How To: Catalog Books with Your iPhone

We just discovered a way to painlessly make a digital catalog of our book collection using our iPhone to scan bar codes, which are usually embedded on the back of a book. To learn how, click below.

Play to see how the bar code scanner works.


  • 1) Download a bar code scanner. This is an application that scans codes (and ISBNs) and stores the information in your iPhone. We used RedLaser.
  • 2) Scan the bar code on a book. When you use your iPhone to scan the bar code, it will automatically pull up the book's ISBN number and related "product profile."

  • 3) Repeat with additional books. All the books you scan will be stored, one by one, in a "Product List" on your phone.
  • 4) Email yourself the product list. In the body of the email, you'll receive the book titles and product links, as well as an attachment with the ISBN numbers.

  • 5) Copy and paste the information from your email into your chosen file format. We transferred our book list into an Excel spreadsheet.
  • 6) Finished! You now have a digital catalog of your books.


Photo: Sarah Coffey