If there is one common problem among the homeschoolers I know, it's that they own a LOT of books. And they are always acquiring more. But if most of them are anything like me, the problem is knowing WHAT you actually own when you actually need it. For example, I recently planned a whole activity around the book "Going on a Bear Hunt" for my 5 year old, only to not be able to find it ANYWHERE on our shelves. It was never a favorite, and I guess I got rid of it, but didn't remember that when I was planning this whole activity for her during "B" week. The other problem is buying the same book over and over because you buy it before you anticipate needing it and then forget you have it. I for one own 3 copies of "Number the Stars"...
Collectorz is a company that makes software to catalog your collections of, well, almost anything. They currently have software for music, movies, books, comics, games, and MP3s. We were fortunate enough to receive the Book Collector Pro to try out.
Book Collector lets you enter your entire book collection either by hand entering each ISBN or by scanning them using any number of widely available scanners. (You can also manually enter author/title instead of ISBN.) Once the number is input, all you do is select your book from the search results and then you click "Add to" and the book is added to your collection. It's that simple. You can also use a free app called "Red Laser" on your iPhone to scan your books and then import the books as a txt file. I did this for over 110 books, and it worked really well. Once you select your book, all the basic information about the book is downloaded to your database. Information such as cover artwork, story synopsis, title, publisher, publication date, etc. is all put into your database automatically. Then you can also add other information like:
◦User Defined Fields
•Characters & Credits
◦Illustrator, and a lot more...
•Chapter and Story lists
◦Use the Contents tab page to list the chapters or stories
◦For each story, you can list Author, Title, Plot, etc..
•Website Links, e-books, audio-books and extra images
◦Add links to websites
◦Add links to e-book files
◦Add links to audio book files
◦Add extra images, e.g. author photos, interior art, etc..
The Pros: Book Collector is everything I ever wanted. For years I have been wanting a way to catalog the books I own and be able to easily make use of my own collection as we study different subjects- that is, after all, WHY I have the books in the first place. And for $10 more I can add an app to my iPhone that lets me view my collection on it-allowing me to have my book list with me all the time in case I come across a great book (like "Number the Stars") and then can't remember if I already have it or not.
The Cons: It is time consuming to enter your collection if you have a lot of books like I do. But any system that truly catalogs your books would take a good amount of time to enter them. I'm actually surprised at how quickly this works and impressed with the depth of information that comes up automatically once my books are entered. And while you can try it out for free (for up to 100 books, but that did not even cover the bottom shelf of ONE of my bookshelves), the Pro version, at $49.95, may be a bit beyond many homeschooler's price range for non-curriculum items, no matter how handy they are.
The bottom line: Boy, it sure is nice to be able to catalog my book collection, and with such a nice looking and easy to use program. But if I was having to justify purchasing it, I probably would settle for the standard version at $29.95. It has a few less bells and whistles, but it does the same basic cataloging. To see the full difference between the two, go HERE to read more about each. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.
Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received Book Collector Pro for free in exchance for my honest review. That sfotware is the only compensation I received.