Review: Book apps on the iPod Touch

Continuing from my post on Sunday re: using the iPod Touch as an ebook reader: I wanted to talk about some of the free apps available for the techno-friendly book lover. Like with the ebook apps, everything is free. Free stuff rocks! Full post is under the jump.

Amazon Mobile
Amazon Mobile app

First up is the Amazon Mobile app. It’s simple, easy to use, and very handy if you buy a lot from Amazon. You can search, check out your wishlist, track packages, cancel orders, even buy something and then check out– all within the application. There’s also some extra little goodies: 1-click shopping and something new called Amazon Remembers. Amazon Remembers is this handy little function that takes a photo of an item, sends it to Amazon, and then searches for that item in the Amazon database. It’s really useful if you, say, saved a lot of pictures of bookends and then can’t remember who made them. Of course, if you have an iPhone this would be a lot simpler to use, but even an iPod user can get in on the action. Just transfer the saved pictures to your ‘Pod, then upload to Amazon Remembers. The people behind Remembers will find it for you (I think it’s Turks, actually). You can even set up email notifications when they find your item– or at least something close to it.

ItemShelf app

The second app I like is ItemShelf. I tried it out mostly because LibraryThing doesn’t have an iPod Touch/iPhone app out yet, and if I want to check my book collection (to see if I’m buying doubles. What?) I have to use their mobile page. It’s basic and ugly and pretty much what we’re stuck with until they come up with something better. However, if you don’t want to wait for LibraryThing, you can try out ItemShelf. You’ll have to, er, input all your books into it again, so it’s probably not the best solution for people with big collections and no iPhone. However, I find it extremely handy to keep track of book series I’m collecting. It’s a nice alternative to the Amazon app’s wishlist, and it has a really well-designed display. There’s five ways to input items: camera scan (only with iPhone), photo library scan (import photos of barcodes into the app), entering the ISBN or UPC number, or entering the title. Entering the ISBN takes less time, of course, but the photo option has interesting possibilities, though obviously only a feasible option for those with an iPhone or a lot of patience and a willingness to transfer photos from camera to ‘Pod.

BookSearch app

Lastly is BookSearch, the app equivalent of BigWords. It is extremely useful and once I’ve allowed myself to buy books again (just gotta cut through that TBR pile first!) I can tell it’ll be my best friend. Right now I’m using it to check for prices of college textbooks. You can search by ISBN, title, author, or keyword, though you can’t search with a combination of those. That’s annoying if it can’t find an exact match of a title and instead gives you 20 results for books that might be yours, but you can’t tell ’til you’ve scrolled fruitlessly for ten minutes. It would be better in that case to be able to filter by author, y’know? Anyway, the results include shipping prices, and poking one of them brings you to the page on the website within the app where you can then check out. The results don’t include rent-a-book sites, however, which is slightly annoying as they can sometime be cheaper than buy-a-book sites.

There’s a lot more tempting book apps out there, but most of them are paid and are probably only slightly better than the free ones.

If anyone’s tried out paid apps, like Classics or even Bumblebee Touchbook, are they worth buying? Do you have any particularly favorite book apps I don’t know about, paid or otherwise?

Meanwhile, I’ve found a few more free book apps, both ebooks and not, and I need to go play with them now. I let you all know how it goes, eh?

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