4 Great Ways to Keep Track of Your Expanding Book Collection

T.J. Mininday 04-12-2008

keep track of your booksWith the internet taking off the way it has, and the incredible effect it is having on all media outlets, including newspapers, magazines and terrestrial radio, books surprisingly continue to thrive. To this day, whenever you go into a Barnes and Noble or Borders, hoards of people are crowding the coffee shop with books in hand or books out the door. This also includes Amazon, where although they have moved on to much more then just books, their Amazon book rankings are still heavily relied upon as a popularity factor, and still get a lot of their revenue via paperbacks and hardcovers.


With the overwhelming majority of readers still buying books, instead of going to their local library, many like to have a nice way to organize what they’re reading, share it with the world and give their take on it. So, like any other popular forms of media, several websites and applications have been born to do these tasks. I’ve chosen four of the best. So enter, best websites to keep track of yor books.


shelfari-catalog books online If you are looking for a product that does it all, and looks gorgeous, Shelfari delivers. They cover almost all aspects – from getting connected to friends, to selecting your books, to embedding your current reads in your blog or website. They make it extremely easy and user friendly, while delivering a beautiful look and feel at the same time.

  • A gorgeous graphical user interface, that is incredibly user friendly.
  • Give book reviews and ratings.
  • Embed books on your blog or website.
  • Find friends and family to share your books with.
  • Join groups with your likes to discover new titles.
  • Get e-mail updates from friends and groups.
  • Communicate with authors.


Easy to use drop-down interface, to select the current status on a title.



A look at your user profile, where you’ll see the current book(s) you are reading, plan to read or have already read.

shelfari 3

A preview image, provided by Shelfari, of what you can embed in your website or blog. A great way to communicate to friends and family, not only about your current books, but also about Shelfari itself.

shelfari books 4



goodreads - organize your books Another great cataloging site that doesn’t quite have the same nice GUI interface as Shelfari, but is still incredibly simple and still has a lot of the same capability. Goodreads has the funding behind them and have a huge loyal following.

If you are looking for a site that has a huge database of recommendations, friends and groups then Goodreads is a solid selection.

  • Add and remove an endless amount of books.
  • Give book reviews and ratings.
  • Share your books, book reviews and comments with friends and family.
  • Get great recommendations based upon your ratings.
  • Get continuous e-mail updates on your friend’s and family’s books.
  • Communicate with authors.
  • Get book specials and deals.


An example of what one of my friends is reading. I’m not displaying anything, but below this you will see books your friends have read in the past, their reviews, and their rating.



A look at my current bookshelf. What I’ve read, my ratings, my reviews, and future books.

Goodreads 2


4 Great Ways to Keep Track of Your Expanding Book Collection librarything1 Librarything isn’t all that much different from the previous sites I have mentioned. It has a lot of the same capability, but has been around much longer then the others, so it has a much bigger following.

  • Enter up to 200 books for free. After 200, it’s $10/year or $25/life.
  • Huge tagging engine, with tag cloud and other options.
  • Catalog from Amazon, Library of Congress and almost 700 other libraries.
  • The ability to request early reviews of unreleased books.
  • Yet another that includes a recommendation engine.
  • Get information on local visits from authors, or book clubs.
  • Forums, groups, books covers, you name it, they’ve got it.
  • Offline desktop installation.
  • Track Books, DVDs, Music and Games
  • Add items through your webcam, by barcode scanning
  • Import items through spreadsheets or LibraryThing

A look at a ‘book profile’ and some of the details it displays.

There are many many groups to join and collaborate with.
4 Great Ways to Keep Track of Your Expanding Book Collection libthing2

Libra (no longer available)

LibraLibra’s desktop application is an offline media storing program that you can use to track not only books, but DVDs, games and music as well. The program is free and has no limits, but it does lack any online connection. It does have the ability to link to Amazon books, and uses its search ability to find books, but you do not have the ability to view your collections online.

Check out Simon’s review of Libra here Manage Games, Books, Music and DVDs With Libra Read More .

A look at your bookshelf through Libra.

Libra bookshelf

A book’s profile after you click on an item.

Libra book profile

Other Notables:

Amazon YourMediaLibrary

As you can see, there are a few other options out there for tracking your book collections. All of them have their own unique features and abilities. From my own personal opinion, the most user friendly and most feature rich choice, is Shelfari. However, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any of the other choices. Try them all out for a while, and form your own opinion.

Which of these do you like? Do you know of any sites or applications that you use besides these? Let us know.

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  1. Southern Gal
    July 18, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Readerware is great - agree with Dave above. CueCat scans bar code and even entering an isbn isnt that hard. Also can manually enter books (i have lots of older pback and hardback books without ISBN.)

    and the companion programs for cds and dvd/vhs are great too.

  2. jedo
    June 6, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I think LibroSpot is good, too.

  3. nobrumski
    March 5, 2009 at 12:34 am

    I have been using librarything for a while and really like it. The thought of transferring my collection would just be too daunting.

    Do any of the sites offer an option to subscribe to authors so you can see and track books that are coming soon from your favorite authors? I have had no luck finding something like this and I would definitely consider switching for this

  4. jaide
    January 5, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    shelfari is horrible. don't even waste your time. i went to add something to the read list, and it highlights 3 selections when i only wanted one. i have been fooling around this website for 20 minutes trying to figure it out, and i quit.

  5. Dave P
    December 10, 2008 at 1:47 am

    As one who reads voraciously and keeps all the books I read, I decided that it was worth a bit of money to semi-automate the process of cataloging my collection. I use Readerware which can input bar codes from books, look them up online, and catalog them in a database. If the book is found on Amazon, it will pull down additional information such as the cover image, rating, price, and description. The software is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Palm (so you can carry your database into brick and mortar stores). They also give away a bar code reader with the software.

  6. ElizabethN
    December 6, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    In addition to the web based applications above, I also use Alexandria on my ubuntu partition. Alexandria and library thing enable you to scan book barcodes with a device like the cue cat. Once I loaded all my books in the house into one database, I then exported & imported into the other applications. Now I just have to remember to update all until I figure out which one(s) I want to primarily use.

    For my ebooks, I am currently using an open office spreadsheet as Alexandria requires me to manually load each book's info into the database. I will eventually load the EISBN into the various applications and see which one(s) recognize the most books and use that app as my primary.

    • T.J. Mininday
      December 6, 2008 at 4:32 pm

      Wow, sounds like you have a great process down.

  7. T.J. Mininday
    December 6, 2008 at 10:55 am

    It's amazing the amount of sites that people shell out when these types of lists are created. This was the kind of feed back that I was hoping for. Look's like I'll have a much bigger list next year.

  8. Jeenu
    December 6, 2008 at 12:33 am

    I'm finding it difficult to store and maintain my ebook collection. For example where do I put the book "Programming PHP and MySQL" - in web directory or in database? I think the best way to get this around is to use tags rather than a directory hierarchy. Does anybody know of a tab-based desktop-app (possibly Linux) that can do this?

    • Jeenu
      December 6, 2008 at 12:34 am

      Sorry there was a typo - it's tag-based

  9. Satish
    December 5, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I like Librarything personally. Didn't two of them.Thanks.

  10. jennie
    December 5, 2008 at 3:33 am

    And weRead! Just changed names from BooksiRead - it's a similar program that can be used on the website,, and as an application on Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, Orkut, and bebo.

  11. Sean M.
    December 5, 2008 at 2:06 am

    I personally use

  12. DC
    December 4, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    It's connected to local libraries everywhere so you can keep track of what books you have in your list are available at your local library. And if not there... the closest one... and say you need to make a list of books for a report or research project, Citations View makes quick work of any bibliography you may need.

  13. stefan
    December 4, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Great list! Years ago I hard started a huge database of books, both in my collection and on my Amazon Wishlist. It got too big (I was downloading cover images) and unwield,y and gave it up.

    I notice that LibraryThing allows you to enter book info via barcode scan - this would *greatly* speed up entry! Do you know if the other apps have this functionality? I'd prefer a mass entry instead of having to click 'new book', then enter the entry, then save it, then click 'new book'....


    • Sam
      December 4, 2008 at 5:37 pm

      MediaMan ( has the ability to read barcodes. It can use a higher end webcam, hacked cuecat and unhacked cuecat, at the very least. There's a new version out now that I haven't checked out yet.

  14. Craig
    December 4, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    A new one to try is BookBump (, which has a lot of potential, as does quillp (

    • T.J. Mininday
      December 6, 2008 at 10:54 am

      Wow, another a couple of great ones to add to the list.

  15. Kevin Behringer
    December 4, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    I like the UI of Shelfari, but use Good Reads because they make it very easy to print out a list of a specific shelf/group of books. I like this because then I can take it with me to the bookstore when I'm looking for books.

    If Shelfari made that easier (or if I found a way to do it) I'd probably switch.


  16. T.J. Mininday
    December 4, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I knew that this would get a bunch of responses. I should have pointed out that Libra is Windows only. I know there are plenty of options out there, I just thought I would point out some of the more popular ones.

  17. Eyes
    December 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Hey, you didn't mention aNobii! :(

  18. Jolene Anzalone
    December 4, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I LOVE Shelfari, it looks so nice on a blog and is really easy to use. The Librarian on my campus set one up for her blog, but unfortunately Shelfari is blocked by our school district filters. So, we ended up going with LibraryThing. Not as visually pleasing, but definitely gets the job done! Thanks for this post!

  19. Phil Brangers
    December 4, 2008 at 12:16 pm
    Deliscious Library is amazing!

    • T.J. Mininday
      December 4, 2008 at 2:52 pm

      Wow, that looks even better then Libra, in a lot of ways.

    • Alex
      December 6, 2008 at 12:32 am

      I agree, I have delicious library and it lets you catalog books, DVDs (the main reason I got this app, and actually paid for it), games, and many more. And you can use your iSight or webcam to use it as a barcode scanner so that it's quick and easy to import all your items. I believe it's mac only though --- which is all fine by me, my PC died about 3 years ago and I couldn't have cared less, now it's used as a great footrest under my desk ;)

  20. ravi
    December 4, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    If you own a Mac, see the free Mac application "Books":