Calibre 2 was pretty basic and allowed you to read books and download them to a capable device, which was my use-case. I have a Kindle Voyager and wanted a wireless solution to put my own books onto the Amazon device. It meant using the Experimental Browser on the Kindle, but it worked fine and meant no wires were required.
The upgrade to 3.8 added a much slicker interface, that allowed metadata to be edited, cover art to be displayed nicely, and multi-user, although this was not through the GUI. It was a much nicer experience, but functionally pretty similar.
Calibre-web is a completely different solution, although uses the database and library from Calibre. I don’t think you even need Calibre running, once you have the database file? I’ve actually got it running for now in a Docker container but may look to move that to a jail at some point.
Calibre-web adds pretty much all of the functionality from the desktop Calibre app that was missing from the server, the bigs ones for me being:
- User management with fine-grained per-user permissions (including public registration if required)
- Create a custom book collection (shelves)
- Support for converting eBooks through Calibre binaries
- Send eBooks to Kindle devices with the click of a button
- Upload new books in many formats
The ability to convert books (say from a .epub to a .mobi format) and the to be able to send them straight to a Kindle at the click of a button is massive. You can upload books in Calibre Server, but not being able to convert them pretty much meant you need to add them through the Desktop. In theory, everything can now be done via Calibre-web, or at least everything I use it for.
I need to see how it works when I sync my library from my iMac to FreeNAS0, but from what I can tell it uses its own database for Calibre-web functionality (e.g. Users, custom book collections, etc.) so should work together without issue.
So far, it’s a real game-changer and may even result in me using Calibre entirely through Calibre-web moving forward.