A little Calibre trick: Set series order in metadata

Many book series do not make it abundantly clear what order the series is in by book title. If you are reading, say, Larry Niven’s Ringworld series, it’s not clear from book titles what order the series is in. So you finish Ringworld and then you are ready to start the next book, but is it The Ringworld Engineers or The Ringworld Throne or Ringworld’s Children? Here’s how to make that obvious on your ebook reader.

Using Calibre, I edit the book’s metadata and set the series and series number, as shown in this figure.

Screenshot of a dialog window in Calibre. This is the metadata dialog to edit epub metadata for a book including its series and series number, as well as title, author, title sort and author sort, etc.
Fig 1. Calibre Edit Metadata Dialog

I’m using an older Kobo reader (the Aura H20 v1) and setting the series metadata didn’t seem to be enough for the Kobo to recognize the new information, though. So I went into the Configure dialog for the device itself and tweaked the “Metadata, on device & advanced” tab a bit. Specifically I set to “Update metadata on the device” and to set series information and update metadata on the book details page.

Calibre Configure Kobo Aura H2O dialog, "Metadata, on device & advanced" tab.
Fig. 2: Configure Kobo Aura H2O dialog

After doing that and re-copying the ebooks over to the Kobo, it recognized the series name and order, so it is easy to see what’s book 1, book 2, etc.

This may not be deep magic for many readers, but it fixed a small annoyance of mine with trying to work through a book series on the e-reader without having to go to Wikipedia or whatever to figure out what’s next.

Depending on how you get your books, and how good the publisher is about metadata, the metadata may already be set for you. But, at least in my experiments, you may still need to tweak Calibre to directly inform your e-reader about the metadata. Happy reading!

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