspects of the project do you think could use the most help?

Calibre is doing pretty well, there isn't any particular aspect that needs help. I am a great believer in the scratching of itches. If you have ideas about how some part of calibre could be better, make it happen. Contributions are welcome.

Please see the calibre entry in the Free Software Directory for more information.

Enjoyed this interview? Check out our previous entry in this series featuring Jeremy Allison's talk about why Samba went with GPLv3.

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