Friday, July 31, 2009

Tip #6: Organizing Your Kindle

When you start building up a good ebook library, keeping track of your ebooks can get difficult: have I read that one yet?  What genre was this one? With Kindle, there are several ways to organize your books without having to use separate programs or software.

1. First, the obvious built-in methods.

a) The Kindle allows you to sort your titles in 3 ways:

- Most recent
- By title
- By author.
And now also by Collections (for Kindle version 2.5 and above): More info about collections/ folders

TIP: If you have pages and pages of books listed on your home page, you can skip through them alphabetically when sorted by Title or Author. For example, in Sort By Author, when looking for an author that begins with the letter S, just click the letter to go to that section. Or type in a number, click the 5 way to go to that page number.

To sort this way, you must be at the Kindle Home page. With the 5-way controller, scroll to the top of the page. The default sort is "By most recent first".

Use the 5-way to scroll
- right to sort by Title or Author name (method a above)
- left to sort by type of item (method b above)

Caveat: The downside of alphabetical author sorting is that publishers format in different ways. For example, if the authors name is John Smith, sometimes it appears in J and other times in S.

Updates... the rest of this post relates to older Kindles. 
If you have Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 2.5, Kindle 3), Kindle (basic model) or Kindle Touch: see more recent post on sorting your books into collections tip #20: Kindle Collections

If you have Kindle 2 but less than 2.5: get an update! update to version 2.5

Kindle 1: continue to see below

b). Or you can sort by type of item. This is helpful if you subscribe to various blogs or magazines, or if you have send non-Amazon ebooks and pdfs to your Kindle.
Sort by:
- All items
- Books
- Subscriptions
- Personal documents

2. Personalized organization and search

There are ways to personalize your organization, by making use of the search function. From the Home page, you can begin typing to search for any word you like. But of course, that can bring up a word from any book so we want to make it more specific.

Every time I download or finish a book, I give it a label. To do that, I go to the Table of Contents (or chapter 1), scroll to the first word and begin typing the label to create a note. I begin each note with k/ and use labels or tags such as:

When I finish a book, I might also add a note, such as k/excellent, k/favorite etc etc.

So now when I want to find a particular genre, from the home page I type in k/thriller and up come all my books with that label.

The reason why I find this a bit better than folders is that I don't have to create a folder for every new genre or thoughts on a book, and I can give them multiple labels, such as "k/classic k/adventure k/thriller k/unread" and then whenever you're looking for any of those types of books, a simple search will pull them up.

[Edit: June 2010: more organization tools available with update to version 2.5]

View: How to delete/ archive ebooks
View: Using Collections

View more Kindle tips & tricks


  1. not a bad tip, though genre and other meta-data labels should be a part of an e-book's data, and automagically useable.

  2. Thanks. That may be useful too, although still a bit limited. If I search say, for horror - any book featuring the word horror would come up, not just those in the horror genre.

    Using these k-labels was somewhat cumbersome at first & took some getting used to. But now it takes seconds, and I like that I can add however many I want, and whatever info I want - such as, would I read it again? Or allow my kids to read it? There's really no limit to what personal tags you can include.

  3. I have a Kindle 3 and you can use collections to handle most of the metadata stuff (categories, favorites, etc.), but using embedded keywords within each title is a great extension. Plus, it doesn't clutter up your collections list with all these metadata collections. Great idea!

  4. I forgot to add, you can use these metadata tags for ratings. For example, navigate into your Horror collection and then find your "5 Star" titles. It would be cumbersome to accomplish all of this with collections only.

    I just got my Kindle 3 and was wondering how I was going to organize and tag everything (I'm very organized and love metadata). I'm glad I found your article!

    What I was really looking for was a way to sort titles by something other than "Bestseller" within the Kindle Store (on the device).

  5. Hi Clint

    Yes, with the addition of collections, I tend to use them far more than the tags I had to use when I wrote this article. That said, I still have a use for them, especially in my larger collections.

    Re sorting in the Kindle store on the device: not to my knowledge. Other than the 2 bestseller lists (Paid and Free), there's only the search feature and browse categories. No way to sort within the categories at the point.

  6. How do I sort alphabetically? I looked everywhere and there is no option to sort alphabetically. I have a Kindle Touch

    1. This would be the "Sort by Title" option.

      You can do that from the home page, or even within collections.
      To do the latter, open the Collection, then scroll up to the very top and choose sort-by-title instead of the sort-by-most-recent option.