Just recently I joined the modern, more technologically savvy world, by purchasing an iPhone. (I know, I am now one of those people). And truth be told, while not a luddite, neither am I a big cell phone user. I have found, however, that some of the applications for smartphones are actually rather nifty tools.
There's the flashlight app, that turns the face of my iPhone white, so that I may see my way down the dark hallways that lead to my studio (where the light switches have no affect on the lights); the level tool that allows me to find both level and plumb when I've naturally forgotten to bring both to my workshop; and now iCollect Books, which allows me to keep track of the books I already own so I don't keep buying duplicates.
On my computer at home, I use the Collectorz software which I like just fine (even though it is skewed toward the PC and I am a Mac user). I was hesitant, however, to buy their accompanying smartphone app priced at $10+/- (beware, if you do wish to buy it, it is not a stand alone app - you must have the Collectorz software too, but if you have A LOT of books in your database, this might be the better deal for you, since it automatically downloads the database to your phone). I looked at a couple of other, less expensive apps, reading through the plethora of one and two star reviews (which almost ALL of them sport), then I tried the free versions.
iCollect Books was the easiest and most consistent to work with. Their most recent updates have all but quashed the one and two star complaints. I have loaded over 100 book titles onto my phone and only once did it come up with the wrong title - in which case, I had to manually enter the title and author - (the horror). It also allows you to upload a backup copy of your book list to their server. Should you lose your list, you can easily download and restore your data.
- Stand alone app
- Uses smartphone camera to scan barcode and automatically enter book information & cover art
- If it can't find cover art, it allows you to search Google, or take your own photo
- Includes lots of data fields plus one custom field (which I use to note whether the book is signed, and it's condition)
- Allows for manual entry when no barcodes are available
- Allows you to back up and restore your files
- Allows for the exclusion of "The" and "A" at the beginning of titles (for alphabetization purposes)
- Has a search function that allows you to search by author, title, publisher, or any number of other criteria.
- Only alphabetizes by title, not author
- Sometimes, even if the "The" exclusion is turned on, it fails to neglect the "The" and alphabetizes the title in the T's
- Occasionally it lists multiple authors when there is only one.
- Cover art isn't always accurate
- Titles occasionally disappear from view (although a search for the title shows they are still in the database)
- If you have a large library of books, it may take a while to catalogue one at a time
Of course all of this will change with the introduction of "cloud" computing. Soon, all information will be stored in and accessed from the ether with few worries about data loss. Until then, this is a nice little tool that helps keep track of your collection right on your phone.
**Update [Jan. 7, 2014]**
In switching from an iPhone to an Android-based phone, I attempted to "export" my files out of iCollect Books & found that you really can't. Not only is there no longer a link to the app creator's Website, there's also no support available (all links from iTunes go to a dummy/place-holder page).
I can still access my library through the Website at http://www.icollectmedia.com/ - but you are only able to transfer the information to another device loaded with the iCollect app (and as far as I can tell, they don't make an Android app).
I have to say, this makes me like the Collectorz app a whole lot more (even with it's $15 price tag for Apple products / $5 price tag for Android products).
Labels: Apps, book collecting, iPhone, smartphone