- Recording the books themselves;
- Using my phone as a bar code scanner to enter some of them;
- Being able to export the data to agnostic formats like CSV;
- Being able to look up Bibliographic data.
In the end, nothing too fancy. The first one I looked at was Book Collector from http://www.collectorz.com/book/. I wasn't terrible struck by the name “collectorz” which seemed a bit low-rent to me. Unfortunately it was the complexity of the whole deal that made it a non-starter: various bits of the product looked like endless paid-for extras:
- Book Collector
- “CLZ Barry” to scan bar codes
- “CLZ Mobile App” to have the database on your phone
- Cloud CLZ Account with a paid for option to edit entries on web
Not impressed – having to buy an expensive iOS App to have the database on my phone (around £10) was pretty bad, but even the appallingly named “CLZ Barry” just to scan barcodes for around £5 was out the question. I just felt like I was being shaken down for money. The CLZ Mobile App was hardly impressive for £10, it was a basic database version of the desktop one that really should be free/inexpensive. The names of the products are horrible, they don't look great and didn't represent a good deal to me.
I then looked at Readerware which seemed a much better deal (http://www.readerware.com/). This was much the same money as Book Collector but the Mobile app was part of the price. In some way it is less functional on the phone as you can't edit, but that was never a function of value to me. As long as it could scan and upload barcodes and produce a simple version of the database I was happy.
Like Book Collector, Readerware isn't the prettiest application. Also its ability to connect to iOS to upload barcodes/transfer the database could do with some serious refinement. However what it does do, it does well. All it needs to do is record the books I collect and use my phone as a means to scan their details. It does allow me to add library books in an “aim to read” list for later. Sometimes when I'm browsing a library shelf I'll scan in barcodes of books that look interesting that I intend to read later.
Part of the issue is that this is a specialised product and there really aren't many around so unfortunately you have to put up with what ever limitations they have. Ideally you'd be able import lists of books bought electronically from Amazon, Kobo, Google etc but unfortunately this isn't possible. Having a pre-configured “Library List” of books you've borrowed or would like to borrow would be very handy for book collectors and scholars alike.