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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Managing Book Collection with Alexandria

A number of applications are available for managing you audio/video collection, now being an avid reader of books i have always felt the need of a software that could index and catalog book collection. Alexandria is a software that does just that it allows one to easily catalog book collection and manage them.

Alexandria is an open source application that has been written using Ruby programming language. It's interface has been designed using the Gtk2 toolkit. It is available in the Ubuntu 8.04 repositories and hence can be easily installed using synaptic or apt-get.

To install alexandria issue the following command in the terminal window (Applications-> Accessories -> Terminal)

sudo apt-get install alexandria

after the installation is over you can launch alexandria from Applications -> Office -> Alexandria Book Collection Manager

This is how alexandria looks

As soon as alexandria loads the first thing you notice is it's interface is not cluttered, the interface has been divided into two panes while the pane on the left is divided again into two part one part has My Library and has your entire book collection while the other pane has smart library which is something like a play list that exist in media managers, you can group books in these smart libraries.By default alexandria comes with th following Smart Libraries and you can add more as you need them : Owned , Favorite , Wishlist , Read , Loaned

Smart Libraries

To add books you have two options either you can add books based on it's ISBN or Name and Alexandria will search the internet for those books and give you relevant results or you can add book manually providing all the details of the book.

Adding book manually in Alexandria and by search for Title

When you actually search for book using ISBN or Name of the book Alexandria finds all the information relating to the book like it's title , author , publisher , publishing year , if cover is found it's JPG cover too and other information relating to the book.
Alexandria after adding few books (note cover of books is also downloaded if found)

Once a book is added you can add more information or modify existing informatio about the book . You can assign Rating , tags , Smart Library , notes etc to a book you have already added by double clicking on the icon of the book in alexandria.
Modifying book info in Alexandria

Now alexandria searchs selected online sources for information related to books , now you can remove or add more sources from (Edit -> Preferences -> Providers ) you will find a dialog box like this .

Besides all this there is an option of exporting entire library into different formats like (CSV , ONIX XML , BibTex , iPod Notes , HTML Web pages) now of these the best option is exporting it to HTML web page where information about books name , isbn , cover , title etc are exported into a single webpage which could be quite useful if you want to take your information of collection of books to a PC which is not running Linux or doesn't have Alexandria installed.

This is how Library exported as WebPage looks

Conclusion :
Alexandria is an extremely user firendly application that makes the job of managing book collection really simple . With an attractive interface and ability to add books with ISBN or Title,Smart Libraries and Rating based sorting of books, Alexandria is really simple to use. If you are one with huge collection of books and find it difficult to keep track of them Alexandria is just the right software for you.

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
For Desktop on Linux Blog ,
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney


Jorge Eduardo Haros said...

Tellico is another application for managing collections of books, or any type for that matter, I've never heard about Alexandria, I'm installing it right now to give it a try, thanks for sharing.

Vedang said...

sounds very interesting... am trying it out now...

Anonymous said...

Alexandria crashes on Ubuntu 8.04 64bit with following comment:
[BUG] Segmentation fault
ruby 1.8.6 (2007-09-24) [x86_64-linux].
Any idea?

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