Bitchin' Blog Posts
Title: Delicious Library
Author: Delicious Monster
Publication Info: Delicious Monster v. 2.0
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
You bibliophile tech-geeky Mac owners have probably heard of Delicious Library; those of you with Windows machines are probably gnashing your teeth with envy. If you don’t know what it is yet, it’s basically software for cataloguing your stuff—books, CDs, DVDs, games, whatever. The feature that had me hopping with agonized ready-to-poop-my-pants excitement was the fact that it utilizes the webcam as a barcode scanner. You can buy a barcode scanner, too, and use that, but the thing is, you don’t have to. All this for only $40!
Sound too good to be true? Well, it kind of is, a little, but by and large it totally works as advertised.
I don’t have a MacBook for myself, but I’m lucky enough that my good friend and roommate is willing to lend me her MacBook and share her copy of Delicious Library with me. I stayed up until 3:30 in the morning last night scanning in about half of my book collection. 520 books, motherfuckers! (Realization: The extent of Anne Stuart’s backlist that I own is bordering on the ridiculous. I think I have everything she’s ever published except for her incredibly hard-to-find Regencies. Also, my obsession with owning first edition copies of Laura Kinsale novels in mint condition borders on the creepy, but we already know that my love for her books is like a truck, eh?)
ANYWAY, back to the review of Delicious Library itself. So, first things first: does the webcam barcode scanner work?
Yes, it totally does. And it works pretty well. You need to change the angle of the book at first, and futz around with distance, but once you figure out how the software likes it, you can buzz along at a good clip. If you get a false hit, you can search using the ISBN, which is by far the quickest and most accurate way to search. Books without ISBNs, such as very old books or ARCs, can be entered manually—you can conduct a search by entering keywords such as the title and author and it’ll search through Amazon.com’s database for hits, or you can create a blank book and enter everything by hand. It’s all quite ridiculously easy to use, and it pretty much has fields for just about every goddamn thing you can think of—edition notes, whether or not it was signed, whether or not it’s a rare edition, the condition of the book, whether you bought it used, etc. And if you misenter something, deleting or undoing changes is a snap.
So that’s the good. What’s the bad?
First of all, if you’re scanning in mass market paperbacks and use the UPC on the back, it’s going to read the barcode, but it’s not going to pull up accurate information, if it can find anything at all. Seriously. This mofo was convinced that all my Neil Gaiman books were sparkly pink butterfly hairclips, and it flat-out couldn’t find the information for most of my science fiction and romance collection. This had me incredulous at first—are you shitting me? Did these people have no idea how many MMPBs people buy and keep? The vast majority of my collection consists of MMPBs. I was ready to stab a bitch.
But before the stabbings began, we asked tech support what the hell was up, and it turns out that if you scan the UPC in the inside front cover of the paperback, all is well—it’ll pull the right information. And what do you know, it worked like a charm—of the hundreds of books I scanned last night, I got one false hit from using the UPC on the inside cover, but the rest of the time, it behaved beautifully. As far as annoyances go, it’s pretty minor, but it still slowed me down, and it irritated me that it couldn’t just accurately read the UPC on the back to begin with.
Another annoyance resides with the search function. Assuming you’re not entering an ISBN for your search, you’re going to get a list of hits. However, all you get is a cover image (if it has one, and if you have to enter the information manually, odds are incredibly high that you aren’t going to get a picture), title, author and publishing year (the publishing months are wildly inaccurate, which is not their fault, necessarily, because they’re using Amazon’s database). You don’t get any other details, such as binding or publisher. This isn’t a problem with new books, but if you’re scanning in obsolete editions of, say, Georgette Heyer, there are fifty hojillion hits even if you’re reasonably specific and include the publisher name in the search terms. You can click on the More Info link, which will shunt you to the Amazon.com listing for that item, but again, that slows me down. I want to see the binding and the name of the publisher, because I’ll have a reasonable certainty that I’ll be entering the right item into my library.
Also, it automatically enters the date you scan the item in as the purchase date. This is annoying; I’d like to have a “date entered into library” field instead, and if I’m anal-retentive enough to enter the actual date of purchase (and really, I’m not), I’ll either enter that myself, or check off a box that says “Assume date entered into library is date of purchase.”
But back to the good:
Once you’ve scanned in your books, you can create custom bookshelves. So far, we’ve created a bookshelf called “Candy” that filters for books with “Candy” in the notes. And no, you don’t need to type in a note for every book you scan in. After each session, you can sort books by purchase date, shift-click to select multiple books and mass edit the sumbitches. I imagine you can create all sorts of custom bookshelves, such as genre, binding or author. (I’m probably going to create an Anne Stuart shelf just to see how many of her books I own; goddamn that woman is prolific. Is she even human? Does white android blood run through her veins? Am I sounding kind of creepy right now? I am, aren’t I?)
All in all, though, this piece of software is a good value for its money, and so far it blows its competition out of the water—I tried a free version for Windows machines called Libra, and the webcam barcode scanner bit couldn’t work worth a shit. The closet librarian in me cackles with glee and satisfaction because I’ll finally have all of my book collection catalogued, and the annoyances are definitely, well, annoying, but not deal-breaky. If you have a Mac, you should totally give it a whirl. Just remember to scan the UPC on the inside of the front cover if it’s a mass market paperback, otherwise it’s going to think your Emma Holly novels are copies of the Velveteen Rabbit, when really, the other sort of rabbit would be a much more apropos mistake.