Ever since I was a little boy Blues, I’ve been a collector. Ever since I’ve been a collector, I’ve kept inventories. At first, it was handwritten ledgers. Those became typewritten pages, then word processor documents, then spreadsheets. For the last several years, I’ve used Microsoft Access tables.
Last week, I made a shift to an internet-based software from Collectorz.com and I have to say…I LOVE IT. Let me tell you why. (Click on all pictures to enlarge.)
Collectorz.com has software for all types of media collections: Music, Movies, Books, Comics, Video Games, and even MP3s and personal photos. You can get the Basic version (Free with the acceptance of a sponsored offer, or for $29.95), or the Pro version ($49.95). You can also buy one of three offered barcode scanners for quicker item entry. Click on the picture to the left to see the list of compared features for the Basic and Pro versions.
I bought the Pro versions of both the Movie and Comic Collector software, along with the $20 CueCat scanner. The scanner is not necessary in order to use the programs, but it’s kind of a cool toy. I also opted to spend an extra $5 per program to have the software mailed to me on CD, so that I can reinstall anytime without paying for a new license key.
Once I’d paid for the products, set up for both was a breeze. A confirmation e-mail arrived right away, and included a link to begin downloading the software and the license key needed to access all of the features. Downloading took only a few minutes, and once my credentials were confirmed, I was up and running. The CDs and scanner arrived in the mail a couple of days later.
The Comic Collector software was the one I was most interested in. I have a huge collection of comic books (including trade paperbacks and other graphic novels), and maintaining even a decent Access database was becoming WAY too time consuming. I grabbed the stack of new comics I’d brought home that day, and began to feel my way around the new program.
Searching for comics was easy. Just put in the title or keywords, and every comic in the system with those words it in is pulled up. The more specific your search terms, the smaller the list. Once you find the comic your looking for (i.e. “Detective Comics”), you can double-click and have a checklist of every issue (including all variant covers, convention exclusives, cereal box mail-ins, etc.) of that book come up. You check the box next to each issue in your collection, hit “Add,” and then the program will download all details of every issue and place the issues to your collection.
While I did have trouble finding some trade paperbacks and older compilations, I can safely say that the total number of items I couldn’t find was less than 20. Out of almost 8,000.
Details are dense, too. Release dates, cover dates, cover prices, writers, artists, editors, characters in the issue, number of pages, plot synopsis, genres, crossovers…it’s incredible. With the Pro Versions you can filter and search your collections by just about any criteria you want, so having all of this information is impressive.
Once the data is imported, you can look at the comics you have in list form, or by cover image. You can also pull up full details on each comic book, and even edit the entries. This feature is particularly cool, because you can add information in fields that have been left blank, or correct errors in the information. There is a space for you to includes notes about the comic, and you can also change the quantities, if you happen to own more than one copy of any given comic book.
Also, all new comics books are available in the database the day they are released. When I got home from work this past Wednesday with a stack of Brand New Comics in my hands, I was able to fire up the program, go to the “New Releases” tab in the search area and check them off one by one. The details on New Releases aren’t 100%, but as the issues get updated at Collectorz.com, the updates are downloaded to your inventory.
It took me 3 days to transfer my inventory, and now it takes me 5 minutes to update every week. Best $49.95 I’ve ever spent, and that money is a one-time cost. There are no additional fees, membership dues, or other hidden costs.
The Movie Collector software is also impressive. You scan (or enter manually) the UPC barcode on the DVD, and the program downloads all of the details on that specific version of the film. Once you confirm that you have the right item, you add it to your lists just like the comics. You can then pull up your inventory, view and edit all details, and sort your stash.
I have a few problems with the Movie Collector software, but they are minor. When you are scanning barcodes some of them won’t read properly. Most UPC codes are 12 digits, but some barcodes will add 2 more digits at the end. If you have 14 digits instead of 12, the program won’t recognize it as a proper UPC. You can then either enter the first 12 digits in manually, or carefully re-scan so that the last 2 digits aren’t caught by the scanner. I’m sure this is something that can be patched, but I didn’t find it to be a huge inconvenience.
If your DVD doesn’t have a UPC code on it, you can search by Title as well (i.e. “Star Trek”) and it will bring up every video release ever for that program. Finding your version may still be troublesome, but some online information sites (I went to FilmBug.com, for example) will include the UPC code in their listings. From there, it’s a simple copy/paste to locate your DVD.
Additionally, and this is primarily an issue with TV show season sets, a lot of the details – complete running time, year of release, number of discs, etc. – can be wrong or absent. Once I finish getting all of my DVDs and Blu-Rays scanned into the system, I plan to take the time to go back through and correct as many informational errors as I can find.
On one hand, that kind of digging appeals to the OCD micro-manager in me. On the other hand, I wish that I didn’t have to do so much leg work. Still, the software is remarkably user-friendly. These edits won’t take too long to accomplish and that kind of project lives right in my wheelhouse, so I’m actually looking forward to working on it.
With the Pro versions, all inventories can be exported to TXT, XML, and HTML files. You can also transfer your inventories to an app for your iPhone or iPod Touch, and then you’re mobile. This can certainly come in handy if you’re out at a store and trying to remember where the holes in your collection are, as it saves you from buying unintentional duplicates. You can also keep track of your “loans” – if you let people borrow your stuff a lot, you can manage that data too. Who has it, how long they’ve had it…and then you can always be right when you tell your less attentive friends they lost your stuff.
All Collector software is built for use with Windows; Music, Movie, and Book Collector programs are also compatible for Macs. I’m sure that the other Collector software will follow suit.
Overall, I could not be more pleased with this product. For under $150, I’m now able to manage my collections to a whole new degree of anal retentiveness. This brings a smile to my face, and serves my OCD tendencies very well.
Disclaimer: Neither I, nor Pop Bunker, have been paid to endorse this product. I spent real money for this, and can’t even claim it on my taxes. So there.