Monday, January 17, 2005

Tracking Your Book Collection

I have been having "unfortunate" moments when buying books. I happily purchase something I have been looking for, only to find that I had already bought it some time before.

In my own defense, this is less the onset of senility than the realities of living in Singapore. I often read about a new book in the Economist, Wall Street Journal, or from an Amazon recommendation. I clip the article, add the book to my Amazon wishlist, and then try and find it in a local bookstore. There are two major retail stores, Kinokuniya and Borders, but prices and availability are affected by the distance and small market. There is usually a lengthy delay before new books arrive here, and we get product from the US and UK, often with very different covers. I also tend to prowl bookstores while on busines trips.

All of which is to excuse my bad habit of buying duplicates.

I solved this whole problem with CD's by computerizing my collection, and gave up and manually entered all my DVD's into a data base. Books however are a different problem, because there are so many, and so much information to track.

I have been looking at an interesting program that promises to solve the problem. Like CD tracking programs that are able to look up the track and artist data by downloading from the Internet, Book Collector from Collectorz uses the ISBN as a key to look up information from a number of different sources, including Amazon, the Library of Congress, and various national libraries around the world. A company called Intelli Innovations Inc. apparently has a similar product that ships with a hand scanner to eliminate the need to enter the ISBN manually.

The result is an entry for every book with cataloging information and a picture of the cover. With the Pro version of the program, you are supposed to be able to export the data, something I need, so that I can put a copy on the Nokia 9500. It is all very well to have a list, but it is only useful if you have it with you when you are buying. The trial version does not allow exporting, and the web site only refers to a third party program called ListPro for Palm and CE devices. Nothing for Symbian. I would be happy with a dBASE format export...

1 comment:

Ivan Chew said...

I wonder if you could post the list of books you want to purchase on your blog. Then access your blog via Handheld. I use a BlackBerry and I can bookmark the blogpost as a webpage for easy access. Those that you've purchased, you can mark with an "X" or something by editing the post later (or via your HP or handheld).