How can I organize books on my Kindle?
February 22, 2017 11:27 AM   Subscribe

I use a Kindle Paperwhite for reading. Thanks to sites like Bookbub I own many books, all of which currently reside on the Kindle, and I want to read them in the order purchased. Sounds simple, right? But I can't figure out how to organize them that way on the Kindle.

So far, I've been using my Goodreads account to help me. I have a lengthy list of books on the "owned, unread" shelf and I can easily organize them by date purchased. So when I'm nearing the end of one book, I consult my Goodreads shelf, search by title on the Kindle, and open it up so it's ready for me to read. This method works, but is admittedly Byzantine and sometimes has me getting out of bed and booting up the computer just to find out which book is next up. As with most things dealing with the computer, I could just tinker around on the Kindle to figure this out, but it is so painfully slow (think "dial-up slow") at any task other than turning pages that I was hoping someone could just tell me how to do it.
posted by DrGail to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
On my (non-Paperwhite) Kindle, books are in order of purchase unless I put them into folders. Is the Paperwhite different?
Since organizing hundreds of books into folders manually is a pain in the butt, I tend to do that on Calibre, a computer programme - but haven't in quite a while, so chaos reigns on my poor old Kindle.

You could also put the Goodreads app on your phone if you have a smartphone, but I realise that doesn't really solve this problem.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 11:46 AM on February 22, 2017

"Sort your content - From the Home screen, tap My Library, tap the right drop-down menu in the upper right corner of the screen (below the Menu icon), and then tap Recent, Title, Author, or Collection."

That is from this page on Amazon. I think that Recent is going to give you the newest books first, so you'd need to scroll down to find your oldest book.
posted by soelo at 12:11 PM on February 22, 2017

The Kindle's "recent" sort doesn't sort by date of purchase, it sorts by last accessed. You may have purchased a book five years ago, but if you send it to your Kindle today it'll appear as the most recent entry.

A clunky, not entirely satisfactory workaround might be to move them into collections by month of purchase. That way you could at least know that everything in one collection was purchased in November of 2016, even if it's not possible to see the exact order in which you bought them.

It's a drag. I usually wind up pulling out my phone to manage my content on the Amazon site or via Goodreads.
posted by Lexica at 12:12 PM on February 22, 2017

It is a pain: there is no good way to do it on the Kindle. If you put the books on your Kindle immediately after you buy them, you can sort by "recent" but as Lexica points out, "recent" refers to last-accessed rather than date-of-purchase.

I personally have a folder outside of the documents path where I put new books when I purchase them but want to read other books first (so they're on my Kindle but not viewable in the main Kindle homescreen, eg if I buy an entire series at once and I don't want to risk accidentally reading later volumes out of order), so you could try something like this, but it's obviously non-ideal.
posted by angst at 12:19 PM on February 22, 2017

When I add a book to Calibre, before transferring it to my Kindle or iPad, I edit the title to include the year of publication and the series, if any. It's far easier to edit in Calibre than on the Kindle itself.

For example, the title of Ngaio March's Enter a Murderer becomes "Enter a Murderer (#2 Roderick Alleyn, 1935)". This makes it much easier to figure out which book I want to read next.

You could edit your titles to include the date of purchase.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 12:40 PM on February 22, 2017

This is actually one of those things that has gotten increasingly difficult on Kindle itself. I have the Voyager -- and love it -- and I am religious about maintaining a Currently Reading and Read set of Collections, but that still doesn't get me a comprehensive list of what I have and what I haven't read yet. Moreover, as noted above, the "recent" sort doesn't do it by purchase date, but by how recently you've messed with the book.

What does work fairly well for me is to go online to Amazon to the Kindle "Manage Your Content and Devices" page, which does indeed sort by date acquired, and look at the books I've purchased there.

I also keep track of my books on Goodreads, which is wonderful for many purposes. You could create a Purchased shelf there if you wanted, and maintain it as you go.
posted by bearwife at 12:51 PM on February 22, 2017

This isn't much of an alternative, but I keep the books that I've read on a local drive (and a backup), and my Nook only has the books I have not yet read. When I've read all the ones on my Nook, I move them off the device and use Calibre to put new ones on. It's not a good solution if you want to keep your entire library on your Kindle, but it makes it a little easier to keep track.

Maybe consider archiving items once you've read them? (Only applicable toward purchased books, but it's an option.)
posted by Autumnheart at 1:23 PM on February 22, 2017

I connected my Goodreads account to my Kindle Paperwhite. Amazon bought Goodreads a few years ago. You can rate books on goodreads from the Kindle, search Goodreads, etc. I don't remember exactly how to make the connection, somewhere in the settings (I know, it's so painfully slow). And I can't promise that when you do make the connection, you can access your shelves. But that might be a way to at least avoid getting out of bed to check your Goodreads account. (I'm assuming you don't have a smartphone you sleep with in bed? There's a Goodreads app.)
posted by thebazilist at 8:20 PM on February 22, 2017

You can handle the "what to read next" problem by hacking the Recent sort choice. Determine the next X books you want to read and open (and close) them in reverse order. They will be sorted with the most recently opened first, the next book to read below it, etc.
posted by lhauser at 9:51 PM on February 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Amazon's official answer to this is Cloud Collections, which now syncs between computer and Kindle.
posted by WCityMike at 3:00 PM on February 24, 2017

What you want is the Collections feature - Cloud based or just Kindle-based. A Collection is basically a tag - so a book can be in multiple collections, e.g., mystery, to-read, humor. Or Bought-in-2015, however you want to organize.

On your Kindle, you would create the Collection from the menu on the Home screen. Then touch the menu icon at the right, and choose Add/Remove Items. You get a list of your books, which you can then sort by author, title, or recent. Then you just check the box next to each one you want in the collection.

Once everything has been assigned to Collections, you can change your Display to Collection View, and you'll get a much shorter alphabetical list of Collections, followed by any items which aren't in any collections ( I tend to leave the to-read list there, for easy access).

Yes, the assigning part will be slow, but you'll only have to do it once. Then, each new book purchased can have collections assigned when you first download it.
posted by timepiece at 11:23 AM on February 28, 2017

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