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date 29.Oct.2017

■ Thumbnail previews and author/title information for EPUB ebooks using shell plugins

Last week we saw how to search for text in EPUB books. We now complete the shell integration for this popular ebook format with a thumbnail handler and a column handler for ebook information. Thumbnails will work in windows explorer too, but author/title information will be only available in xplorer².

EPUB thumbnail handler
As far as I can tell there is no thumbnail shell extension for EPUB in particular, but as this is just a disguised ZIP archive file, we can use CBX Shell that serves thumbnail previews for ZIP and RAR image archives (CBZ / CBR), and add a registry key to handle EPUB thumbnails with the capable CBXShell handler:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

For your convenience I made a small installer that first installs CBXShell then adds the above snippet to your registry:

Click to download EPUB thumbnail handler (872 KB, build 4.620)

Minimum requirements: windows XP or later (32 or 64 bit)

If there are more than one images in the EPUB archive, the first available picture will be used as a thumbnail. You can open the EPUB with 7zip (or temporarily rename it to .ZIP to open it with xplorer²) and make sure your desired book thumbnail image is first on the root folder of the EPUB.

EPUB book information as column handler
AFAIK there's no generic ebook property handler to supply information like title and book author. To make our life easier let's use the eBook Info WDX plugin that can be used via xplorer² / Total Commander plugin bridge. This plugin does all popular ebook formats so we go a long way with just one installation. Here are step by step instructions:

  1. Download eBook Info WDX plugin. This is a zip archive that doesn't need installation.
  2. Right click on eBookInfoWDX.zip (say it's in the DOWNLOADS folder) and choose Extract all menu command to uncompress the plugin and note the extraction path e.g. C:\Users\You\Downloads\eBookInfoWDX.
  3. Download xplorer² plugin helper (if you don't have it) and run it.
  4. Press <INS> key or use File > Browse for plugins menu and browse the folder where you extracted the plugin (step 2)
  5. Choose the plugin file eBookInfo.wdx (you can ignore the x64 warning) and click OK to import it. Click on Apply button to save the changes.

Steps 1-5 are rather tedious, but you only have to do them one time. When you restart xplorer² you will find columns called Title.eBookInfo, Author.eBookInfo and others, which you can select with Select columns menu command (right click on a pane's column header).

With these EPUB handlers and the thumbnail/attribute handlers for kindle books (AZW, MOBI, PRC), we can have an all mod cons shell experience for all popular ebook formats as such:

ebook thumbnails and properties
Figure 1. xplorer² showing EPUB/AZW/MOBI thumbnails and author/title properties

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