November 2016 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Software and Apps for Cataloguing Your Book Collection

We received two letters--within the same week!--asking for recommendations from fellow bibliophiles for book cataloguing software. So we asked around. The folks here at Fine Books have several methods: Jeremy Dibbell has been using LibraryThing for ten years; Nate Pedersen recommends the versatility of Google Sheets; and Barbara Basbanes Richter suggests Collectival, a recently launched program created by antiquarian booksellers. Our "Fine Maps" columnist, Jeffrey Murray, uses EndNote. He told me, "It allows me to attach pdf, jpg, audio and video copies (up to 45 per record) of my books and articles on the history of cartography. My database currently holds about 4,500 references, of which about eighty percent have an attachment. All the fields can be customized and the search function will search not only each record, but the attachments as well."
    We also circulated the question to our Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Here's what we heard:


  • None, just type up in a Word doc in the same way (I presume) dealers prepare catalogues. Then print a hard copy every so often. --John Sellars @DrJSellars
  • I use lite version. --Mirco @mircomorello
  • Excel. --Ellen Firsching Brown
  • I use the iPhone app CLZ books which I am very happy with. I would like to find an app to document information about the on-line vendors from which I purchased the books--shipping range, quality of packaging, and accuracy in describing and grading the books would be useful. --Catherine Conroy Doll
  • I am on the verge of committing to Book Collector 9.1 at [See screenshot below.]--Stephen W. Seale, Jr.

browse-layouts-2.jpgA quick Google search also brought up this survey, published in 2014, "7 Apps for Cataloguing Your Home Library," which might prove useful to those of you on the hunt for a good system.

Finding the right software or app is clearly an important decision, and one that collectors--at least the ones we polled--feel very differently about. Some say that having both a desktop and a smartphone version that can be synced is essential. Customizable fields are also key. One thing is certain, as our publisher Webb Howell pointed out, "When someone starts cataloguing their stuff, they really have transcended into a collector."

                                                                                                                                                 Image via