You don’t need to have been a librarian in a former life to get a positive thrill from cataloging and managing your stuff with Delicious Library. The cleverly designed software from Delicious Monster lets you catalog your books, CDs, DVDs and video games with ease, track who has borrowed them when you loan them out, and get purchase suggestions from Amazon.com based on your preferences. You can even sync your library with your iPod so you’ll know what you’ve already got when you go to the store. If you have Mac OS 10.3 or 10.4 and an internet connection, you’re good to go.
How does Delicious Library catalog your library? It’s all in the barcode. On books that barcode is the ISBN number, and on DVDs, CDs and video games it’s the ASIN number. (Aren’t you glad to add those tidbits to your fund of knowledge?) Delicious Library checks an item’s barcode number against Amazon.com’s massive online database and retrieves the item’s publication information, cover art and product description. The software figures out whether the item is a book, DVD, CD or video game, and adds it to the appropriate collection of your library.
But what if an item doesn’t have a barcode, for example, books printed before barcodes came into wide use in the early 1980s? Try searching the book by name on Amazon’s website. If you find it there, simply drag the URL for the page from your browser’s address bar into the Delicious Library window and it will be added automatically. If you don’t find the item at Amazon or if you want to enter a custom item, you can enter the details by hand.
Delicious Library’s main window consists of four panes. On the left in the Collections pane are media icons for your book, CD, DVD and games collections; scanned items are entered automatically into the correct category. Clicking each icon displays the contents of that collection in the central pane. If you want to further organize your collections (by location or subject matter, for example), you can create custom shelves, which appear below the media icons. A Recent Imports icon tracks all imports by date. If you’ve chosen to sync to your iPod, an iPod icon will appear when it’s connected.
Below Collections is a pane for Borrowers. To get you started, Delicious Library finds the My Card entry in Address Book and places a Borrowers icon for each Address Book entry who shares the same surname. With a few clicks you can delete cousin Seth in Orlando, add new Borrowers from your Address Book, or create new Borrowers by first and last name and email address. For each borrower you can track items borrowed and assign and track due dates in the Checkout Card window. A click takes you to the borrower’s Address Book entry for handy access to phone numbers and email addresses. After all, it’s generous to loan your stuff but you eventually want to get it back.
The central pane displays the holdings for the collection or borrower you’ve selected from the left-hand pane, viewable by List or Covers. The iTunes-like List view puts more items on the screen but I prefer the wooden bookshelf look of the Covers view, which can be resized dynamically with a iPhoto-like slider bar.
The right hand pane shows the details about an item, including Amazon-filled fields for publisher, release date, format and genres, plus category-specific data such as illustrator (books), director, stars, rating, features and running time (DVDs) and artists, tracks and conductor (CDs). Fields are editable and Spotlight searchable. Tabs at the bottom switch from the Details screen to My Info and Similar screens. The My Info screen lets you add star ratings and notes and specify the item’s location in your building, and gives check boxes for played/read, used or signed items and a field for condition very useful for collectors. A click on the Similar tab gives you recommendations selected from Amazon’s prodigious coffers. A built-in shopping cart makes it easy much too easy to buy related items that catch your fancy. (Amazon has to be the world champion of co-marketing, and this iteration is a beauty.) Delicious Monster donates 100% of its Amazon.com commissions to charities around the world, so this is one click-through you can feel good about.
To start cataloging your stuff, all you need is the Delicious Library software and an internet connection. However, a barcode scanner (an iSight or DV camera or a handheld barcode scanner) makes the job much quicker and a lot more fun. Delicious Library is designed to work with an iSight or DV camera, including the built-in iSights in the latest iMacs and MacBook Pros, and with wired USB and wireless Bluetooth handheld barcode scanners.
If you’re willing to splash out, nothing beats a handheld Bluetooth laser barcode scanner. A Bluetooth-ready Mac is required; if your Mac is Bluetooth-capable but the option isn’t installed, a Bluetooth USB adapter like the D-Link DBT-120 can be had for around $30. The big advantage of a Bluetooth barcode scanner? It’s not tethered to a computer, so you can take the scanner to your stuff rather than bring your stuff to the scanner.
Delicious Monster offers the Flic® Wireless Laser Barcode Scanner, a state-of-the-art Bluetooth scanner, for $174.95 with the purchase of Delicious Library software. If you have a lot of scanning to do, are looking for maximum scanning convenience, or just want the latest in totally cool tech gadgets, go for the Flic. You won’t regret it. The Flic is powered by three triple-A batteries and is smaller and lighter than a TV remote control. It can store up to 500 barcodes, which means you can walk around your house or business scanning books, DVDs, CDs and games to your heart’s content (each scan only takes a second or two). When you bring the scanner in range of your Mac, the magic of Bluetooth loads the barcodes into Delicious Library. You may be surprised by the Flic’s range, as I was. I had Delicious Library set to speak item names as they were added to the library, and was amazed to hear my Powerbook chirpily talking away in my upstairs office as I scanned DVDs in the living room.
Delicious Library leverages the bells and whistles of OS 10.4 Tiger with flair. The software includes a Dashboard widget and is Spotlight searchable on more than 30 custom search attributes. It interacts with iCal and Address Book, syncs your collection information (but not cover art) with your iPod, and supports voice search.
Delicious Library is by far the best personal library program I’ve seen. It’s robust, fully featured, visually appealing, and most of all it’s just plain fun. Most highly recommended.
(Elsa Travisano is a Macintosh computer consultant and reviewer. She worked as a university library cataloger in a previous life.)
Delicious Library software requires Mac OS X 10.3 or higher. It fully supports Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” and includes Spotlight support as well as a Dashboard widget that lets you quickly find items in your library.