Attack of the Book Collecting Apps, 2013

Since I first started looking into book collecting and cataloguing apps two years ago, there's been a deluge of apps introduced.

Last year, I discussed a few of the recommended iPhone & Android apps (some of which have been renamed or are no longer available). This year there seems to be a plethora of apps, varying in price from *free* to US $4.99, and most have the same or similar features: 

*The ability to "scan" an ISBN number
*The ability to manually enter ISBN, author, or title of a book
*Auto cover capture (usually from Amazon)
*Manual cover capture (Using the camera on your phone)
*Alphabetized by title and/or author
*The ability to categorize and sub-catagorize your titles
*A variety of information fields (author, edition, editor, publisher, publishing date, synopsis, etc)
*A rating field, allowing you to rate the title
*Add'l notes
*Lending notes (for those of you who dare to let your books out of your library) 
 So, what then, differentiates one app from another? I'd suggest, three things: 
  1. Design: Not just how nice it looks, but how intuitive or user friendly is it? 
  2. Support: how helpful is the technical support when you have questions?
  3. Reliability: does it consistently do what it promises, or is it buggy?
As you'd expect, none were infallible and quite a few iPhone/iPad apps have had trouble navigating the iOS 7 update.

And I know, Windows phone apps, you are woefully not represented here - but for those using that platform, if you've suggestions, leave us a note in the comment field.


Price: Free / $4.99
Rating: 4.3/5 stars (19 reviews)

Pros: Users appear to really like it; Good technical support.
Cons: free version allows only for 20 titles.
Support: seems to be very attentive and works with feedback to incorporate user suggestions.
Reliability: unknown

Product description: "This application will build a personal archive of books, with a rapid search system and an easy way to catalogue, so you can always have the index of your library with you."

This comes in 2 versions: LT (free) which is a limited demo version, and standard ($4.99).

The LT version allows you to insert 20 books, beyond that you will need to purchase the standard app.

Book Club
Price: Free
Rating: 4.6/5 stars (12 reviews)

Pros: NA (no written reviews)
Cons: contains ads
Design: seems simplistic
Support: Developer's Website is in Spanish & English; could not find the Book Club app listed within their app selection.
Reliability: Unknown

Product description: "Book Club, a must app for all readers, complete catalogue, social features, manage and create your libraries"

Add'l Features: 

Book Collection + Catalogue
[formerly called My Books / My Books Pro]
Price: Free / $3.99
Rating: 4.1/5 stars (133 reviews)

Pros: Users seem to really like it
Cons: Free version contains ads; most complaints have to do with personalizing note fields
Design: seems clean and simple
Support: unknown
Reliability: no complaints

Product description: "Keep track of your book collection along with personal ratings and notes, which you can share with others or keep private.
Check to see if you already own a book on your phone while you're out shopping."

Add'l Features:

iPhone / iPad APPS

A lot of recent updates, most attempting to incorporate the newest iOS, have caused the reviews for a lot of the available book cataloguing apps to take a nose dive. These are the only two that seem to be consistently good:

Book Crawler
Price: $1.99
Rating: 4.5/5 stars (32 reviews of current version; previous version had 4/5 stars with 1,138 reviews)

Pros: Dropbox compatibility, image rotation function for cover art, searches Google & Worldcat for authors, optimized for iPhone 5, reviews from Goodreads; tells if a title is available at your local library
Cons: iOS 7 seemed to mess up previous libraries.
Design: Clean, although there's a lot of info to be gleaned
Support: not responsive
Reliability: aside from the iOS 7 issues, the reliability is solid

Product description: "Forgot which books you have read? Tired of buying books you already own? Not sure what to checkout at the library? Want to tell others about what you are reading and share thoughts? "

Price: $1.99 (on sale for 99ยข until 1/1/2014)
Rating: 4/5 stars (16 reviews)

Pros: Supports large databases
Cons: Some crashing issues
Design: clean
Support: unknown
Reliability: some crashing issues.

Product description: " iBookshelf is your personal portable library reference. A comprehensive book database... Books are displayed sorted by your preference. You can search for books in your library, and enter a "loan status" to remember who you loaned the book to or borrowed it from. A new book can be entered automatically (enter ISBN and remaining data is loaded from the internet) or manually. It will even tell you where you can buy the book and how much it costs and where you can find a library with the book!"

**Update [Jan. 7, 2014]**

Once upon a time, I used iCollect Books, an iPhone app for cataloguing my book collections (I think I paid $5 for it and it's now $3 through iTunes). The app worked quite well, but I recently switched from an iPhone to an Android-based phone. I attempted to "export" my files out of iCollect & 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 - 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 want to take a harder look at the Collectorz suite. I know it's a bigger investment - since you have to buy the actual computer software for $30-$50, and on top of that purchase the app software $15 price tag for Apple products / $5 price tag for Android products), plus the scanner app ($8), but it works across platforms and there's a lot that can be said for that.

They also have great support and customer service.

** Update [Aug. 31, 2015]**

The Android App is now $15, but well worth the cost, considering how much it can handle. The app has saved me many times from buying a book that I already own.

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