Sorting books and a little bit more

Calibre is a software for managing and creating ebooks and it’s free

Why am I writing about sorting books and start with an ebook software? Because you can manage all your books with Calibre not just the ebooks but you have to look for it 🙂

But let’s start at the beginning of my book sorting journey:

I was searching for a tool to catalogue my books. There are countless solutions out there and searching for them was quite a pain because many don’t actually show much of what you can do with them (without creating an account…) and there were some bad things written about some of them… but this post is not supposed to be a comparison of all possible solutions out there (I don’t have time for that – sorry – and it is up to your preference anyway)

Finally I decided to try – it is not as social as for example (I haven’t tried goodreads so all comparison is from what I read about it from others) and as I don’t want to share my collection with my friends so…

Libib allows you to define as many libraries of books, movies or games as you want. You have to assign a name and a description to the library and you can start adding things.

Adding books / movies / games is easy – you just have to type (I think you can also scan if you have a scanner…) the ISBN / UPC and hit enter… if you have some books without ISBN (yes I do have books that old) you can also create an entry manually or search for title or author.

So I added books upon books into libib and was quite happy; it was working so fine. (Workflow: take a couple of books from shelf, add ISBNs in libib and check if it’s the correct book, put book somewhere else (I collected books with out ISBN in one place and added them later by hand) and put back the books onto the shelves when done with all books) Until I was done adding. Then I started to realize some problems I had with books (mostly):

1 – you can’t sort by author – I know you can search for the author but I sort my books by author… not funny after 300 books :/ – also you can’t sort by added date or anything beside title (and libib didn’t recognise German articles for title sort… and I have the correct country in my settings…) (I thought I could sort the books onto my shelves and then just add the shelf as a tag in libib… I shouldn’t have thought so much 😦 )

2 – you can’t add tags to a just added book (on the add page) – you have to add tags to books by opening up the library and searching for the book and then adding the tag

3 – you can’t change information about the item, you can add your own notes but you can’t change what libib found online … even if it is wrong

4 – you can’t mass select items and add them to a group or tag them… every item has to be configured individually (I have book series with over 10 items… uuuurgh)

5 – no auto complete for tags or groups (so if you mistyped the group you have two groups…)

okay I can live without adding tags when adding a book, mass selection and auto complete but not being able to sort books how I want is sadly a no go, so even if I really like the look and feel of libib I had to find something different for my books 😦

For games and movies – it’s not a problem for me, as I sort them by title and not by actor, director or year – and I still have my collections in libib

(edit: libib has claimed new features are coming soon so maybe some of my problems will be dealt with in the update *hopes*)

Enter stage left: calibre

But first:

— Flashback: some weeks ago… —

before I started with my normal books I looked first at calibre as a tool to sort and manage my collection of ebooks as sorting them on a kindle is hard and troublesome (try to find a book on a kindle with just knowing a topic or something like that and yes I know there is a search function but it’s not always helping)

When you start with calibre you get an intro how to move books between calibre and a kindle and after a little search what plug-in you need to also have the kindle collections in calibre… just for me to notice I didn’t read far enough (or it wasn’t on the page I started with) because collections in calibre don’t work with kindle touch… *start bawling your eyes out right about now* and in the intro you are told how to sync your books on your PC and your kindle but I don’t want to have a copy of the books on my laptop I just want to have the name and you know summary, basic information (preferably with in which kindle collection the book is…)

calibre exit stage left…

— Flashback ending here —

Now as I already said I didn’t want to have a copy of the book on my laptop so I thought about it even after I more or less discarded it. Calibre seemed to me like a really great software so I started to search for calibre without ebook (try to find a search term for that I know I didn’t) but after shifting through several forums and blogs etc. I found something totally unrelated to my ebook problem… someone posted how he used calibre to manage his normal books.

Now I didn’t look at calibre for managing normal books – it says clearly on the page it’s for ebooks… but when you dig a little you can add books by ISBN. In fact you can add lists of ISBNs and calibre will create an ’empty’ book (without ebook files) for you.

You can export a .csv file with all information about your books from libib (big plus there) and it will include ISBN if there is one in libib. Just filter the books with ISBN in the spreadsheet program of your choice and copy the list into calibre (you can even add a tag like ‘print’ to all the books you are importing… I didn’t figure that out until after I added most books but it’s not problem in calibre or you can import books from files with a calibre plugin). Yes you will have to add older books by hand (or cheat and find a newer edition with ISBN, let calibre add it and later on change or delete ISBN, publishing date, publisher or what ever it’s just a click in calibre)

Adding books by ISBN in calibre is not as comfortable as in libib, but calibre was not created for it either…

The plus side for me is clear as day (summer day – it is quite foggy outside)

– you can sort by what ever you like (title (without article, language doesn’t matter, you can configure the title used for sorting), author (by last name, you can change that if you really want, too), added date, or what ever you have in your overview, you can sort it)

– you can have virtual libraries (like one for fiction, non fiction, print, ebooks, …) as long as you can search for the books somehow (hint: tag ‘print’, ‘fiction’, ‘non-fiction’,…) and books can be in several of these libraries at the same time without double entries

– the tag browser is genius, I especially love how you can invert the search by tag (e.g. select the tag ‘print’ – you will see all books in your current library tagged with ‘print’ – click on ‘print’ again and it will show you all books without the tag ‘print’)

– plugins for added functionality… what ever you like and/or need 🙂

If you spend a little time with calibre you figure it out quite fast, I’m sure. The only down side I found until now, are the updates. *never thought I would say that – shakes head*

Calibre is actively maintained, which is great, but in the last four weeks I got as many updates. I haven’t checked what the updates are about but one update every two weeks would be nice as well *just saying*

Over all calibre really is a great tool for books and I think I have babbled about it enough for now 🙂

PS: one day I will figure out a way for my ebooks as well *lol*

PPS: So I thought what the hell and synchronised my ebooks from kindle to my laptop (I figured out you can actually delete the ebook file later *proud of me*) and actually decided now that I will keep the ebooks on my laptop as well… (you can do many many things with them e.g. count pages / words with a plugin). Having the copy helps with keeping things up to date and without double entries… hopefully.

But be careful with downloading metadata for your kindle books – if you change the title of the book in calibre (and are not sending the whole file to your reader again? – I haven’t tried that out), the book will be not shown as already synchronised with the kindle … I just disabled the metadata download for the book title and it’s not a problem any more 🙂

2 thoughts on “Sorting books and a little bit more

  1. Just desire to say your article is as surprising.

    The clearness on your publish is simply great and i can suppose you are a professional in this subject.

    Fine with your permission let me to seize your RSS feed to keep up to date with approaching post.

    Thank you a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

  2. Dear Drupal Adventuress,

    I am currently also checking out libib an concur with most of your critical points.

    Did you stumble across any similar, web-based services?

    Thanks and best,

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