Other Media Review

Delicious Library: A Brief Review


Title: Delicious Library
Written By: 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.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    I have Mac envy sometimes, for this and for Scrivener :( I did download Libra, and it does not work with my mom’s very old webcam. I was thinking of picking up a cheap newer model and trying again… What webcam did you try to use?

  2. 2
    Bether says:

    This is not the only place where the back-of-the-book UPCs don’t work for scanning MMs. They don’t work *at Barnes and Noble.* When I worked there, we were instructed specifically to scan the inside of the books. It’s been six or seven years since I worked there, so my memory on this may be off, but I seem to remember that the UPCs are standardized for grocery stores and Target and similar places, but that book bar codes are standardized separately, based on ISBN. The reason (I believe) that MMs have both is for easier scanning in places like Safeway. But I could be pulling that out of my ass. It is true that we learned pretty quickly to swipe the inside cover rather than the back; this issue does also pertain to some trade paperbacks.

    At Borders they circumvent this by slapping stickers on the backs of each and every book that goes through the store and assigning those books their own internal numbers. I found this system to be very, very useful, as the stickers have a ton of relevant internal information on them as well as just the title, price and ISBN. Plus I get some kind of glee out of repetitive tasks and putting stickers on several hundred books on a Monday evening* made me gleefully happy.

    *Monday, because new books come out on Tuesdays.

  3. 3
    SonomaLass says:

    This sounds like just what we need, and we’re an all-Mac household.  The only things organized around here are financial files and wine; books, music, movies all need to be databased.

    Guess I’m going to have to break the web-cam ban in my house (with young teenagers, we decided it was easier not to have one than to have to wonder what they were doing with it!).  Thanks for the tip, and the thorough trouble-shooting,

    Oh, and I’ve only ever read one Anne Stuart.  Sounds like I’m missing something?

  4. 4
    Amy B says:

    A terrific social cataloging site right now is LibraryThing.  I don’t think you can use a webcam, but there are many other entry methods, including scanning UPC’s,  importing a list of ISBNs and importing your previous Amazon purchases.  You can see others who have the same books, and read forum posts on the books. It’s a great way to find others who have similar tastes and get new book ideas.

    Readerware is another good cataloging application that will autocatalog by the UPC’s. There’s a PC version of it.  Readerware also has versions of the software for auto-cataloging CD’s and DVD’s from the UPC’s.

  5. 5
    Nicole says:

    Only 520 books?!  Bah.

    Almost makes me want to spend the money on a Mac.  Almost.  But oh, a webcam-based UPC scanner would be awesome!  Wonder if Nick could create something like that for me…..off to ask.

  6. 6
    Faith says:

    This is perfect! Hubby and I are moving and I was looking for a way to catalog/list all of our books, DVDs and Wii games. Perfect timing.
    of course now my husband thinks I’m crazy.

  7. 7
    LauraKCurtis says:

    For books, I infinitely prefer LibraryThing to Delicious Library because of its display versatility, among other things, but at the moment LT is only for books.  Eventually, I decided that the only thing I really wanted to track anyway was my books, so I gave up on Delicious Library.  But, man, I did love the barcode scanner.  You can’t use the webcam to do that on LT, or couldn’t last time I checked.

  8. 8
    rebyj says:

    crap i just did the shelfari.com thing and now theres something new? LOL
    i was shocked to easily input over 250 books in that i own.
    i still haven’t actually walked to my bookshelves to see what i missed from memory.

    my shelfari addy is ..  http://www.shelfari.com/o1518152296
    if anyone else is there.

  9. 9
    Jeremy says:

    While I recognize that the software you’re reviewing IS pretty swank…

    For the non-mac readers, here’s a couple things to check out:

    Linux:  http://www.periapsis.org/tellico/  Tellico doesn’t do scanning, but otherwise pretty solid.

    Windows:  Libra.  http://www.getlibra.com/  Supports Books, games, DVDs, etc.  Support Webcam as barcode scanner.

    Price for both?  Free.  (One of the fun quirks of non-Mac software, it’s often cheaper.)  Poke around a bunch online, you’ll find a lot of tools that are free for non-commercial use.

    (Tried not to sound preachy, but regardless, I hope this helps some of y’all – reviewers & readers – out.  My wife loves your site and shares delicious entries with me.)

  10. 10
    tudorpot says:

    Another plug for libraryThing- they have all sorts of features- you can see what other books exist in a series, read others reviews of books, see what books are available to swap or which ones are in demand. For people who love covers- there are a million or so covers- I’m not into that but some are obviously. it’s free for the first 200 books, then you can buy a life time membership for 25$- Well worth it as you can download your booklist to your computer and mess with it or carry it on your PDA.
    I have a mac- but will probably not get the delicious software- I can catalog my music on itunes.

  11. 11
    Deirdre says:

    another lover of Librarything.  I’ve been on it since 2005 and I’ve found it one of the best book cataloguing pieces of software that’s relatively cheap.

    They’re working with webcam scanning as far as I know, and you can watch what friends are doing/reading.

    I use it a lot.

  12. 12
    lisa says:

    When I got my MacBook last year, Delicious Library was the first piece of software I bought. It is a snap to input books, I love being able to organize by genre and such.

    And, you can use it to keep track of who you loaned books to. I can never remember just how many of my books are out and about, and it’s really easy to check books out to people. It even creates a “books due” calendar in iCal.

    I haven’t upgraded to the newest edition of it yet, but I completely plan to. After buying multiple books, forgetting what is where, this is the perfect software for me. I’ve cataloged all my DVDs, my physical CDs and video games along with books.

    And you can use it in tandem with LibraryThing. You can upload a text file (the site tells you specifically how to do it) and the system is smart enough to recognize when you upload an updated file that you’re not inputing doubles.

  13. 13
    Zebee says:

    Another vote for LibraryThing

    You can buy a scanner called CueCat from them for $15 to scan your books, or hunt for one on ebay.  As easy to use as a webcam.

    LT also has a better search function, you get publisher and date as well as image when searching for a book.

  14. 14
    Eva Lynn says:

    Another good one for PC—albeit without the neat webcam-scanner feature—is Readerware, which has audio and video versions as well (or all three in a bundle).

  15. 15
    ev says:

    This is not the only place where the back-of-the-book UPCs don’t work for scanning MMs.

    The inside code is the one that they use when we strip cover the books for returns. The back one is basically useless unless you punch it in manually. I have never figured out why, but at Waldens we always scanned the inside cover.

    I love our BINC stickers at Border’s. If you know how to read one there is so much info on it. A # means it is a new release, which is so important when trying to remember what you have and have not bought already- again.

    I like http://www.GoodReads.com We al.l use it at Border’s and share with a lot of friends. I like being able to see what someone else has added to their list. I also like the shelfs you can create. It is laborious though when you first get started. and I am behind.

    Unfortunately, I can never get hubby to understand why I would like a Mac, but one of these days I will have the money to add one to the mess of electronics we already have. I mean, really, how many households of 3 need a PC and 5 laptops?? And that’s just the ones we use.

  16. 16
    Teddypig says:


    1 for ebooks
    1 for itunes
    1 for email
    1 for internet blogging

  17. 17
    Candy says:

    Only 520 books?!  Bah.

    I did say that was about half my collection. Patience, mon amie!

    As for sharing the library: I think I can publish my entire collection to a webpage. I’m going to poke around and see if I can make it play with LibraryThing. Who wants to look at my collection? Also, at some point, I’m going to have to separate my TBRs from my keepers. That’s going to be pretty gnarly, but I’m really looking forward to it in a rather perverse, masochistic, OCD sort of way.

    And Jeremy: I’ve tried Libra, but the barcode scanner doesn’t work well. It takes ages and a lot of finagling and making sure I’m directly in the light in order for it to read anything. I scanned three books in maybe 15 minutes and gave up on it.

    Renee: the webcam I used on Libra was the Creative Wecam Instant.

  18. 18
    joopiter says:

    Okay, so I just downloaded this and I’ve been playing with it for about half an hour. So far so good… My roommate and I’ve been giggling over scanning barcodes with the webcam and listening to my computer speak butchered versions of the titles. (The Goon-eyes, anyone?) So, just for laughs, I picked up the box for this Star Wars figure I bought a while back and scanned it. It registers and my computer says “Star Wars Mighty Muggs Luke Skywalker by Hasbro”. We look at each other and laugh, and I get up to put the box back when MY COMPUTER WHISPERS “I am your father”. Cue roomie and I screaming like we just saw Candyman in the mirror. I swear on my widescreen, VHS original trilogy. I even deleted the item and rescanned it – same damn thing.

    I’m just going to assume that it’s some inside joke that someone put in somewhere and not my computer that suddenly became self-aware.

  19. 19
    ChristineM says:

    I have this software and I love it! I had looked into LibraryThing but it wasn’t quite my thing, and doesn’t it need a subscription after a certain number of books? If not, then I’m thinking of something else!

    I did find out that the webcam/scanner works best with very good lighting. When I took my laptop to another part of the house where the lighting wasn’t too good, the scanner wasn’t working as well. As for the back cover UPCs, I ended up with a LOT of silver watches!

    Another problem I had—the bug since worked out—is that a lot of my books showed up with the UK price. The only way I could figure out to fix it once the bug was worked out was to delete the books and rescan them in. And if you delete the book, it burns!

  20. 20
    Hey!T says:

    I’d heard of this before but was too cheap to invest. I may have to rethink my position though. I will say, however, that I second the goodreads love!

  21. 21

    When I was first reading this entry, I almost stopped to ask, “Why catalogue all these things anyway?” Then I finished the entry and read all the comments and now I think I should acquire this software at some point in the future. The idea of scanning ISBNs sounds SO much better than typing in all the titles on the various free variations on GoodReads and I’d love to have one place to catalog my music AND my books. Plus, considering how much I lend books out, it would be WONDERFUL to have a place to store that information. I’ve been meaning to make “library cards,” but why live in the dark ages?

    Thanks for the heads up!

  22. 22
    Kat says:

    We just got – love it!!  Spent most of the weekend, and all of Monday, inputting everything we could find – books, movies, CDs, games.  It was so easy once you get the hang of it.  We did do a lot of scanning to get the correct cover art, but that was easy too.  Just scanned the cover we had, save it as a tiff or jpeg and drag it onto the the cover the program had pulled from the net.

    I already created a TBR shelf!  And a movies we haven’t seen shelf.  One of the boxes in the detail page is read/watched – check it and use that as a criteria on a smart shelf and your done.  I found it easier to do that while inputting the books in the first place.

  23. 23
    Sarah says:

    This looks cool. I use library thing which is ok but having stuff that is more intergrated with my mac would be super cool. Not to mention keeping the inner book geek happy!

  24. 24
    joopiter says:

    For those who want to buy the software, there’s a code through retailmenot.com that is a 50% discount. When you purchase, instead of choosing a new license, select the option for upgrade (it’s also the option for Apple User Group discounts) and use this code: DMS-SO-AUG-PSMUG. Worked for me last night.


  25. 25
    KellyMaher says:

    I’m another lover of LibraryThing, but then, I’m a librarian by day ;)  In my many discussions with people over the last few years who are interested in cataloging their book/CD/DVD/game collection, I keep coming back to: what’s going to work best with your personal workflow.  LibraryThing is fabulous for me (user since two weeks after they opened for business – writergirl13) because it makes sense in my world and my book collection is by far my largest entertainment collection (yarn for knitting is a distant second, but I have Ravelry for that

    ).  I’m planning on getting a MacBook later this year, but I think I’ll stick to LibraryThing, partially because I don’t want to re-enter my books, and partially because it’s a service that I’ve already paid for the lifetime membership (I got that when it was still $10).

  26. 26

    I use both Delicious and LibraryThing to get the best of both worlds… I can use my webcam scanner, then snag the ISBN and paste it into LT. Just takes a sec. Then I can use Delicious to track who’s borrowed my books and organize things into shelves that make me happy (“Oddball Reference”), but my friends can check my LT account to see what I have. More importantly, I can check my library from my phone while I’m standing in the bookstore, and avoid buying duplicates.

    I also have the CueCat scanner from LT, and it works great with Delicious. I scanned my entire collection into Delicious the last time I moved, and when LT came along, I just used the Universal Importer to upload my entire library at once—it can read the Delicious XML file. And in fact, you can use the Importer to keep the two in sync rather than adding new books one by one as I’m doing now—just import again, and have it skip things you already have in LT.

    I love technology.

  27. 27
    lijakaca says:

    Wow, I had no idea technology like this was out there for consumer use!  This is AWESOME. One question, I have a bunch (like way too many) comics and games from Japan – they have ISBN codes as well, but will the programs recognize those? I remember when I first started getting them, and blithely assuming that if I knew the ISBN number, I could just order foreign books from a major bookstore and they could get it in – yeah, not really.

    And I am SUCH a geek, I started hyperventilating when reading your description of how it works – scanning barcodes?  It’s like a dream come true.

  28. 28

    lijakaca: Delicious Library says it works with Japanese ISBNs. The only limitation is that it relies on Amazon’s listings, so if your book isn’t in the store, you might have trouble adding it.

  29. 29
    Silver James says:

    Ya’ll are gonna make me actually get organized, aren’t you. *le sigh* I opened a LibraryThing account ages ago, inputed a few titles, got busy, and have since forgotten my username and password. Delicious came with my Macbook and I scanned a few DVDs plus whatever books were laying around handy and then got distracted. I really should just take a day (or two) and get the whole collection scanned it.

  30. 30
    Tracy says:

    Thanks so much for this review. I was looking at this software just yesterday, trying to decide if I would go for it or try to do my collection through Library Thing. Think I’ll make the jump to Delicious Library, and start scanning my heart out.

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