I have to admit that this home inventory cataloging software intimidated me at first, through no fault of its own, really, as it turned out to be intuitive and easy to use.
Members of the TOS Homeschool Crew were given Book Collector software, along with links to the online manual and forums. I had no trouble downloading, installing, and registering the software. Getting started was another matter — for me, anyhow, because of the way my visual perception works.
Quick digression that really isn’t a digression. I hate shopping. The reason I hate shopping is because when I’m presented with a lot of different colors, shapes, and sizes in my visual field, my brain starts to stutter. It’s as if I’m totally overwhelmed by the visual input.
The introductory screen for the Book Collector triggered that for me, and I ended up putting the software figuratively on the shelf for some time before I could bring myself to confront it.
Helpful “Getting Started” Info
I began by going to the link to the online manual, starting with “Welcome to Book Collector” in the list of links. It’s the very top link. Methodical, eh?
I took the virtual tour. I sidestepped the downloading and installing instructions as I’d already successfully charted those waters, and went directly to “Navigating the Main Screen,” “Adding and Editing Books,” and “Searching Your Database.”
Daringly I opened my Book Collector to try out what I saw in the instructional videos. Well, okay, I wasn’t really being daring — the videos had given my previously bewildered eyes a few anchors to grab onto, and once I knew what I was looking at, as well as how to manipulate the screen, the whole thing made sense.
I created my first Book Collector database and began typing in the title of my first book, Frog, the Horse that Knew No Master by S. P. Meek. I figured it would be a challenge: an out-of-print book with no ISBN.
Book Collector gave me a list of possible books to choose from, and there in the list, was my book!
Typing in book titles or ISBNs can get tedious when you have hundreds of books, so I invested in an inexpensive barcode scanner. This really streamlines the process for more recently published books that have ISBN barcodes on the back. As you add a book to the list, Book Collector gathers information on the book from the Internet (such as pricing and plot summary), and also allows you to mark the book as read or not yet read.
I could sit down here at the computer for hours, listing all the features. I’m just going to mention a few here. For more, go to the Collectorz website, check out the features — you can even download a free trial version that will allow you to enter up to 100 book titles.
Complete Inventory List
Once I get all our books entered, we’ll have a complete inventory list. It’s amazing; I never realized how many books we have! I like that I can create more than one database. I could enter all the books in the house into one humongous database, or I can split out our homeschooling books into a separate database. As a matter of fact, I have plans to catalog our sheet music, a daunting task, but not as hard as it might be, now that I have this handy tool.
In any event, I’m glad to have a list of all the books we own, for insurance purposes. I never thought of it before, but it makes sense, when books have been such a large investment for our family budget over the years.
Book Collector allows you to export book lists to an iPod or Palm device, giving you a portable list just perfect for shopping. (Have you ever bought a book twice because you didn’t remember owning it? I have.)
You can look at your book collection either as a list of titles, or pictures of book covers. The latter option comes in really handy when you are looking for a particular title, or sending a child to locate a book.
Collectorz.com offers a number of cataloging products in addition to Book Collector, to help you keep track of games, comics, music, movies, mp3s, and photos.
Book Collector comes in a free version, as mentioned above, with a 100-book capacity. Book Collector Standard Edition is $29.95, and Book Collector Pro (the version I’m using) is $49.95. (You can see a comparison of the two at the Collectorz website. One feature of the Pro edition that I find really handy is the capacity to keep track of the books you’ve loaned out. I’m still exploring the rest!)
To read more TOS Crew opinions of Book Collector, click here.
Disclaimer: Members of the TOS Crew received a free download of Book Collector Pro for personal use and review purposes. No additional compensation was involved.