Saturday, January 22, 2005

My ideal book-cataloguing/book-sharing program

Was reading about Delicious Library at Wired. Delicious Library is a book/DVD/media-cataloguing program for Macs. That was version 1. Version 2 is going to introducing book sharing so users can search other people's catalogues via geographic location and borrow and lend media to one another.

Sounds great, and it made me think what else I'd want in a book-cataloguing/sharing program. Here's what I came up with:

- adding media: Delicious Library relies mostly on scanning ISBNs or typing in details yourself. I imagine they would also let you type in ISBNs and look up the details. They do have a problem with international UPCs, according to their FAQ. Anyway, I'd also like to be able to add stuff from Amazon or any other store, perhaps by using a bookmarklet. Say I've surfed to a page in Amazon about a book I already have. Add to MyLibrary and ta-da, it's in. And, of course, they could then pull all the book info from Amazon or wherever.

- include LOC or Dewey classification as part of the information they pull (LOC vastly preferred). I'm not sure where you could pull this from...scrape it off the LOC's catalogue? And then let you view your books in LOC order. Then you could catalogue your whole library according to that order. Wow! OK, so I'm a library geek.

- collection generation. Related to the previous point. You could take either user-defined tags for the books, or simply Amazon or the LOC's keywords for each book and identify particular interests the person has. For example, I've a lot of books relating to World War II...I'd like the software to be able to automatically identify things like this, so I can immediately identify other people's general interests without browsing through their whole collection and without them having to define their own interests.

- incorporation of online texts such as Project Gutenberg (made easier by their having made their catalogue available in MARC format) but also via other indexes like the Online Books Page at UPenn. I'm not sure how one could do this...you'd have to use some combination title/author lookup since ISBNs wouldn't be available for this. I'm sure OCLC would be able to do this since they were able to do X-ISBN.

- incorporate the ability to search your library catalogue at the same time. And if the book isn't available there OR among fellow-users within a certain geographic distance or within the same city, give you the cheapest online price according to services like CampusI.

- generate citations for books in IEEE/APA/MLA or other common citation formats.

- ability to manage papers as well. Similar to CiteULike but with the ability to add papers found from sources other than those deemed compatible. Could be through a facility that scans through the paper to identify bibliographic details - it could then prompt you to check that they have 'em correct. Or they could just peel off the title and search in Google Scholar and get bibliographic details from Google Scholar - but those might be incomplete. Or you could just key in the data yourself, I guess, but this'd be a pain. And, of course, generate citations for these papers as well! But then you'd really have to check that you've got it right.

- This is more something for Amazon, but...when you click 'I have this book in my collection' under your recommendations it adds the book to a list they maintain. I'd like to be able to search full-text (if available) among books that I have. Plus books that I've read, I guess, but they don't give you a button for 'I have read this book and don't need you to recommend this'. Actually, come to think of it, Amazon could do most of this stuff except they probably wouldn't do the book-sharing part of it. Why do that when they could get you to buy the book from them?

So that's my list. Whoa, I'm demanding, aren't I? Well, it's more wishful thinking. But if I could have a program do all this stuff I'd be really, really happy.

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