Have you recently bought a book, DVD or a CD you already own, but had forgotten about? No? But you do know every single book, DVD, game, CD, gadget or toy you own?
If you just screwed up you forehead trying hard to think of everything, maybe Delicious Library is something for you. It will help you keep track of all those items by just holding them in front of your Mac’s in-built camera. Intrigued? Read on!
The Best Up Front: iSight Scanning
Delicious Library is an app that will enable you to catalogue your books, music, software, toys, gadgets or video games. Before you stop reading, don’t worry – it’s not via the tedious process of typing in every single item manually. Like me, many of you have probably tried that already and got fed up with it somewhere in the first or second hour of cataloguing, knowing you still had days ahead of you.
With Delicious Library, all you need is a well lit room, the barcode of the item you want to catalogue (on the back of the book or DVD cover) and your Mac’s built in iSight camera. Activate the barcode scanner within Delicious Library and then start scanning.
Within less than an hour, you can have 100 books or DVDs catalogued, complete with cover art, synopsis, additional information and even customer reviews – and all you had to do was hold the item in front of your computer.
When you launch Delicious Library for the first time, you can either start with an empty or sample library. Either way Delicious Library subscribes to your iTunes library by default and even when you selected to start with an empty library, your iTunes content will be listed.
Adding new items can either be done manually or by using the iSight camera. When using the manual approach, all you have to do is to select the proper category and type in the name of the item.
Delicious Library will automatically start a separate library for Books, DVDs etc. After a quick search, Delicious Library presents you with some choices and you can pick the one that comes closest to what you want.
You can change the location of the search. By default, it is set to US, but you can also select France, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom or Japan.
If your item has a barcode, you can also use the barcode scanner. Activate it by clicking the tiny camera icon in the lower part of the application window and a new window will pop up on your screen. When holding your book, DVD or game in front of the iSight, make sure that the area to be scanned is well lit but does not reflect.
It might take you a try or two to figure out at which angle and distance to hold an object so it’s recognized fastest (you will get a light “dong” sound when the scanning process was successful).
By looking up the barcode number, Delicious Library can find out pretty much exactly which kind of item you want to catalogue. It works quite well with current books and digital media, but with older books or DVDs it might get confused.
Out of my three Babylon 5 trilogies (9 books) it only recognized 5 books correctly, but then they weren’t sold in huge numbers and published 11 years ago. In case the app fails to look up an item correctly, you can always try the manual approach or even add a blank item and fill out all the information by hand.
But Delicious Library doesn’t only convince with great functions, it also comes with some neat effects. If you have your speakers turned on while adding items, don’t get a shock: by default the app announces the title of an item when adding it to the shelf.
When it becomes too annoying after a while, you can switch that option off in the settings. But there’s also lots of eye candy when adding or removing an item (which is of course a lot more impressive when watched live than on the screenshots):
As mentioned above, your iTunes content is automatically added to your Delicious library and the app creates new libraries for different types of items. If you’d like quicker access or an overview of specific items, you can create smart shelves that work pretty much like smart playlists in iTunes: by selecting the defining characteristics of the items.
It might take a while to figure the logic out, but it’s worth the time. For example, the rule “Series is/contains House” will not display the seasons belonging to the TV show. Creating the rule “Title contains House” will accomplish that, but also list all albums by the band Lifehouse. Adding the rule “Type is iTunes Show” finally creates a shelf that only displays items belonging to the TV show House.
Items can be dragged into normal shelves, but not into smart shelves. Additionally I noticed that you can’t drag items from any of the iTunes shelves onto other shelves, which becomes very annoying if you want to have a normal shelf with a random collection of items (movies you want to play during a movie night with friends, for example).
Another quirk in the application is the display of TV shows. Even though being correctly displayed in iTunes, some shows show up multiple times. Sometimes it seems to be due to a slightly different naming in the ‘creator’ field.
Since it shows up correctly in iTunes, I’d expect Delicious Library to handle it as well, which it unfortunately doesn’t and makes the TV show shelf, the most important one for me, unusuable.
Viewing on Your iPhone
We’ve been informed that the iPhone app was actually pulled from the App Store a while ago, so it’s unfortunately no longer available to download.
Exporting to the Web
Additionally, you can export your content – all of it or only selected shelves – to MobileMe, iWeb, any FTP site or locally into a folder on your hard drive. There are only two templates to chose from, but if you just want to have your library available from wherever you are, it will do.
The exporting process for a complete and well filled library takes quite some time – a few minutes even for a local export. Even an export of only a few shelves (3 in my example with 20 items) can blow up the size of the images folder in your web export to over 2MB. So make sure you have a fairly fast and stable internet connection when you plan to upload your entire library.
Of course good books, movies and games are best enjoyed by sharing them with friends, family and colleagues. While most people return the items on time and on their own, some lose track of them and as Mikail Gorbachev already put it: “Trust is a good thing, but control is better.”
Therefore, make use of the Friends feature built into Delicious Library. You can add any person from your address book and by default, people sharing your last name are added (parents, siblings).
To mark an item as shared with a person, simply drag and drop it on the name. You can set a return date for the item, it will receive a nice “Loan” badge on the detailed view and it will be displayed slightly transparent within it’s shelf, marking it visually as unavailable.
Once an item has been returned, just check it in again. It’s a great way to keep track of those CDs and books you’d otherwise have lost forever!
Delicious Library’s greatest strength is the ease and simplicity of adding items. The barcode scanning is amazingly accurate and allows you to catalogue a large collection of items in a relatively short period of time.
While it impresses with this functionality and eye candy, it doesn’t always display content correctly (TV shows in my case). I’d also like an easier method of adding notes or additional information like with DVDpedia (which can be navigated very easily by keyboard and offers a ton of beautiful web export options, but lacks the accuracy when scanning).
When considering Delicious Library and similar apps, also take into account that with Delicious Library you get one app that can handle pretty much everything from DVDs to apparel, all in one database.