Cataloging your books with Libbie and Goodreads

I like to be organized. To have my ducks in a row. In fact, most things in my life are quite well organized and automated. Statistics, scrips, and trackers help me keep track of everything in my life. This was all fine and good until I realized that mine and my fiancee’s most numerous possessions were quite disorganized: our books. Realizing this, I began the adventure of cataloging my book collection.

TLDR; I made Libbie.


I started by doing what any competent internet user does these days: I googled a solution. To a combination of joy and slight disappointment I found Goodreads. It seemed like a promising solution – owned by Amazon, Goodreads is a service for tracking your book collection, the books you’ve read, and the books you want to read. In addition, you can rate and review books – theoretically improving the relevancy of reading suggestions. Unfortunately, Goodreads suffers from rather poor UI, little developer investment, and most importantly, no good way for importing a large collection of books.

Realizing that Goodreads was half of my solution I went about creating the other half: an application designed for the quick entry of books into Goodreads. The application would be specifically designed to work with a simple barcode scanner and would make the process of adding hundreds of books to Goodreads trivially simple.

Barcode Scanner

Libbie is simple – the user signs into it with their Goodreads account, it gets an authorization key, and the ability to add books to their account. The user then enters ISBN numbers into the only input on Goodreads, and hits enter. Libbie looks up the ISBN, and if it finds a match, it will add it to the users’ Goodreads collection.

The site is also designed to work with most barcode scanners out of the box. I purchased a simple $20 scanner from Amazon and it worked immediately with Libbie – this is because most barcode scanners by default simply emulate a keyboard typing the numbers of the barcode. All you need for your scanner to work with Libbie is to put it into this mode (most scanners can do it). Then, click the lightning bolt icon and scan an ISBN number. Libbie will try and detect how to work with your scanner. If all goes well, the book will be added to Goodreads. Then simply continue scanning books, and each one will be added. Simple!

Have a lot of books? Please give Libbie a try and let me know how you make out!


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