I've always had a things for books, and photography has only increased my love of books. When it comes to photography, I love a physical print. And when it comes to physical prints, I love a luscious coffee table book full of them. Combine that love with my lifelong addiction to other non-fiction books and I've ended up with a lot of books. How many books? I don't know. And thus my recent desire to catalog my book collection. It's especially bad when I go to a used bookstore or the book sale at the library and see a book I'm interested in and sometimes I honestly can't remember if I have that book or not. I used to have this problem with CDs all the time. I would find a good deal on a CD I like, get excited about it and buy it, bring it home and then find I already owned it. I solved that problem by getting an iPod, so I have a good portion of my music collection with me at the store. I don't buy duplicate CDs anymore!
I want something similar for managing my books (photographic and other) and I've started too look at the options. The first obvious option is Delicious Library from Wil Shipley. I was a huge Omni Software fan in the 90's and on the surface it looks like he's come up with something cool for managing libraries.
Here's my list of desires:
- Allows searching and sorting by title, author, keyword, etc.
- Exports inventory of books I own to something I can carry on my iPhone. (pdf, etc.)
- Supports ordering by Dewey Decimal system as well as Library of Congress. I'm getting to the point where I may actually start arranging my shelves by one of these systems. I'm partial to LoC since it is not proprietary like the Dewey system and it catalogs (computer) science books better.
That's it for actual requirements. But since this is 2011, most software is Internet aware so I'm open to some cool Internet-enabled features. Also, there are a few other features I'd like to see, even though they're not deal-breaker requirements:
- "If you like that then you might like this" functionality. Like Amazon suggestions.
- Some sort of functional iPhone/iPad client that lets me browse my collection on the go, without Internet connectivity.
- Grabbing metadata from the Internet is cool so I don't have to type everything in.
I have something to say about that Internet thing. The main benefit I see in adding networking functionality is to help me discover new books. I can already go to Amazon for any given title and see what other books people like so this software should do more. I'm talking full-on social networking here, but anonymously if I choose. Two points here:
- The algorithm for suggestions should get better the more books I enter.
- The algorithm should get better as I share my list with more friends.
The first point is huge. As I mentioned, Amazon can already tell me what other books I might be interested in based on one single book. But this software knows more than that, so the suggestions should be better. I'm thinking of a use case where it says "Everyone in your friend group who owns these 4 books also owns this one other book." The smarter the software, the better the suggestions should get as it has access to more data.
So I've downloaded Delicious Library and I'm trying it out. I've hit a few snags already (no Library of Congress numbers, haven't figured out the best way to export for my iPhone, can display a virtual bookshelf with covers but not with spines, half of the help entries seem broken, not sure if there will ever be another update) but I'm persevering. My main problem is that all my books are in boxes right now which makes it hard to build up my library and really test it, but these are the snags I've identified already.
Do you use Delicious or any other competing software? Let me know in the comments. I'm especially interested in what other alternatives are out there.