Books, Books. The Conclusion

oldbooksFinishing up this series of posts on cataloging your Library, let’s review and also look at some extra features of my chosen app.

Whether you have many or few books, now is the time to start cataloging them.

  • If you have few, start now while it is easy to get them all cataloged.
  • If you have many, start now before you accumulate more and the chore becomes more time consuming.
  • Get them organized in a much easier, more reliable method than just writing or typing a list or table. And much, much easier way to access and utilize the info in many varied formats.

What can a Library Cataloging app do for you?

  • Keep track of what you have. Whether you have primarily physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks, or a nice mix of all, cataloging them will help you know what you have at a glance. It’s importance is magnified if you do have a mix, since they are not all stored together and all seen at a glance. A full list of why it’s a good thing to know what you have would be too long to post here, but here are three good reasons:
  • insurance records,
  • not buying duplicates,
  • planning ease (for reading them).
  • Keep track of what you’ve loaned. When friends and family borrow your books, they may be out of sight, out of mind. Know what you own even when it’s not on the shelf.
  • Keep track of what you want. Home educators and bibliophiles alike usually have book wish lists, whether that be the “school” books you need for the coming year for your children, or a good book a friend or another resource mentioned that you aren’t able to get yet, a cataloging app is a better place to keep track of this than several small scraps of paper floating around.
  • Allow you to view and organize that info in ways that are most helpful to you.

What apps do I recommend?

  • After trying several, I chose Bookpedia and it’s companion PocketPedia for iOS. These are inexpensive and have great features and work very well (easier to use and work better than others I’ve tried and used.) They are only for Apple.
  • For those on Windows, I suggest trying Book Collector. While it didn’t work for me, it looked like it may be a good choice for those on Windows and perhaps for those with Android devices. It has much the same look, the authors of the app were helpful, but I could never get it to work right on my Mac.
  • There are many, many others you could check out. I did. Google it. I was not overly thrilled with any of the others. Booxter is what I used for many years. It was OK, but does not have the capabilities of Bookpedia that I love. Many were too “light” to have truly helpful features, or designed for other needs than I have (such as comic books).

What features does a good app have–and what additional Bonus features are in Bookpedia?

  • Automatically add books via ISBN number or bar code. Bonus features!  Keyword search is a plus. Highlighted text in other resources can be sent to Bookpedia through the Service Menu in many apps or dragged in. Bookpedia can very easily scan bar codes; my previous library app could not. I usually tried several times, then gave up deciding it was easier to type them in.
  • Manually add books that can’t be found in the online book databases. Great for old and obscure resources.
  • Add books of any format. Ability to indicate any format you want. Bonus feature! Adding links to the digital books/resources on your computer, as well as, for any resource, to the URL where the information was added from.
  • Add ebooks by simply dragging the book over the app icon. This automatically adds the info and includes a link to the ebook’s location on your computer, to open and read the ebook. Another Bookpedia Bonus feature!
  • Import books and other resources from other apps. Such as Audiobooks from iTunes–including links to the files, as for ebooks above. This is a Bonus feature for Bookpedia! (Book Collector was not able to import my previous library. Bookpedia did, and imported my Calibre and my Audiobooks also.)
  • Autofill. Avoid repetitious typing with autofill of often used info, such as author’s name, publisher, genre, etc.
  • Easy addition of images. Bookpedia has by far the easiest way to add images to those entries missing them, with a built in browser using Google images or any other URL you specify.
  • Edit multiple entries. When several entries need to have the same info, change them all at once. Very helpful when you purchased several on the same day from the same place, or are adding several by the same author, or in the same series, etc.
  • Rate your books. Note what you loved, what was only so-so. Add other Comments and Notes also.
  • Adding Collections and Smart Collections to organize books into folders in the way most helpful to you! Smart Collections automatically add books that fit the criteria you predetermine. Very handy for Genres, Authors, Series, etc. Folders are helpful for specialized lists (without specific search criteria) for each of your children’s reading list for the year, or your current review list, etc.
  • View duplicates. Know whether you have more than one copy of a resource, or if you’ve mistakely added something more than once.
  • Track loaned books, wanted books, and books you are selling. Other Bonus features from Bookpedia. All the info you need for these things, at your fingertips. Bookpedia will automatically send an email reminder when a book is due; can include the purchase link for books you want; and all the info you need for selling your books, including the purchaser’s info.
  • A companion iPhone/iPad app to take your books with you easily. Bonus feature! Very easy to sync the 2 together–wirelessly. Again, not a super simple process on my previous app, so I’m thrilled that this one works completely with just a touch of a button, and syncs both ways.
  • Customization. More Bonus features on Bookpedia! Aspects/fields can be rearranged, customized, new ones added and more. There are enough Preferences that can be personalized to make this app work the way that best suits you! Changing Genre categories to suit my classifications is a must. 🙂
  • Print your Library and Collections. Bonus feature! Bookpedia allows several different formats for printing, again much more flexibility and nicer looking print out than my previous app.
  • Format for bibliography. Bookpedia can automatically transform entries into MLA style bibliographies. By dragging, instead of copying and pasting, a link will be created back to the Bookpedia entry. A feature I wasn’t looking for, so truly Bonus.

Desired features? Cons? I’d like to see manual entry additions possible on PocketPedia. For those not on Apple, you will need to find different apps.

In this series I’ve given you plenty of reasons for getting your books and other resources cataloged. What are you waiting for? Get started today to have this project completed (or well under way) before the new school year starts. It will make your life easier. Bookpedia is a great option at a great price. You won’t regret it. If you don’t have a Mac or iOS device, sorry. I hope you can find something you are as pleased with as I am with Bookpedia.

Have you started cataloging your books yet? Answer below.


Books, Books. On the Road

oldbooksWhat can an book cataloging app do for you? As I continue my series on cataloging your home library, today we’re looking at taking your Library Catalog on the road. We’re looking at BookPedia and and its companion, PocketPedia. Other cataloging apps may have a companion app and these same or similar features.

Now we get to the really exciting part of a Library Cataloging app. It’s great to have this all organized on your computer. But it’s even better to be able to take all this info with you! There are two ways you can do this. The old fashioned way and the techy way. 

Let’s get the boring old fashioned way out of the way first. Then move on to the fun way. The old fashioned way is to print out your catalog. You can print either the entire Library or individual Collections. You can print them out as either lists, covers, or by various Templates that give other layouts and options. These can be handy. But there is a better way.

pocketpediaLogoLargeEnter PocketPedia.

PocketPedia is the companion app to Bookpedia for iPhone/iPad/iPod. One touch of the sync button, and all the information you’ve put into Bookpedia on your computer is transferred to your mobile device. You can view and search your Library and all your Collections, sorted by title or author, on PocketPedia. You can also create new Collections and move books to them, rate books, and mark books as Borrowed or Returned.

Although the options aren’t as varied for adding books, you can add books on PocketPedia 2 ways, either through Pedias’ own Doghouse database by ISBN or keywords, or by scanning the bar code of the book with your device’s camera. You can also send the scans to Bookpedia on your computer, for more expanded search capabilities. Being able to add books in these two ways enables PocketPedia to be a stand alone app, if you don’t want to get Bookpedia (or don’t have a Mac computer but do have an iOS device.) Just realize that you can’t add books manually if the searches don’t come up with your book, and you don’t have the same editing options.

PocketPedia also works with the other Pedia family apps. It’s a great bargain for having your entire library catalog with you at all times, for only $3.99 in the iTunes App Store.

Stay tuned for the Conclusion and review in the next article of this series.

How do you carry your lists of books you own with you–to places like homeschool convention, used bookstores and such?


Books, Books. Viewing Books

oldbooksWhat can an book cataloging app do for you? As I continue my series on cataloging your home library, today we’re looking at Viewing and Organizing features. Many apps have these same or similar features. (Bookpedia is only for Mac computers. Look for a similar PC option if you aren’t blessed to own a Mac.)


Now that you have all your books added, let’s take a look at them. Some apps just have a basic list view, others have various views–much like iTunes.


List view, with details

With Bookpedia you can view your books as a List, displaying whichever attributes/fields you like and sorting by field to display in that order. You can also Search (top right) all aspects, or limit your search to Title, Author, or any other specific aspect. To the far left of an entry you may see one of 4 icons. A person shape indicates the book is loaned out. A star indicated that the book is on your wish list. A paper clip indicates that a file is linked to that entry. A Quicktime logo indicates that a movie is linked to that entry.

Grid view, with selected cover

Grid view, with selected cover

You can also view as a Grid, displaying the covers. You can adjust the size of the covers to display as many or few as you like. Borrowed entries are indicated by a colored bar across the bottom of the cover, noting days till due or overdue.

Or in Cover Flow mode, displaying larger covers in a scrolling manner.

Cover Flow - no details

Cover Flow – no details

Within each of these views, you can choose to display the Details of the book selected or not (shown in List view above). There are several display options for these Details, and you can also set which fields you want to display in the details pane, and in what order. (By entering Edit mode, by double clicking an entry, you can see all details, in addition to editing details.) Another option you have is to view selected cover or not (shown in lower left, in grid view image.)


Full Screen

Lastly, you can enter Full Screen cover flow view, if you want to see all your covers in all their glory.


In addition to the basic sort and search features above, there are other options for organizing, sorting and displaying your books, that is using folders to organize them into Collections.

Folders. You can make folders to organize your books in anyway you want. Create and name a folder, then individually add books to that folder by dragging them in. These work like playlists on iTunes. This can be handy when you want to make a folder of each child’s reading for the year/term or such. Or perhaps a Collection of the books you need to review would be helpful.

 Smart Folders. Or you can make SmartFolders with specific criteria for automatically adding books to it, such as by Genre or Location or reading level, etc. For anything that you can define what you want added to it, based on your fields, smart folders are the way to go. I have smart folders for each main genre (i.e. main subject) as well as main types–physical books, ebooks, audiobooks, dvd’s, etc. Other smart folders I have are: certain authors (Henty), series (Landmark), or publishers (Lamplighter).

Your Library folder holds all your books. Your Collections (the folders you create) are smaller subsets of your entire library. You can add and remove books from Collections, without affecting their presence in the Library. (Like moving them from one bookcase to another, while still keeping them in your home.) There are also Borrowed and Wish List smart folders in Bookpedia, to keep track of the books you’ve lent out to others, and keep a list of books you’d like to get. Each folder gives you a number count of files in it.

A Status Bar along the bottom displays the total count of books in your Library (or Collection selected), number of books you have lent out, your total page count (if you’ve added page count for all your books) and the value of your library and total you spent on it (again, if you’ve accurately recorded that for all your books.) These values, as well as the list itself, can be helpful for insurance purposes.

I’ll mention one more handy display feature. Display Duplicates. This is handy for 2 things. 1) To see that you have entered a book more than once. In which case you can delete the duplicate. 2) To see that you really have purchased multiple copies of the same book. Now that you have them cataloged you can avoid that in the future. Avoiding adding a book to this list is worth the $18 that Bookpedia costs. Get it in the Mac App Store or from

In the next part of this series we’ll look at taking your library on the road.

Have you ever mistakenly bought the same book twice?


Books, Books. Adding Ebooks and others

oldbooksWhat can an book cataloging app do for you? As I continue my series on cataloging your home library, today we’re continuing to look at features that aren’t as common on other library cataloging apps, and are reasons I chose Bookpedia. (It is only for Mac computers. Look for a similar PC option if you aren’t blessed to own a Mac.)

Today we look at adding ebooks, audiobooks, and other formats–and related to that importing from other book cataloging apps.

1) Add ebooks. Many of the apps don’t have a auto add feature for ebooks. If the books don’t have an ISBN, you have to add them manually. Although I have a free ebook organizing app (Calibre), I really wanted to be able to add my ebooks to my regular library cataloging app, so all my books would be listed in one place.

With Bookpedia, ebooks that are in epub or pdf format that are on your computer can be dragged onto the app icon and they are automatically added to your library, format, image and all–including a link to the book on your computer to open the book up. Now that’s handy!

More details: After downloading an ebook to your computer, move it to the location you will be storing it on your computer (i.e. out of your Downloads folder and to an appropriate folder.) Then drag it to the Bookpedia icon on your Dock. When you add ebooks this way, a link is added to their entry, when clicked on the ebook is opened within Bookpedia. A folder called Imported PDFs (or whatever format) will be created. Finish any personal editing you want to do for the book(s), then click the gear at the bottom to “Include this Collection in Library”. After it’s in your main library you can delete the Import folder.

Ebooks in mobi /azw (for Kindle) can’t be added by this drag and drop, you can add them by copying the ASIN from Amazon and pasting into the search feature–or using a 2 step process (see Import below).

More details: After adding the book that you got from Amazon, if you have the Kindle app on your computer, sync it to add your new books. Then go to your Kindle Content folder on your computer and drag the file (named by ASIN) to the Links tab for that book on Bookpedia. When you click on the link it will open the book in your Kindle app. (In order to find your Content folder, you’ll need to change the location of the Content folder, so it isn’t hidden, in the Kindle app Preferences.)

If you have multiple copies of the same ebooks, that you would like to keep because they are in different formats (or whatever other reason), you can add the Links to each book in one entry, and delete the other entries. Each of these links will be listed in the Details for the book, and you can click on whichever you’d like to read. Tip! Name the links something helpful, such as [Book Name] (epub), [Book Name] (mobi), etc.

2) Audiobooks. I also wanted my audiobooks cataloged in the same place with my books, so I could have a complete list with all my book formats to carry with me everywhere. Auto adding would be a huge plus! Thank you Bookpedia.

More details: With Bookpedia, I was able to export my Audiobooks (from iTunes, by choosing Audiobooks, then Export Playlist, in XML format.) Then Import Collection into Bookpedia. It will import a new folder. Check and make any corrections or additions. (I actually did a bit of clean up before I exported, made sure authors names were consistent, etc.) Sections of audiobooks might be imported separately. To edit to have them all listed together (as 1 book) go to your iTunes Music > Audiobooks folder and for each audiobook, drag the links for each part into the Links tab of the first section of the book. You can then delete the extra listings (of the individual parts). Once all is edited as you desire, click the gear and add the Collection to your Library (as with ebooks above).

If you have other Audiobooks, not listed in the Audiobook folder in iTunes, just make a playlist of what you want and export from iTunes, then import into Bookpedia, as above.

3) Import. Books, Ebooks, Audiobooks. If you already have books that you’ve begun to catalog, you don’t want to begin back at square one. That’s where I was at when I got Bookpedia. I’d already been cataloging for several years with Booxter for my physical books, and Calibre for my ebooks, and of course my Audiobooks were in iTunes. I had tried importing into other apps–they didn’t work so well. Bookpedia did! I was able to import all of these easily into Bookpedia.

More details: If you have many ebooks already cataloged in Calibre, (which you can add mobi/azw format to by dragging and dropping,) you can export from Calibre in CSV format, and import into Bookpedia.

From Booxter, I exported as XML and exported the Images in a separate file. But they all imported in together great. I did have 1 glitch. The date I purchased the books did not import. I don’t know what I did wrong.

4) Other formats. We also use several educational DVDs and CDs. Since many do not have ISBN numbers, this is another time that searching/adding by ASIN or keywords can save you a lot of manual adding. Like ebooks and audiobooks, you can add direct Links to the files on your computer.

Now that your books–of all formats–are added, we’ll take a look at Viewing and Organizing your books next time.

If you have a library cataloging app, do you have all your various book formats added to it?



Books, Books. Adding Books

oldbooksWhat can an book cataloging app do for you? As I continue my series on cataloging your home library, today we’re going to begin looking at features. Although every app will have different features, and you shouldn’t expect to find all expanded features on a free or very cheap app, here are some of the features that are commonly found on many of the library cataloging apps for computers – and some areas where I believe Bookpedia goes above and beyond.

Adding Books

1) Add books automatically. Ability to add books by just typing in or scanning the ISBN number/barcode. When you enter the ISBN or Library of Congress number, the app will search the internet and bring up the information found for the book. It will fill in title, author, price, publisher, format, and other general information. Perhaps genre, subjects, summary, tags, etc.

bookpediaLogoLargeWith Bookpedia you are able to not only search by ISBN or LCC, but also by ASIN or even just keywords. You can set for yourself, which order you’d like online sites searched. When using keywords (or even complete title and author) you will get a list of many possibilities (some may be far from what book you’re looking for–so I wouldn’t set the Preferences for adding first entry automatically, but it does great expand your search abilities.) You can use various search limiters to further refine your searches.   Using ASIN numbers is very helpful for automatically adding ebooks, DVD’s or other formats that don’t have ISBN numbers, without having to sort through keyword results. If added through the search feature, Bookpedia will also add a URL of where the book is found/was added from.

2) Add books manually. For old, obscure or others without ISBN or other searchable info, you can type all the info in by hand. This of course is the harder way, but for those antique books, it’s great that you can add everything you need on your own.

With Bookpedia the keyword search may help you have far fewer manual adds.

3) Add personal information. Even for books for which general info is added automatically, you are able to add personal information. Where and when you bought the book, how much you paid, where the book is located, condition, rating, when you last read it, other notes and comments, and if you have lent it out.

With Bookpedia, you can also add custom fields for any other info you’d like, as well as info if you are selling the book. You can even add books you haven’t bought yet–on your Wish List. An automatic smartlist is created for Borrowed and Wish List. If you’d like, Bookpedia will also send a reminder email automatically to those who have borrowed your books, when they are due.

Editing multiple entries can be a helpful timesaver in many instances, such as when you purchase several books at once from the same place. After adding the general info for each book, select them all and choose edit, add the information that is common to all and save.

4) Add images. If you’ve added your books by ISBN, it will have added an image added if there was one at the site it pulled the book info from. If not, you can add an image from another source, either dragging or copying and pasting from either your computer or the internet.

With Bookpedia you can also search Google images from within the app. I have found so many images this way that didn’t come up in the regular search. Also, since this is a built in brower, if I know where I got the book or where it may be available, I can go to that site within this search and find the image there. This has been super helpful for me. Bookpedia also has the ability to capture an image with your computer’s built in camera.

These are the basics for adding books. In the next part of this series we’ll look at adding other things, such as ebooks, DVD’s, CD’s and Audiobooks.

If you have a Library Cataloging app, what features for adding books do you like best?


Books, Books. Begin with an App

oldbooksIf you read last week’s article (the beginning of this series), and followed the link in it, you know that I think a library cataloging app/program is the way to go for cataloging your home library, large or small. I’ve been using Booxter for several years, and haven’t been displeased with it, but have desired a little more flexibility and customization. Last year I began looking, and testing out other apps. I tried several different ones, from free to more-than-I-really-wanted-to-spend. I also hoped to find one that would be a good fit for both Mac and Windows users.

Although I think Book Collector may be a good one for that, it is not what I went with. Since most of my library was already cataloged, I wanted an app that would easily import the work I’d already done. I did not want to have to start from scratch to enter my 2000+ physical books, plus another close to a couple thousand more in other formats. Book Collector, did not import well with Mac. For you that are starting from scratch anyhow, or have a Windows computer instead of Mac, you may want to begin looking there. It appears to have great features, and they were very helpful in answering questions, but I couldn’t try it out much for my situation. If you have Windows, that’s the best I can tell you about. If you have a Mac though, don’t jump too fast there. Use their free trial, if you’d like, but don’t buy till you take a look at what I did get.

bookpediaLogoLargeSo what did I pick? Bookpedia. Look for my next article to see why–and what features you may want to look for in a cataloging app.

Do you already have a cataloging system for your home library? If so, what do you use?


Books, Books. How Do I Keep Track of Them?

oldbooksIf you homeschool, you most likely have books around your house. There may be many. There may be few. They may be old. They may be new. (End of rhyme.) They may be real (physical/printed) books or they may be digital ebooks (on your computer or e-reader) or, more than likely, you own a combination of both types. You may also even have audiobooks that you listen to. As a homeschooler, there’s even a good chance that you are a bibliophile–a lover, and perhaps collector, of books.

If you have more than just a few books and/or more than one child, it may be difficult to keep up with exactly what you do have (in books, not children). There is a constant stream of free ebook downloads for home educators, in addition to the plethora of old public domain books available in free ebook format, and those can really add up and get scattered and buried in the digital space of your computer.

In this new series of articles, I’m going to address some ways to help you organize and catalog all your books–printed, ebooks and audiobooks. The not-so-secret answer to this dilemma is a computer database. But how to do that easily, though not a secret, may be not well known. It takes a bit of time initially, to get it set up. (How much time depends on how many books you already have.) But it is truly a time saver–and money saver–in the long run. There are many great benefits of doing this cataloging–insurance purposes being one–and it can be done relatively painlessly. It doesn’t (like you may presume) take long arduous hours of manually typing in all the info you want to store about your books.

Subscribe (to get updates to your email) to start learning how you can do this (or check back tomorrow). In the meantime, here’s a clip from what I wrote in 2008, on the beginnings of the journey I’ve taken to do this.

So, how do I keep track of all these books? Well, when children sneak them off and don’t return them, I have been known to buy duplicates. I see a book, and think, “Hmm, I know that’s been on my to-buy list for several years, but I thought I bought it.” I look on the shelf, where it should be, and it isn’t there, so I buy it again. Only later – usually much later – to have the original show up in some child’s possession. …

read the rest here

Have you ever done this, bought duplicate books? If so, you need to read this series.