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Author Topic: Readerware 3 Book Cataloging software  (Read 5332 times)
elvisbrown
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« on: April 03, 2012, 11:11:22 PM »

Basic Info

App NameReaderware 3 Books
App URLhttp://www.readerware.com/index.php
App Version Reviewed3
Test System SpecsWin 7 64 Bit
Supported OSesAvailable for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Android
Support Methodsemail
Upgrade PolicyAll 3.x upgrades are free to Readerware 3.0 users
Trial Version Available?Without a registration key the program will expire in 30 days. You will have access to all versions of all Readerware products during the evaluation period, including Palm support and client/server mode. There is one functional limitation in the unregistered versions: exports are limited to 25 items.
Pricing Schemesee below
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product This is an independent review of Readerware Books. There is no relationship between myself and the author of this program apart from gratitude on my part smiley

Pricing from above:
Each product line comes in four editions:

Standard Edition - This is the base product for a single user with auto-catalog, reports, loan tracker, integrated backup & restore, import/export and more. It includes all Readerware features except for mobile device synchronization, external database access and client/server support. Available for download delivery or on CD. If in doubt, this is what you need. US$40

Mobile Edition - This is Readerware for your desktop and supported mobile device. It includes everything in standard edition and adds the ability to take your databases with on on an Android or Palm OS device. US$50

Client/Server Edition - This version adds support for multiple users and external databases. It includes all the features of standard and mobile editions. The Readerware server allows multiple clients to access and update the Readerware database. External database access allows you to use other databases like MySQL etc. This version supports up to five concurrent users. US$90

Client/Server Enterprise Edition - Readerware Client/Server Edition with no user limit. US$500

You can purchase individual products or order a bundle of all three, books, music & video, for substantial savings.

Intro:
This software to catalog both ebooks and "real" books.

(I give up try to work out to get an inline image here so here's the link to screenshot:)
screenshot

I am both a programmer and an avid reader. I like things that are functional and do what they are supposed to do. I prefer core functionality to bells and whistles and I like to buy software where I feel the money is going to something/someone worthwhile. I will not buy software (or hardware) on spec, I like to know what I am buying before parting with the cash. Probably just like you :-)

I have a Kindle and a large collection of ebooks that runs to several thousands. The problem I have been trying to resolve was how to catalog them.

I do use Calibre to load them on to and off the Kindle but Calibre just doesn't handle thousands in a way that makes it easy to see what you have and where it is. I found Calibre slow and cumbersome when dealing with thousands of books. Also Calibre stores each book/author as a folder so you can end up with a library of several thousands of folders without really trying. I keep my Calibre library on a USB stick and above a certain number of books it takes a long time just to open and close. Don't get me wrong, I like Calibre and have donated towards both Calibre and one of the plugins. It does what it does very well but it is not good at everything.

I was obviously looking at a dedicated database type program. My feature wish list was:
  • Ability to import/export listings
  • Internet lookup to fill in details and get covers etc.
  • Good user interface
  • Ongoing support

I trawled the web to find all the software available and was incredibly disappointed at the lack of programs that are both current and yet work reasonably well. I am using Windows 7 64 bit so whatever I tried had to run on that platform. I found a lot of old book database programs that look like they were designed in 1984 and were obviously neither current nor useable.

I was looking for (hopefully) freeware/open source but after a week of searching was willing to try anything. I found a couple of suitable candidates but neither of them were supported and the internet lookup did not work at all. As you know Amazon changed the way their systems were accessed and a lot of software stopped working after that changeover.

After exhausting all the freeware/open source options I then turned to the commercially available software. One in particular had a downloadable trial version but it was so crippled as to be completely useless. The internet lookup was disabled in the trial version and yet that was claimed to be a major feature! Software authors please note, if you want users to buy your program, give them a time limited fully functional copy to try.

I finally came across Readerware which offers cataloging software for Books, Music and Video (Note:3 separate programs)

First off, I could import my existing collection from a CSV file. it took me a few minutes to work out what the options were for matching my columns with the database table columns but once I understood them I was away and imported my collection in no time at all. There was no limit on the number of books I could import so I got all 8,600 entries into the database in a few minutes.

It offers various ways of viewing the collection and I prefer the Tree View that shows all the categories (genres) as an expandable list. When clicking on a genre I see a view of book covers where I can resize the icons to suit myself and I can also sort by author or title or rating within that view. (see picture)

Some of my collection had genres and some didn't so I used the Internet update to fill in the blanks. The Internet update allows you to specify which fields get updated and if you want to only update empty fields or force an overwrite. You can specify that on a field by field basis. You also have the choice of places to update from, like Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc. One thing I liked was that the list included lots of non-US places too. As someone who doesn't live in the US I am often frustrated by software that seems oblivious to the rest of the world.

Several times I have emailed for support and received a reply by return (allowing for time zones). The support is both fast and comprehensive and occasionally includes advice to learn Python so as to maximise what you can do with this program! The online help is both comprehensive and well written with examples of the more obscure functionality. How many times have I been stumped by help that merely gives a description of the functionality but not how to use it or even where to find it when using the program! The inbuilt utility that searches Amazon & Co for details is regularly updated as those sites change their internal methods.

You can manually edit all the details of a book as well as using the Internet update. If you have an ebook as a file you can put in its location and a single click will launch the book. The program covers all the basics and then offers lots of advanced functionality should you choose to explore it.

One of the neatest features is the ability to use an external database rather that the inbuilt one. The choices are MYSQL and MS Access which means that you can then manipulate the data in ways that program does not natively allow and/or make the data available elsewhere. In fact this idea of extensibility occurs in lots of places because the author has chosen to give the user as many options as possible instead of locking the user into the program in a "like it or lump it" kind of way. I am impressed by the mindset that produces programs like this.

There are includes options to back and restore your database (I tried both options and they work very well). You can have multiple databases so you can split your book collection into multiple databases by exporting say a single category then importing that into a new database. I'd say realistically that it took me about 5 days of usage before I became familiar with the interface and functionality of this program but given how many things it can do I'd say that was not unreasonable.

I'd say you be more likely to reach the limits of what you want to do before you reach the limits of the program. And even then the author encourages you to submit feature and enhancement requests.

I paid $US 40 for a license and personally it has been money well spent.

Online Help here: http://readerware.com/help/rwhs.html

Home page here:



* screenshot-books.jpg (109.7 KB, 580x505 - viewed 241 times.)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 03:18:30 PM by elvisbrown » Logged

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erikts
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2012, 03:22:57 AM »

Very good and detailed review  thumbs up

My book/ebook collection is still small that it only needs simple management. I will recommend anyone with similar need like yours to this thread.
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elvisbrown
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2012, 03:52:58 AM »

Very good and detailed review  thumbs up

My book/ebook collection is still small that it only needs simple management. I will recommend anyone with similar need like yours to this thread.

Thank You for the feedback, with so many ebooks being given away for free it is incredibly easy to collect a lot in a short time. Some of the free science fiction is very good indeed.

Have a look at the Rifters trilogy by Peter Watts, it is not only brilliant but three books to get your teeth into and free as in speech or beer:
http://www.rifters.com/
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ayryq
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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2012, 09:31:35 AM »

To others with a bit of webserver space available, a browser-based solution may prove more versatile. I tried Readerware and several others, and actually found that a program called "collectorz.com" met my needs best (on Windows). However, any PHP app will pretty much blow these away, if you take the time to customize it to your preferences, and extend it to do what you need. (Sounds like Readerware has some of this possibility). Naturally it's going to be available from anywhere you can access the web (no more buying a book you forgot you already had at a used book sale).

I use a program called OpenBiblio which is under active development on SourceForge. I've put in lots of custom tweaks so it (for example) works better with my barcode reader. Most of these are designed for small or not-so-small public libraries so they'll come with a public-access-catalog. Handy for your friends to look to see if you have a book they'd like to borrow.

These range from what I use, which is really for fairly small libraries, to powerhouses like the open source "Koha" which could power large multiple-branch libraries.

If you'd like to see the public side of my home library, send me a PM and I'll send a link -- I'd rather not have it on the crawl-able internet.
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xtabber
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2012, 06:48:18 AM »

Great review  smiley

I own many thousands of books and also thousands of CDs. Many of the books are technical, science or art-related, and the CDs are mostly Classical and Jazz. Many are hard to find and long out of print. I also have a number of LPs that are not available on CD.  Barcode support is essential because of the size of my collections, and the nature of the items to be cataloged means that I need a lot of flexibility in organizing the structure and content of multiple databases.

I've tried many different music and/or book cataloging programs over the years and found all of them inadequate for my needs in one way or the other.  After reading this review, I downloaded Readerware and tried out the book and music modules.

I found the interface nowhere near as sophisticated as many other cataloging programs. It also uses some non-standard approaches that take a little getting used to.  But it provides a level of flexibility that I haven't seen in any other such software with respect to customizing databases, selecting sources of information, and making the collected data available.

I'd say this is probably not the best program for the occasional or non-technical user, but it looks like a perfect fit for my needs, and I will definitely be buying a license.
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elvisbrown
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2012, 11:13:54 PM »

I can also add that if you really want to get technical with this application the author is more than willing to help you get it to do what you want. I got some help with an SQL query to tweak something. What surpised me was that the author was not only willing to help but the application actually had the facility to do it. Top marks there!
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robinsiebler
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2012, 05:51:53 PM »

I've used Readerware for years and have been happy with it. I requested several times that they come up with a version for games, but that never happened, so I use Game Collector(z).
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