If you have a Kindle Fire, you probably recently received an email from Amazon saying that you’ve been given 500 Amazon Coins worth $5 that can be used to buy premium apps or games for Android. The coins program is new, and it’s a way to get a small discount on apps if you purchase coins first. $5 worth of coins costs $4.80. The more you buy, the higher your discount gets.

I suppose the $5 in free coins is a way to promote the new Amazon Coins program (and look at that — I’m writing about it so Amazon knows what it is doing), and get Kindle users to dig around the app store. I must admit, except for the Facebook app, I haven’t embraced apps on the Kindle much yet. I’ve been using it almost strictly as an e-reader.

I’ve downloaded dozens of cookbooks for my Kindle, along with fiction, business-related, kids' books and more. The Kindle doesn’t have a way to organize books into categories. It’s easy to forget which books I’ve downloaded. So I looked around the app store for something to organize my books, and I came up with Book Collections. The app goes for $2.99, or 299 Amazon Coins.

Book Collections is an app specifically for Kindle tablets that allows you to create your own categories and subcategories for books and organize your books in those categories. It’s a bit labor intensive, but any app like this on a Kindle would be. There is no mouse to help you drag and drop information. It’s easy to make mistakes typing on a Kindle.

Still, if your Kindle book collection is becoming large, it’s worth taking the time to organize it.

Book Collections will scan your Kindle library and import all your books right into the app. That’s where the automation of the app ends. Once your books are imported, you need to create your categories.

I created a general category, cookbooks. Under that general category, I created several subcategories — cookbooks: slow cooker, cookbooks: vegetarian and vegan, cookbooks: general, cookbooks: baking, and cookbooks: wine, beer, and cocktails. These were the subcategories that made sense for me, but users can create any category names they want. I also created categories for fiction, travel, business, etc.

Once I got the swing of clicking on the right boxes to make sure the books went into the proper categories, organizing my books was time consuming, but not difficult.

You can open up Kindle books through Book Collections, but there are some definite limitations when you do that as opposed to opening them up directly from the Kindle operating system.

  • The app does not have the ability to keep track of where you ended when you closed the book. This would be the same with any app of this type because the “Amazon Kindle reader is unable to remember your location when accessed from a third-party App.” There is a way to manually record your final location by editing your book data in the app if you want to open your books through the Book Collections app and keep track of where you ended.
  • More problematic for me than not keeping your place where you stopped reading is the fact that through the Book Collections app, you can’t highlight or make notes if you open the book through the app. For cookbooks that means you can’t do things like highlight the names of recipes you want to make or type in notes about changes you may have made to the recipe.
These limitations don’t make Book Collections useless, though. It’s still a good tool for organizing your books, sort of like a card catalogue. Instead of having to scroll through all of the uncategorized books on the screen when looking for a book, I can click on the Book Collections app, go to the correct category, and see what my options are in that category.

I had forgotten about several of the free cookbooks I had downloaded until I saw them when I organized my books. Now, many of those free cookbooks might get used since I can now easily see that I have them.

For me, Book Collections is going to be a reference tool. I’ll go to the app when I’m trying to decide on which book to read next or find a cookbook that might have a good recipe for the chicken I’ve defrosted for dinner. Once I determine which book I want, though, I’ll go back and open it through the Kindle operating system. That way, I’ll be able to mark my place when I’m done reading, highlight passages, and make notes.

Do you use Book Collections or something similar to organize your Kindle cookbooks and other e-books? If you have something you think is more useful, please let us know about it in the comments.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Book Collections app organizes Kindle cookbooks
After amassing a collection of cookbooks and other book on her Kindle, our food blogger tries out the Book Collections app to organize them.