A blog post from Emily VanBuren at Inside Higher Ed, detailing apps for cataloging and organizing your library, dating from 2014, moved me to look at more up-to-date – and cross-platform – options for keeping your book habit at least somewhat under control. Emily’s post deals only with iOS alternatives, but there are of course many solutions available for Android too – and here are a few of them.
The top pick, Libib, is cross-platform and available on both Android and iOS. This incorporates a barcode scanner, allows you to “add multiple types of libraries” of different types of content besides books, features “easy search across all libraries,” and syncs directly with your central archive at libib.com. The average Android user rating is 4.1, and it’s clearly a popular and well-liked app.
For the very dedicated bibliophile, meanwhile, there’s Book Catalogue, with a 4.4 rating on the Google Play Store. This offers features like onboard book data search across Amazon, Google Books, Goodreads and LibraryThing, as well as Goodreads integration and the capacity to export library catalogs, and even wishlists and multiple bookshelves. It has its own Wiki, and the source code is available at Github. However, this is a dedicated book app, so it’s not going to be much help for cataloging your music library. Similar is Book Library, also well liked for offering a choice of scanner, Personal Library, My Library, or My Library Manager. Most of Emily’s preferred choices for iOS, though, such as iBookshelf, My Library (apparently no relation to the Android app), and Book Crawler, simply aren’t available for Android – even though the last named boasts the “power of Google Books” driving its back end.
Dedicated ebook fans may object that Calibre caters to all their ebook cataloging needs, and with the internal library capabilities of the Amazon Kindle app and other popular e-reading apps, they don’t need to look any further. That may be so, but personally I found the Calibre platform far too intrusive and no longer use it. And I have Kindle, EPUB, and PDF titles spread across various devices, and the cloud. Plus, of course, despite the numerous Calibre companion apps available for integration with mobile OSes, Calibre is a desktop program. Would a single cataloging app be handy to track all of those, plus my paper library? Absolutely.
And for anyone who wants to take the absolutely bare-bones basic approach and use a spreadsheet, here’s a template for Google Sheets for a book list/library. Rudimentary, but it works.