Delicious Library: Catalog Your Media in Style

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.

Getting Started

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.

Default Library

Default Library

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.

Entering Manually

Entering Manually

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).

iSight Scanning

iSight Scanning

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):

Eye Candy

Eye Candy

Organizing Content

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.

Setting Rules

Setting Rules

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.

Export Settings

Export Settings

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.

Your Generated Website

Your Generated Website

Lending

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.

Checking Out a Loan

Checking Out a Loan

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!

Conclusion

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.


Summary

A cataloging application for all your media - books, CDs, video - you name it. Delicious Library supports barcode scanning, can export to various destinations, and has an in-built system for loaning items to friends.

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  • Ben

    I thought they pulled the library iphone app due to amazon rights ??

  • Abe Jellinek

    How did you get the iPhone app? It got killed by Amazon! It’s not on the app store.

    • http://www.iKreateIt.com iKreateIt

      Whoops! I didn’t hear about that. I got it back when it was new to the app store and never thought to check back if it was still available. My bad. I apologize for the confusion.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Thanks for the heads up guys. We’ve removed our mention of it. I hadn’t noticed either, as it’s still on my iPhone!

  • chaotic4life

    I really loved the idea of this program, unfortunately I am apparently too dumb, cause the iSight scanning did not work at all for me. Once that improves, it certainly is an excellent app. I would love to have my DVD shelves cataloged.

    • nate

      Only works if your dvd edition is on amazon’s database. Most of my region 3 dvd’s can’t be recognized especially if it’s locally pressed. Region 1, 2 dvd works fine in my experience.

  • anonymous ‘pert

    Love Delicious Library! You can add anything to it, so it also makes a nice record for insurance (that you can store off-site). The iSight scanner works but it can be tricky, and it seems like I get better with practice. My advice, slowly bring the barcode closer to the camera. Better yet, get the wireless barcode scanner. Also, not every item is in the Amazon.com database. Even hand entering the ISBN can fail. It would be nice to use iSight in the app to take a picture of unlisted items, but at least you can drag and drop images.

  • Gerty

    First: the icon at the top of this “review” is outdated.
    Second: the iPhone app has long been gone from the App Store.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Thanks Gerty, great spot. Duly updated!

  • g33kboi

    I want to love Delicious Library. I really do. It’s a gorgeous app and it does a lot of things right. One thing that is still hasn’t gotten right, and the reason I have stopped using it, is that you cannot sort book titles by author (similar to iTunes’ ability to sort albums by artist) so that books are in alphabetical order by author first and then title within author. Every bookstore and library in the world orders books like this. This is a crucial feature for any library application. I may still continue using Delicious Library to keep a record of the rest of my media and gadgets, but this shortcoming has been a bitter disappointment to me.

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  • Ben

    I’ve still got my app as well, and it’s a great add on to a great program, it’s just a shame amazon pulled the plug as it’s very handy when i am out and about to quickly look up what i have back at home before i buy !

  • Dr.Theopolis

    maybe it’s just my usage but I found the barcode scanning process to be INCREDIBLY SLOW.

    Until then, it’s unusable for me as I can’t imagine undertaking my whole collection at the 1-every-five minutes it took just to do a few samples.

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  • Chris

    Great App! I am now following macapps @ignitemyweb

  • http://www.stecki.de Malte Steckmeister

    If the iSight barcode-scanning would work, this could be a great application. But I tried really hard and needed approximately 100 tries in 10 minutes to recognize 3 DVDs. So ist is unusable. Too bad…

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    I have to say that in every complicated and intimidating situation, Macs and their apps always have a remedy for us. No wonder, why everyone shifts to PC these days. The Delicious Library appears to be one of the most practical app you can have in your Mac as they help us to make a directory of what all we have and that includes books, software’s, music collection, video games or whatever. Rumors are that this is soon going to come for the new iPhone 4, iPod touch 4G and the iPad 2!

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