IFTTT for Book Lovers: How to Get the Most Out of Reading Online

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IFTTT for book lovers

There isn’t an easy way for book lovers to control and automate their reading habits, digital marginalia, or the books they’ve read on an e-reader. IFTTT is one solution to this problem.

Unless you do all of your reading on one platform, like Amazon’s Kindle, and never read physical books or articles on the web, it’s difficult to keep track of your reading and notes. Instead, all of the notes, reviews and progress get lost in various places.

For a while now, I’ve been experimenting with IFTTT, a tool that helps users automate and organize their digital lives. IFTTT stands for “if this, then that,” and the concept is simple: if one task is performed, another task happens automatically.

IFTTT logoThe site organizes into what it calls “recipes.” For example, I can use IFTTT to text me every time rain is forecasted in my area, or I can set up Facebook to backup photos to Google Drive every time someone tags me. The process is simple to set up, and it helps you organize things automatically.

My favorite IFTTT recipes help me sync my social media and reading habits to Evernote, a powerful note-taking app. I’ve explained how I do this in a previous post. But since then, I’ve discovered some book-related IFTTT recipes that will help active readers organize their digital reading habits.

Backup your Goodreads Reviews

If you use Goodreads to track your reading (which, if you want an easy way to organize your reading, you should), use IFTTT to back up your reading list in several different ways. First, you can send your “read” and “to-read” shelves to Google Calendar, Buffer (for social media management), or directly to Evernote or Google Drive. Second, you can post all of your Goodreads reviews to your blog. Finally, use Goodreads to automatically tweet a book quote every day.

Because IFTTT allows users to create recipes, there are many other possibilities, even if Goodreads isn’t an official channel on IFTTT, yet.

Turn Documents into Kindle Books

Honestly, I’m impressed with Amazon’s Kindle book syncing apps, including the Send to Kindle extension. But there are limits. For example, sending a document to your Kindle requires using Amazon’s Whispersync system. While the system works well, it is not automatic and it doesn’t work with every document.

However, if you use a program like Dropbox to save documents, use IFTTT to automatically send documents to a Kindle. This recipe creates a special Dropbox folder that formats and sends all documents saved in the folder to your Kindle without any extra steps. That’s the goal of IFTTT: to limit the steps you take to get stuff done.

There are also recipes that send the top Kindle books to you automatically and keep you up to date with Amazon’s free books.

Create Personalized Newspapers

There are many read-it-later apps available, including Instapaper and Pocket. With these apps, you can save any article you find online to read offline later. IFTTT has options to organize your offline reading. A favorite of mine is a recipe that sends the latest New York Times articles to Instapaper, once a day.

This recipe is flexible, too. You can change the parts of it by picking a different section of the New York Times or change your reading app. This sends your articles to your smartphone or tablet to read later, or you can use Instapaper’s built-in Kindle system to send it to your Kindle.

The best part about IFTTT, for me, is that these suggestions barely scratch the surface. You can create your own recipes or search for even better ones, depending on your needs.

Also, with a program like Evernote, there are even more options for organizing your digital reading. Later, I’ll explain how I’ve used Evernote to backup my print reading as well as my digital reading notes.

How do you organize your digital life? Are you an IFTTT fan? Let me know.

About Kevin Eagan

Kevin Eagan (@criticalmargins) is a freelance editor, writer, and teacher who lives in Central Florida. He edits book manuscripts and articles for local and national publications. In addition to writing about book technology and teaching college students how to write, Kevin works as an associate editor for punctum books. Previously, he was the books editor for Blogcritics. You can also follow him on Google+ or check out his professional website, KevinThomasEagan.com.

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