Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Collector by Collectorz

No matter how digital the world becomes, books will always have a place in my life.  Kindles are cool, but I cannot imagine taking one to the beach or curling up to read one with a child.

Since I choose to stay firmly in the world of the old-fashioned book, I have to deal with the old-fashioned way of organizing books. And how many times have I been to a fill a box for $5 book sale and had to ask the old-fashioned question, "Do we own this or did we check it out from the library?"

But it gets more complicated than that.  My husband collects books.  Instead of golf clubs or season tickets, he has his own glass-fronted book shelves.  Ask him what he owns, and he'll give you a vague answer, rather than risking damage to the covers of his treasures to properly answer the question.  Throw in the task of keeping track of a voracious reader's school and pleasure reading for college applications and the chaos is enough to make anyone want to hide behind that stack of books yet to find a shelf.

So when asked to use and report back on the Book Collector Pro Edition version 7.0 by, I was excited, and hesitant, and a bit overwhelmed.

After downloading the program and playing with the sample file,  I started with my husband's books.  The age of his books range over 100 years. Editions and publishers matter.  He needs to know if it was signed or if the dust jacket was missing.  In other words, if Book Collector could handle his books, they could handle any of our books.

I started a file, read the online help, and began entering books.  Since my husband needs so much data about his books, I chose the "Add Book Automatically" feature.  I enter the ISBN, author, or title and Book Collector searches for possible matches.  I can search for one book at a time or enter a list of books into a queue and search for the whole queue at once while I go do something else.  But no matter the search, the program provided me with a list, which included data such as publisher, book cover, number of pages, hard or soft cover, and publication date.  I then used this data to choose the correct copy. If the edition I was looking for did not appear, I could manually add the information I had, instead of choosing an edition that was not quite right. Then I could add all sorts of info, including personal data (date read, purchase price, current value, and location), story info (character, plot, and genre info), and whether I owned it, wanted to acquire it, or had loaned it to someone.  And I could customize what information I wanted to be visible in the list of books I had added to this folder and how I wanted the books sorted.

Next I decided to make a reading list for Dragonette.  She has been keeping track of what she has read in a spiral notebook, but I need something spiffier for colleges.  I only need to know title, author, and when she read it.  This was sparse information compared to what Book Collector can do, so I had to rethink the best way to add books.  It was easier to pick "Add Book Manually" and use keyboard shortcuts without asking the program to search for more information.  Since the copyright and publisher did not matter, the search was overkill.  Once I entered a few books, I could go into a record, and by jumping from book to book using the keyboard shortcuts, add the date she finished the book.  This went so much faster than trying to add her books automatically.

Once I finish these lists, I may make a folder of all the books we own.  Since I am an analog person living in a digital world, this would not have been my first move.  But this is suggested for insurance purposes.  That way, if Mother Nature did come a-knockin', I would have that list (which I had placed in a safe location) for the insurance adjuster. Books do make up a lot of our assets because we have a house and a school under our roof.  Plus, it would be really cool to know how many books we own.  And I could play with Book Collector's statistics mode, and make graphs by genre or character, or see data on average and total purchase price, value, and pages.  Way cool.

Book Collector does have the option to use scanners and smart phones for adding books and keeping track of such.  I have neither, so I was not able to investigate these options. You can also add a Connect account, which allows you to publish book lists online.

Book Collector is a powerful piece of software and I can see it being utilized by small libraries.  But it can be used for simpler jobs, like Dragonette's book list.  If book collecting is not your thing, also offers software for music, movie, comic, game, mp3, and photo collections.

Book Collector is available in Standard ($24.95) and Pro ($49.95) editions.  Honestly, I don't really understand the difference between the two, because there is a lot of technical jargon used, and I couldn't begin to explain it.  Click here to go to the web page and choose the "?" beside "Standard" and look at the list yourself.  You will also find price lists for all the extra features you can add to a Standard or Pro edition for all the collectorz software.  And you can try out Book Collector to see if it is right for you with a 100 book trial by clicking this link and looking on the right side of the screen.

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