Nice home library databases that aren't cloud-based that support notes and history

Before I build this myself…

We’re looking at ways to catalog our home library of books. We would like to build a database of all physical books with some metadata (title, author, year, some categorical information.) We would also like to add searchable history and notes about books to the database. And we would like to sync at least some of this between desktop and mobile, and another desktop, without using a cloud service.

Does anything like this exist? Here’s what I’ve looked at so far (I may have overlooked capabilities in any of these):

  • BookPedia: I very much like the ethos of this project, but its item history is limited to marking read with a comment field, and marking borrowed/returned. The comment and summary fields are single-line text fields and aren’t searchable.
  • DevonThink: individual entries are either too free form, or unwieldily to enter with custom fields. The books template is nice for creating a table of tabular data but doesn’t work as an entire database. Generally not designed for tracking physical objects. DT also doesn’t support relational data without some heavy scripting (I think.)
  • Zotero: the notes-per-book feature seems good enough, but it doesn’t appear well-supported sync is possible without cloud. (Zotero can do an incomplete sync with webdav.)
  • DeliciousLibrary 3: doesn’t appear to support notes/events on books and has limited custom metadata available for workarounds. Search also didn’t seem powerful.
  • BookTrack: trying to be a nice-looking Mac app and is receiving frequent updates. Only events/notes feature is quotes from the book and can’t be searched. Single-line comment field is searchable.
  • Book Crawler: I like the maturity of this app and the database seems to handle edge cases (multiple authors plus being able to filter down to books with only one of the two authors, for example) other databases might struggle with. However, it again doesn’t really support extensive notes and history on the books.
  • LibraryThing, GoodReads, StoryGraph, Libib and so on aren’t options for this project, unfortunately.
  • Excel/Numbers: we’d like to enter data in too many fields and the relational notes we want to add would become unwieldy and buggy with lookups.

I’d love to hear any recommendations or advice to reconsider the above. Perhaps we can get a table going like the email provider thread, since we’ve only had some small scattered threads about this topic in the past.


Replying here so I can find out as well. I used Delicious Library ever since and I only have about 260 books so it works well for me.

This is an aside but I was just thinking along these lines just today. I “own” lots of electronic books but how would I get them off of or out of the Cloud?

No idea how I’d download them. PDF’s?

I have bought a couple from Ebay. They must have been pdf’s.

Delicious Library is basically a media inventory, right?

Delicious Library is more like a catalog of your physical collection (can be books, toys, movies, music, etc.). It doesn’t direct you to your digital collection. I suppose you can add them but there’s no function to link them to a directory.

I know there are tools that can remove DRM off your PDF but I only have few ebooks or kindle as I prefer physical books. So have no idea how it works.

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Thanks! Can you modify the databases? Also can you include more than one photo per item?

I’m afraid I have developed BOTH book habits! It never ceases to amaze me that I can carry dozens of books in my little iPod! But physical books still hold lots of advantages.

I use to go down to Mexico to study and lugged 20 books with me and I bought more while I was down there!

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Not really an answer to your question, but the public standard format for digital books is ePub

EPUB is a technical standard published by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). It became an official standard of the IDPF in September 2007, superseding the older Open eBook standard.

— Wikipedia

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Yes, you can add/modify the database. There are also instances that I add my own books. I owned dozens of local books and they can’t be found using Amazon database so I add my own details. Unfortunately, no you cannot add more than one photo. I assume you want to add cover variants to your collection.

For digital, I usually just subscribe to Scribd for ebooks/audiobooks. I found that I tend to forget books on my kindle collection. They’re collecting digital dust at the moment.

I collect books and the ones I don’t keep I sell so it would be nice to keep photos that are indicative of good condition. One photo really isn’t enough to do that. Plus rarer books have particular characteristics. I started placing the photos into Notes (acting as a sort of database) but it was a bit of a pain in the neck. But it would be nice if I could add my own fields. The apps that I have found that accept extra photos tend not to do that but I’ve been looking at iPads apps.

I use to have a copy of FileMaker Pro many moons ago so I got plenty spoiled!

There is a free iPad app that is pretty open ended but I forgot the name. LOL!

It is easy to forget digital books! I’m typically reading 5 or 6 at a time! But I’m enjoying it!

I think Tapp Forms Organizer 5 Database would meet your requirement.


I’m actually looking at Records to build a database in case Wil Shipley decides to quit Delicious Library. The only setback is that it doesn’t fit your requirement for an iPad app companion.

I wanted to get into collecting books since I enjoy getting First Editions but I lack in ensuring pristine quality with my current collection that I don’t think it’s for me. But now, I’m trying to amass some OOP locally published books for educational purposes and ensuring that the next generation will have access to it.

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The personal database landscape for the Apple ecosystem is a charred and barren landscape, littered with the corpses of the fallen. Like this companion post, the available solutions all fall short in any number of ways:

  • No iOS companion, no iCloud sync, or both (Tropy)
  • Last update to the app was years ago (Records, Delicious Library)
  • Subscription pricing in the hundreds per year (FileMaker Pro)

Remember, just because the website is up and the developer will still let you buy it, doesn’t mean that the software is technically “supported” (looking at you Yojimbo). Years ago I wouldn’t have hesitated to recommend Delicious Library, but like Yojimbo, VoodooPad, and so many others, they’ve failed to keep up to date. Zombie abandonware, still moving, but dead just the same.

That being said, I use Book Track on my iPhone. :man_shrugging:t2:


I’d go with Bookpedia - search and data entry /capture are great. You can then export to BibTex and use BibDesk if you need additional metadata. That’s what I do.

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I also use(d) Book Track. It has versions for Mac, iPad, and iPhone. I’ve drifted away from using it , but not because of the app.

Nah, just a Mac app is fine by me. I’ll check it out!

My main concern is getting about 4 photos in per item. I can get the rest of the info in there somehow.

I have a Tap Forms app but I haven’t really used it. I imagine it’s the same app.

Summary fields are most certainly NOT single line only and are fully searchable.
Here’s jus tone from my Bookpedia database “Catalog for the exhibition of Navajo weaving that ran through 4 Oct. 1992 in Denver. It will travel to Phoenix, DC, Omaha, and NYC during 1994 and 1995. The show comprises the Gloria F. Ross Collection of Contemporary Navajo Weaving of the Denver Art Museum. Fine color photos of the work with biographical sketches and comments of the weavers. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.”

You also might look at the custom fields that are part of the extras in a Bookpedia database.

For kindle books you download for transfer via USB. It’s an option under my content and devices.

Then, if you are like me, you run them through Calibre to de-DRM them and save the library file on my own server.

With well over 1000 Kindle books making sure I retain access to them is important to me. Youc an oalso doewload other formats of ebooks like epub. For most fo the books I get from Gutenbooks or g from Take Control SW I get both the .MOBI kindle format and the .EPUB formats down and save them both.

I Use Bookpedia for both my physical and electronic book collection and at the moment there are over 3100 books in the library.

Bookpedia allows attaching links to any sort of file so you can save links to all the pictures of rare books. They also have good support for tracking books that are for sale, hav been sold and what condition etc they are in.

The syncing of Bookpedia is problematic at best but it can be made to work by hand wihth some fiddling. But I rarely need to access the full library catalog on a portable device anyway so that hasn’t been a problem for me. It’s enough that I can easily put whatever books I need on the devices quickly and easily.


Good stuff so far here.

Biggest truth in the thread.

Ah, I see that now (changing the scope of the search fields.) That’s important. I don’t know if I would trust the summary and comments fields, or the custom fields, to store a lot of data (would rather have individual structured entries that are easier to manage), but there’s more going on here than I realized. Have you or anyone else had any success hacking a relational model into it? It’s just a sqlite db under the hood, right?

This is something we might use to build a db if we can’t find one. The update history is encouraging. I see there are some scripts that might help with book scanning into Tap Forms. In general, I think it’s important to have a lot of people literate with software like Tap Forms and its predecessors.

This one’s still a finalist, too, despite the limitations for my particular case, if only because it seems pleasant and that counts for something. Just depends on which tradeoff we end up wanting to make.

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Know you said no cloud sync, however, would Notion check a number of your boxes?

If I understand what you want you want to set up possible options and pick from a list? If so yes you can do that in the custom fields. Look under preferences, autofill and set what things you want toallow for each of the various fields and they will show up as options if you click on the updown arrows on the right of the custom fields in the Extras for each book

I just opened up a copy of my bookpedia DB in my standard SQLite tools and it is a fairly simple database structure. I didn’t try to write my own queries into it but it is an easily understandable structure.

One oddity that I’ve seen in a lot of other SQLite database. They start their table names with Z. My own preference for tabel and field names is to have them long and verbose and descriptive but that’s style thing not a function thing.