Sunday, February 28, 2021

How to list and catalogue my art books really easily

I have been wanting to list and catalogue my art books forever! I've finally found a REALLY EASY easy way to do it and this post shares with you how I'm listing by genre and category.

This post looks at 

  • why I need lists of my books
  • the features of the BookBuddy Pro app - which makes creating lists of all my books early easily - apart from needing to get everyone of them off the shelves in order to scan the bar code!

Why too many art books can be a problem...

I've been a bibliophile for at nearly 50 years. I have a LOT of books. By which I mean many more than I can actually count.

A small section of my art book collection
(ignore the small pile of books on the back of the sofa on the extreme left
- they're waiting for a home!)

I watched a programme about Fran Libowitz on Netflix recently and identified very many traits we have in common - one of which is owning a lot of books

What surprised me is they were characterising a lot of books in Wikipedia as follows

She is also known for her massive book collection, 10,000 volumes in all
to which my immediate reaction was "only 10,000??!!!!".

I counted about 25 years ago and I was up to 10,000 then - and I've bought lots (and lots and lots) more since then.

My only concerns about my books are threefold
  • how I am going to fit in more bookshelves?
  • where's the best place to put bookshelves so they won't put too much stress on the floor joists?
  • buying duplicate books (again!) - because I don't have any lists of my books!!
It's the latter which really annoys me. I've got a few too many duplicates. 
I'm perfectly able to include that a book is a good book and definitely deserves to be on my shelves more than once! Usually because the first copy is sat in a book pile waiting for the next set of bookshelves (or - perish the thought - a purge on my books!) and I haven't seen it recently. Plus I have splurges of book buying which means it's not uncommon for 5-6 to arrive at once - which means they're queuing to be read. 

How to list all my books easily

I've bought BookBuddy Pro from the Apple App Store. It cost me £4.99 and works on my Apple iPhone and iPad. I understand there are no plans to create an app for Android phones - but there are other book management apps suitable for Android.

You can read about the features on the BookBuddy pro app website 
  • you can scan the bar code on a book to get all the relevant data about it - including an image of the book cover - uploaded automatically in seconds. 
    • I've found if your book is a bit obscure / specialised that it can sometimes take a while - especially if it comes in more one edition. 
    • I checked it out by trying to upload the first three editions of The Art of Botanical Illustration by Wilfrid Blunt and William T. Stearns - as each is different and was published by different people in different years.  It got the third edition right and then got confused with the second edition - uploaded an image from Google books - but gave it to the third edition! Resolved by uploading the correct image from my phone. Uploading the first edition is more difficult as there were no bar codes in the 1950s and this will be a manual upload

Features of BookBuddy Pro

  • it identifies the genre automatically - but you can change it to something more meaningful to you (and then it remembers all your genres identified to date)
  • you can create tags for books to find them fast. So for example when I get to my books about artists I'll create the artist's name as a tag. At present I'm splitting between instruction books and art history books for a specific genre  of art - and it works fine for that.
  • it syncs across devices - so it's now on both my iPad Pro 12 and my iPhone 12 Pro Max. 
  • it backs up to either the iCloud and/or my Dropbox account. I've got less than 20 books loaded so far and it happens fast right now. Once it's got the entire library on I think it might take a bit longer!
  • it enables you to record loans of your book - and keep track of who's got them
  • you can record the current status of a book - unread, being read or read
  • you can identify lists of:
    • favourites easily and you can also give them star ratings. I've not yet worked out whether you can list by a specific rating
    • lists by tags eg. all my books about London
    • lists by author - which helps with avoiding duplicates!
  • Both BookBuddy (free) and Book Buddy pro (£4.99) have the same features. However BookBuddy is limited to just 50 books. So enough to test it out to see whether it suits you - but I recommend you buy the pro version if you think you'll get some use out of this

What my lists look like

This app only works with Apple devices and is specifically designed for iPhones and iPads. It's been around for some time and had been through several upgrades.

This is what a list of titles be genre looks like on my iPhone. These are some of my botanical illustration books. Note the alpha letter index on the right hand side.

This is the split screen you get on the iPad and what an alphabetical list by title looks like on my iPad.


If you too have too many art books, I'd very much recommend using the BookBuddy Pro app to categorise / list / track them - and remind you about what you've got!

I imagine art teachers would find this app very useful for keeping track of their book loans.

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