while true live

Musings on the fatality of infinite loops and other stuff.

Book Catalogue

A week ago I’ve downloaded the app Book Catalogue from the Android Play store. As its name suggests it’s about creating a catalogue of your books. My family and I thought it would be handy to file our books as we easily lose track of what books we actually own and where we have stored them.

Book Catalogue makes it all possible: adding books by scanning the barcode, by ISBN, by searching author/title or by adding all information manually. Of course, every book is stored to be in exactly one bookshelf – you can create as many bookshelves as necessary and can name them as you want.

In addition, Book Catalogue provides syncing to a GoodReads account. I was really looking forward to this as it would make sharing the digital library with my family extremely easy… but only in theory. It turned out that the GoodReads API only allows books to be added if the book already exists on GoodReads. Anyway, the app makes a good job to actually inform you which books couldn’t be uploaded successfully. You could then add those books on the GoodReads web site, however, it’s very cumbersome to do that for all missing books; so far, I have filed a few hundred books and about a fifth of them GoodReads does not know. So the GoodReads sync option is not really usable after all (especially if you have many old or rare books as they are then likely to be unknown to GoodReads). Luckily, a CSV import/export is provided as well so that I’m not entirely dependent on GoodReads’s good will ;–)

Still, Book Catalogue really is a great app in my opinion (the imperfect GoodReads API is not the app’s fault). Firstly, it’s interface is really beautiful and provides nice ways to list the books in various ways. More importantly, the identification of books by barcode and ISBN really works well, including the downloading of meta information from several sources like Amazon, LibraryThing, GoodReads and Google Books in a blink!

Well, it needs to be mentioned that Book Catalogue is an Open Source project and can be found on GitHub. So I might actually implement a working syncing option when I’m really convinced it’s worth the work. Until then I’ll keep fiddling with CSV export files to keep everybody’s installation up-to-date on our shared library. It’s not perfect but it works…