Library Organization and Software Recommendations Please

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Postby erdnasephile » 11/03/12 01:41 PM

All:
The other day, I almost purchased yet another book I didn't remember that I had. I thought: "That's it--we gotta get this library under control!".

Two questions please:

1. How do you currently have your library organized? Author or Subject? (I currently have things alphabetized by author, but when the subject of the book is another magician's magic, I'm tempted to put all of the books about that magician in one place. Also, several persons have had their magic described by more than one author--so strict alpha order isn't always the most efficient.)

2. What library management software do you use and/or recommend? What library management software would you NOT recommend. My OS is Windows 7. (So far, all of the particulars of my library reside in my head, but for insurance and posterity purposes, I wish to have a computerized database of everything).

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/03/12 01:48 PM

My library, which consists of seven Ikea "Billy" bookshelves (wide, with the top extension) used to be organized with historical in one bookcase, my own publications in one bookcase, and then everything else by author, but not alphabetical or anythign like that. I just remembered where everything was.

Over the past 10 years, my library has become completely disorganized; I have more new books that will fit into the shelves, which means there are some boxes around someplace filled with books, and it is generally chaos.

Good luck.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 11/03/12 04:48 PM

As I've said before, I have as many books as Richard, four more and enough to make ...

First, putting all your books in a database is a waste of time unless you only have a limited number of books. You'll spend years working on that. Forget it, unless you have a crazed family member to do it. Of course, for insurance purposes, you do need a list.

My library is organized in numerous ways:

1. By magician.

2. By type of trick (e.g., packet tricks, coin tricks).

3. By author.

4. By title.

I don't worry about being consistent, this is fuzzy math. So, I might have some books together authored by Richard Kaufman, but then his Dingle book may be in my Dingle section.

The point is this: when I start looking for a book, I just walk over to the rows of shelves and guess where it might be. If it isn't by magician name, maybe I filed it under coin tricks.

I can usually find anything very quickly.

Also books can get refiled: if a book is joined by some related book (e.g., same author) I might consider changing things around.
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Postby Marco Pusterla » 11/03/12 05:12 PM

My library (two rooms, 12 floor to ceiling bookcases, completely full, some shelves two layers deep, plus other books laying in piles on the floor) is arranged by subject: some shelves for close-up, others for card magic, others for illusions, others for history, etc.

I use BookCAT to catalog my books (http://www.fnprg.com/bookcat/index.html). It is a great software to catalog books. I've been using it for the past 8 or 9 years and I'm really happy with it. Yes, it takes some time to put your existing books in the first time, but you may decide on how much data you want to put in: maybe just title and author, or more information (condition, publication date, printer, etc.).

How I find my books? Well, I more or less know where they are... the software helps me know that I HAVE a particular title. I don't bother putting in the database the location of the book, as I may at some stage move books (i.e. if I buy a large group of books on a specific subject), but the software allows me to do so, if so I wish.

My 2 cents...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/03/12 05:44 PM

I think if a book is worth having, you probably remember owning it.

If you can't remember, then it's not worth having.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 11/03/12 08:51 PM

A modest proposal ...

(I'll get to that at the end.)

I've seriously considered buying a new home just to have a nicer library for my magic books. As it stands, I keep favorite softbound books (Steranko, Schulien, Eugene Burger, Jim Ryan, etc.) in my office where I can get at them quickly. The rest of the softbound books are in bookcases in a laundry room, alphabetic by author. Don't even ask where the 50+ years of Genii are stashed.

Most of the hardbound are in a full wall bookcase in the family room, mostly ordered by size (same size books on one shelf, etc.). Within size ranges, some are ordered by genre, such as bound magazine reprints, others by favorite titles. Within those ranges, they are grouped by authors (the Vernons together, the Loraynes, etc.). There is some order, but also some randomness, so perusing the shelves often turns up forgotten titles.

I don't have a written list, but I have photographed all house contents including all book titles and keep these offsite. This is for insurance.

All of which got me thinking ...

Someday we will get old and want to sell all this stuff or will check out early and our wives and kids will have to sell it. In which case they need to know the value of each title, a pain in the ... to look up soooo many.

Hence my modest proposal. It would be really nice if someone would compile a list of all the magic titles for, say, the 20th century and beyond, giving the current dealer price (or original price if out of print) and the current resale evaluation. Then, if this were provided in some simple software or even just an excel sheet, all we would have to do would be to check off which titles we own, giving grateful spouses a guide for resale and ourselves a shock at the total. I'd gladly pay for such a resource and it would save so many of us from having to do the same task. Any takers?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/03/12 09:00 PM

The job is too large to even contemplate. The only person with the time would have to be jobless and homeless, and he or she wouldn't have the necessary computer.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/03/12 10:55 PM

What a fantastic fulltime job that would be though: A wet dream for someone like me.

My modest little library is organized by major subjects: General, Close-Up, Cards, Coins, others (Linking Rings, Balls, etc.), Mentalism, Theory, History, Fiction, Bibliography, and Bound/Reprinted Periodicals. (There are some others in there, as well as several categories within the subjects.)

Everything is in an Excel spreadsheet with a printed catalogue of four alphabetic sections: Title, Author, Subject/Title, and Subject/Author.

The database I created includes Title, Author(s), Subject, Category, Type (book, lecture notes, monograph, printed ebook, Binding, Appraised/Market Value, Publisher, Publication Date, Comments (limited edition, first edition, signed, etc.), Dust Jacket (Yes, No, No As Issued, Not Applicable).

There are other aspects of the spreadsheet that calculate automatically such as totals and percentages by binding, author, subject, publisher, etc. etc.

I created the thing a long time ago. I dont recall how many titles I had thenfewer than 1,000but I do recall that inputting all the data was very time consuming.

I write new books into a printed copy of the database then input them when I have added several (and have the time), make any appropriate changes, and print out a new catalogue.

I see no reason to purchase special software that is updated at the whim of the publisher. Excel is good enough. Microsoft Access would work too.
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Postby Marco Pusterla » 11/04/12 06:01 AM

Steve Bryant wrote:Hence my modest proposal. It would be really nice if someone would compile a list of all the magic titles for, say, the 20th century and beyond, giving the current dealer price (or original price if out of print) and the current resale evaluation. Then, if this were provided in some simple software or even just an excel sheet, all we would have to do would be to check off which titles we own, giving grateful spouses a guide for resale and ourselves a shock at the total. I'd gladly pay for such a resource and it would save so many of us from having to do the same task. Any takers?


Something like that already exists: Martin Joyal (of Joyal stack fame) has compiled a "guide to used magic books" containing most of the English-language magic books between 1693 and 2012. The list is available for free (on his website) to the subscribers of his newsletter, or as a PDF that Mr. Joyal sells. I don't think it's available as an Excel file. I have used the list and found it useful.

@Dustin: BookCAT (the software I use) is updated regularly and allows you to export your database to Excel. I don't use the tool only as a way to check the monetary value of my books, but also as a research tool, something for which Excel is hardly suitable.

All the best,
Marco Pusterla - http://www.mpmagic.com

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Postby Steve Bryant » 11/04/12 09:04 AM

Thanks, Marco. It looks terrific.
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/04/12 03:43 PM

Thanks for your comments everybody--gotta check out BookCAT.

What would have made all of this easier was if magic books all had ISBN numbers. Then it would just be a matter of scanning them all into a database.
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Postby Gordon Meyer » 11/04/12 04:02 PM

I've tried and ditched many book cataloging techniques over the years. (Starting with a 3x5 typewritten card catalog!). Easy data entry is essential, and don't mess around filling in fields that don't really matter to you. I currently catalog only title, author, date acquired, binding, and price paid. I also add a snapshot of the cover.

It's a huge task if you have a decent sized library and haven't started yet. So just start with new acquisitions and fill-in the old stuff as time allows. Or, never. If you live long enough, and keep collecting, eventually you'll have more cataloged than not.

I currently use Bento on my iPhone. It's also available for Mac and iPad.
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/04/12 04:35 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:The job is too large to even contemplate. The only person with the time would have to be jobless and homeless, and he or she wouldn't have the necessary computer.


Richard:

You're forgetting about teenagers who want to earn a little extra cash...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/04/12 05:08 PM

You need a poverty-stricken teenager who has no homework and nows magic WELL.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/04/12 05:36 PM

Marco: What kind of "research"? I use Excel as a "research tool" for multi-billion dollar businesses and it's quite suited for that. (Excel can do a lot more than most people realize.)

I've no doubt that the book software is fine. My only point is that if one has Excel or Access on their system already, and they know how to use it, there is no reason to purchase a database program. (Chances are that these programs use a database program, like Access, as a platform.)
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Postby Ted M » 11/04/12 05:45 PM

There exists a great website for boardgame enthusiasts called http://BoardGameGeek.com . The heart of the website is a database of boardgames, collaboratively populated by the site's userbase.

Users with a free account can rate games, mark them as owned, wanted in trade, available for trade, etc.

This makes it easy to enter and review your own collection. It's also easy to run a simple trade search and find people who are offering a game you want AND who want one or more games you are willing to trade away. You can then send them a message and possibly negotiate a trade.

The BGG community even organizes beautiful things called Math Trades. A Math Trade allows people to indicate games they are potentially willing to trade away. After that pool of games is identified, each person carefully creates a separate wantlist for each of their own items, specifying which items from the pool they would be willing to accept in trade for that particular item. Then an algorithm crunches all these lists and finds huge multi-way trades. These are like a 3-way trade involving 3 teams in a sports league, but a single trade chain in a Math Trade might involve a circle of 100+ people. It's stupendous. (This works well for gamers, who understand the importance of honoring rules. It might be somewhat less successful with magicians.)

There's also a marketplace to offer your used game for sale.

It's a heck of a site that has created a large community, and a fine example of what can be built with strong vision, good software and crowdsourced data.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 11/04/12 05:56 PM

Ted M wrote:There exists a great website for boardgame enthusiasts called http://BoardGameGeek.com . The heart of the website is a database of boardgames, collaboratively populated by the site's userbase.


Sounds similar to Colnect http://colnect.com/en which is pretty impressive if you collect stamps,coins, postcards, etc.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 11/04/12 05:59 PM

I like Dustin's idea since the installed base of Excel/Access users must be large. Now, if I could just get him over to my house to dall the work.
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Postby Marco Pusterla » 11/04/12 06:35 PM

Dustin Stinett wrote:Marco: What kind of "research"? I use Excel as a "research tool" for multi-billion dollar businesses and it's quite suited for that. (Excel can do a lot more than most people realize.)


I know that Excel is very powerful, but I'm not Excel guru myself :) The software I use, uses Access as underlying db technology (wish it used MySQL for another project I had in mind, but no beans!). In my database, I log every effect (table of contents) of every book, with notes, requirements (sleights, special cards, etc...), so that I can cross-reference - for example - all books containing tricks with D/F cards... or with Erdnase's bottom palms... or with the purse palm... Call me being anal, if you wish, and I admit that it's often too much work, but it's part of the fun of knowing exactly where anything is in a large library.

I don't know (my fault, definitely) how to do that in Excel, other than with a massively complex spreadsheet that may take me weeks to design - weeks I could spend entering books. I suspect it's a matter on how one's time is better spent.

Also, I don't want to "sell" BookCat: that's the solution I use, I used for many years and that I plan to use for many more years to come. I'm happy with it, as it fulfils the needs I have, including a very basic export of books to plain HTML for my website: http://www.mpmagic.co.uk/library.htm (not up-to-date - only my fault) and the generation of a list for my insurer and another for my wife in case I pass away unexpectedly... :)

All the best,
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/04/12 06:54 PM

Yikes! Yes, Excel could do that, but obviously the data needs to be inputed and the code written in Excel to do it (which is likely already in the program you use). The code is no big deal, it's the data input! "Anal" is not the word I'd use!
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/04/12 07:01 PM

Wow, Marco--I"m sold!
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/04/12 07:02 PM

Ted M wrote:There exists a great website for boardgame enthusiasts called http://BoardGameGeek.com . The heart of the website is a database of boardgames, collaboratively populated by the site's userbase.

Users with a free account can rate games, mark them as owned, wanted in trade, available for trade, etc.

This makes it easy to enter and review your own collection. It's also easy to run a simple trade search and find people who are offering a game you want AND who want one or more games you are willing to trade away. You can then send them a message and possibly negotiate a trade.

The BGG community even organizes beautiful things called Math Trades. A Math Trade allows people to indicate games they are potentially willing to trade away. After that pool of games is identified, each person carefully creates a separate wantlist for each of their own items, specifying which items from the pool they would be willing to accept in trade for that particular item. Then an algorithm crunches all these lists and finds huge multi-way trades. These are like a 3-way trade involving 3 teams in a sports league, but a single trade chain in a Math Trade might involve a circle of 100+ people. It's stupendous. (This works well for gamers, who understand the importance of honoring rules. It might be somewhat less successful with magicians.)

There's also a marketplace to offer your used game for sale.

It's a heck of a site that has created a large community, and a fine example of what can be built with strong vision, good software and crowdsourced data.


The "Geek" is pretty cool--the rating system is also extraordinarily useful. Plus, the GeekLists are hilarious!

I could be wrong, but I don't think the magic community is large (or motivated) enough to pull that off. It'd be fun to try though.
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Postby David Byron » 11/04/12 07:03 PM

I used to rely on BookCAT. At some point, it made more sense to me to store the data in the cloud.

Now I use <a href="http://www.librarything.com">LibraryThing</a>, which is excellent in many ways.

The first few hundred books I entered in an afternoon using a $10 barcode scanner.
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/04/12 07:08 PM

David:
How did you scan in the books? (I just looked at the last 5 magic books I bought--nary a bar code in sight).
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Postby Timothy Hyde » 11/05/12 11:59 PM

erdnasephile wrote:
Ted M wrote:There exists a great website for boardgame enthusiasts called http://BoardGameGeek.com . The heart of the website is a database of boardgames, collaboratively populated by the site's userbase.

Users with a free account can rate games, mark them as owned, wanted in trade, available for trade, etc.

This makes it easy to enter and review your own collection. It's also easy to run a simple trade search and find people who are offering a game you want AND who want one or more games you are willing to trade away. You can then send them a message and possibly negotiate a trade.

The BGG community even organizes beautiful things called Math Trades. A Math Trade allows people to indicate games they are potentially willing to trade away. After that pool of games is identified, each person carefully creates a separate wantlist for each of their own items, specifying which items from the pool they would be willing to accept in trade for that particular item. Then an algorithm crunches all these lists and finds huge multi-way trades. These are like a 3-way trade involving 3 teams in a sports league, but a single trade chain in a Math Trade might involve a circle of 100+ people. It's stupendous. (This works well for gamers, who understand the importance of honoring rules. It might be somewhat less successful with magicians.)

There's also a marketplace to offer your used game for sale.

It's a heck of a site that has created a large community, and a fine example of what can be built with strong vision, good software and crowdsourced data.


The "Geek" is pretty cool--the rating system is also extraordinarily useful. Plus, the GeekLists are hilarious!

I could be wrong, but I don't think the magic community is large (or motivated) enough to pull that off. It'd be fun to try though.


I love "the Geek" and have been a member and financial supporter for many years. Have often thought that a Magic version "might" work, but yes it would be a full time job.

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Postby Martin Joyal » 11/07/12 12:54 PM

Marco Pusterla wrote:Something like that already exists: Martin Joyal (of Joyal stack fame) has compiled a "guide to used magic books" containing most of the English-language magic books between 1693 and 2012. The list is available for free (on his website) to the subscribers of his newsletter, or as a PDF that Mr. Joyal sells. I don't think it's available as an Excel file. I have used the list and found it useful.


Thank you Marco for your good words.

For those of you who would like to know more about the Joyalstack Price Guide, here is the link.
http://www.joyalstack.com/index.php?p=pgov

If you would like to view some sample pages, the download link is
http://www.joyalstack.com/sample/Sample_JSPG_1203.pdf

Keep reading books...

Martin
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Postby Bill Mullins » 12/03/12 01:59 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:My library, which consists of seven Ikea "Billy" bookshelves (wide, with the top extension) . . .


Jon Racherbaumer's is slightly larger:
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/03/12 02:02 PM

Bill, that's what Jay Marshall's library really looked like. An enormous room full of industrial metal shelving full of books.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 12/03/12 02:04 PM

(the picture is actually from an Amazon distribution center)
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Postby Doug Thornton » 12/03/12 02:14 PM

Citizen Kane and Raiders of the Lost Ark spring to mind.
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Postby erdnasephile » 04/20/13 04:01 PM

Just as a follow up.

I needed to come up with a project to help a teen earn some money, so I purchased and downloaded BookCAT.

Thanks so much for the suggestion--the program is easy to use, robust, and rock stable thus far. Very cool.

PS: The BookCAT on-line store is down for an indeterminate period of time, but if you email the author of the program, he'll set you up directly.
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Postby Steve Brooks » 04/20/13 09:00 PM

I see a lot of great suggestions here.

My magic library does not compare to some of you, but I do have several hundred books to manage.

That said, I'm a Mac kind of guy and found BookPedia to be the perfect program for organizing my library. There is a trial version with the full edition costing only $18.
In addition they also offer programs for tracking and organizing CD's, DVD's and Games.

I think anyone using a Mac really can't go wrong. Also, they have Apps for your iPod, iPad, etc.

Hope this helps. :mrgreen:
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Postby Denis Behr » 04/21/13 03:24 AM

Like Steve, I also have my books listed in BookPedia (on a Mac). You can sync the collection to the iPhone, and that's what really wanted as a feature. Works well so far, and I was able to import my previous Excel sheet with little trouble.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 04/21/13 03:51 AM

As a working pro, my library is divided into three sections:

The Workers: Books by working professionals - Fox, McComb, Page, Burger etc.

Reference: Card College, Tarbell etc.

Everything else.
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Postby atkinsod » 04/21/13 10:57 AM

I've always wished that I had known enough about databases and making a web front end that I could have developed my magic book contents pages at magicref.tripod.com/books.htm in a database format rather than static html pages. However, not only did I not know how to do that back in 2000 or so, the free web hosts I started with back then didn't allow for that type of programming.

Denis Behr has done a great job with his website and a custom backend database he developed. His database breaks down each effect with the moves and even the authors of the moves as well.

The guys over at magicbooks.be have outdone my meager website and have over 4000 book entries. One advantage they have is they've provided an input inteface so that users can contibute their own book contents to the site. For my site, you have to send the contents to me and because this is only a hobby and one person, it can take me months to get it posted.

Chris's lybrary.com site is experimenting with a personal book database as well, where under your account you can mark the books you own, and then search the contents for those books.,

So the building blocks are growing out there, though there are still thousands of magic books and pamphlets yet to catalogue...

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Postby atkinsod » 04/21/13 11:03 AM

Oh, I also want to mention that I've used Collectorz.com's book database program for my regular library because it allows you to use a barcode scanner and automatically gets information from the web on the book details, but as mentioned, most magic books don't have barcodes so this method doesn't work so well. Also, while I haven't explored the program in depth, there does not seem to be a convenient method to record actual book tables of content. These book database programs seem to be more focused on fiction books where you'll just want a book summary and reviews; the kind of info you'd find on an Amazon.com book page.
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Postby erdnasephile » 04/21/13 03:11 PM

atkinsod wrote:Oh, I also want to mention that I've used Collectorz.com's book database program for my regular library because it allows you to use a barcode scanner and automatically gets information from the web on the book details, but as mentioned, most magic books don't have barcodes so this method doesn't work so well. Also, while I haven't explored the program in depth, there does not seem to be a convenient method to record actual book tables of content. These book database programs seem to be more focused on fiction books where you'll just want a book summary and reviews; the kind of info you'd find on an Amazon.com book page.


I had considered Book Collector Pro as well, but when I looked at how the programs imported and exported information, it did not appear as versatile as BookCAT. There was also a rumored issue of whether the program would continue to work fully if you declined to upgrade when a new version appeared. That seemed like a crazy rumor that I could never confirm. Did you ever run into anything like that?

Here are two threads that compare the two programs in detail:

http://fnprg.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=11541

http://www.collectorz.com/phpbb2/viewto ... &view=next
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Postby Jonathanrian » 04/21/13 05:02 PM

I have begun using Collectorz, and although it has the shortcomings mentioned, it's the best off-the-shelf solution I've found. The scanning of ISBN and auto-field populating are very cool, although that only works for a minority of magic books, and there are some field limitations for the truly obsessive librarian. I hallucinate about programming a perfect solution using Excel or SQL, but I don't think I'll sacrifice that kind of time. For what it may be worth to others looking for options, I choose Collectorz after ruling out Lignup, Collectify, & Collectibles Organizer Deluxe. I wasn't aware of BookCAT until after I started using Collectorz. The system I was most interested in was Delicious Library 2, but it's MAC only, and I'm not at this time.
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Postby atkinsod » 04/23/13 03:30 PM

I do recall feeling "forced" to update Book Collector (from Collectorz.com), though I don't recall the specific details. I think it was when Amazon changed their access method, and Collectorz decided to build their own online database of books. The older version wouldn't, of course, work with the new Collectorz database so if you wanted to be able to use the automatic scanning method, you had to upgrade. Not necessarily Collectorz fault since Amazon changed their method, but certainly something that angered a lot of users. Also, since they have an iOS version as well, I would expect a need to upgrade in the future to ensure that the updates in the iOS and the Windows version "track". Certainly a possible downside.

One other database I purchased during a sale at bitsdujour.com, was AllMyBooks by Bolide software, but my impression is they are not as advanced.
atkinsod
 
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Joined: 02/22/12 12:58 PM
Location: USA

Postby Martin Joyal » 06/05/13 11:21 AM

For those interested, I just published a new edition of the JoyalStack Price Guide.

600 books and 250 illustrations were added to the previous edition.

This time, it comes out as a softcover book with 536 pages.

Further information available at http://www.joyalstack.com/index.php?p=pgov
Martin Joyal
 
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