What Is the Best App For Inventorying E-books?

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Dear Jane: What is the best i-app to use for book inventory? I have an iPod Touch that travels with me and have fiddled with some of the apps but so far haven't found 'the one' to fit this need.
Currently I have all my books listed on an Excel spreadsheet - it works great when I'm at home in front of the computer, but is useless when I'm at a bookstore trying to remember what books I do/don't have, what's on my 'to get' list and what I've already read.

Oh, and it'll need to handle a LOT of books, like 2000+ for my current list with room to grow... Any suggestions? ~ S


Dear S: I tested out the ones for the iPhone/iTouch and I like myBookshelf app the very best. Unfortunately, you would have to have the Google ID for each book to be able to import your list, but by searching on the author's name, you can easily add books to your inventory i-app.

Here's a review of the apps I tested:

Reading List ($1.99): The app allows you to assign a photo based on your photo roll to each entry. You can use a photo of the author or the cover of the book. You must enter all the information manually and allows only for Title + Author. You can assign the book to four different categories: Reading Now, Saved for Later, Wish List, and Finished Reading. You can also add notes. I do not recommend it.

myBooks ($1.99). You can add books manually or online. By doing "online", you enter a search term that can either be a title or an author. The app then lists your search results. Once you accept a particular book, it is added to your "List". Once it is in your "List" you can edit all the information. The only field that is not added is the "Genre". You will need to add those manually.

The "Wish" database keeps a record of the books that you want to buy and once you have bought it, hit the "Bought it!" button and it moves it to the "List" section. There is also a notation for lending.

You can sort by Title, Genre, Rating, or Purchase Date. The drawbacks include the date of publication is by year only and you can only view your lists by cover.

My Bookshelf ($2.99): *Recommended* You can add books by searching the Google book database. You have to choose to search by title, author, ISBN, or publisher. (The drawback is the number of steps to reach the search box. I want to hit search and be able to immediately start typing out my search. This one I had to hit search twice).

MyBookshelf has the most fields or detail for each book entry. It includes space for Title, subtitle and Author. You can rate your books by stars. You are also allowed to add Publisher, Editor, Illustrator, Release Date, Genre, Edition, Series, Number in Series, Dimensions, Length, Language, Retail Price, Location of purchase, Purchase Date, Copies purchased, Storage Location, Condition, Collection, Tag, ISBN, Dewey Decimal, and LCC. Whew!

With "Format" you can designate whether the book is audio, digital, hardcover, mass market, paperback or trade paperback.

There are a ton of customization features including currency (so if you are an international user, you can set it for your country's currency).

You can designate which of the book details I listed above that you actually see. For instance, maybe you don't need the Dewey Decimal and LCC details. From the book detail page, you can recommend the book to a friend.

You can move a book from the Library to the Wishlist and from the Wishlist, you can "Buy" the book and add your retail price, purchase date, location and copies. You can create collections and create a "smart collection" based on the rules you set. This is like a smart playlist.

You can import a csv file or xml file of your books but it needs to have a Google ID which is not, unfortunately, the ISBN or anything recognizable. I found this to be a useless feature.

If you don't like the dark look of the app, you are out of luck. That is one thing that is not customizable. You can't add books by scanning an ISBN like the BooksApp. Finally, you can publish the books that are in your collection. In my opinion, this i-app is the best of the lot.

Libri ($1.99). This book catalogue app is really stripped down but the one nice feature is that it allowed me to add several books from the search page but that is about the only nice feature to this book cataloguing app. This is a feature of My Bookshelf as well so it doesn't make sense to spend $1.99 on this app. You view only by list and you must enter a search term to filter each time. There are no saved searches or preset searches (i.e., sorting by title/author/purchase date). You must have an ISBNdb.com account (which is free) in order to use the web to populate your book data.

The book details are limited to Title, Author, Publisher, Year, Location 1, Location 2, Location 3, ISBN and notes. No cover image is included. Don't recommend.

ItemShelf ($1.99). This app allows you to add books by taking pictures of the books' ISBN code. In fact, you can take a series of pictures with your iPhone and then add them to your library later. You must have either an iPhone 3GS or higher or a micro lens app for your iPhone 3G. I tried it with Ned's 3Gs and the scanning of the ISBN did not work on half the books that BooksApp did.

You can also add books via ISBN or keyword search.

The included book detail is: Rating, Tags, Memo (personal notes entered by you), Title, Author, Manufacturer (publisher), Category which defaults to "Books" but you could change it; Price, Code (customizable) and ASIN (this is Amazon's unique identifier).

You can have different shelves to organize your books and then view the data by single title or four to a shelf. One neat feature is the "Smart Shelf" which is based off the smart playlist idea. You can have shelves self populate based upon star rating, tag, publisher, author, etc.

I don't recommend this one because I think BooksApp does a better job at adding books based on taking pictures of the books' ISBN but BooksApp does require iPhone 4.0OS so if adding books using the ISBN scanner is important, this is probably the app you want to get if you don't have an iPhone with 4.0.

BookLover ($.99). This bookshelf is interesting with lots of interesting extras but not very focused on a good books' database. You have to enter all your books manually and you are allotted space for just author and title. You can save your entries as "reading", "to read" and "read". You then assign one of five different faux leather covers as a cover to your book. From the detail page, you can add personal notes, share your book via email or on Facebook and look at related books from the Goodreads.com database.

iBookshelf ($1.99): This is a highly rated book inventory app. It seeks out 15 different databases to autofill book details for you based on a title or author search. Once the book is in your library, you can search for places to buy the book and libraries with the book based on your "current location". That's pretty neat.

The book detail includes Author, Title, ISBN, Series, Series No., Genre (which is pre-filled), Rating, Format, Status, Lent to, Price, and Read. There is also a comment field.

The GoodReads Reviews ratings are included and you can read the reviews from within the app. Very cool.

It is also one app that allows you to note which format you have the book in, whether it is hardcover, paperback, e-book or audio book. It also includes a series and series number detail.

You can quickly look at a list of books that you want, you've lent out, or you want to read.

You can backup your database via email. You can also email yourself a CSV list. You can import a CSV file but importing a CSV file will erase all your existing data.

BooksApp ($1.99). *Recommended* Books App was the easiest app to add book entries. Data is populated from the Google Books database. The ISBN bar code scanner worked great (although it only works on the 9 digit ISBNs. Older books were not recognized). I was able to add several books in only a couple of minutes. It's easy to add books to the existing Collections (Favorites, Have Read, Reading Now, To Read) but you can also create new Collections.

The book detail page is ordinary and includes: Title, author, publisher, date published and ISBN. You can lend to a friend or email the entry to a friend. The "More Info" button takes you to the Google Books database, which is not very readable from the iPhone screen.

Preset views include Books, Collections, and Authors. You can export the database but not import the database. While this app doesn't have all the item detail as myBooks, it was easy to add books. The interface works slick and the application is fairly fast. The drawbacks include no way to identify the format, where the book is stored, when you bought it or the price.


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