Book Collector is a program that automatically catalogs your book collection. You simply scan the ISBN barcodes in your books. If you don't have a scanner or of there is no ISBN barcode in the book, you can manually enter either the ISBN number or the author's name and title. Book Collector will search online for information about the book and then quickly download all the book's details and even the cover images. It will also retrieve the Library of Congress Numbers (LCCN) and Dewey classifications, in case you organize your home library that way. (Doesn't everyone?) Once you scan a barcode, the program will automatically retrieve all the information available from a number of online databases. That can save a lot of data input work!
You can also enter a location for each book, be it an alphanumeric code or simply the “living room bookcase.” That location code makes it easy to find the book in the future: simply look it up in Book Collector!
Book Collector will provide a complete catalog of your book collection with minimal work.
Once the data has been entered, you can:
- Browse your book inventory, by Title, Author, Publisher, etc...
- View your lists in a columnar List View or in the cool Images View.
- Group your books in folders, e.g. by Genre, Author or Publisher, or scroll through them as one big list.
- Print various lists of your books.
- Track which books you loaned and to who (Pro version only)
- Track Loan Date, Due Date and actual Return Date (Pro version only)
- Add extra notes for each loan (Pro version only)
- View all Loaned items, all Overdue items or entire loan history (Pro version only)
Book Collector also handles books printed in the "pre-ISBN era," such as many of the older genealogy books that are still very popular today. You can simply search by entering the Author and Title, or even either of those items alone. Book Collector searches online for matching books and then displays a list of possible matches. Book Collector retrieves the data on those books from various online libraries, such as the Library of Congress, the British Library, Amazon, and more. If you find a match, click on that book to retrieve and store all the information regarding that book in your database.
Book Collector is available for both Windows and Macintosh, and both versions allow you to enter data, retrieve data, and print reports. In addition, a "read only" iPhone version is also available. That is, you can enter data on your PC or Macintosh and then copy that information to the iPhone. You then can carry your entire card catalog in your pocket or purse. You can retrieve your book catalog, search for books, and then display all the matches on the iPhone's screen. The iPhone version does not allow you to enter new information or make changes to existing entries; for those functions you will need to return to your Windows or Macintosh computer. While it is referred to as the "iPhone version," the same program works equally well on the iPod Touch.
Whether you use an iPhone or an iPod Touch, carrying your entire book catalog with you in your pocket or purse could be great when you are at a genealogy meeting. "Oh yes, I have that book. Would you like to borrow it?"
Perhaps even better, Book Collector can be a money saver when looking at the book vendors' displays at a genealogy conference's exhibit hall. You might be looking at a book that you are thinking of purchasing. First, pull out your iPhone and check your Book Collector database. You might realize, "Oh, I already have that book."
I know several genealogists who need this capability right now. More than one genealogist has returned home from a conference clutching a new purchase that cost $30 or more, only to discover an identical copy was already on the shelf at home! One genealogist I know returned home and found that he already had TWO copies of the same book in his bookshelf! Book Collector and an iPhone can save both money and embarrassment.
The iPhone version can even handle large book collections. Performance will be a bit slower with large collections, but still acceptable. The software producer has tested the iPhone version of Book Collector with collections containing more than 8,000 items, and it worked well. The iPhone not only stores book titles, authors, and locations, it also stores images of the book covers as well. The cover images display nicely on the iPhone screen.
When I looked at the listing for Book Collector in the iPhone App store (the iPhone version is called “CLZ Books” in the App Store), I was amazed to see that it had been rated by users as 5 stars, the highest rating possible. Reading the users' comments shows glowing reports. I could not find even one negative comment.
NOTE: Some of the users' ratings for other programs in the Apple iPhone App Store are suspect. Quite a few software producers will write glowing reports about their own products, then post those reviews to the App Store's ratings section under false names. That makes the ratings look like feedback from satisfied users when, in fact, they are bogus. Posting fake reviews is often called “astroturfing” because they look real but are actually fake. So is astroturf: it looks real but isn't.
You can usually detect astroturfing reviews because you will find a mix of glowing reviews written by impostors and other reviews that are less than glowing, written by real users. Collections of reviews that contain some astroturfing usually show a wide range of opinions. In the case of Book Collector for the iPhone, there was not a single review that was less than glowing. I doubt if that is astroturfing: if the product had any significant problems, SOMEONE would post a review that clearly stated the deficiency.
Book Collector is available in two versions: Standard and Pro. The Pro version allows you to export your collection information as HTML pages. You can then upload those HTML pages to a web site you own so that others can see, or even search, your card catalog. The Pro version will also export data in a spreadsheet format so that the information can then be imported into Excel or most any other spreadsheet or database program.
Book Collector has options to display its menus and accept data in English, Dutch, German, French, Hungarian, Greek, Polish, Spanish, Italian, Croatian, Portuguese, Indonesian, or Norwegian. You can manually enter data in any of those languages as well. However, if you retrieve information from online databases, that information will always be in the language in which it was retrieved. That is, while you might have Book Collector set to always use German, if you enter an ISBN number and it retrieves the information in English, the English words will be stored and then displayed whenever you request information about that book in the future.
The Standard Version of Book Collector sells for $29.95 while the Pro version costs $49.95. The iPhone version sells for $9.99. You might begin by obtaining a free trial that is limited to storing information about 100 books. If you then decide to purchase the full program, your data is preserved and becomes available in the upgraded version. You can also download the entire user's manual free of charge at any time, an excellent method of checking the program's many capabilities before "taking the plunge."
The company that produces Book Collector also sells small, handheld scanners for prices starting at $19.95. To see the scanners supported by Book Collector, go to http://www.collectorz.com/book/barcode-scanner.php. Other scanners may also work but are not guaranteed by the producers of Book Collector.
It is interesting to note that the $19.95 scanner is a CueCat, a cat-shaped handheld barcode reader developed in the late 1990s by the now-defunct Digital Convergence Corporation. Millions of these things were manufactured, and Digital Convergence Corporation planned to revolutionize computing with these devices. It didn't work out that way, however. The CueCat received the dubious distinction as one of "The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time" according to PCWorld Magazine, and Digital Convergence Corporation went bankrupt.
In June 2005 a liquidator offered two million CueCats for sale at $0.30 each (in quantities of 500,000 or more). It's nice to see that someone found a low-cost use for them: scanning barcodes in books.
The $19.95 CueCat scanner requires a cable connecting the scanner to the computer's USB connector. For $139.95, you can get a wireless handheld scanner. However, I think I would have to scan a lot of books before I'd purchase the more expensive scanner.
For more information, or to download the free trial version of Book Collector, or to purchase a full version by using a safe and secure online shopping cart system, go to http://www.collectorz.com/book/.
You will notice that the same company sells many other programs for collectors: Music Collector, Movie Collector, Comic Collector, Game Collector, MP3 Collector, and Photo Collector.