Q: Why do I need to add my books to my personal digital library? I already have my books on Kindle, or Google, or Apple and I am a happy camper.

A: The short answer is that you do not need to add your books to your personal digital library. If you are happy with your current solution, then why bother to go through all the effort to create your own digital book library. If it works, don't fix it. However,

The long answer is that the world is evolving and changing all the time. Things that you like today may become less desirable tomorrow. Features come and go, prices always go up, and today's solution may not be the long-term fit that it is today.

Or your personal digital library just won't be complete without your books. I know for myself; I want to have my digital media organized and backed up.

I use these various apps to listen to and to read my books, but I do not want to be tied to these apps. I have "Cut the Cord" with Cable TV, and I do not want to end up on another "Cord" with my book library.

Still, not convinced that you need a digital book library. Read this step and after you see what's involved, make your decision. Whatever floats your boat.

Book Application Choices

There are many different book applications out there. Let's start with a brief explanation.

Types of Applications

There are three various kinds of apps or applications.

  • Mobile apps which run on your smartphone.
  • Desktop apps that run on your PC or tablet.
  • Website apps that run through Google Chrome, Firefox or other web browsers.

Some mobile apps have companion apps that will synchronize your phone with your desktop. This is a nice feature so you can always have the same data with you on your phone and then on your desktop. Some have both the mobile and desktop apps plus a third on their companion website. With these, you can not only access your data on your phone in your pocket, your desktop back home but also on your friends' (or library) desktop using the website companion app.

A good example is Google Mail. You can access your email on your phone, desktop, and website and always be synchronized and current no matter which device you are using.

Your Book Lifestyle

A book app that has all three (phone, desktop, and web) will allow you to read or listen to your book in your car on the way to work using your mobile phone, on your laptop during lunch, and later the web using your friend's desktop while you are killing time.

You only use your phone for reading books. Your phone has replaced the paperback book you used to carry around in your hip pocket or purse. Just like a paperback book you can pull out your phone and start reading from that digitally dog-eared page where you left off.

Or you want everything, all the time, everywhere. Audio or text, phone, or tablet, at home or on the road.

You're reading and listening lifestyle will be the determining factor in the application you select for your books.

Here's a checklist to help you get started.

  • How do I like to listen to my audio books.
  • How do I like to read my books?
  • I need an app that will ...
  • What device will I use?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

And whatever app you choose will determine where your book library will be located. Will your books be on your phone or your desktop, or both? Or will your digital book collection or library be in the cloud?

Popular Book Applications

Here are the top book applications. There are applications for your smartphone and your desktop computer. Some of these are and accessible thru the

Kindle: iOS, Android, PC and MAC, Amazon service, read and switch to the Audible app to listen, buy books, lots of features and the app is free.

Google Books: Android Play Store and Google Chrome web browser, read and listen, buy books, free books, etc. The app is free.

Apple Books: iOS and MAC, read and listen, buy books and the app is free.

All three of these extremely popular apps are free because they make their money selling you books. They are all full-featured and amazingly easy to use.

Libby: iOS, Android, and Windows, this app is the digital library which allows you to check out eBooks from your library if you have a library card. The books and the app are free.

GoodReads: iOS and Android mobile devices only. Some say this is the best book reader app. This app is free.

Free Apps but you will spend money

Great apps, great services, and competitive book prices. But there are some considerations.

  • Subscriptions
  • Just like Cable TV, prices are always going up
  • Once you are committed, it's not so easy to make a change

Your Personal Digital Book Library

There are two things we need to do to establish a personal digital book library.

  • Get all our books, in the best format, into a single folder
  • Choose an independent app to listen to and read on all our devices

Round-Up All of Your Books

Back in Step 01, we did a high-level inventory of all your media. This was a simple do you have this media or not kind of inventory. Then in Step 09, we gathered up all of our photos, videos, and music and created a dedicated folder structure to create our libraries. This did not include books, so we are going to do that now.

  • Do you have audio books?
  • Do you have eBooks?
  • Places to check.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Back in Step 09, we created an overall media library folder structure. Here is that structure.

You want to create two sub-folders under the BOOKS folder, Audio, and eBook folders.

For now, the file format doesn't matter. You just want to get all of your books into an organized folder structure.

DRM (Digital Rights Management)

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is built into various formats, both Audiobooks and eBooks. This is a copyright protection technology to protect the author's rights. Why is this important?

  • Apple iBooks will not easily play on Android. Yes, you can get around this restriction but it's complicated.
  • Google Play Books will play on iOS but it also is complicated.
  • Amazon Kindle Books will play on both iOS and Android using the Kindle application.

DRM technology is built into some of these formats. And as you have purchased these books, you can get around this with various conversion applications.

AudioBook File Format

Audiobooks are not music and they do not require the sound quality associated with music. While there are different file formats, MP3 will do the job very well.

eBook File Format

You will find various formats for books. Some formats have a DRM protection and cannot be played except on approved readers.

  • EPUB: .epub (electronic publication) is the most common book format that will play on most players (not Kindle) with all the features you want to use.
  • TXT: .txt will play on everything but not with all the nice features that make it easy to read.
  • PDF: .pdf format can be read but without all the features.

There are more formats but for our purposes, EPUB is the format of choice.

What App Do I Need?

There are a lot of choices out there. And this brings us back to the beginning of this step.

If you are an Apple person then Apple Books is your pick. You can import PDF format books into Apple Books.

If you are a Windows / Android person then Google Play is your choice. You can upload books into Google Books library,

If you are using Kindle then you are all set.


I believe that books belong in your personal digital library, but the lines get blurry.

The best solution is whatever works for you.

ITEM: Audiobooks vs. ePub (Text) Books

I personally have warmed up to audiobooks. I like to listen to books while I am taking a daily wall. I like to listen to audiobooks while I am driving.

I like the way that most of the audiobook players make it easy to save your place. I like how after pausing the player, it will back up 5 seconds when you restart it so you can easily get back into the story.

ePub (Text) books are just as easy with all of the features.

They all have simple file systems that make it easy to find the book or author of your choice.

ITEM: Portable Devices

I like having my entire book library available on my phone, laptop, or tablet. You never know when you may decide to open a book. Waiting in the dentists office, on hold forever, or maybe just sitting on the porch.


Take advantage of today's technology to have your book library available all of the time. Just a few taps or clicks and you are off into another world.