Book Catalog Spreadsheet

Posted 7 August, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook / 28 Comments

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Book Catalog Spreadsheet


Happy Sunday y’all! I’m hoping that today can be a lazy day around our house. It’s hotter than hot outside and this is one of our last few Sundays before we start the back to school grind. Except in our case it’ll be the start of school grind. I’m a ball of anxiety thinking about sending Elle to Kindergarten. Not because it means she’s growing up (though, wahhhhhhh), but because of how much more juggling it will add to our days. But, let’s not talk about that today.


Keeping a Book Catalog Spreadsheet

Earlier this week Goodreads rolled out a new webpage format. While I have tried and tried throughout the years to get onboard with Goodreads, I just can’t seem to keep up with it. Part of it is the daunting idea of adding my entire backlog of books into the database and the other part is the lack of half stars. Yes, my biggest hangup with Goodreads is that I cannot use 3.5 or 4.5 stars to rate a book. Put into percentages, there’s a huge difference between 60%, 80%, and 100%. I want to use 70% and 90%!

Years and years ago, I briefly shared my method for cataloging books and talking with a few gals on twitter this week prompted me to finally share again and in a little more detail. Book Nerd Alert! Though, I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you can relate in some shape or fashion.

Once upon a time, I was able to hold all of my books on a single shelf in my bedroom. I didn’t pay much attention to what I read or which books I owned. When I was a high school senior, a teacher asked us to write down all of the books we had read that year for pleasure. I was surprised at the list that I came up with and this started my habit of tracking books that I had read.

A few years later, my great-aunt passed away. She had the most amazing library in her home. I loved visiting her and just scanning through her bookshelves at the treasures she had. When she died, she had roughly 10,000 books in her home. One of her nephews cataloged all of her books for her and each niece and nephew received a list to select a few books to keep. I loved the idea of this list so much that I created my own list of books that I owned. And the book catalog was born.

I started using Access but transferred everything to Excel a few years later. Each of the spreadsheets below can be enlarged for easier viewing. I’ve thought about transferring each to Google Docs, but honestly I can’t be bothered.

Tracking Bookish Data

I keep track of the title, the author, binding, publication date, the edition I own, the genre, source, date received/bought, how much I spent, and the date that I finished the book. One thing I wish I had kept track of is the publisher as I think this would be fascinating to analyze, but with almost 600 books in my house I can’t imagine going back now. The source, date received, and cost are all columns that I added after reading the comments on my original post in 2009. I’ve definitely become much better about not buying so many books. At least physical ones. You’ll see I have a tab for e-books as well.

Book Catalog - All Books in Personal Library


Types of Media Tracked

I have a separate spreadsheet for audiobooks and ebooks. While not all of the columns from the Books spreadsheet is applicable, I’ve added in a few other columns. One thing I would love to add to my Audiobook spreadsheet is narrator. But just like adding the publisher, who has time!

While I am better at listening to my audiobooks than I am reading my ebooks, keeping spreadsheets of both helps keep me on track. I love to sort by the “Date Read/Listened” column so that I can see which of my oldest books I still haven’t read.

Audiobook Catalog


The Books Read Tab

It wasn’t until much after creating my original spreadsheet that I thought to create a tab for books that I’ve read. Before this, my list was either on my blog or just included the books I had read from my own library. Thankfully this was most of my books as I rarely borrow from friends or the library, but it definitely wasn’t a complete record. This became a bigger problem when I started culling my shelves and didn’t have the books I had finished in my “books” tab anymore.

I started by copying the books I had finished from my “books” tab and then tried to fill in the holes where I could. Now when I finish a book, I copy the line from one tab to the other. The trick with using a books, audiobooks, and ebook spreadsheet is making sure that the columns line up with one another. Sometimes I have to do a minor bit of formatting, but I’m despite the trouble, I’m glad to have a full list of books I’ve read now.

It’s not a perfect system, but it works well for my needs!

Books Read - Book Catalog


So, crazytown Trish? The hardest part is keeping up with it, especially the past few years. Adding books hasn’t been as bad now that I’m not accepting ARCs, going to library sales, and most of my acquisition is through the ereader, but I still get behind. I still find it easier to input here than in an online database and I love that I can sort by alpha, or publication date, or genre, date acquired, date read, etc. I can filter for how many books I’ve read in a certain year or for how many books I’ve received from a publicist.

Does any of it really matter? No–not really. But Book Nerds gonna Nerd Out, right?

Do you keep a list of all of the books in your library/books that you’ve read? How do you keep track?



Books Recently Finished: I can’t remember the last time I talked about books finished? In July I listened to I Am Legend and read/listened to The Fireman by Joe Hill. Earlier this week I read Confess by Colleen Hoover for book club. It’s been a busy couple of months with a bit of reading here and there on the side. Hello summer!

New Books in the House: Leveling the Playing Field by Rod Scher, Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook (library copy).

New Books on my E-Reader: Oh dear. The Nazi Officer’s Wife, The Girls, A Little Life, Unlatched, Sophie’s Choice. Four of these were Kindle deals.

Books on the Nightstand: Should I say IN the nightstand? I started Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer at the end of June but put it down when I needed to read The Fireman. Then I needed to read Confess for book club and was up against a library deadline. So it’s still sitting in my bedside table drawer. Along with Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko–both which I set aside for some reason or another. I’m slowly making my way through Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (mostly on my phone) and The Cuckcoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (on audio).

What’s going on in your world lately–bookish or otherwise?






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28 Responses to “Book Catalog Spreadsheet”

  1. I’m right there with you in the anxiety about Kindergarten camp. We’ll survive this, Trish. :-)

    I wish that Goodreads used half stars too. I don’t use it to catalog all my books–just the ones I’ve read since I began tracking. I’ve been pretty good about keeping it updated. I started out using LibraryThing for cataloging all my books. I liked the idea of an online service, especially after my computer was stolen and I lost most of my records. Somewhere along the line (birth of baby), I stopped being so good about logging every book that came into the house onto LibraryThing. Now it’s sorely outdated. And I don’t have time to update it.

    Besides keeping track of books I have read on Goodreads, I also keep a separate spreadsheet on Google Drive of the books I have read, divided by year. It make it easy at the end of the year to look for patterns or the direction my reading has gone–or stats for an end of the year post.

    Your system is very extensive, Trish!

    I hope you have a great week!

  2. This is fantastic! I don’t have all the books I own in my spreadsheet, but have been tracking all the books I read for so many years now that I think I’m close.

    I do track publisher (a recent addition) and I love having that info. I also track whether a book is an ARC, where I found out about the book, certain categories (like good summer read, page turner, book club rec, etc), and author POC and gender.

  3. I use Goodreads, although I’m not happy with their new look, but I’ll stick with them for now. I, too, wish for the half star rating system. I usually just make a comment about my “actual rating” in my review on GR. Other than that, my blog is my book log. I used to keep a written journal (I have dozens from years ago), but I felt like I was just duplicating my efforts once I started my blog, so I stopped. I should print out all of my year-end summaries, just in case the Internet disappears some day! :)

  4. I love that you do this, and that your aunt did this too. I’m not sure my nieces and nephews or for that matter my kids would read what I like to read, but… I plan on cataloguing my books too. I’m very bad at keeping track of what I read, thank heaven for the blog. I’m reading notes to my boys in the front flap, maybe they’ll read them someday. I know recently my husband’s uncle passed away and we had tons of books. I didn’t catalogue them as most were in Latvian, however I did keep a few that were obviously favorites, many were forbidden publications (Latvia was communist) until recently, things were scary.

    • I love the history behind someone’s library! I was able to keep a few of my aunt’s books–two in particular are very special to me. Her first husband purchased gorgeous copies of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre while he was stationed in San Francisco during the war. Sadly he died in the Pacific a year later. He inscribed a note in each of the books and I love having that little piece of him, even though I never met him. Keep your Latvian treasures–your boys might want them someday!

  5. Wow, I do keep a spreadsheet but mine is not nearly as detailed as yours. Once I read a book, it’s deleted from my spreadsheet. Now I wish I kept a books read one too.

  6. I love your lists but I cannot make myself take the time to cart all of my books to a place where I can input them straight into my computer (and I’m sure not going to find the time to write it all out first and then input it!). Kudos to you for keeping it all up!

  7. I use GoodReads, but have only kept track of what I’m reading over the last few years. Before that, I deleted everything I had there because it was all too much. I really just wanted a place to keep track of what I’m reading/have read recently, not in all my 47 years and as for my shelves, they’re pretty sparse right now and I really don’t need to keep track of what’s on them. I know what’s there and if I ever want to re-read one of what’s there, I can, without consulting a catalog. I just go to the shelf and pick one out.

  8. Laura

    Your system is so detailed and has so much information! I started keeping track of the books I read around the time I started a book blog–which you introduced me to! I obviously didn’t keep up with the blog, but I have been keeping track of the books I have read in an Excel spreadsheet. I have a tab for each year, and I record pretty basic info-Title, author, # of pages, date completed, my rating (I even use .25 or .75 in my ratings!), and a few thoughts about the book. I have found it to be quite useful to have this list! Since I check out 100% of the books I read from the library, I don’t keep track of any of the other info.

    I’m feeling a little nervous about school starting as well. In kinder, Emily just went 2 days a week, and now she’ll be going every day. It will totally change our daily lives, as we’ve never been on a daily schedule since I quit work! We’ll all survive, right? :-)

  9. This is so nerdy, I love it!! I kind of wish I had started doing this, but it would be wayyy too much now. I do use GR to catalogue my books read because it is easy to do but even so I started using it a handful of years ago, so it is all lost in my mind from before.

  10. I have no system. Goodreads has my books read but it is not complete. I look at my shelves and think I should record them somewhere but it is such a huge project that I avoid it…

  11. Yes, I think we’ve talked about this before. I track “Books I’ve Read” and I don’t actually track “Books I Own”. I’ve considered starting to do the latter.

    I started off using book journals like Book Lust or a Moleskin journal, but then I converted it all to Google Spreadsheets which I used for years and it was great. But the app for Google Sheets isn’t very user friendly (I log books and movies on my phone a lot) and stopped working completely on my Nook HD+. Also, it became tough to see certain things. Like, how do I query my spreadsheet for all the books by a particular author I’ve read? Or how do I see all the ebooks I’ve read? Each year is on a separate tab. Plus, because I entered each tab separately I’d have authors or titles our sources misspelled or misnamed across tabs which would make cross views not match up. I could maybe fix some of this with Google Sheets but I couldn’t address it all.

    So, this year, I converted my Google Spreadsheet over to Airtable, which is an online database tool similar to Access. This way, I have tables for Author and Binding so when I’m logging books my author field cross references the author table so I’m assured that it’s always spelled the same. Same thing with binding. Plus, Airtable offers easy ways to make views across the entire database so I can slice the data however I want it. It’s been really nice. And it even has an app for my phone so wherever I am I can log a book I’ve finished so I don’t forget.

    I’ve done the same thing with my movie spreadsheet, which you wouldn’t believe how poorly I misspelled so many directors and actors. Yikes. Converting over that movie log was a nightmare, but it’s done. Airtable offers a pretty cool import tool for Google/Excel spreadsheets. That got me 85-90% of the way there, but there was some tweaking I had to do after that to make sure certain fields show up and behave correctly. And I could setup “Rating” fields that offered 1-5 color coded rating levels from LOVED IT to GARBAGE so I can quickly rate my movies and books and see them at a glance (ie “Garbage” rating is colored black and “Loved It” rating is colored green with three or four other ratings/colors in between).

    I’ve toyed with the idea of using GoodReads, but I can’t seem to get into it. Airtable has been very user friendly and it has a nice interface. I still simultaneously update my Google Spreadsheet, but Airtable is now my log of record.

    Whew, sorry to be long winded on that.

    • It’s like we almost share a brain with our nerdiness here, Pax. Yes, we have talked about this before and you’ve shared your books and movie spreadsheets with me. What you mentioned about the sorting and filtering is the same reason why I haven’t moved to Google Docs–though having access to my sheets anywhere would be awesome. These days I rarely make it to my “main” computer because I set up shop in the kitchen and laptop more often. I’ll have to check into Airtable. The tables is what originally drew me to Access but I found that I was able to sort and filter and tabulate everything that I wanted in Excel…Access can be so unforgiving or rigid (at least it was way back in the day). LOVE that there is someone out there who also is so particular and obsessed with a media spreadsheet. :)

      So does that mean that green is your favorite color? :P

  12. I keep a GIANT spreadsheet of my TBR books, which includes everything on my shelves & my Kindle. they’re all marked as such so I can isolate them by filtering when i want to.

    In the same file are spreadsheets with the books I’ve read each year since I’ve begun tracking them, and a “Master Read” sheet.

    In my former corporate life, I was an accountant so my only complaint is that there’s no need to use formulae or references or any such. :-( I used to be much more fluent in Excel than I am now.

  13. I’ve been wanting to set something like this up, but have never taken the time to do it. I use GR fairly regularly for books read, but it’s just a hassle to set up which books I own there. It would make shopping easier if I could access stuff like that when I come across thrift store finds that look like something I want.

  14. I used to keep a spreadsheet of what I read each year but I make Goodreads work for me. If it’s a 3.5 I put that in the comments.
    I would love to make a spreadsheet of what I own (because I know I have duplicates because I forget what I own).

  15. I have multiple spreadsheets. I don’t have an accurate list of what books I have in the house because I periodically weed out my shelves. I track whether or not I owned a book when I read it but that doesn’t mean I still have it.

    I’ve never tracked what I paid for a book.

    I left Goodreads several years ago to move to LIbraryThing and I like it better.

    • I think I had a LT account once upon a time. And Shelfari. And Goodreads. I obviously have commitment issues. I didn’t start tracking what I paid until someone mentioned they did this when I wrote about my spreadsheet years ago. Thought it was a fun idea. Though I make it a point to never actually tally that column. ;)

      • HA!! That’s exactly why I don’t track my spending. I’ve tracked what I read in Excel since October 2003 and I wish I’d started earlier.

  16. Susan in TX

    LOVED this post! I really resonated with my inner book nerd. Yes, I keep records. I’ve kept records of books that I’ve read since June of 1988, the summer before I graduated from college. Alas, the records that I kept in my earlier years are long gone and I would dearly love to have them back! (I really missed them when my kids were young and I was building up their libraries.) I keep a running list of books I own that are to-be-read – both on paper and digitally as a word document. For books that I’ve already read and own, these are all kept track of by software called Delicious Monster. When I first got it, it was an Apple-only product, but that was a long time ago, so they may have expanded since then. When we initially started with it, I had a handheld barcode scanner and walked through the house scanning every book (those pre-barcode can be hand input) – and yes, it was a pain. Now as I read books that I’m going to keep, I stack them on my desk and at the end of each month I input those all in one sitting. It is easier now since I can just hold the books up to the camera on the computer and it reads the barcodes. The problems with the software are a) forgetting to input a book, and b) forgetting to delete books when I get rid of them. I’m sure they’ve made vast improvements to it through the years, and I heard it could be stored in such a way as to be accessible from a mobile device, but I’m not very tech-savvy and haven’t checked into it. Although, that would be amazing to me to always know what I own so I don’t accidentally buy duplicates (doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but still happens occasionally).
    As far as tracking spending, I just started doing that last year for curiosity sake and I was SHOCKED by the total! Seeing that number in big bold font has encouraged me to buy slightly fewer books (at least until I catch up more with my TBRs), but I could still use some work in the area of self-control. :)
    I started tracking books on Goodreads this year, but I just started with this year’s reading – nothing could induce me to re-input the whole household library again. I’m with you – I don’t like not having 1/2 stars, but this is my year to experiment with it and see if I like it.
    Thanks for sharing your system with us! Book nerds unite! ;)

  17. Oh I love being a book nerd. I do keep spreadsheets (a new one each year) for my books read. I track various things like if it’s a book from the library, in translation, etc. I also used to track books via bookpedia. Great way to catalog but in the past year I haven’t kept up with it too much. Loved seeing your system!

  18. I have almost all of my books in LibraryThing (there are always some that I read and go to mark as read and they aren’t in there) and it’s super easy to add them now because you can just scan barcodes with the app. It’s also really handy when I’m in a bookstore to see where I am in purchasing a series or whatever. My read books are in a Google spreadsheet so that I can edit that from my phone app (though I usually end up getting frustrated with the tiny screen and fill in some of the details later when I finally get my laptop out). I definitely wish I had started recording books read earlier than 2008 because I love looking up the last time I read something when I start a reread.
    Also, I love that you used Access! I used to use it for cataloging my cds and dvds in the mid-90s. :)

  19. I know I told you on Twitter, but I love this! I wish I could commit to a spreadsheet like this … maybe one day. I’ve purged so many books and want to concentrate on buying and keeping the books I love, rather than just buying frivilously. I’ve also been buying more for my Kindle lately!

    I also love that you use Access! I used it for some work I did for my brother years ago and loved it.