Review - Bookpedia 3.4
by , 9:00 AM EST, February 1st, 2007
Tracking the books in your library, whether for pleasure or work, is much easier when you have an application that can help you do that efficiently and easily. That's exactly what Bookpedia from Bruji does.
Bookpedia works almost exactly like its sibling application, DVDpedia, but instead of tracking your movie collection, this app tracks your book collection. Like DVDpedia, Bookpedia lets you enter books manually or you can use your iSight camera to scan barcodes. The most difficult part of using the application for me was getting the knack of exactly where to hold a book so that my iSight could scan it properly.
The interface is similar to iTunes, so it feels familiar even before you get started. Much like iTunes, you can view your book library in a list view, or graphically by book cover. Both are useful - I found that I used the list view when reviewing my full library, and cover view when looking at smaller groups of books.
Selecting a book displays its information. You can enter that data yourself, or let Bookpedia fill it in for you when you first add the book to your library. The app has a long list of Web sites it can check for information including publisher and release date, author, cover art, synopsis, value, and more. If you have additional information you want to add, there are custom fields you can use as you like.
I tested Bookpedia's ability to accurately autofill an entry for me by scanning mass market printings of George Orwell's Animal Farm, and William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Both were added accurately to the database, although the book cover art for Animal Farm was wrong. That was most likely because my copy has new cover art, and not a problem with Bookpedia - Mass market book covers can change quickly. Scanning Bagombo Snuffbox by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. worked perfectly, and the edition was even properly tagged as a reissue.
Manually entering a book name worked surprisingly well. I entered Lord of the Rings to see how Bookpedia would handle that, and it came back with a long list of possible matches. I was able to select entries from the list to see additional information, and then ultimately pick the correct edition for my database. I was expecting a short list of current printings, but instead got a long list with current and out of print options, which was really nice since I was looking for a version that had been out of print for some time.
The problem I found with entering a keyword, like a popular book title, is that you may get way too many responses. For my Lord of the Rings search, I ended up with 910 choices. An option to filter out things I'm not looking for, like audio books and paperback editions, would help to make searches go faster.
If you already have a catalog of your books in another application, like Delicious Library, Bookpedia can import the data for you. To my surprise, importing from Delicious Library also included the various book groups I had created.
Exporting data is easy, too. You can choose to export for use in another Bookpedia library, as a backup, HTML, for use with your .Mac account, to your iPod, and also as a text file. The cool thing about exporting to text is that you can also select BibTeX and EndNote templates for bibliographies.
Just like DVDpedia, Bookpedia can also show statistics about your library. I found that I have a wide range of authors in my book collection, and that the majority of my books had cover prices between US$20 and $30. Who knew?
Statistics for authors, however, wasn't always accurate because minor variations in an author's name caused each version to appear as its own statistic. For example, J.R.R. Tolkien and J. R. R. Tolkien tracked as unique authors.
If you lend books out, Bookpedia can track who has what, and when everything is due. If someone fails to return a book on time, the app can email a friendly reminder for you. If friendly isn't your style, you can edit the reminder to say whatever you want.
The Bottom Line
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