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Adding books from iPhone using a barcode scanner

Hacking LibraryThing

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Jul 18, 2010, 5:48am Top

Hey All

I've been looking for a way to do this for a while now, and think I've finally got it right:

If you have the RedLaser app (free right now!) you can go to the following URL (from your iPhone) to make a custom "app" that will add books to your catalog based on the scanned ISBN.


This emulates the text import option. It may not work the first time if you are not logged in, but should be ok after that.

Let me know how much your mileage varies, and if there's an easier way! (The "addbooks" API isn't compatible with RedLaser's url format, and only lets you search one source, whereas the text import let's you select two fall-backs)

Jul 20, 2010, 6:25am Top

Hi. I tried to reply earlier but this page is buggy in Firefox and there was no way to reply. So I posted a separate post. Here is what I said though;

I could not find a place to reply nor message the original poster. But in this thread... http://www.librarything.com/topic/95093#top
... "chrisandlina" discuss how to use the iPhone camera to scan bar codes and then get the book into your LibraryThing book list. I just wanted to say that so far it really works great and I'm excitedly waiting for the book to work it's way through the queue and show up on my book list. Once it successfully does that, I'll be a REAL fan of this new method.


Jul 20, 2010, 7:20am Top

>2 laserone:

It's a little off-topic, but LibraryThing doesn't really have a "reply". It has "post a message". You hit that. Convention has if you're responding, you include the post number.

I seem to remember a feature request that would have a "reply" that would include the post # automatically (I'd go an extra step and make it a link to the particular post). That feature suggestion, like many others, immediately triggered a lot of debate.

Jul 20, 2010, 2:44pm Top

It worked! What a great trick! I love that I can now use my iPhone to scan books into my LibraryThing. Thanks for the tip. :)

Jul 20, 2010, 2:47pm Top

Thanks, also, for the info Jonathan. :)


Jul 22, 2010, 11:56am Top

Glad it worked for you too! I'd still recommend a CueCat for cataloging a library from scratch, but for keeping your library topped up with the odd new book I reckon this method works pretty well.


Sep 19, 2010, 9:50pm Top

This worked ok for me on fairly recent books, but in trying to scan in some older paperbacks, I get a "No Valid ISBNs Found" error. The ISBNs are valid and I can enter them manually and Librarything brings up the correct product. Any ideas?

Sep 19, 2010, 10:00pm Top

Never mind. I found out that I was scanning the price bar code instead of the ISBN bar code. All is well, I am a dummy.

Feb 17, 2011, 7:26am Top

I've been trying to get this to work but each time i scan i just get taken to a blank page... any ideas?
Thanks in advance

Feb 18, 2011, 1:58am Top

I also just get a blank page. It goes white and just sits there. Any clue?

Feb 21, 2011, 4:49pm Top

I also get the white page on my iPhone after using the custom redlaser app... I'm logged into librarything on my iPhone (via Safari). Is there somewhere else to be logged in?

Feb 21, 2011, 4:52pm Top

Aha! This custom app creates a URL link (the white page). You have to use the little "box & arrow" icon and select the option to open link in Safari. If you've already logged into LibraryThing on Safari it takes you to the import file page.

Jul 8, 2011, 10:50pm Top

Anything for Android yet?

Mar 12, 2012, 11:25pm Top

Note, the new update to RedLaser does not seem to have a way to get it to not look up the product info and just send the numbers to your email for import. I downloaded it today and had to revert back to the older version.

Edited: Mar 24, 2012, 8:09pm Top

Yes, RedLaser now seems to be useless.

You can use another iPhone app called ZBar Barcode Reader (free). It allows you to create your own actions to be applied to each bar code, in addition to some pre-existing actions (one of which is a LibraryThing lookup that I used as a template). I created one called "Add to LibraryThing" which uses the following URL:


If you aren't already logged in to LibraryThing, you will have to do so on the first instance.

You can also email yourself the items which are delivered in a csv file.

It's kludgy, and nowhere near as quick as using a CueCat (or using the old RedLaser app), but for just adding a few newly purchased books, it beats hauling out the laptop, plugging in CueCat....

Mar 21, 2013, 11:01pm Top

the barcode scanner is only available for Iphone? Is there any barcode scanner available for Android? Mine is android system.

World of Books and Barcode

Mar 22, 2013, 1:54am Top

LibraryThing Scanner. It works, but I find it unusably slow. YMMV - actually, MMMV, I haven't tried it on this phone or for years.

Sep 22, 2013, 11:41am Top

CueCat has never worked for me, and I have read all the wikis, etc. I think maybe I got a defective one but never returned it to LibraryThing for my money back.

Feb 19, 2014, 12:32pm Top

Would this work with an Android phone?

Edited: Feb 20, 2014, 12:07am Top

Not unless you have one that you can plug a USB keyboard into - if it supports OTG* USB, it would work. Then you'd need a connector that has a micro-USB (or whatever plug it uses) to plug into the phone, and the other end is a standard USB socket. If you had that, you could plug in the Cat and scan, and it would produce its scrambled text (probably) in any text field or note app you had open. The scramble _might_ cause problems, in which case you'd have to modify your Cat (then it's just typing numbers and the occasional letter, no problem).

Not sure what you'd do with it if you had it connected to your phone - have the LT site open and scan into there? Make a list of ISBNs, then upload it? Both of those should work, but I'm not sure how much of an advantage it would be. If you do it and it works, come back and tell us - or tell us your plan now then come back and say if it worked.

*On-The-Go USB - a setup where the phone can host a USB connection, rather than just being the client. My Note 3 apparently supports it out of the box; for my previous two phones, I had to root them then use a (free) app (StickMount).

ETA And now I realize which thread this is in - not about CueCat but about RedLaser. No, it's an iOS app only, and as of early 2012 it doesn't work for LT in iOS either. You can try LibraryThing Scanner, or the default Barcode Scanner (save to a file, paste that list into LT Import). But it's complicated and slow at best - I think it's easier and faster to carry a stack of books to the computer and enter them. That's the way I did the bulk of my library (with a CueCat for those books, about 2/3rds, that had bar codes). Now I just type in the ISBN; for 10-15 books at a time (yard sale/book sale/library borrows), it's faster than setting up the Cat.

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