I was recently asked how I manage my Kindle books, especially as a self admitted freebie junkie like me. This means that I literally have over 20,000 ebooks in my library purchased at Amazon (free or on sale, usually). This doesn’t include the freebie book files I have gotten from BookFunnel or Prolific Works (formally Instafreebie), or ARCs (Advanced Readers Copy) books.
You can easily do this on your phone actually as I will show you with screenshots. How I keep track of my books requires three things to work: an Amazon account, Goodreads, and Kindle collections. Ready? Let’s go!
My System Overview
Two years ago, I realized that I often couldn’t remember what books or authors I’ve finished, what book in a series I was on, or even what that book I saw an ad for that I really wanted to check out. So I decided to actively use Goodreads and rate and review every book I read to keep track of progress, I created collections on my favorite device (my Kindle Paperwhite), and all those books I purchased that I never read? Yup, I put in a way to incorporate trying the oldest book purchased that I haven’t read.
Don’t worry, I pick up books I’m feeling like reading too, but I can organize it a bit. You all can read whichever order works for you, but maybe it’ll give you a couple ideas.
You may have noticed that listing your books by author isn’t foolproof. Nor is doing a search by author, especially if they’ve corroborated on a book with another author. Or they use initials in their name. So, it might be a little redundant, but I make a collection for each author (or author duo) and any pen name that author publishes under. I only create a collection for authors whose works I enjoy. So if I haven’t read that author yet, no collection.
I also create a Currently Reading collection. This is anything I plan on immediately starting or have already started. Say, a new book in a series I love you just got released. To remind myself to read it soon, I put it in the correct author’s collection AND the Currently Reading collection. If I start a long series and need a break, I keep the next book in that series in it. I also put the oldest book I purchased that I haven’t read yet in it. Right now, my Currently Reading collection has 18 books. Depending on my mood, I can progress on a series I’m reading, pick up the book that got released last week, whatever. Once I get over 25 books, I’ll pick the new releases and non series books and clean it out a little. I also have collections for classic fiction, erotica, self-help, business, and nonfiction because those are not dependent on the author to me. You can organize by genre of the books if you want, but that’s what I use Goodreads for.
Your Kindle cloud will USUALLY keep track of the last place you were in your book. Meaning if you finished it, it’ll be listed as near 100%. But you have to actually download it on your current device to check it. It’s also not foolproof because, say you wanted to look at the table of contents or a random chapter for whatever reason, and then went back to your home screen. Now the book will tell you 1% or whatever chapter you last looked at. Plus if the book updates, it’ll erase your place. This is why I use Goodreads.
Goodreads has three default shelves: Want to Read, Currently Reading, and Read. I have another shelf called DNF, meaning Did Not Finish. Goodreads shelves are exclusive, meaning you can only put it in one of those shelves at a time. You can create however many you want, but I would keep it simple. You can add Purchased shelf in you want to remind yourself what books you’ve bought but haven’t read, if you use the Want to Read shelf for everything that sounds like a great read. Or any other shelf you can imagine.
Goodreads tags is where I use the genres and sub genres. So if I just read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I would move it to the Read shelf, and put a fantasy (or High or Epic Fantasy) tag on it, plus probably young adult tag, and classic fiction. I also use tags of themes I like reading. I’m a huge romance reader. So if I’m in the mood for a good second chance romance, I can look at the books I have tagged with that. Continuing with my Hobbit example, I would probably add an elf tag or monster tag or horses tag, or whatever plot theme I really want to read more of.
The downside to this system is you can’t look for a new book you have by tags unless you make it a point to add your Amazon purchases to your Goodreads account (which Goodreads will do automatically for you if you want) and put tags on the books you haven’t read yet. I don’t do this because I buy a LOT of freebies. But if you’re picky about your purchases, this is a great way to keep track of books you’ve purchased. They’ll be in the Want to Read shelf after Goodreads gets your purchases.
Goodreads has a search, author pages, and series pages, if you’re interested in using it for a little research.
Managing Content and Devices in Your Amazon Account
On the Amazon website (or Amazon shopping app), go to your account. Then choose Manage Content and Devices. The ‘content’ is every Kindle book you’ve purchased (if you don’t delete it here). You can view it by format (Book, Comic, Documents, etc) just like in your Kindle. But unlike your Kindle, it’s not limited to just the most recent 10,000 items in your cloud. It lists EVERY single one. But what you really want to do is go to the sorting order and list by oldest first. Here you can see the first purchase you ever made of whatever format you are interested in reading (it’s Books or Docs for me). So you can find the oldest book you haven’t read.
Click on the little button next to it and you can deliver it to your device. This tells your Kindle (or phone) to download that book. If you have slightly OCD tendencies to read books you’ve purchased at least, there it is.
In the Kindle app or Kindle, if you list by most recent, it only lists books you’ve downloaded or opened most recently first. It doesn’t list them by purchase date.
My organization method also includes deleting books I disliked to try and clean it up a bit. If I really disliked it, I’ll do an author search and delete everything by that author. If the book was only iffy though and I won’t ever read it again (especially if it was a freebie), I delete it.
You can also check out your Kindle Unlimited books or documents you sent to your Kindle, and delete them or send them to whatever device you have connected to your account.
Do You Like Checklists?
I personally like checklists so I actually use Evernote to create author and series checklists that I can glance at without going to multiple Goodreads pages. This is actually a little redundant because Goodreads has author pages and series lists. That said, Goodreads will list even foreign editions so I like my checklists for checking on an author and what series he or she has I haven’t read yet. This is entirely my crazy list making obsession.
Do NOT purchase those author checklists off Amazon. These are never created by the author and most authors will have printable checklists for free on their websites. Even if the author doesn’t, it’s not difficult to research the reading order or published books available by the author.
Keep It Up!
You can update your Goodreads status and book progress straight from your Kindle so you can keep yourself and your friends up to date. I personally created a habit to rate and review the book immediately. I don’t write in-depth ones or anything, but it helped me keep on track. Plus those freebies I totally forgot about? I’m slowly working through them. So I have multiple choices to choose from and if nothing sizzles my bacon? I can look at my checklists or Goodreads or Amazon Content and add another book to my currently reading list WITHOUT going to Amazon Kindle Store and shopping!
How do you organize your Kindle (or other ereader)? Leave me a comment and let me know. Maybe I will get some ideas. 😉