The concept of the app reminded me of one of the first apps I came across when I first fell in love with the Mac called Delicious Library. Doesn’t seem like it’s around anymore, but Delicious Library was a cataloging app that let you document and organize your physical or digital collections. I remember spending days scanning barcodes and entering ISBNs as I built up my media library in the now-defunct app.
Book Tracker is basically a modern-day Delicious Library, but built specifically for your reading material with additional functionality that supports modern iOS features.
Managing Your Library
The main purpose of Book Tracker is to, well, track your books. Sounds simple, but in practice, this can be quite a challenge. There’s a lot of metadata to keep straight here, including author, publisher, ISBN, category, etc. But Book Tracker makes this simple by automatically filling in the metadata for you when you add books to your library.
You can add books to your library in a couple of different ways. You can search online, add them manually (in which case you have to enter the associated metadata yourself), or scan a barcode. Since I only read physical books, my preference is the barcode scanner. Just scan the barcode of the book you want to add, and Book Tracker grabs all the appropriate metadata and drops it in for you.
Once added, books can be organized further by adding tags or assigning books to collections. Tags allow you to group related books together, while collections are great for keeping groups or series together. For example, a couple of my favorite books come from The Great Mental Models series which contains multiple volumes.
You can also add books to a Wish List (for books you want to buy but haven’t gotten around to purchasing yet), and mark the status of books as To Read, Reading, or Read. This makes it easy to add things to the queue, and also serves as a record of the books you’ve completed.
Each book has its own book record, which allows you to save your favorite quotes, add personal comments or notes, and even keep track of who you loaned it to. Once you start reading a book, you can log your progress by tapping the progress circle and entering the number of pages you’ve read. You can even see statistics like when you started and how many pages you’ve read each day over the last week in a line graph.
The quotes are simply text entries, but I like how Book Tracker allows you to surface these quotes with the UI in the app or iOS Home Screen widgets.
Reading Statistics & Challenges
In addition to stats for individual books, there is a separate Statistics section in the app that shows:
- how many pages you’ve read today
- how many books you’ve bought this month
- your reading activity over the last week, quarter, and year
You can even start a reading challenge, which allows you to set a yearly reading goal and helps you track your progress as you log your reading activity in the app.
Widgets & Shortcuts
The thing that really impressed me though with Book Tracker is the added features with the recent release of version 3. For example, there are widgets for every major feature in the app, including reading statistics, reading challenge status, reading progress for a specific book, quotes, quick entry from web search, or adding books by scanning bar codes. These are really well done, and can give you a lot of info and functionality right on your iOS Home Screen without having to even open the app.
There’s also an impressive number of actions available for building Shortcuts. There are actions for finding a book or author, adding tags or categories, opening a book or library, getting or updating quotes or reading progress, and a whole lot more.
Book Tracker is also available on macOS, allowing you to sync your library across all your Apple devices. Be aware though, the macOS version is a separate app with a separate in-app purchase. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend picking up the macOS version too unless you really want the ability to manage your reading library from your Mac. For most people, the iOS version will be enough (and is really where Book Tracker shines anyway).
Book Tracker is an impressive little app by an indie developer, and I highly recommend it for anyone with a large reading library to keep track of. It’s free to download from the iOS App Store and has a single in-app purchase that unlocks full functionality (including an unlimited number of books and the ability to import/export your library) for $5.99 USD.
Must-Have, Most-Used Apps for Thinkers
We spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through hundreds of apps to find the very best. Our team here at The Sweet Setup put together a short list of our must-have, most-used apps for writing, note-taking, and thinking.