Reference Management With Bookends

I’ve played around with several reference managers over the course of my medical career. Mendeley was somewhat limited in its free option. Papers was nice, but then ultimately got purchased by ReadCube with a subscription model (boo!). EndNote 20, the “gold standard”, seems to still leave me unimpressed with its user interface and plethora of features which I simply won’t utilize.

Bookends has been the solution I’ve kept coming back to. It’s just powerful enough to fulfill my needs as a novice clinical researcher. It allows me to stay organized with the latest evidence in perioperative and critical care medicine by synchronizing my PDF library across iCloud Drive – the same cloud storage I use for my other documents. The recently released version 13.5 also brings a universal app binary making it “more” compatible with my MacBook Pro with M1 processor.

The elephant in the room – Bookends is only compatible with the Apple ecosystem (MacBook, iPhone, iPad, etc.) This tight integration is what I find appealing, but also limits its availability to those with a Windows or Android workflow. Nevertheless, it’s a great option for me.

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  1. I’m casting about for a better method to manage papers. I used to use Mendeley but having to be tied down to my home laptop (an increasing rarity since the med school to residency jump) makes it impractical. I dabbled with Papership but again that’s just tied to my phone. I bought Bookends on the strength of this post but it seems like the Mac/laptop version (Reference Miner) is woefully under-powered compared to what you’re describing here. Has that been your experience? Is it the case then that this is mostly an iPad resource? (which my 2015 iPad is apparently already way too ancient to handle lol)

    • I primarily use the MacOS version of Bookends to catalog PDFs and the iPadOS (on iPad Mini) and iOS (on iPhone 12 Pro Max) versions to read and annotate these articles on the go. Haven’t really had any significant issues thus far. If you’re looking for more power, perhaps EndNote will better meet your needs but I find it too bloated for my purposes.

      • Rishi, I’m back again to clear up my error. For reasons that elude me, I simply could NOT find Bookends for Macbook earlier. I bought ReferenceMiner (a waste of my scarce resident dollars), but it looked nothing like what you described/showed so I went back a few weeks later and dug some more, and found real Bookends. Then I got it on my phone. (Hopefully my CME money can fund it). But it really is as useful as you touted, I love the sync. And I feel like I can now properly get around to building my primary literature library. It’s even been helpful with the reading papers in time for journal club cuz I can use it on my phone in the downtimes in b/w turnover or w/e. Like I said, I’m just back here to say “solid rec”. Thank you!

        (P.S. Earlier, I shouldn’t have called ‘Reference Miner’ underpowered. It’s simply a different app altogether. They are not interchangeable at all lolol).


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