Saturday, November 6, 2010

Books! Books! Books! (Organizing them... YIKES!)

I am a bibliophile. Some might say I was a book-a-holic. Did I mention that I like books? That bookshelves are found in every room in my home? This is wonderful for someone who tends to loosely follow Erasmus~ "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." And when those bookshelves are filled to overflowing, consider this quote from Henry Ward Beecher~  Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.  Ummm... yeah~ This describes my home: Stacks and piles and baskets of books, along with the shelves( although sometimes I wonder about the "Beautiful" aspect~ I have to work on that part).


This is a "good problem" to have in my estimation, but in my particular circumstance it carries with it another problem~ That of a homeschool "Librarian" that doesn't have a really good handle on her entire book collection~ Exactly WHAT books she owns, what duplicates she owns (Some intentional, like trying to collect the entire Five In A Row library in triplicate for her children, and some less intentional, like.. OOPS! I already own that book!)


PhotobucketAll this means that I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to write a review on a product that is intended to help me catalog my extensive book collection.   "The Book Collector" is a software program offered in both PC and MAC platforms by Collectorz.com  .


The basic concept is that you have the ability to enter books into the software, either  by a cue cat or other compatible scanner, or by manually typing in ISBN or Title/Author information into a form. I don't own a scanner, but if this is something that you are interested in, you might want to check out some of the other TOS Crew reviews, as at least a few of my "mates"  had that technology available to them. However, my review is based on just the program itself, and entering books the old-fashioned way. (Although when I upgrade my itouch, I plan to make use of the technologies that exist for that as well! Here's a little look at how this might look on your computer screen:
Photobucket


Let me back up just a minute and let you know that this particular software is for cataloging books, specifically, but collectorz also offers versions that will track your music, game, movie, comics, mp3, and photo collections as well! Each version comes with rather thorough support. Here is the "Support" page for "The Book Collector," which I found helpful, as it took me a little while to find my way around the software. Here is the fairly simple process I have been using:


Add the Book:
I discovered that I could add books "Automatically" in a manual sort of way, by typing in the author/title of a book into the correct screen. Then the software searched for all possible "matches" to the book. From there it was easy to sort the returned matches by ISBN or publisher to locate the one that hopefully matched the book in my hand. Sometimes all the information but the last digit of the ISBN matched perfectly, so I would select that book. (Just a note~ It is also possible to add books with no ISBN, but that has to be done from the "Add books Manually" screen)


Edit the book information:
Preferences for this software allowed me to set it up to open an "Edit book information" series of pages after selecting the book. This is the place where I could do things like change that last digit of the ISBN of the book, enter in its condition, and if I took the time, I could enter in the price I paid for the book, and the current value. There is a lot more information that can be included here, but I haven't bothered with all that just yet, in my quest to get what I am SURE will end up being thousands of books entered into the system.


Categorize the book:
This is one of my favorite things in this software~ There are places to check off the genre and the subject of the book. I was not only able to check off more than one in each list (if applicable), but I could edit each list to include categories that are specific to my way of thinking. So, for instance, I was able to create  "children" and  "education" genres, and in the subject field, I added things like
  • FIAR (For my beloved Five In A Row books)
  • FIAR go-along
  • Bedtime
  • ABC
  • Numbers/counting
  • Science
  • Math
  • History
  • Geography, etc... 
I am thinking that I might specialize a little more, and include things like
  • horse
  • birds
  • dogs
  • ocean
  • Greek scientists, etc...
Benefits:
The huge benefit to this (because I have, for example, what some might consider an inordinate amount of bedtime and ABC books), is that if I want to see which ABC books I own, I can search and sort the whole library by that criteria(As well as by year published, publisher, and a whole host of other information). NEAT!


PhotobucketHaving an updated list of the books I personally own will save me both time and money, in searching for titles, as well as eliminating duplicate purchases. There is also the potential to keep track of books loaned, and having a hard-copy list for insurance purposes is not a bad idea either. Oh, yes, and I can also assign an owner to each book, which is great, since my kids have also aquired a love of reading, and to some degree, owning their own books.  :) I expect to use this program to assist me in organizing my bookshelves as well, once I get them all entered in, because there is a field that can be personalized with specific locations! Someday, just maybe, my bookshelves will look like this:


This software is so jam packed with features that it is going to take me a while to explore some of the other features beyond the basic until I  get the bulk of my books entered, but to give you an idea, here is a great page that lists many of the features as well as a "compare" page to help you determine which version of "The Book Collector" might be most helpful for you.


Price:
Ah yes~ this leads me to the "nitty gritty" of this review... the cost.
First there is a free trial version that allows you to enter 100 books(ummm... are you SURE you homeschool?? ;) This is a good option for "Test-driving" the software tho' :) )
Next there is a Standard version for $29.95
Third there is a Pro version for $49.95


(Don't forget that "compare" page mentioned above, to see the differences between the standard and pro versions. )


Collectorz.com also offers "Bundles"(ranging from $64.80 - $194.80)  that include a variety of scanners that work with their software to make entering books a little easier.


I've been thinking for YEARS that I need to get my book collection under control/categorized, and with The Book Collector I can do that and make it searchable as well! So far I am pleased with the performance of this program, and think it will certainly add value to my homeschool by increasing MY organization, and saving me time in the long run.


As always, I hope that this review is helpful to you, as you consider where to best spend your precious homeschool budget. Don't forget to check out other Crew reviews!


Blessings~
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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