Apple Books.app replacement needed

Long ago in a galaxy close by, an iTunes.app was not just for music. It was a reasonably comprehensive Digital Asset Manager (DAM) for Audiobooks, eBooks, and PDFs. As a bonus for upgrading to a newer OS X versions, all of these were ‘migrated’ to iBooks, now Books, but only the raw files were transferred. Any metadata beyond name, author, and type of file were summarily discarded. Doug’s AppleScripts became unusable. Bulk editing of multiple items in Books became impossible. And, of course, the data files were hidden in ~/Library which essentially eliminated use of external storage devices unless the entire contents of ~/, the user’s Home directory, was moved to the external device.

But, until recently is was easy sort and view PDF and eBook lists. I personally had made my peace with Books.app and continued, with some effort, to manage these media and synchronize them with, for example, my iPhone. Now, with the advent of Monterey, Books.app has ‘simplified’ the display and reduced sort options for these media. And has removed the spreadsheet-style display option, making substituting visual sorting difficult by mixing different data types in one column and insisting on display of the cover art, further making visual sort more difficult. (I think differently.)

So now I am finally looking for a Digital Asset Manager (DAM) for Audiobooks, eBooks, and PDFs. It does not have to be free. But it must have:

  • Column (spread-sheet like) listing of items
  • Sort selection on selected column
  • Choice of artwork display or not
  • Choice file storage location
  • Scriptable for editing

In other words, I want an app that will renew my ability to manage Audiobooks, eBooks, and PDFs in a fashion that resembles what I had done years ago in iTunes. No cloud is needed. Am I just a snowball in a hot place, or is there hope?

Help!

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I’m not sure if this ticks all the boxes but it’s always seemed highly regarded. NeoFinder . You could also Google for Mac disk catalog and you may find something suitable.

A more complete, though complex option would be Filemaker Pro but it would require some development work.

Books.app is still the only app that can read books purchased from Apple’s bookstore, if that matters.

@james.cutler

Long ago in a galaxy close by, an iTunes.app was not just for music. It was a reasonably comprehensive Digital Asset Manager (DAM) for Audiobooks, eBooks, and PDFs. As a bonus for upgrading to a newer OS X versions, all of these were ‘migrated’ to iBooks, now Books, but only the raw files were transferred. Any metadata beyond name, author, and type of file were summarily discarded. Doug’s AppleScripts became unusable. Bulk editing of multiple items in Books became impossible. And, of course, the data files were hidden in ~/Library which essentially eliminated use of external storage devices unless the entire contents of ~/, the user’s Home directory, was moved to the external device.

But, until recently is was easy sort and view PDF and eBook lists. I personally had made my peace with Books.app and continued, with some effort, to manage these media and synchronize them with, for example, my iPhone. Now, with the advent of Monterey, Books.app has ‘simplified’ the display and reduced sort options for these media. And has removed the spreadsheet-style display option, making substituting visual sorting difficult by mixing different data types in one column and insisting on display of the cover art, further making visual sort more difficult. (I think differently.)

Calibre?

Jeez I just opened Books app on my new M1 Max MBP16 (as I manage my library on a Mac Mini still on Mojave with iTunes – NB. Books app is still a separate app on Mojave).

What on earth have Apple done to tag editing in Monterey??
They’ve removed half the columns in List views, for things like Year, Subject, Comments, Description, et al.
Also, AFAICT, while they’ve added Cover tag editing, they’ve removed all tag editing except Title and Author… so where’s Year, and Subject, etc…?

Why Apple, WHY!

EDIT: Obviously it’s now a Catalyst app. But why have they removed even basic info like Year, FFS. :roll_eyes:

@trilo
Thank you for your suggestion

Neutered it.

I will look at calibre again, it has been a few years.

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Filemaker would be a good solution as you can present, sort and filter the data in various ways. It should be possible to store publication info, including path & filename, in a Filemaker database. To open that document in Books (which might be necessary with ebooks purchased from Apple) you could invoke some Applescript to open the Books app and load the document in question.
By way of example, Filemaker lets you store a webpage URL in a field and if you click on that field it automatically opens Safari and goes to that webpage.

There must be plenty of Filemaker “solutions” out there for managing library catalogues - it might be possible to customise one of these to add the features I describe above.

I think it would be a fairly simple solution to build. FMP has a default starter file for Content Management which is described as:

An app for collecting and organizing documents,
music, images, and more. Includes a list of notes
for each file. You can extend a Starter app with
Add-on Tables.

It’s probably not perfect but might be a start.

I’ve always thought the split was a brilliant move. At the time, iTunes had become a humongous, cluttered and bloated mess. Dumping so many different kinds of media and content in one place didn’t make sense anymore. For users, music lumped with podcasts created a lot more searching and fussing. Separate menus are easier to search and quicker to navigate. If I want to find a digital or audio book, I know to look in Books, same with music and Music and Podcasts. Though I’m not as yet interested in Apple TV, I am glad it’s a separate app rather than clogging up Music or Podcasts.

One example of an inevitable snafu of bundling is the current mega Spotify/Joe Rogan/Neil Young/Joni Mitchell, etc. controversy. Spotify lumped podcasts and music into one place, and now they are clearly, and not surprisingly, having super mega issues, including whether or not Spotify is a platform or publisher. They are loosing musicians and podcasters as well as subscribers and advertisers. Having specific apps for specific types of content makes for better user experiences and better asset management for content providers and Apple.

Oh, the split was long overdue.

The problem is that only the raw data was split, not the playlists and metadata management. Playlists and metadata management were removed and years of carefully curated catalog data and playlists were simply discarded without so much as a ‘by your leave’. In addition, all the Books data files were made no longer amenable to external storage.

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+1 for calibre

It’s not the greatest solution for audiobooks, but it does at least store the files & metadata and copy them when you need them.

I’m still using Books as a player on my iPhone as with m4b it holds the position well. It’s actually better than with ebooks as it will load them from the phones memory rather than forcing them on iCloud with no option to keep them held locally.

I can recommend BookPlayer to play audio books. Much cleaner and faster interface than Books. I always found Books slow and awkward for listening to audiobooks, but put up with it. However, after upgrading to Monterey last year and losing iTunes for syncing my audiobooks, I needed something else that would allow me to sync just the books I needed. Really enjoying it – simple, great player.

Does not really address your existing data management issues but I find that Kindle (gasp!) app is really elegant for books especially when you can layer on the Audible content; switching back and forth between reading and listening is great. Also, Apple Watch integration is hugely useful, walking/driving can go back and forth 30 seconds, volume, etc.

If AirPods, you can even use Siri to go back and forth in Audible content : “Hey, Siri, go back 30 seconds.”

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I love my Kindle. I have eyesight problems and have enjoyed being able to adjust the font to better see the text. Unfortunately they just updated their system again and, per usual, made a mess of it. I’m really having difficulty getting the thickness of the font I need to comfortably read.

BTW I use my Kindle device to read and have the audible book playing on my phone so I can have a much better “reading” experience. Of course that is the value of their “whisper synch” approach. I never understood why they won’t allow someone who has invested in a Kindle device not to be able to have both the audio and text on the same device. Seems to me that would be of much greater value.

FileMaker is quite powerful.

Panorama, http://www.provue.com has been around a long time and is cheaper than FM. I don’t know anything about it though.

You may want to have a look at Yep (Ironic Software I think). I have been using it for managing my pdf files for well over 10 years abandoning paper copies but you can add other document types as well.
It relies heavily on tagging your files and then uss tgese to quickly find what you’re looking for.

Does anyone know a way of easily editing ebook metadata tags that have since been removed – preferably without deleting the item from my Books app library and re-adding it (though if I have to remove+re-add items, that would do)?

In Monterey, I need to be able to change/add tags for fields: Year / Category / Comments / Description.

(Monterey’s Books app doesn’t have the above fields anymore. Argh!!)

Tag Editor from Amvidia will do at least part of what you want.

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I finally had a look at this today. This app only deals with audio files, unfortunately. :frowning:

EDIT: Calibre doesn’t offer these fields either.

I did various searches, including “epub tag editor mac”, but nothing very positive appeared in the search results.

Is Apple using its own field formats here – maybe for just for the fields YEAR, SUBJECT, CATEGORY.
As seemingly these fields do not appear in Calibre, for example…?

Or perhaps one needs more high-end tools from the likes of Adobe or similar? Rather annoying.