Monday, April 13, 2009

Books (freeware book cataloging for Macs)

Books is the name of a freeware book cataloging application for Mac computers. It's free, simple to use, and filled with useful features.

You can download Books after visiting the project's home page, here:

Installation takes almost 8 seconds: unzip the downloaded file, and then drag the icon into your Applications folder. (I always take another few seconds to make an alias, and then drag this "shortcut" to my desktop.)

You can immediately begin to add books. I typed in some titles by hand, but there are other options: you can import book information in many ways: from, from the library of Congress, from a .csv file, or from Delcious Library — a shareware book cataloging tool with pinache: whenever you delete a book the book bursts into flames.

You can add book covers by simply dragging an image onto the Books interface.

Once you have some books listed, the fun begins. Now you can create "smart lists" for sorting your books, similar to the tagging system used in For example, you can create a smart list for books you want to read next; or for books by a certain author; or for books written in the Greek language; or for books loaned to your Aunt Fanny, and so on.

Books has many other features: export your book list; create your own custom fields; keep track of books loaned; link to reviews of the book, and much more.

Now that ebooks are getting more and more popular, you'll need a way to catalog your ebooks. Books can do it admirably. From the Books main screen, I made a separate list for my ebooks. Then I tagged each ebook with useful tags of my choice, for example: ebook file format, genre, source (where I acquired the ebook) and location.

For the ePub ebooks that I keep on Bookworm, I make a note in Books to help me to remember that fact. My PDFs are stored in a file called "My Ebooks 2009". Books lets you add a file link to every listing: so my PDF ebooks (and text and HTML ebooks) can be opened and viewed in two easy clicks. Books uses Apple's default PDF viewer, Preview, which is my favorite way to read PDFs on the Mac.

I haven't yet tested Books when thousands of books are entered, but I have a feeling that it can handle large libraries. (I will report back here with an update).

The Books development team will cheerfully accept your donations, here: You might also want to donate time and skills, either developing software or translating into other languages.

is a great answer to the problem of organizing your book collection, not only because it is specifically designed for book cataloging, but also because it gives you all the power and flexibility of a database application, with none of the cost, and only a fraction of the learning curve.

Michael Pastore
50 Benefits of Ebooks

(Thanks to Teleread for alerting us to this great freeware.)