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I'm looking for (two) tools that will manage my personal ebook library and improve my experience from reading mostly technical ebooks:

  1. PDF reader that supports text highlighting and annotations
  2. ebook manager that can automatically pull metadata from internet (Amazon) and keep my collections of ebooks (mostly PDF) organized

Requirements:

  1. PDF reader should be multi-platform (Windows/Linux/Android)
  2. Ebook manager should be multi-platform (Windows/Linux)
  3. Annotations/highlights/comments/etc. stored in separate files, not in the PDF itself (due to easy export/backup)
  4. Ebook's manager database also stored in separate file for easy backup/transfer

PS:
Each tool does need not to be necessary multi-platform in the true sense. Important is that they are able exchange data with each other (e.g. via import/export). I have some Python knowledge so I can transform data from one type to another.

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For the e-book manager I would say that the best choice was Calibre.

  • Cross Platform Yes
  • Pull Metadata from the Internet Yes
  • External storage Yes
  • Library Management
  • E-book conversion
  • Syncing to e-book reader devices
  • Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form
  • Comprehensive e-book viewer
  • Content server for online access to your book collection
  • E-book editor for the major e-book formats
  • Free, gratis & Open Source

Calibre

For PDF annotations I personally us Mendeley which is aimed primarily at the academic community with lots of tools for providing citations, etc.

  • PDF annotations are saved to your free online account
  • Web Client
  • Desktop clients for Windows, OS-X, Android & iOS with both reader and management console.
  • Your annotations & highlights are automatically shared between your devices

Mendeley Desktop

Both screenshots on Windows 10.

  • Thanks, is it possible to export the annotations somehow from Mendeley? – Wakan Tanka Nov 14 '16 at 7:30
  • @WakanTanka Yes it is see support.mendeley.com/customer/en/portal/articles/… – Steve Barnes Nov 14 '16 at 13:55
  • Personally I have found Mendeley's annotations to be frustrating due to not being able to view them outside of the proprietary Mendeley PDF viewer. Instead I now use Foxit to annotate the PDF files which then get saved and synchronised via the free Mendeley storage. While the link in the comment above mentions being able to export references, it does not indicate being able to export annotations. Could you comment on whether I have simply missed this functionality thus far please? – kwah Nov 15 '16 at 1:55
  • @kwah in the Mendeley Desktop the is an option File->Export PDF with Annotations that exports the annotated PDF or just the notes as a PDF. – Steve Barnes Nov 15 '16 at 6:52
  • @kwah what is the output format of annotations in Foxit? It would be best if it is in plaint text containing e.g. page number and annotation itself. – Wakan Tanka Nov 21 '16 at 8:27

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