How To Manage Your Book Inventory & TBR

Posted January 17, 2014 by Debby in Uncategorized

Last week’s How To was a great success, and I really wan to thank all your kind comments about it πŸ™‚ It was nice to see how many people rushed off to make spreadsheets of their own that night, haha, and I myself got inspired as well to embark on my next spreadsheeting journey. Since posts have recently appeared about managing your shelves and culling books, for example by Jamie, I thought I could give my tips on how to keep this organized and help in your decision making.

A Spreadsheet to Organize Your Inventory & TBR

As always, I am using Google Docs, so that I can access and edit this spreadsheet anywhere. I’ve split this one up into three separate tabs: on my shelves for physical copies, electronic shelves for my e-reader, and review copies for one simple compilation of all the review books, no matter which format. Let me take you through it.

On My Shelves

2014-01-14 13_22_43-My Bookshelves
(Click to enlarge.)

This spreadsheet contains the following information:

  • Book author and title – for obvious reasons.
  • Series name and number – to keep track of which series I own and whether I have all of them or not.
  • Whether I’ve read it or not – to use as a filtering option. I can filter to blanks, to see which books I have and need to read (my TBR, if you will), or to the books I’ve read, to see which books I may want to get rid of if I’m in need of cleaning up my shelves.
  • Rating – If I’ve read the book, I put the rating here, so if I indeed want to clean up my shelves, I can instantly get a reminder of whether or not I liked that book. Obviously it’s different for everyone, as everyone has different amounts of shelf space, but I can say at least for the time being that anything lower than a 3 rating should be removed from my shelves.
  • Classification and genre – I can use this to search through my TBR. For example, if I’m looking for my next read and am looking for something light, I can filter Read? to blanks, and I can select these options to search for young adult contemporaries.
  • Format – I separate my hardcovers from paperbacks on the shelves, so this could help me find the book I’m looking for. Also, if I need to buy the sequel and can’t remember whether I had the previous in paperback or hardcover, I could easily look it up here if I’m away from home, in the bookstore, or something.
  • Signed? – Obviously, if I’m trying to find some books it would be okay to get rid of, I’m less likely to pick the signed ones. So I have that recorded here, with a few different options: no, yes, yes – personalized, yes – book plate.
  • Source – I like keeping track of this (a) to help when I’m filling in the book info on a review (my memory can be awful) and (b) because I like to prioritize the books I’ve received as gifts.
  • Imprint and publisher – I’m still interested in looking into this more statistically, to see which publishers work best for me, but having this info noted can also help when purchasing a sequel, to make sure you get the right edition, etc.
Of course, if you’re going on a hardcore book culling spree, you may want to expand and add some more columns to use in filtering your books. Here are some ideas:

  • Whether a book is rereadable.
  • Whether a book is an all-time favorite.
  • Whether it’s a book you can see yourself reading to your future children.
And there are even more things you can keep track of, should you find them useful:

  • Cover grade – like in my spreadsheet on books I’m reading this year, you could keep a grade on the covers here, to quickly remember which are your favorites.
  • Cover color – If you like to organize your bookshelves by color, you could keep track of the colors here in case it becomes difficult to track down your books later. Now that I’ve thought of that, my bookshelves actually do stand a chance at becoming rainbow shelves!
  • Release date – If you decide not to have a separate tab for review copies, haha.
  • Number of pages – So you can easily search for a short or long book.
  • ISBN number – If you’re one of those people. o_o
  • Which shelf is it on? – in case you have a personal library or whatever, I’m glaring at you out of jealousy, but I can also imagine it might be hard to find your books. So. You could number your shelves and put that here or something.

Electronic Shelves

2014-01-14 13_52_06-My Bookshelves

I keep my e-books separate because (a) I don’t feel as pressured to read them, (b) some of the info for physical copies isn’t as relevant, and (c) there are a couple other things I like to keep track of. For these books, I don’t keep track of the format or whether it’s signed because, well, duh. I also don’t keep track of the imprint or publisher because purchasing the right edition is less of an issue.

I will generally only buy e-copies if they’re at a good price, or I’m not sure that I’ll like the book enough to have it on my shelves. This can save me money, but it can also result in me buying the books twice – because if I love a book, I will inevitably want to have a physical copy. That’s why here, the column that to me is key, is the status column. Some books I will just keep on my e-reader. Some I really dislike and will delete. Some I will immediately purchase a hard copy of. And some I will put on a list to buy later – when I have room for it in my budget or it’s on deal somewhere.

Review Copies

2014-01-14 13_55_25-My Bookshelves

Now this is probably the tab I’m most proud of and most likely to use on a regular basis. Review copies. Pesky things, amirite? Well here we go. Your solution so you never forget about one of them again. Here’s what I dubbed as useful information for this tab:

  • Book title and author, still obviously.
  • Series, also obviously. But for those with a lot of review copies, you could easily make an accompanying column about whether or not you have read its prequels!
  • Release date – per default I keep the spreadsheet sorted by release date descending.
  • Read? and Rating – Obviously I want that column to be entirely green at some point. (Which is done, by the way, by conditional formatting.)
  • Classification and genre – if I’m picking and choosing which I want to read.
  • Imprint and publisher – for the book info in the book review, but also so I can measure my own success in contacting publishers and remember who to email the review to.
  • Format and signed? – I can easily remember whether they’re e-copies or physical copies. And if it’s signed. (I don’t have any signed ARCs yet, but I can imagine after BEA that will change. And it will be useful to know this for culling books.)
  • Source – where did I get it?
  • Method – if I run out of time on review copies, I can use this to prioritize. Did I request the book? Was I invited to review it? Was it unsolicited? etc. etc.
  • Status – as with e-copies, if I love a book I want a finished hardcover. Here I can keep track of if I’ve deleted the eARC, gave the ARC away, bought a finished copy, or put it on a to-buy list.

That’s It!

That’s it for me! I’m quite proud of this spreadsheet because it can be used for so many functions: inventory for if you move, easily finding unread books you may want to read but overlook on the shelves, keep track of review copies, keep track of e-books, etc. etc. etc. So are you inspired yet? Haha, I would advise to not take on too many spreadsheeting projects at once, because it can get exhausting, but I did this over the course of about a day, perhaps half a day, and I do think it’s useful. For example, I can now tell you that I’ve read 108 of the 189 physical copies I own. *cough* Okay, that needs some work.

How do you keep track of your TBR/inventory/review copies? I’m having quite a bit of fun with these spreadsheets, obviously. I hope you guys find them useful too! Need an organizational system for anything else?

Let me know in the comments!



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22 responses to “How To Manage Your Book Inventory & TBR

  1. Yes! Moar spreadsheets! I’ll admit I’m a bit envious of your organisation skills πŸ˜‰

    I actually use Calibre to manage my eBook collection – it’s ridiculously large and I could never enter all that data into a spreadsheet without wanting to commit murder. It’s free + open source + you can customize it to your heart’s content!
    As for review copies, I use Google Drive too! I use 2 sheets, one that shows me the absolute basic details (title/author/publisher/source/release date/if I’ve read it) and another that copies info from the first one + has ALL the details. And then I added conditional formatting (It’s SO much fun to use) and a script to use aforementioned formatting and also to send me shouty emails.
    In case you can’t tell, yeah I’m pretty proud of it. πŸ™‚

  2. My TBR pile is based on the shelf I have on Goodreads with the name ‘owned-read’ and ‘owned-tbr’, because it’s just too much work for me to put it in a spreadsheet. I really like the look and idea of it though!

    I have a document for ARC’s/eARC’s and that is pretty similar to yours, only I make it in excel πŸ™‚ My eARC’s are also managed by Calibre like Antara.

    Because of your awesome ideas I’m actually starting a file with books I read now with genres, page numbers etc besides my notebook, so I can make a fancy recap at the end of this year.

    And my last file is where I store all the series I’m reading with information like: DNF and not completely published yet. It’s in word with tables.

  3. Priscilla

    Your speadsheet are SO USEFUL, I mean each week I feel like you’re saving my (reading) life. Thank you so much!
    I’ll try to keep them as neatly done as yours!

  4. This is such a great organizational tool for people overflowing with books! I’m actually not in that category at the moment as I’m still rebuilding my library, but I do love that you’ve added a cover color column. πŸ™‚ A large portion of my bookshelf is arranged in a rainbow, and it’s easier for me to find books in that section than the ones that aren’t lol.

    I mostly use Goodreads shelves to keep track of any type of TBR or even wishlist, but I should fine-tune that a bit.

    • Goodreads can start overflowing so easily…. And I forget about what I keep track of in which shelf and it just becomes a disaster, haha. Even though they’re more complex, I feel like my spreadsheets simplify things. At least for me. Glad you like it! πŸ™‚

  5. I use Goodreads for my own and own but not read books and the number is kinda scary. Your 108 to 189 ratio sounds pretty good to me πŸ˜‰
    I like your new spreadsheet! πŸ™‚ I’m making one like it for my eARCs.

    • Hahaha, I know what you mean, I totally thought that ratio would be way worse. I’m relieved. Sort of. Until I think about the fact that if I bought no new books I would have enough to last me almost a year. Um. Oops. I’m not stopping buying books. Nope.

  6. I know I’ve already said this multiple times since your last spreadsheet post, but seriously, Debby, you are a LIFESAVER. I already organized my TBR and books I own into a spreadsheet previously, but your post just makes me want to refine it even more. Thanks for sharing more awesome tips on how to stay organized!

  7. Well, proud to be one of those people who got into spreadsheets due to your posts LOL they’re very helpful and I actually envy you; I won’t be able to maintain more than a couple of list; TBR list and books I’ve read list this year list…
    I was curious, because after this post I decided to check out Google Docs for this spreadsheet matter, how exactly do you filter like you’ve said you do on Google Docs? I’m a spreadsheet newbie in general, and this seems like great info to have!!

    Great post and you’re making me so into spreadsheet, you evil person! LOL

    • I was wondering if everyone would be able to keep up with the spreadsheets lingo, so haha, it was inevitable that this question would happen. Maybe if I go further with the spreadsheets I’ll write a quick how to on basic spreadsheet options, since I’m also realizing that I didn’t know all of these things before I started working. Anyway, you can filter by selecting the row with your headings and then going to Data – Filter.

  8. Yep, I definitely rushed off to make my own bookish spreadsheet last week. The one I love most (and is the largest) is my ongoing series to read spreadsheet. I have the worst time keeping up on all the series I read and I’ve found I enjoy binge reading them more than having to wait for the next installment so knowing at a glance which series are complete really helps. Next tab I need to make is for my review copies. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • Hahaha, that’s a good one too. I still use Goodreads for that now (with different shelves: series-completed, and series-following) but I might ditch that soon as well. Sounds like a good thing to keep track of as well.

      You’re welcome! πŸ™‚

  9. This is amazing! I would probably get super lazy after a while and stop updating it, but I love the idea of it! It seems like it would be fun. I love the idea of keeping track of books that are rereadable! I need to work on being more organized so things like this will work for me. Thanks for sharing!

  10. So detailed! It must take AGES to complete this spreadsheet from scratch if you have tons of books. But then once it is done, maintenance shouldn’t be too bad. I definitely need something like this because I’m constantly buying multiple copies of books if I can’t remember what I already have! eek lol

  11. Using Google Docs is a brilliant idea! I’ve been using Microsoft’s Database program, though, and it’s very useful but since I don’t use the computer I’ve created it on that often, my list hasn’t been updated in ages. I think I’ll take a look at using Google Docs soon πŸ˜‰