I have spent a lot of time and energy into organizing my book collection. Probably too much. I would hate to think how much reading or writing I could have done in the time I have spent creating, maintaining, and redoing an inventory of my collection. I love planning and organization. In the past, I have used a couple different forms of cataloging, so I though I’d share what I use.
When configuring how I wanted to catalog, I wanted something that I could access on the go, so it needed to be either an app or properly view-able in the browser. While there are some great options out there for large catalogs to keep on your hard drive (some even come with a mobile app), I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. A $40-50 program is a lot for someone on a budget, especially when there are some great free options out there. I have tried quite a few of them and settled on an approach that works for me. I use multiple platforms, and each serves it’s own purpose.
Libib – My personal library tracker
So, I am assuming that not many people have heard of Libib. If you have, you likely aren’t using it. Just going off of Facebook “likes,” which of course means everything, Libib doesn’t even have 1,500. As opposed to Goodreads’ over 750k. I just discovered it a little over a year ago, but I am hooked. Both the website and app are aesthetically pleasing, and I find it easy to navigate and maintain. Due to what I see as a lack of popularity, I think it deserves it’s own introduction. I believe more people should be using it, so I will write a separate post focusing solely on Libib, from how to start an account all the way to maintaining it. For now, I will just talk about how I currently use it.
As you can see from the screenshot above, you can have many different “Libraries,” up to 100 in the free version of the program. One hundred different libraries with room to store 100,000 items! If you need to add more, just contact them. Due to my limited space and a husband asking me to restrict my physical books (for now…), I have only categorized six libraries (you can’t see Music in the screenshot). I haven’t even found the time to input the Movies, Music and Games! I think the titles of my Libraries are self-explanatory, but I’ll talk about each briefly.
Home Library contains all the physical copies of my books, including comics and my husband’s books. I will likely separate James’ into a new library collection, despite the small amount, since I have no intention of reading the Bill James Handbook any time soon. Anthony (my son) has a big library all his own. The catalog desperately needs updated, but since I usually give them to him right away, all the new books get lost in the shuffle. I kept e-books separate, since I do have both physical and digital copies of some novels, or I would like to do so in the future. It also makes searching while at a store much easier. At a quick glance, I can see that a book belongs in the E-book Libarary, and I’ll know I do not own a physical copy rather than having to check tags.
While I use tags, the best part of Libib is the grouping feature. As you can see in the screenshot on the right, after linking books together in a group, they will appear together in a row. This comes especially in handy if the titles of the respective books are not alphabetically the same (A Song of Ice and Fire comes to mind here). It makes it easier to spot which book of a series you could be missing. I group books by series mostly, with the occasional grouping of similar books. For example, I own a lot of Warcraft lore novels. However, while there is a chronological system to them, they are not technically a series, but I link them under the group “Warcraft.”
Despite having options to record when you started a book, when you finished it, and so on, I use the “Status” to mark only that I have completed the book. I have marked certain books “Abandoned,” when I have no intention of reading them (see: previous comment about Bill James), but I will likely change that system when I move those books to a separate library. And while the Pro version offers a Lending system (the Pro version looks amazing!), since I have no intention of purchasing at this time, I use the Notes section to mark if a book has been borrowed.
Libib has some other great features, but I don’t use them as much as I should. In addition to a 5 star rating, you can also write a review, and in turn, read reviews by other users. I try to save my reviews (when I write them) for this blog, so I don’t take part in the social aspect much. I could easily do a quick rating, but I do that for all books I read within a separate system.
GoodReads – For keeping track of my “read” list
I am pretty sure I don’t need to say much about Goodreads. It is clearly the go-to choice for many readers out there. It is great in so many ways, as I will list below. However, the way you denote whether you own a book is a bit lacking. They have this “owned book” tag that is not very intuitive, and while trying to use the app out at the store, that tag isn’t even present (at least that I have found). So while it once housed all of the books I owned to read, I have since converted it to a simpler use.
I moved all of the books that I owned but had not read to their own shelf, entitled the clever “owned-to-read.” Despite keeping my Libib library updated, I also maintain it here. Goodreads is where I keep track of the books I am currently reading, so by keeping my owned books listed, it makes it easier to grab them and switch shelves. My “to-read” shelf is a list of books that have piqued my interest, and obviously my “read” shelf are books that I have read since starting this catalog, and a few I tried to remember from before. I use additional shelves as tags, which I mostly just use for curiosity. Goodreads has some great stats, and I love to see how many of each genre I read (hint: it’s almost all fantasy).
I give each book I read an immediate rating on the 5 star scale. No deliberating over notes or letting it sink in. I mark how I felt about it immediately after reading, and I have almost never returned to them. If I am writing a review later for the blog, I’ll use it as a stepping stone. The main reason I use Goodreads is to maintain a list of everything I have read. I have a very poor memory. An accident when I was young caused me to have issues with my working memory, so not only will I forget the details of a book I read just a few months ago, but I might even forget I read it all together. Goodreads helps me with the latter, and I am hoping that by doing some more reviews, the blog will help me with the former.
The part that people love most about Goodreads is the social aspect. I don’t really take part in the community, but I do use it to browse and get recommendations. It has also helped decide what book I will read next. If I am stuck between two books, I’ll often read the reviews for both before choosing.
While there is an option to add an “order number” to the books on your shelves, it is limited. I don’t want to have to reorder 185 “owned-to-read” books just to tell myself that I want to read three of them in a certain order. And that’s where my last system comes into play.
Excel (Google Docs) – For reading things in a certain order
I enjoy using this program for certain “reading lists.” If the type of thing I want to read doesn’t fall into a typical book category, I usually make my own. Or maybe, like I stated above, I want to read something in a particular order.
I have been playing World of Warcraft for over 10 years, and if you’ve read my post about video game violence, you’ll know that’s how I met my husband. So when the movie came out (which I very much enjoyed), it got me in the mood to read more lore. Side note: many of the lore books, particularly ones by Christie Golden, are exceptional fantasy without having to be into Warcraft. I found a list of how to read the stories in chronological, not published, order, so I created the organized list above.
The great thing about Excel is that it is fully customizable. You are not forced into any information you do not want to give, and you can add as many status options as you’d like in any way you’d like. As you can see from my Warcraft reading list, I have a field denoting if I have read the book with a simple “Y” input, but I could easily change that option to color coding. The field for “Location” gives me a link to the online short stories or to purchase a book from Amazon. The “Notes” column lets me sort by type, just in case I want to quickly read all the short stories available online first. Once I have read the book, I’ll add it to Goodreads, if it’s listed, and rate it. And if I purchase it, I’ll add it to Libib.
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It may seem like my method is hectic, especially when it comes to multiple listings for the same book. I am sure I could rig each one of these systems to contain all of the information I currently keep in three. But, often, I like to keep things separate, and as an avid reader, I have found a system that works for me. Do you use any of these systems? How do you keep track of your physical collection or read books? Let me know in the comments.