While I’ve been hosting movies, shows, and photos on a private server in our house for many years now, I have only recently started to collect digital books, comics, and magazines to read on our tablets and phones.
Once you have ebooks (.epub, .mobi, .pdf), comics (.cbz, .cbr), and magazines (.pdf) you’ll want a tool to manage and sort them. For books, I use LazyLibrarian which does a good job of organizing them, show other books by the same author and so on.
While LazyLibrarian can handle comics, I found I preferred Mylar which seemed to pull info and covers from better sources.
I also considered Calibre but frankly I found it’s heavyweight GUI a pain on my old headless Ubuntu server… yes I know it also has a CLI. It just seemed overkill for my needs.
In order to serve up my library to readers, I found that Ubooquity gave me a simple UI that I could expose to family via Organizr. Here’s the browsing UI showing books:
There is also a web-based reader in Ubooquity as shown here, but I prefer reading on a portable device:
Comics and Magazines also work well:
The Ubooquity admin UI was nicely separated so I could restrict access to just myself:
Unfortunately, I couldn’t disable the Ubooquity admin login, in favor of Organizr’s better global admin authentication, so I get a double-login but it’s a minor annoyance.
Arguably the most important piece is the ebook reader software running on our tablets and phones. I selected Moon+ Reader on our Android phones and tablets. Downloads are quick, it’s easy on the eyes, and it remembers your place when you come back to a book.
For my wife’s iOS tablet, I found Marvin3 to also work well with OPDS libraries, including authentication.
While I’m reasonably happy with the ebook readers and catalog servers described above, I have to admit I’m a fan of old-school paper books. There’s just something about a real book when reading. Even my sons prefer to read Harry Potter in paper form on the couch, but they don’t mind the digital options too.
Update in March: Well I never thought I’d see our local library closed indefinitely, but COVID-19 has changed everything. Turns out having a good ebook reader is rather important now, at least for the foreseeable future.