Discovering a Solution to My Organizational Nightmare!

The other day, I was lamenting trying to properly catalogue and keep track of my books. I’d checked out LibraryThing.com; and while it’s very cool, it doesn’t have the functionality I need.

Perhaps four hours after the post went live, I got a Facebook message from a friend suggesting I try Books for Mac OSX. It’s an open-source program that some of his friends had tried and thought was terrific.

I spent a good chunk of Monday afternoon messing about with it, and it’s pretty phenomenal!

Check this out:

Adding a book to your library is easy-just input the ISBN and away you go!

Adding a book to your library is easy-just input the ISBN and away you go!

Adding a title to Books is easy; all you need is the ISBN. Just type it in (or scan it using your webcam), press QuickFill and Books populates your fields from Amazon, ISBNdb.com or the Library of Congress.

When you’re done, you’ll have something that looks like this:

Your books can appear as a cover gallery, or as a list

Your books can appear as a cover gallery, or as a list

Your books appear in an alphabetical (by title) list as a cover gallery, giving you a visual reminder of what each book looks like. Selecting a book brings up a larger cover image as well as the books details, including author, publisher, genre and publication date.

You can even check-in and check-out books so you always know who has them

You can even check-in and check-out books so you always know who has them

Keeping track of books is pretty easy too; all you have to do is open up the book’s lending history, and add a new entry whenever someone borrows a book. This way, you never have to wonder whether or not a book’s still on loan.

Create Smart Lists based on the data captured in your records

Create Smart Lists based on the data captured in your records

One of the last neat features that I’ve picked up on so far is the Smart List. With these, you can automatically generate new lists of books based on any of the existing pieces of data in your library. So if you want to have a list of all books in your library by a certain author, or (for some reason) publisher, you can do that pretty easily.

So there you have it, book-lovers. Books for Mac OSX is a wonderfully simple application to use great way to keep track of books in a way that makes sense.

Give it a shot. I’m sure you’ll love it.

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  • Keystone

    This appeals to me for I have a tremendous quantity of books that I enjoy rereading over the years. I generally organize by author, but like what was presented here.

    However, my question veers elsewhere.
    When I go to the Public Library and take out 20 books and magazines, their computer marks the date I walked out with the book.
    Books are out for three weeks; magazines only one week.
    Both can be renewed (even online) ONCE, unless a book is on “Reserve” by others, then there is no renewal allowed. (Folks pay to reserve).

    Fines accumulate after the due dates.

    When you lend your books to friends or colleagues, you certainly do not fine them, nor get excited about “renewal”. But how do you establish a return date for the book?

    Have you ever asked for a book back and the person said “I gave that back a long time ago?

    Even this system of recording is your word against their word.
    Not to make a big deal here, but I have lent several books that have never come back. What do YOU do regarding lending periods?

    Last, my public library deserves kudos. When it it two days before a book is due, they send me an email with all pertinent information on any and all books due in two days. I can wrap up my reading and return it; or renew it all online.

    I do not think people intentionally take books; I suspect people just forget.
    Outside of the public library “fines”, what is your policy on obtaining returns reasonably?

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      I just nag :) (kidding)

      Generally I don’t bug people too much about return dates, as long as I get them back eventually. About the only time even start asking is after someone’s had a book for a month or more–and then it’s primarily to see if they’ve had an opportunity to read it.

  • http://michaelkrahn.com/blog Michael Krahn

    Aaron,

    As you can tell, I’m behind on reading your blog.

    This is amazing! I’m using it! Just got back from a book buying trip to Grand Rapids.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Welcome back, sir! How was the book-buying trip? Any books in particular I should be on the look-out for?

  • http://michaelkrahn.com/blog Michael Krahn

    Here are pics of the covers of the newer books I bought this weekend. (There are another 6 vintage books – Merton, Lewis, and some commentaries)—> http://bit.ly/1Jgeiz

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      That sir, is a very diverse selection. The Living Church by Stott is wonderful.