What are some good software solutions to help organize a small personal library?
January 24, 2012 2:47 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a software solution to help organize a small personal library.

My wife and I have just moved, so our books are still in boxes. I'd like to seize the opportunity and catalog and organize our personal library - give some books away, catalog everything I have and hopefully shelve them neatly with help of a mobile or PC app of some sort. It's not a large library - I think it's around 300-400 books at most.

Ideally, the solution I am looking for would work more or less this:

1) I take a book out of a box and either scan the barcode with my Android/iPhone device or type the ISBN.
2) The phone queries a database, finds my book, I confirm it and the book is saved on an online database (like LibraryThing for example). The online database part is important - I'd like to be able to look at this database from different computers, my phone, etc.
3) I set the book aside and move to the next one.

Rinse, repeat until all books are in the system. At that point I would move to the PC and be able to browse the database to sort and filter them by author, title, subject or whatever, and I would then use that sorted list to shelve the books neatly organized.

Is there a solution (or a combination of solutions) that does this? I've seen this past question that makes no mention of a phone app, and since it's almost four years old, I thought I'd ask for other newer alternatives that may have appeared in the meantime.
posted by falameufilho to Technology (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
What's wrong with LibraryThing?
posted by desjardins at 2:53 PM on January 24, 2012

Response by poster: Doesn't have a mobile app, which means I would have to buy a scanner. Which is fine, I can type the ISBNs, but if I could avoid that, it would be super.
posted by falameufilho at 2:56 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good Reads has an iPhone app with barcode scanner. I haven't used it, but I know someone who has for a few titles. Not sure how great it is for a lot of items.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2012

I use Goodreads and the bar code scanner has never failed me. The website will sort by whatever you want to sort by, you can tag things, and it keeps track of things that are read or not read. Also useful being able to search the database from a web browser or your phone.
posted by bradbane at 3:09 PM on January 24, 2012

iBookshelf is what I have been using for my circa-5000 volume library. It is slightly buggy, but the scanning of the bar codes works pretty well (At a guess, I would say 97% of the time it gives me the right info, 2.7% of the time it gives me no data, and 0.3% of the time it gives me some other book).

Of course, a lot of my books predate bar codes, so I will eventually have to get around to entering them all manually.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:25 PM on January 24, 2012

I would add that iBookshelf also keeps track of read or not, owned/wanted/borrowed/lent out/removed, hardcover/softcover/e-book, price, location, and a few other things.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:26 PM on January 24, 2012

You can use the "custom URL" functionality in the barcode scanner on an Android phone to inject an ISBN into the LibraryThing app, but it's a pretty clunky process. To be honest, LT's data input screens are flat-out poor. But once you get the data in there and combined with everyone else's it is so rich that the other aspects of the site - recommendations and series especially - are pretty amazing.

If you can export a list of ISBNs from another application, LT will consume them en masse. You'll still have to tag manually, though.
posted by Leon at 3:33 PM on January 24, 2012

Goodreads' barcode scanner is not bad. As with any cell phone camera scanner thing it's slower than a retail or library laser scanner, but it's a hell of a lot easier than typing in ISBNs by hand. It won't get everything, though, so you will still end up inputing a lot of books by hand (I probably had to do ~10% of my books by hand, but I had already gotten rid of a lot of the more easily replaceable books in my library and so my books were probably skewing old and foreign; obviously your mileage will vary depending on what you've got).

Also, if you want to use another program, you can export your Goodreads books to a .csv if you want to keep the data somewhere else.
posted by mskyle at 3:41 PM on January 24, 2012

LibraryThing does have an Android app, although it is crap. A much better Android app is Book Catalog, which can then batch-upload to Library Thing.

I'm faster typing in stacks of books on my number pad by ISBN, but Book Catalog is pretty speedy and useful when I don't want to have my computer right there while I enter books. You can also type ISBNs into Book Catalog on the phone if you prefer.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:21 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another reason to use Goodreads over LibraryThing is that LT is only free for 200 books. A lifetime personal account costs $25 (or $10 per year).
posted by soelo at 7:06 PM on January 24, 2012

Another vote for Goodreads! I scanned all my books and the only ones it failed to recognise were those that had a store specific barcode stuck over the one printed on the back of the book. The recommendations functionality is pretty good too.
posted by eloeth-starr at 12:54 AM on January 25, 2012

LIBRARYTHING. (And no, I am not shouting.)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:15 PM on January 25, 2012

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