Friday, November 5, 2010

Books, Books, Books - a review of a product to keep track of them all


Upstairs Hallway Bookshelves
I have a lot of books. Most homeschoolers do. I don't like to buy 2nd copies of books by accident. I have done that a number of times. Used books I don't mind so much, but paying full price for a book twice is an expensive habit and prevents me from getting a first copy of another book I would have rather had. Some books I buy second copies of on purpose. Knowing what books you have on your shelves at home is important to me. I have over 3,000 books. I am not sure of the exact number because I have not gotten them all entered into a program. That is one of the goals I am working on.. to get all my books into one program.

PhotobucketI got Book Collector Pro Version as a TOS review product. I have tried the free trial version before and liked it but could never afford to buy the program, so I was excited to be on the list for this one.

The first thing I tried to do was import a list of books I had in another program. It would not work. I have tried a number of free programs and never been satisfied with the way the program works or looks. But I had over 2,000 books in there, so I tried again. I looked at the manual for how to import. I had done it correctly. I looked at the forum on their website. I could not find any additional help. I contacted them directly through the contact form on the website. They got back to me in less than 24 hours. So I call that GREAT customer service. Their reply did not really help me but they said if I still had problems I could contact them again.

Used books I purchased
Well I tried exporting and importing one more time. I figured out some things with my other program that allowed me to limit the things I export. It did not work exactly like I thought but with a little work I can get all those books to come up in Collectorz without having to add them one by one. I am so excited. This program has all the features and the setup that I wanted.

  Collectorz  programs are available for either Windows or Mac OS X systems or may be used online.

Standard and Pro features include:
  • Cataloging to personal computer
  • Printing of lists of the collection (since I don't have an iPhone or iPod this will be helpful)
  • Viewing in customer’s choice of layout skins (this is neat, you can view your details in different ways - vertical columns, horizontal columns and a combo of them, also in different colors)
  • Using multiple fields for book details
  • Browsing collection by Title, Author, Publisher, etc. (great... you can search for a certain genre or subject. For instance you can search for Renaissance and see all the books in your collection that you marked as being that subject)
The Pro Version has extra features for larger collections. Some of these features include:
Living Room Bookshelves
  • exporting to an iPhone or iPod Touch (I don't have either of these so this is no help to me but I do see the benefits. It would make it easy to keep the list with you so you know what books you have when you are out shopping or at a curriculum fair... maybe someday I can get one)
  • managing loans of the books (very necessary if you lend things out... makes it easy to know where all your books are at any one time.)
  • exporting to HTML so that the collection may be put on a webpage
So how do you go about using this software. There are videos on the book part of the website that show the program and the steps to adding books. There are 3 ways to add books to your book database (and there are videos on their website for each of these):
1. Type ISBN numbers or Authors & Titles
2. Scan ISBN barcodes with the CueCat scanner (this is what I have)
3. Scan ISBN barcodes in batch with the OPN-2001

Thanks to my CueCat I can scan a book's ISBN number from the back of the book and the software will look up the information on the Internet. (If you get a CueCat make sure you get the one that has a usb cord, the older ones don't work well.) The software usually gives me a couple of choices of books, some with completely different titles. I pick the book that best fits the version I have, push the add to button, and it automatically adds the details to my collection. I can then add more personal information like when I purchased the book and how much I paid for it. Most times the book comes up with a picture, if it does not you can scan the Internet again for just the book cover from the tab with the book cover on it. If you can't find one that way you can scan the front of your book with a scanner, save it to a file on your computer and then add the jpg from that file.

The details about each book are kept using multiple fields like: Author, Title, Publisher, ISBN, Format, Genre, Subject, Edition, Original Language, Dewey Number, and more. One of the nice things about this program is that the field names can be changed to anything you want. You can change any of the set fields and they also have a couple fields that are called User Lookup and User Text that are unused and so you can change those names to add anything extra you need. The Topic and Sub-Topic fields in the picture to the left are ones whose name I changed. This is a screen shot I took. I still have User Text 1 and 2 that I can change if I need them for anything.

You can also choose the size of the field. You can do a field that lets you write a short paragraph, like the ones below. Or you can do a couple words, or a drop down menu like the ones above with the little arrows on them.

You can even set up how the numbers show up for fields that use money or other kinds of numbers, like the ISBN #'s. It is very user friendly and easy to set up to meet each user's particular needs. You can keep all your books in one file or make separate files for different needs. Maybe you want one collection for school books, one for personal books, one for personal books for each member of the house. You can do that if you want. It says you can even catalog and link to e-books you have on your computer... I have not tried that feature yet but I plan to in the coming weeks. I am looking forward to adding more and more books and when I get all done I will let you know how many I end up with in my collection.

The only drawback I have found for the Book Collector Pro edition is the price... $49.95 is a lot of money. And if you want to catalog your music (cd's), videos, games, or even other things like comics, mp3's, and photos you have to buy separate programs.. Each standard version is $29.95 and each pro edition is $49.95. If you bought each product, there are 7 of them, it would really add up. If you are only looking to catalog your books then it wouldn't be so bad. But because of the cost, which prohibited me from getting the program for many years, I have to give it my Break the Bank button.

There is a way to try the program out before you buy. On the Book Collector page it says Try Book Collector Free in a number of places, if you put your e-mail in they will send you Book Collector Pro to try for free for 30 days. Then if you like it you can pay to keep it. Try it out and see what you think.

They also have this way to buy something else you need over the Internet and get the Standard Version of Book Collector Free. I am not sure of the details of that but you can check it out if you want. I have never seen this or done it ... it is called Trial Pay. You will find the details where the green button says Get It Free.

Out of five stars I give Book Collector Pro Version:

To see what my other crew members have to say about Book Collector Pro Version check out the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

*** provided me with the Book Collector Pro Version so that I could do my review. Though I received this product for free I have given an honest review of it here in this post.

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