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Publisher: Sonny Software (
System Requirements: OS/X 10.2 or later, 256mb ram, and 55mb of disk space
Current Version: 8.1.3
New purchase (regular)- $99 (US)
Student new purchase- $69
Competitive upgrade- $79
Upgrade from EndNote, Papyrus, Pro-Cite, or Reference Manager
Lab/Workgroup (10 max)- $350
Departmental and Institutional orders- By inquiry
Additional discount available for users of Mellel
Demo: Fully functional demo (50 entry limit)

Bibliographic management software is designed to aid writers and bibliophiles in keeping track of their own personal libraries by cataloguing citations in a searchable database. The software then aids the user in generating footnotes/endnotes, in-text citations, and bibliography in properly formatted styles of the users choosing. What used to take a good deal of time now takes mere seconds, as footnotes are made with a few mouse clicks rather than manual typing. It is easy to see then how bibliographic software can save biblical and theological scholars time and enhance their study: one need only think back to the last book, essay, or term paper and its dozens or hundreds of citations to see how bibliographic management software could be saving time to spend on the actual content of writing rather than meticulous citation formatting. The prevalence of the use of bibliographic software has been realized by online journals and journal databases like ATLA, JSTOR, Web of Knowledge, BiBIL, Cambridge Journals, etc., which provide convenient ways to export citation information directly to your bibliographic software, thereby avoiding manual typing of entries. Those who have not yet discovered the aid of using bibliographic software could save significant time in their work by exploring available options in bibliographic software.

General Comments
Bookends runs under Mac OS/X 10.2 or later, and stores text in unicode, allowing for the use of Roman and non-Roman characters. Database size is restricted only by the amount of memory allocated to it in Bookends preferences, and databases are easily maintained through easy to use database maintenance functions. On its own, Bookends is able to generate bibliographies or can work together with any Mac word processor, such as Microsoft Word, Pages, Nisus Writer, TextEdit, or Mellel (which has an increased level of integration at the programming level). For any who currently use bibliographic software in the Mac or PC platforms who desire to switch to Bookends, it is able to import references from Endnote, Papyrus, or Reference Manager. A database and/or specific references can be exported to other Bookends users or exported to Excel in a tab-delimited file as well as Endnote XML format. Entries can even be viewed on an iPod or Palm (see the Bookends forum post by a Palm-savvy user:

Bookends is created by Sonny Software and maintained by its owner and developer Jon Ashwell. Anyone who has used Bookends can testify to the incredible support provided by its maker, both by e-mail and in the active forums for Bookends. The Bookends User Guide PDF is extensive (237 pages) and answers almost all questions a user may have.

Entering Citation Data
Bookends can import citations from many bibliographic databases, both book and journal/essay databases. Bookends comes with an Internet search function, which enables the user to quickly search for a book from Amazon, Library of Congress, or many major university libraries, etc., and import them directly into your database through drag and drop. Bookends is also able to import from libraries that use the MARC system of records and z39.50 Internet searches. Within the database itself, citation data can be manipulated, altered, and juggled between fields. Bookends is equipped with 27 user-definable reference types (book, journal article, chapter in a book, commentary, etc), and each of the 18 information fields can be custom-named for each of the 27 reference types.

Last year I created an SBL journal glossary for Bookends (with many thanks to my professor R. Glenn Wooden, who provided me with the bulk of the raw text), which is now issued with Bookends for all users. The SBL journal glossary connects the proper SBL abbreviation with the journal/series title, thereby enabling Bookends to recognize both the titles and the abbreviations and to properly create bibliographies and footnotes in SBL style. Bookends also keeps lists for a number of fields to autofill names and thereby cut down on typing time.

Organizing and Managing your Database

Bookends allows the user to organize their library intelligently and to use the database beyond mere alphabetizing by author or title. A database entry is easily viewed in the Bibliographic Window (left image) or multiple entries can be viewed in the List View (image below), which has an iTunes type of layout complete with a format window and an info drawer.

For large databases, Bookends has the ability to do complex searching of multiple terms in various fields of the database, though often single-word searches suffice and can be done quickly throughout all fields or through only one specific field. Through sufficient use of the keywords field and the note field, users can ensure that entries include keywords that can be searched for when needed. Bookends can also create groups of entries—called "Static Groups" and "Smart Groups"—within the database for increased organization. A Static Group allows the user to create a cluster of citations that can be added to or taken away from only by the user. This is useful for bibliographic information that is being used frequently in tandem, like a set of works for a paper-in-production. A Smart Group allows the user to define certain criteria by which entries in the database can be part of it. As a simple example of this, a Smart Group can be designated as "Journal of Biblical Literature" and the criteria set to only display entries that have "JBL" in the "journal title" field. This Smart Group will stay up-to-date on its own, whether entries from JBL are added to or deleted from the database. Bookends also allows the user to manage digital essays, journals, reviews, etc., by attaching the file to its own bibliographic entry through drag and drop. These attached files are managed within their own folder and can be opened from Bookends, as opposed to searching through the folder on your hard drive. Bookends also allows the user to search in-text simultaneously in all of your attached files through the spotlight search feature in the List View.


Citations and Bibliography Generation
Bookends comes with a large number of pre-defined formats that conform to various journals and literary formats. Through the Formats Manager, the user can edit existing formatting styles or create new ones to conform to a style desired. The formats handle the information of the 27 different reference types individually, so that Bookends will output the references in their own specific way. I have created a Bookends Guide to SBL Format that is available at the user's discretion (; in addition to providing a helping guide to using Bookends with SBL style, it also comes with SBL formating files that have been tailored to conform as best as possible to the SBL Handbook of Style. (This guide is not endorsed or supported by Sonny Software in any way; it is my own creation.)

The ability of bibliographic software to work with a word processor and create footnotes/endnotes, in-text citations, and accompanying bibliography is what can help users save time in writing. The user can choose to cite entries in the word processor by either content or by author/ date/unique ID (which is assigned by Bookends) that are encased in square or curly brackets; or by switching to Bookends, the user can press the "Copy" button and then paste the citation information into the word processor. This process allows Bookends to identify which entry in the database has been cited and will later be filled in via the chosen format. The cited pages are added manually by the user in the word processor.

Bookends will not disappoint advanced users in its features: 1) For those who may have massive databases consisting of many thousands of entries, Bookends can be searched with SQL/Regex searches. 2) Bookends is able to work with and output in BibTeX style for those who choose to use LaTeX. 3) Probably its greatest advanced-user feature is the ability of Bookends to now act as a server to make available the user's database; a user can choose to make a database available for searching (no altering is possible) on the Internet. This ability may be a good resource for faculty who want to search each other's libraries for relevant texts and borrowing material. The server feature may also be a good choice for small Bible schools or colleges that cannot afford a robust library computer system, by cataloguing a library and making it searchable by the students and faculty on the Internet.

There are a number of features that could improve Bookends. A "Copy" button in the List window would be helpful, and the inability of Bookends to display superscripts and subscripts in information fields is somewhat bothersome in the field of biblical studies, since many scrolls, papyri, etc., use superscripting in cataloguing and so superscripts appear in titles as well (Bookends can output these characters using special symbols). The greatest limitation is the number of fields available; Bookends would do well to increase these numbers while still attempting to keep its compact and tidy bibliography window. As an example, a Chapter within a Titled Volume in a Multivolume Edited Work (SBL Handbook of Style §7.2.21) takes up every field in Bookends without leaving any remaining fields for ISBN, edition, or translator, etc. The developer of Bookends recognizes this need and is working towards a solution.

To add to its aesthetic, it could be advantageous for Bookends to display Amazon's cover art in either the Bibliography window or the List view. A large portion (if not the majority) of current Bookends users utilize Mellel as their word processor, and increased integration between the two programs is an important and needed feature that both developers are planning to work on. Many Bookends (and Mellel) users also utilize DEVONthink (a database organization program), and these users desire a heightened integration between these programs as well. In light of rave reviews for Nota Bene, which does the work of Mellel, DEVONthink, and Bookends combined, this desire for integration may be something the developers need to look at more closely (see the review of Nota Bene by Eckhard J. Schnabel.) Bookends is able to output SBL style, but there is a small issue in footnoting that needs to be addressed: Bookends always ends a citation with a period. This is troublesome in footnotes when a comma is preferred after the cited work. For example: "Collins, Daniel, 99, says that..." cannot be handled because a period will always end the generated citation: "Collins, Daniel, 99." It would be advantageous if Bookends were able to recognize a comma following the citation and thereby eliminate the following period. Some added special formatting characters may also be advantageous: a forced separation character and a non-breaking space character (both available with Endnote) would enable increased customization of formatting.

Overall, the complaints regarding Bookends are limited. It is a robust program that does its job very well: at a fraction of the price of its competitor(s) and with superior support, Bookends is well worth your investment. It will help biblical and theological scholars keep track of their personal libraries and thereby maximize their libraries' usage, it accommodates SBL style for footnoting and bibliography, and with initial effort and learning users could soon be saving time in writing.

Danny Zacharias, Acadia Divinity College

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Citation: Danny Zacharias, " Bookends Review: Bibliographic Software For Mac," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited Nov 2005]. Online:


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