How to Mark a Library Book as Read/Finished in Apple Books

Let’s say you finished reading a library (e-)book, but you have to return it to the library. How do you add it to your Finished list in Apple Books?

There are three ways, from easiest to hardest:

Method 1:

  1. Go to Apple Books > Search
  2. Find the title of the book in Apple’s ebook store. Download the book sample.
  3. Hit the ellipsis (…) next to the book sample and Add it to your Finished collection. Then remove the book from your Sample collection. (You could also try not even getting the sample, and instead just adding it to Finished directly from the store page, as shown in the screenshot below and on this Apple support page – but this method is a bit less durable from what I’ve seen.)
Marking a Book as Finished in Apple Books / iBooks by Adding it to your Finished Collection

Method 2:

But what if the book you just read from the library doesn’t exist in Apple Books? Then it’s a little more involved, but you can still add it, in less than 5 minutes:

  1. Open Pages on your Mac. Pull down the File menu. Hit New. Select Book.
  2. Pick any Portrait book. You don’t have to type anything on any page.
  3. Pull down the File menu and hit Export to EPUB.
  4. Fill in the Author and Title fields.
  5. For Cover, select Choose an Image, and use the book cover from Amazon.
Exporting a Fake Book as an EPUB in Apple Pages

Then save the EPUB and import it into Apple Books. Open the book one time. (this seems to help with synchronization) Add it to your Finished collection and you’re done. You will now see it in the list of books you’ve read for the year:

Finished Library Book (A Thread Across the Ocean) Added to Apple Books Finished Collection

Method 3:

What if you read a library book back in 2019, added it to your Finished Collection using Method 1, then it disappeared due to a bug in Apple Books?

You could add it back in, but then it says you completed the book in the current year.

How do you change the year that you completed the book in?

Now it gets more complicated.

And there’s a catch: The instructions below currently only work on the Mac. I haven’t figured out how to get it to sync date-finished changes to the iPhone or iPad yet.

  1. In Apple Books, add the book back into your Finished collection
  2. Close Apple Books
  3. Make a backup copy of all files in /Users/your_username/Library/Containers/
  4. Install the free open source DB Browser for SQLite with brew install --cask db-browser-for-sqlite
  5. Open BKLibrary…sqlite in DB Browser for SQLite.
  6. Go to Browse Data.
  7. Pull down the Table dropdown on the top left and select ZBKLIBRARYASSET
  8. In the Filter menu on the top right, type the name of the book with the wrong finished date.
  9. You should see ZISFINISHED is equal to 1
  10. You will see a ZDATEFINISHED entry in Epoch time relative to 1JAN2001. For example, 606188764.16045 = Mar 17, 2020. Let’s say you want to change this to December 27, 2019.
  11. Convert December 27, 2019 to 599183734.16045 Cocoa Core Data / Mac Absolute Epoch time
  12. Save and exit DB Browser for SQLite. Open Apple Books again and you’ll see the book finished in the right year.
Carefully Editing the Finished Date of a Book in the Apple Books / iBooksX Database (having made a backup first)

If you want to quickly see all finished books with their completed dates, you can run the following in the Execute SQL box:

SELECT ZTITLE, strftime(%m - %d - %Y', datetime(ZDATEFINISHED+978307200, 'unixepoch', 'localtime')) FROM ZBKLIBRARYASSET WHERE ZISFINISHED='1';

The current problem I have (even before I did any database editing) is getting the Finished list to sync between iPhone, iPad, and macOS. macOS has the most complete collection of finished books, followed by iPad (which is missing one I added on the Mac), followed by iPhone (which is almost void of any finished books, but then a day later had almost all my books in the right place). There are some serious bugs with synchronization of finished books. Everything else (reading time, etc.) syncs though.

I wish Apple would make editing your finished dates easier, and I’ve sent Apple feedback on this. If you feel the same way, let them know on their feedback form.


Why Don’t Book Publishers Give You Download Codes for Digital Copies?

There used to be an app called Shelfie that gave you free or discounted ebooks if you scanned and signed your name inside a purchased print edition.

Image credit:

Amazon used to do similar with deep discounts on Kindle books with its barely advertised MatchBook service.

Both services failed to gain traction in the market because only two of the big five publishers were grudgingly onboard. Meaning limited selection. Publishers don’t want to give up their triple-dip revenue stream: print, audio, and electronic.

It’s also complicated by the fact that different companies commonly own print/distribution rights to different media types and they guard those rights jealously.

As for giving codes with print editions, similar to DVDs, Blu-rays, and music, that’s thwarted by dishonest people who would steal the codes. Bookstores don’t want to sell shrink-wrapped books.

This well-written 2017 article by Bill Rosenblatt goes into detail on the two services and what happened.

I find buying print + ebook bundles directly from the publisher sometimes gets you a better price than Amazon can. For physical editions that I already own, I check out the ebook from the library.

How Much Does the Average U.S. Taxpayer Pay Towards Public Libraries?

I dug into my property tax bill the other day and was surprised to find I pay over $206/year for the library in my area. That’s almost $70 more than I pay for Amazon Prime!

Then I looked to see how much the average taxpayer pays in the US. According to Rick Smith on stackexchange based on data from 2017 – it averages $93.67 per household.

Here’s another example from Clay County Missouri in 2020:

Example property tax breakdown, Missouri, 2020

So I pay more than twice the national average in my admittedly higher cost of living area. We use the library a couple times a month for children’s books and occasional ebooks, but we ought to use it even more considering the large amount we pay for it.

Free Ebook: Take Control of Working From Home Temporarily

Glenn Fleishman of Macworld fame wrote a handy little ebook called “Take Control of Working From Home Temporarily”, and made it free for everyone.  I particularly liked Glenn’s analysis of famous BBC presenter Robert Kelly’s “office” setup:


A few videoconferencing tools, such as Zoom, allow you to create a virtual background if the real one is not too presentable.  But if you’re forced to use something like WebEx, you’ll probably want to do like the professor in the video call above did.  (but keep the door locked so kids can’t interrupt you)

The Rational Bible: Exodus

Just started reading my first Dennis Prager book: The Rational Bible: Exodus. A couple quotes really stuck out to me:

Fear of God—when that God is the moral God of the Torah, the God of the Ten Commandments, the God Who commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself”—is necessary to make a society of moral individuals. Of course, there are moral atheists, just as there were moral pagans, and moral individuals in even the worst cultures. But you cannot build a good world with a handful of individuals who happen to be good people. You need a universal moral code from a universal God Who is the source of that moral code, and this God must judge all people accordingly.

Consequently, “fear of God” is as inevitable as it is necessary. If God judges how moral we are, of course there will be fear of Him—just as there is of a human judge. Conversely, if God does not judge people, there is no reason to fear Him.


Really good book so far; in the first chapter alone, there have been several “a-ha!” moments aiding my understanding of the history of the Jewish people and the Bible. Recommended.

Training Your Child to Walk

Our oldest child was a bit developmentally delayed in learning to walk.  She could stand and cruise along furniture, but she wasn’t confident walking more than a few steps on her own.  We decided to hire a physical therapist to come to our home and help her out.

What we didn’t expect is the therapist would actually be teaching us how to help our daughter.  We did about 95% of the physical therapy ourselves with tips from the therapist, and the therapist did the other 5%, plus evaluations.

I wanted to share one huge tip from the therapist that worked great for our child:

  1. Find something your child really enjoys doing.  In our daughter’s case, it was being read to – she loves hearing a story, pointing out objects and characters, and especially – turning pages.
  2. Get your child to participate in her favorite thing standing up.  In this case, we read from a standing position, three feet away.
    1. Ensure she is standing with support behind her.  Support meaning a couch, or a wall.
  3. Gently encourage her to step forward or to the side, to challenge her balance.  Ask her step forward and turn the page.  After she accomplishes that, hold the book a little further away from her, and ask her to step forward a couple more steps to turn to the next page.

We did this every night before bed for a few nights and she was walking on her own almost immediately!  She was so very proud of herself, smiling and laughing.

The book we read was Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages, by Marla Frazee.  Our child loves this book, and shouts “BABY YOU’RE WALKING!  BEA-UTI-FULLLLL!” right from the story as she excitedly toddles around the house.  It also teaches how to fall and get back up again, no fuss, no muss.


Bonus tip: If your child only wants to hold your hand while walking, and refuses to move without your hand: Progress to letting her hold only a finger.  Then progress from just a finger to holding a shared object, such as a stuffed animal, spatula, or umbrella.  She will be walking in no time.

eBook Buying vs. Lending: How Easy Is It?

The eBook buying process is quite simple:

  1. You search Amazon or the Apple bookstore for the book you want.
  2. You hit buy and can instantly read the book in your Kindle or Apple Books reader app.


The ebook library lending process is a bit more lengthy, but not as bad as it used to be:

  1. If it’s a popular book, you’re probably going to find that all copies are in use: library-all-copies-in-use.png
  2. Place a hold.  Note that two of the hold formats (OverDrive and ePub) are not readable in your preferred reader, but Kindle is listed, so that’s something.  Wait 1-6 months and hope you catch the email that says your hold is available.
  3. But not discouraged, let’s say you find another book you might like, and it’s actually available.  Hit checkout, and you’re presented with this screen:library-checkout-ebook.png
  4. Hit download, and select Kindle: library-longcheckout-process.png
  5. After you checkout, you’ll see another button.  It says, “Download Kindle”: library-downloadkindle.png
  6. Then you get shuttled to some site, where you don’t stop, and are forwarded on to Amazon, where you have to sign in and hit Get Library Book:library-amazon-download.png
  7. Now you can open your Kindle reader or app and read the book.

The library lending process has gotten easier, but it’s not as fast as it could be.  You really should be able to checkout & download in 1-2 clicks max.  If the book is even available.  Let’s hope we see some improvement out of Bibliocommons/Overdrive!