App that's like Sort-It's Collectors?

I’ve been using the Sort-It Collectors app on my phone since at least 2011 if not earlier on my Touch. I’ve scanned in hundreds of books over the years and it’s really helpful when I’m out and see a book I can’t remember if I have. Even when I read a book and immediately donate it, I scan it in so I don’t forget.

Today I went to scan in a just-finished book and my entire database is gone :rage:

Worse, when I add a book, that is also gone after exiting the program. So I can’t even restore :rage: :rage:

Two things: the last time I exported a CSV of the database was three years ago. My phone is backed up nightly. Any idea where I can find the backup of this program? I’d like to see if I can import the data and re-export it so I have a current list. I can’t even tell you how many books I’ve read and redonated in the past three years.

Then I need a replacement. I remember trying Delicious Library and I loved it but I don’t think it had an iOS version? I absolutely need to carry it with me.

A must-have requirement is that I don’t have to create an account for data that resides on my phone! It’s why I never migrated to the new company when Sort-It went out.


I’ve been tracking my books with a FileMaker database, although any database app (including the one built-in to LibreOffice) should also work.

The schema I created is:

  • Title - text
  • Author/Editor - text
  • Date - Number (I only log the year)
  • Sort With - text
    • I use this so I can sort by author’s last name while displaying the names normally. Also for grouping together books that form a series.
  • Category - text, from a list of values. The list I’m currently using (and occasionally change) is:
    • Business
    • Cookbook
    • Fiction
    • Humor
    • Music
    • Non fiction
    • Philosophy
    • Political
    • Reference
    • Sci-Fi & Fantasy
    • Textbook
  • Publisher - text
  • Comments - text
  • Cover - image

I keep them sorted/indexed by:

  1. Sort With
  2. Author/Editor
  3. Title
  4. Date

I have two views that I normally work with:

  • Data Entry, which shows everything as a big scrolling list
  • Title and Author only, as a table

I work with the database using the Data Entry view. I enter all the data from the info page at the start of most books. I scan the cover and paste it into that field.

I use the Title and Author only view when printing the database. I normally print it to a PDF file, which I upload to a Google Drive and add to the Books apps (to sync it onto my phone).

Not as friendly as a purpose-built app, but it works well.

I have similar databases for my video collection and my music collection.


Thanks! I can easily do it in Excel but what I loved with the app is it was easy to see if I owned/read a book. I could either just start to type it or scan the barcode in and it would tell me.

Can you export the file to the phone in a searchable format?


As I wrote, whenever I update the database, I print a report to a PDF and I sync it to my phone via the Books app. I can search for text within the PDF. I fully expect that this can be done with any database software.

For something beyond that, I’m not sure. FileMaker has the “FileMaker Go” product, which can be used (in conjunction with FileMaker Pro) to make database-accessing mobile apps. But I think your database needs to be hosted on an Internet-facing server, running FileMaker Server. So this is clearly going to be prohibitively expensive for a personal project.

FileMaker Go without a server works reasonably well with iCloud. You download the database to your device to be used offline. Changes that are made in Go remain there until uploaded to the cloud. So, syncing is completely manual and requires some care and discipline but it works. And it’s free if you already have FileMaker.

With the caveat that I haven’t used it, this looks promising for this purpose.

It has a CSV import feature as well. It doesn’t seem to ask for an online account. If you pay $2/month or $14/year, it will iCloud sync as well.

Cool. Thanks. Do you happen to have a link to an article with step-by-step instructions for setting this up? I suspect it would work better than my current system of distributing PDFs.

I don’t have a link to an article but it is pretty straightforward. I created a FileMaker folder in my iCloud Drive to hold various databases. Then you start FileMaker Go, go to the launch center and select “On My iDevice” under locations. There should be a little download icon in the upper right hand corner. Touch that icon and it will open a file browser that you can use to navigate to the databases. (You may need to add iCloud Drive to the locations in the Files app). The database will download to your device. Tapping the database file icon will open it in Go.

You can add/edit/delete records, run scripts, but not modify the database structure (that has to be done in the desktop version). You can save the changed database back to iCloud. This is where the manual syncing comes in because of the potential to overwrite the original. I usually want to update the desktop file but that may not always be the case.

It’s been awhile since I set it up so I may have forgotten some detail. Hopefully I have given you enough to get it working.

There’s a simple app, CSV Touch, that can read CSV files. I used to use it years ago for book lists, especially for missing volumes from series to watch for in bookstores. I haven’t used it lately though it still works as of ios 16.n (I don’t have 17 yet). It has fast search and sort, and you can choose which fields show in the table. You can’t edit the data though–you have to make any changes in your database or spreadsheet then re-export/import. $2, no subscription, data not collected.

Tap Forms database is another possibility though I haven’t gotten properly into it yet. But I’ll most likely be switching to it from Filemaker on newer systems than sierra because I can’t justify the FM upgrade costs. Not cheap, but not that expensive considering it’s general purpose, featureful and the user forum looks pretty useful. The ios version can apparently scan barcodes into a field then do a web search to fill in other fields, though I haven’t tried it and I don’t know how much work you have to put into it while setting up the database. $50 for mac, $17 for ios, no subscription, no data collected.

Thanks everyone! I was really looking for an app - the convenience of scanning a barcode on the go can’t be denied (for me)

I am testing BookBuddy, it’s only about $5 to get beyond the 50 book limit of the free version. One time purchase! No need to create an account.


I like LibraryThing for this. It has an iOS app. It will scan book barcodes and add them to your library. There are different collections and ways to organize, once they’re in there.

I use LibraryThing myself to track my books as well, but it does require creating an online account and stores the data online, not on device. I’ve also had a lot of issues with entering dates into my book details - start and finish and purchase dates - since they switched from being an obviously scraped web app to adding some native code. This app on iOS at least needs more work - though the iPadOS version works fine, and it works fine in a Safari tab.

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Thanks for the recommendation - I did add it to the phone but couldn’t get beyond the create and account screen and it got deleted quickly.


I realized I didn’t put the best title on my thread last week, so I am responding to myself with a better title.

I do have Delicious Library 2 from a long time ago but even that database seems to be corrupted and it won’t take new scans. I believe it’s no longer supported and IIRC the iOS app at the time was just a scanner.

I found Bookpedia in another thread and it also seems great, but also unsupported. The Mac app is downloadable but the iOS app (which is what I really want) is gone.

I am currently testing BookBuddy on the iOS side and hoping I can import a backup of Sort-it into it.

I don’t want a subscription nor do I want to have to create an account. I primarily use this on my phone.

I would also love to know if I can retrieve a backup of my Sort-it database from the cloud and my phone backup. I hadn’t done a manual backup of the phone in quite some time but it backs up to the cloud every night.


There is software that will extract things from manual backups. But perhaps the thing to do is write a very nice email to the author of Sort-it asking how you can do this? From personal experience I know that the sadness of having to give up on a project is often relieved by enthusiastic users who are not accusative and demanding but just asking for a knowledgeable helping hand.

That said, I am pessimistic about virtually all of these utilities; not just books. Most of them are dreadful, a few are great—so useful!—but the long-term economics of writing good utilities is grim and that’s why so many fall by the wayside in time.

Your best protection is to make sure, whatever you use, that you can export to an utterly plain-vanilla format like CSV so that when things fall apart you can find another app that will import them. Additional effort, I know, but it’s really the only way.

Good luck!


Sort-It was bought out and I never upgraded from the original since the new owners required a login. But it would’t hurt to check with them to see.

I had tested the export feature of Collectors a couple of years ago and it worked well! But that was a couple of years ago.

I was able to extract the database from an iMazing backup, not as recent as I’d like but better than the export. It’s also an XML which has been a blast to work with (slight sarcasm here).

The app I’m working with now on the phone is fussy about its imports as well but thankfully the author is very responsive. Thanks for reminding me to try an export before I commit fully.

If anyone has a good method for converting XMLs to CSVs I’d love to hear it!


Search for “xml to excel”



Note to self - new Excel works better at this than old Excel :rofl:

There are still a bunch of extra characters to strip out but the format is workable.