Jason's Blog

Book Management Software

by on Jan.13, 2004, under Reviews

I’d been looking for a decent program to keep track of my ever growing library of books, DVD’s, Games, etc. I figured I’d post a few comments on what I’d found here.

First, the program I’m going to probably use for books, and if I decide to get ambitious and modify it, my DVD collection as well. Perhaps games too, but I’ll decide later. I’ve been playing with the beta for version 2, and I must say I’m really impressed overall with the interface, performance, quality of design, features, etc. Plus, it’s free. Anyways, check out this program, appropriately called Books. As a second note, not only is this program free, but it’s also GPL’d which means you’ve got the source code, and thus can enhance it (and thus the DVD library thing, and thusly no more thus’s). So, soon I’ll be working on yet more software code smile

Another alternative, which you have to pay for, is a product called Library. This app has support for books, as well as games, DVD’s, and CD’s. However, as I’m using iTunes for all my music, and the iPod, this isn’t terribly necessary. DVD’s are more critical, but as stated, I can probably modify the Books program to manage that. Last, I find the set of features is on the so so side. It has a pretty nice interface, but overall, I’m not terribly impressed with the feature set. Of course, it’s only $15 from their online store, but I’d expect a bit more before I’d spend any money.

Booxter, another pure book tracking app is even less of a choice in my opinion. I’m pretty sure from what I’ve seen (and tried) that Books has the same feature set (someone feel free to correct ANY of what I’ve said if I’m wrong), but Booxter isn’t free and has less features than Book. It’s also a $15 application, but I’d recommend just using Books, unless there’s some amazing thing that Booxter does for you.

The last tracker I’m going to mention is on the more expensive side, and really is multiple separate apps. It’s a program called readerware, and it’s also the only app that runs on either windows, linux, or OSX (save the best OS for last wink ). It’s got a LOT of features, good support (i.e. commercial, so in theory should be good – not always the case), and even has a palm version which works pretty well. With that of course, comes a few disadvantages – first, it’s not expressly designed for any one OS, so it doesn’t use the interface guidelines for OS X. Second, it is really pricey – for all the “options”, i.e. a book tracker, movie tracker, palm, etc. it ends up near $100. Last, when I tried it, it wasn’t the most responsive app I’d ever used. Part of that is Java, but I’ve been writing Java GUI using Swing for 4+ years now, and I know you can get a fairly responsive Java app if you’re good at optimization and careful coding. Last, I just am not impressed with their overall interface. ANY of the above seem to have a cleaner interface. However, all the above are OS X only, so that might be why smile. Anyways, you can check out Readerware and see what you think yourselves. There’s a 30 day trial of the app.

Conclusion? Overall, I have to give Books the bes thtumbs up, after playing with the version 2 beta. I definitely like the feature interface, the field set, etc. It’s simple enough to handle some fairly advanced library information without overwhelming the user or being too much of a “library” app. As always, feel free to post comments, suggestions, etc. If you’ve used any of the above, and find that I’m wrong on something, let me know. Other than that, get busy adding books to your library *sigh* Mine is going to take me a while, even with ISBN info lookup….

2 Comments for this entry

  • Economist

    Books is, indeed, quite good. Readerware has one possibly important feature Books does not: it will go, on demand, to Amazon and recover all the books/music/videos you’ve bought from them and put them in your Readerware database.

    Note also that Readerware is a true sql database application. This means it probably could handle an entire commercial library, and that may be the reason for the price. They DO throw in a free bar code reader for the almost $100 but the particular model can be had at ebay for around $10 on a “buy it now” basis.

    Finally, Readerware seems the most bar-code-reader friendly; Books next, and for the rest, forget it. With the cheapie bar code reader above I have not had good experiences with the rest of the competition, including Library2.

    So if you want something for a small home library, Books is it and the price is right. For more serious collectors, the Readerware suite is probably more scalable.

  • Economist

    And another thing: Readerware is the only program smart enough (at least so far) to separate out (and sort by, if desired) author’s last name from first name. The others’ author sort is all by first name, which I find puzzling though obviously easier to implement. The presentation formats for Readerware are also much more professional-looking than any of the others.

    Still learning as I go. I have no connection with Readerware except as a paying customer.

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