Mar 282013

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

Readerware has nothing to do with the Regency, but it has a great deal to do with books. So, if you have a lot of books, especially if you sometimes buy second or even third copies of books you already have, you might find you will love Readerware, too.

I have more than a thousand historical romance novels in my library, and more than twice as many research books. Not to mention my large collection of needlework books. So many that I simply cannot keep track of them in my head. And then, last spring I found Readerware. I have never been more pleased with a software purchase.

Readerware is a software application which makes it very easy to catalog your library, of books, CDs or DVDs. It is easy to install and use, but you must have an internet connection to take advantage of its true power. There are versions available for both Mac and Windows. There is even a Linux version, if that is your operating system of choice.

Readerware works by using the bar code on the book to input the ISBN of that book. With the ISBN, it can search the internet for the cataloging information for that book, including a thumbnail of the cover. You can use nearly any bar code reader with Readerware, including the CueCat, which is very inexpensive and a snap to use. Or, you can type in the ISBN number and Readerware will use that to locate the cataloging information. Another option is to find the web page for that book at any of the supported sites and just drag and drop the URL onto the small target icon in the Readerware interface. Readerware then pulls all of the information about the book from that page and creates a record for that book. This feature is particularly handy for cataloging items which are not at hand.

Readerware allows you to choose which online book databases you want it to search to retrieve information. I prefer to use the Barnes and Noble online database rather than Amazon for a couple of reasons. The cover thumbnail images which Barnes and Noble uses tend to be slightly smaller, which helps keep down the size of my Readerware databases. I have my own rating system for my books, so I would rather not have the Amazon ratings pulled into my catalog records. Barnes and Noble does have a ratings system, but it is not as heavily used as Amazon, so I get less clutter with the Barnes and Noble records. But I also have the option of importing from multiple databases and merging the records, if I prefer. And Readerware allows me to choose from more than thirty different book databases from around the world.

Automatic cataloging is very convenient and saves a lot of time, but a feature of Readerware which really appeals to me is that I also have the option to enter the catalogue data for any of my books manually. I have a small collection of books from the Regency era, which needless to say, have no ISBN numbers, let alone bar codes. Though Readerware does include the British Library and the Library of Congress among the databases from which it can pull records, for some of these more rare books, I prefer to enter the cataloging information myself. I can also import just about any image for the cover. So, if there is not a image of the book cover online, I can take a picture of my actual book’s cover with a digital camera and add that to the Readerware record.

A book record in Readerware not only includes the standard bibliographic information of author, title, publisher and copyright date. There are editable fields to record the binding type, the dimensions, the book’s condition, location, its category, and if it is part of a series. There are fields for the book value, the date of valuation and its rating. There is a large comments field and check boxes to note if the book is signed, a first edition and/or if it has been read. And if one were so inclined, additional custom fields can be added.

And yet, cataloging my books is just the beginning of the useful things which Readerware can do for me. It has a menu selection which will display the statistics totals for my books. I can see at a glance how many books I have, their total value, how many first editions and signed books I have and how many I have read. I can export a list of my books as a tab-delimited file which I can import into an Excel spreadsheet or export the list as an HTML file which I can post on my web site. The spreadsheet is a convenient record of my library for insurance purposes. Such a spreadsheet record can also be very useful for professional authors who are able to deduct the costs of their research books from their taxes. The HTML version which I post on my web site makes my list readily accessible to me via my mobile when I am shopping for books. I no longer buy another copy of a book I already own. Readerware has already paid for itself with my savings in avoiding duplicate purchases.

There is also a Readerware Audio version for cataloging CDs and a Readerware Video version for cataloging DVDs and other video formats. Both have all the same useful features as the book version of Readerware. And, if you buy the three of them together on CD, you get a free CueCat bar code reader as part of the bundle. There are other bar code readers available at the Readerware site, but I have had very good results with the CueCat. If you have an older computer, it is important to remember is that the CueCat must be plugged in to the computer before you start it up, or the machine will not be able to recognize it. If you plug it in after the computer has started up, it won’t work. Restarting the computer with the CueCat connected will solve the problem. With newer computers, you can usually plug the CueCat in at anytime and the machine will recognize it.

I am not affiliated with the Readerware company in any way, I just love this software. If you love books and have lots of them, but your collection is too big to manage, think about getting yourself a copy of Readerware, or better still, the bundle of the book, music and movie versions. I am very glad I did.

© 2008 – 2013 Kathryn Kane, Kalligraph
Originally posted at The Regency Redingote
Posted at The Beau Monde by permission of the author.

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