The Macintosh application Delicious Library (which does not have a direct link at its maker’s site) allows you to catalogue and organize the books, videos, games, and records you own (but also some software and, shortly, tools). It has an addictive feature: You can use your iSight to scan barcodes for auto-entry. Just as every problem looks like a nail when you have a hammer (Cf. a labelmaker), soon you begin scouring the house for absolutely anything with a UPC. MOOORE CODES! you groan to yourself, zombie-like.


  • Many barcodes behind plastic won’t scan. Many old barcodes, or those that are short in a vertical dimension, won’t either. (But I’ve gotten it to scan a barcode covered by another bookstore barcode when only 2mm of the original was showing.)
  • ISBN lookup often fails, especially with German or Swiss books, of which any typographer will have many.
  • There just aren’t enough keyboard equivalents. It’s laborious and painstaking to move from title field to the lookup button.
  • There’s no way to look up by exact title, which, for single-word titles, makes selecting from Amazon matches borderline impossible.
  • Entering a publication date autoconverts irrevocably to the current day and month of that year, which is less than useless as it falsifies known data.
  • Amazon descriptions shouldn’t be loaded by default. Amazon titles and authors are often seriously wrong and are tedious to correct.
  • There is no way to indicate an editor’s name for collected works.
  • While you can assign “borrowers” to items (hence the multiple senses of Library in the program’s name), there is no way to assign yourself as a borrower. Hence keeping track of library books is exactly backwards.
  • If you start just entering your own details, you find out later that you actually had to press a mode button first for the exact category of item, which wipes out everything you just typed.
  • Wall-to-wall Helvetica just does not work – particularly with lengthy words in titles, which are simply broken wherever.
  • It intermittently puts an old children’s book with no Amazon entry at the top of every single listing.
  • You can set up different “shelves” to organize items, but there’s no way to delete an item from the library forever if you delete it from a shelf (e.g., if you have a donations pile and want to clean them out of your collection once they’re donated). You have to search for all of them. (Tags would be helpful here.)
  • There’s exactly one library per installation. The makers have apparently never considered the possibility that more than one person might use the same computer. Your books and everybody else’s get intermingled.

And by far the worst deficiency of the product: You can ostensibly import and export data. But you can’t just import a list of ISBNs or ASINs. You can export precisely one thing: An unformatted plain-text dump of every single bit of information in the database, including Amazon descriptions, No CSV, no tab-delimited, no nothing.

As such, Delicious Library is useful for two purposes: Amusingly scanning your entire collection like an immigrant shop cashier and saving your library in a useless computer format that might as well be proprietary and unpublished.

Frankly, I want my money back.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.12.16 16:07. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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