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Delicious Library: Personal media management

DeliciousLibraryIcon I finally picked up an iSight camera from Amazon the other day. Not so much to share my meatbeard with my iChat buddies as to finally play with Delicious Library, an OS X app that lets you create a personal catalog of your books, CDs, DVDs, and games by either manually entering the info or, preferably, by just scanning their barcodes with an iSight. Library is a very pretty program, and I can see why it might appeal to collectors, but it didn’t immediately click for me until I hooked up the iSight and started scanning. Even then, I have to confess a few reservations.

First—no question—it’s just really fun to use. It’s satisfying to hold up a CD, hear the little “I got it” tone, followed by the robot voice reading back the info on your latest entry (which it pulls down automagically from Amazon.com). Once entered, catalog items can be modified, sorted, munged, and grouped however you like using an elegant bookshelf metaphor. You can also view related titles and do other stuff with your collection via Amazon info and links. Although, candidly, it’s a little cheesy that a $40 commercial product won’t let me change the Amazon Associates ID from theirs to my own (or that of a favorite charity, or what have you). That really should change in a future release.

I’m also not sure how useful the “who did I loan this to?” function is. I’d be much more interested in seeing those cycles go to collaborative filtering, a networked “friends” functionality, and more web services integration. I guess it would be useful if you trade or lend lots of stuff, but I thought the pre-populated list of people from my address book that it “guessed” I’d trade things with was kind of creepy and a little crufty.

Lovely and innovative as it is, I’ve only found one purpose where Library would be really persistently useful to me. Saturday morning, I cleared off two full shelves of old programming books that are destined for a new life in cardboard boxes in the basement. I scanned the 40 or so titles into Library, and then organized them into sub-groups (they call them “Shelves”) corresponding to which books were in which of the three boxes. Now if, God forbid, I ever need my O’Reilly book on programming Access, I know exactly where to go. Super handy, actually.

There’s still a lot to like about this program, though, just in the sense of fit and finish alone. It looks amazing and completely polished. The search works pretty intuitively, but I’m not sure, for example, how to see which shelf an item belongs to; in the example of my book archiving idea, how would I search for a book and then see which box it’s in?

So, a lovely UI, cool functionality, but nothing just yet that would make this a must-buy for me at US$40. I’ll definitely keep watching this app with anticipation, though, because I think it has a tremendous amount of potential as a personal information and media hub. For what it’s worth, here are few features I’d find handy in future releases.

  • Many more types of export (currently only does txt dump of all records in a selected set). I’d start with stylable HTML and a scriptable XML feed (e.g., “Last 10 imports,” “Last 10 items rated”) that’s suitable for posting to the web.
  • Ability to change and add lookup agents (besides Amazon)
  • As above, the ability to change affiliate ID for purchase credits
  • Ability to import from and sync with iTunes, meaning no need for hardcopy CDs to scan (this appears to be a feature that's in the works)
  • Wishlist functionality. Both populated from Amazon and to which I can add locally.
  • Price-monitoring on wishlist or collaboratively filtered items (“I see you like Robyn Hitchcock; his new CD just dropped 10% at Borders”)
  • Plugins to potentially incorporate or link to other media (my iPhoto albums, for example)

I do encourage you to download the demo and give it a spin. It’s a testament to the beautiful work that smart designers and developers are doing with OS X these days.

Delicious Library. Media management application. OS X only. $39.95; Demo available. Download. Buy.

Kevin Ballard's picture

I haven't tried it, but...

I haven't tried it, but there is a third-party app that exports your library as a web page.

Also, in terms of searching for a book and finding which box it's in, try populating the Location In Building field (in the 2nd pane). Just open a shelf, select all in the shelf, go to edit mode and type the location into that field - all the books in the shelf will then have that location set, and you can look it up easily after searching for the book.

I like the loaned feature, although I wish it didn't require a return date to be set. This way I can check out movies from my dad and he can keep track of them in Delicious Library. I can also loan games to my brother and I can keep track of them.

One thing that I'd really like to see is the ability to set template values, so if I'm going to scan in a bunch of movies that belong to my dad I can set the Owner field to my dad's name in the template, scan them in, then clear the template, and have all the movies have the Owner field set to my dad. I think that would be really useful and I hope it gets added to a future release. I'd also like to see Smart Shelves, so I can have a shelf that automatically contains all the movies that are owned by my dad, so I can look through them easily without having to maintain the shelf myself.

In terms of networking and friend libraries and such, I think those were planned for a future release.




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