Articles / Delicious Library

Delicious Library

As a forgetful type with a huge library of games, books, CDs, and movies, I've been wanting an easy way to keep track of whom I lend things to, and to just generally organize my media. Most of the library applications I have encountered in the past involve a lot of typing information, which has meant I've never really gone to the trouble to document all of my media.

Delicious Library is a small (home or office) library management program quite unlike anything in this genre I have seen before. Some of the things that drew me to it immediately were the tight integration with Amazon, the sleek, lickable design, and, most importantly, the promise of easy data input.

Downloading the Library and installing it was a breeze (just drag'n'drop it into your Applications folder). I then quickly rushed to dig my iSight out of the drawer after discovering that Delicious supported barcode scanning with it to easily import information about the item from Amazon. I grabbed a couple of test games and DVDs, and immediately got to work with trying to scan the barcodes. The actual scanning is really impressive. A small window pops up with red lines across it; the user is to line the barcode up perpendicular to the lines so that a read can be made. I would have thought that this would be a tricky thing to do with a hand-held object, but in practice, it was surprisingly easy. However, I soon discovered that although the Amazon integration is extremely good, Amazon really doesn't have much in the way of listings of Australian (and other international) barcode numbers. After I found some American DVDs and books I had lying around, however, I found just how easy it was to add items to the library. On a successful read and information download, an optional computerized voice reads the title of the item you've just scanned, which is useful if you are operating the camera or scanner at a distance from the computer.

Scanning a DVD
Scanning a DVD

However, I knew that, in practice, even with the promised international Amazon support in upcoming releases, I probably wouldn't want to have to take down every book, game, DVD, and CD on my shelf and scan it, but would probably want to relax on a sofa and just enter information from afar. Fortunately, this is made easy by being able to type the first few words of a title or author, with Delicious Library fetching potential matches from Amazon and adding the one you click to the library. This also helped me to get around the lack of Australian barcodes/ISBNs, as I could just type the name of the item and select the American version instead. You can later manually enter the barcode number so that the Library item matches the real item. I actually found the manual search method much quicker than scanning. However, I think the scanning could be really useful for the next feature I'll talk about, keeping track of where your media actually is.

Choosing which version of Quake 3 I want to add
Choosing which version of Quake 3 I want to add

Having such an awesome media library is taxing in many ways, because quite often people will want to borrow things from me, or I'll want to enlighten someone as to the incredible amazingness of a particular book or game. Unfortunately, this means that things often go missing, especially if it is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, a title of which I think I have "lost" four copies now. Delicious Library is extremely useful at keeping tabs on hoarding borrowers, with integration with iCal to note in your calendar when things are due. It initially searches your Address Book and finds family members and colleagues whom it thinks you might be most likely to lend things to, but, of course, you can add other people from your Address Book as well. It also creates shelves of items that that person has borrowed, with tags noting whether the items are "Out" or "Overdue" as well. A cute little calendar page on each item's information page allows you to choose the due date, which makes it really easy to decide how long you think it might take your friend to read War and Peace.

My Friend has borrowed my Pirates of the Caribbean DVD!
My Friend has borrowed my Pirates of the Caribbean DVD!

Have I mentioned that Delicious Library is just that: delicious? It is pretty -- very pretty. A lot of detail has gone into presenting your books, movies, games, and CDs as though they were on a real wooden shelf, using the cover art from the Amazon details. When the cover art is not found, it displays an authentic-looking brown paper cover with the name typed over it. However, sometimes it doesn't seem to pick up the cover art after choosing a particular item from the list when you search for things manually, even if the art is present in the thumbnail. To solve that problem, you can easily drag and drop images straight from Safari into the record to update the cover art (this is also useful if the Amazon cover art isn't quite right for display purposes).

My growing game library
My growing game library

Of course, you can search your library, send a recommendation of an item to a friend, or browse and buy similar items based on Amazon recommendations in order to increase your collection. You can also add your own private rating, location information, and other information such as its condition, purchase date, price, whether it has been signed, and other notes about the item. You can search by typing into the search bar at the bottom or using the voice-activated search, which is fun to try, but probably not something I'd end up using in practice, as it requires I put on an American accent. :-) You can sort your media by any of the tags that are present in the information screen, and various other useful ones as well (such as input date). I can see this ordering ability being useful for, say, a queue of books that haven't been read yet. You can also create multiple virtual shelves, which could be useful for tracking items throughout different locations (or for a list of items for a particular project).

Another cute feature is that which allows you to synchronize your library with an iPod. You can browse the media you have, read little summaries of the plot and Amazon information, and see who has borrowed it from you, and when it is due back.

Browsing the Library via the iPod
Browsing the Library via the iPod

Two things I feel are missing are the ability to create shelves based on a particular set of criteria (for example, having a "GameCube" shelf with a collection of the items with the platform set to "GameCube") and the ability to search for, say, a creator (author, artist, director, etc.), and then being able to add multiple items of that creator's at once rather than having to repeat this for each item. For example, if I have a lot of albums by Nick Cave, it would be nice to be able to search for "Nick Cave", then select the albums of his I have all at once rather than have to go through the whole process again for each album.

iTunes integration would also be awesome, because these days, I tend to buy a CD, rip it, and then put it away, only to be taken out to lend to people. It would be nice to be able to get Delicious Library to let me choose the albums I wish to add from my iTunes Music Library, rather than having to manually input each one. I would also suggest that it might be useful to add the people who also have an account on the computer to the initial borrowers list, because if you're sharing a computer with someone, chances are you're sharing other media, too.

Aside from the few minor quibbles I have with this application, it definitely has awesome potential for revolutionizing the way I manage my library. For an initial release, it's an impressively designed, stable application, with some fantastic features for the laziest and most organized media owners alike.

Recent comments

23 Oct 2007 04:09 Avatar cotono

windows?
Neat idea! Is it Mac only or is there also a Win Version?

27 Apr 2006 15:45 Avatar CrazyGFreak

Re: Similar Project for Linux?

>
> % This seems like great stuff. Just one
> % simple question: where's the linux
> port?
>
>
> I guess it's far away. Looks like a
> commercial, for mac enthusiasts only
> software.
>

I have to agree, (http://www-online-apotheke.de) looks so really. But it is nice one!

09 Feb 2006 22:35 Avatar jammyaus

Re: Similar Project for Linux?

> This seems like great stuff. Just one
> simple question: where's the linux port?
> Even small elements of the software
> would be a great help, like the barcode
> reading from bttv/cam input...
>
> LX

hello i think linux port has not been developed yet me too looking forward for the great piece thank you

21 Nov 2004 00:13 Avatar vorlon22

pricey

One major downside I think of this software is that they hard-coded their Amazon Associates ID into the application. The down side being if you follow the "buy" links, they get a kick back. Additionally, paying $40, then knowing they drive all this traffic to Amazon with their Associates ID kind of irks me. I was very disappointed when I discovered I could not change this Associate ID's value ( as other similar applications allow one to do ).


A couple of other things that bother me, is that duplicate scans make duplicate entries, then deleting the extra entry from a long list, the window pops back to the start of the list ( leave the pointer were I am ).


DVD lookups fail on non-US releases ( lots of Region 1,2,3 dvd's here ). The export of the library is a simple tab delimited file ( XML or HTML would be nice here ).


The ability to scan barcodes with an iSight is cool. Scanning large collections goes pretty fast.


Another review at http://arstechnica.com/reviews/apps/delicious-library.ars (http://arstechnica.com/reviews/apps/delicious-library.ars) covers some pros and cons and competition as well.

20 Nov 2004 21:08 Avatar sick_soul

Re: Similar Project for Linux?


> This seems like great stuff. Just one

> simple question: where's the linux port?

I guess it's far away. Looks like a commercial, for mac enthusiasts only software.

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