This week and next I’m out of town and away from my LCS. So I have no new books to review; that’s the bad news. The good news is that there is something I can review… well two somethings.
Somewhere around the time I bought an issue of Uncanny X-Men for the third time I realized it was time to create a more faithful list of my comics than the one in my head. I looked into simply using an Excel spread sheet, but that’s no good when you’re deal with the volume of data we’re talking about with a collection bordering on 8,000 books. I saw it as impractical to input all of that with the various fields I wanted (creators, plot notes, story arc/crossover info). Plus, I wanted cover images for shopping convenience. That’s when I started looking to see what was out there already. Surely some programmer has already created the databases I’d need to access and is willing to sell it to me along with a handy viewing/ report generating feature. Turns out there are several. They range from little more than spreadsheets to the ideal collecting compendium. Today I’m looking at two on the latter end of the spectrum.
In the beginning, I was managing my comic book collection using ComicBase, and I love this program. LOVE IT. Each edition has been more streamlined than the last. ComicBase offers four versions of each edition: Free (limited to entering 500 comics), Express (handles any size collection and has 5,000 cover images), Pro (28,000 images and syncs to various portable devices and smartphones), and Archive (20 gigs of images and a few other whistles and bells that the others don’t have. They range in price from fifty dollars to three hundred dollars. All versions support scanner wands for entering you collection by scanning the UPC, but the greatest thing that all of the versions share is the pdf report generating abilities. You can generate lists of what you have or want lists, they’re also customizable by the pre-programmed fields. So it’s pretty handy when you plan on doing some shopping at a convention. Finally, if you’re interested and keep up, the program calculates the value of your collection. It can also tell you the number of issues you own by publisher. There are only a few drawbacks to ComicBase.
1. It’s a big program and database that takes up a pant-load of RAM. On my slightly older machine this meant occasional crashes.
2. There is no version for Macs. Since I moved to a Mac last year, I’ve been pretty much screwed.
3. There’s a subscription involved if you want to keep up with current issues and pricing information.
The second program is one that LEMUR friend Rakmo suggested to me. Collectorz Comic Book Database is pretty decent. The Mac version came out a couple of weeks ago, and I’m using some of my vacation to fiddle with it before getting home to do the major work on my collection. So far I’m liking it. To begin with, Collectorz has several other database products; they’ve tailored a basic program to fit different collecting needs. They’ve streamlined it and it isn’t a drain on the RAM. Like ComicBase, this one supports scanner wands. In Collectorz favor over ComicBase is that this program’s interface is much more visual and in some ways easier to navigate. Searches are easier, and the information per issue is not presented in the spare spreadsheet form. These are definitely major advantages over ComicBase’s drab look. Collectorz will also synch with more smartphones. The downside is a big one though. The reporting features are severely handicapped. Basically you can have a list of what’s in your collection or what you are looking for to fill your collection. Not bad by any means, just a big drop off from ComicBase. Collectorz is also significantly more net dependent. If you’re not online, you’re cut off from much of the information (including cover images for all individual issues). Price wise, this one is a bit more attractive. The standard edition is thirty dollars while the higher end pro edition is fifty. So far I’m liking the Collectorz. We’ll see how it goes when I start entering large amounts of books.
If you’re looking for some way to keep track of you books, these are the two I can recommend. It’ll come down to how much you want to spend and which features are most important to you. If you’ve got one you can recommend, post it in the comments section.