Comic Collecting Software Reviews By Ben SweetserHow do you keep track of the comics in your collection? Still using note cards some other paper filing method? Perhaps you track your collection in a spreadsheet or word processing program? Many software programs exist today to help you to not only track your collection better, but to allow you to easily browse your collection, find comics by your favorite artists, or even see how much your collection is worth. Whether you have a small collection or thousands of comics, these software programs can enhance your enjoyment of your collection.
While any tool out there boasts its own set of features, I approached my review of them from a collector’s viewpoint and tested how they would stand up to a collector’s normal use rather than focusing on the features themselves. With this in mind, I used the following tests to assess the software:
Inputting New Comics – If you collect comics, you likely pick up new comics on a regular basis, whether you do it weekly, monthly, or at some other interval. When you purchase your comics, you would need to enter them into the database. I took one of my weekly packages, and entered it into each tool. This weekly package consisted of 30 comics from DC, Marvel and several independent publishers, with cover prices ranging from $2.50 to $5.99. Several variant covers, including an incentive variant were among the comics to enter. I look at the process for entering these new comics in each tool and rate its speed and ease of use.
Entering An Existing Collection – Unless you are just beginning to collect, you will have existing comics to enter into the software you select to manage your collection. This is often very different than entering new comics, because you will likely have multiple comics from a single title. I review the process for entering about 550 comics from my collection into the software. These comics are from various publishers, and have some long continuous runs and some runs with gaps.
Searching/Browsing – One important reason for using software to manage your comic book collection is to make it easier to determine what comics you have. Perhaps you get a new comic and really like the story, and want to see what else you have in your collection that the author may have written, or you want to see where a character has made appearances in comics. I look at the capabilities of these tools to perform searches based on credits (writer, artist, etc.) and characters. Along with searching, it can be fun to just browse your collection to see what you have. I will also review the capabilities for browsing a collection with the tools. Another good reason for searching, browsing, and maintaining your collection with software is to create a…
Wish List – Trying to fill holes in your collection? It is much easier to find out where you have gaps if you have your collection cataloged in a software program. You can mark comics that you want for your collection so when you go to a comic shop, convention, or some other place to buy comics, you do not end up purchasing duplicates by accident. This can be a big money saver, and can make it much easier to shop when your local comic store has a big sale. I evaluated the software on its ability to identify the issues you want to include on a wish list and to create a report that you can take with you when comic shopping. To do this, I added comics from the gaps in the collection I entered earlier in the review process (about 50 comics) to my wish list and created a report. Some software also allows you to save your wish list to a Palm or Pocket PC handheld device to always have your wish list with you.
Determine The Value Of Your Collection – Whether you use this information for insurance purposes, to estimate a value for selling, or just out of curiosity, at some point you will likely want to determine the value of your collection. This can be a somewhat tricky task, particularly if you have a lot of comics. You need to take into account the condition of the comic along with the current price, which regularly changes. In the review, I look at what these tools do to help you determine the value of your collection and ways you can report this information.
These reviews are not meant to be a user guide for the software, nor are they meant to provide you with complete information on the features in each of the reviewed products. They are intended to provide you with information you could use to determine which software is right for you. On top of the evaluations I perform, I highlight any exceptional functionality or glaring omissions that I feel would be helpful to you. If you would like more detailed information on any of these products, I recommend visiting their websites. All reviewed software has a free version that can be used to get a feel for how the software works and if it is, in fact, the right software for you.
Currently reviewed comic collecting software: (Click the titles to be taken to the review)
Comic Collector Live 0.7.0.0
Publisher Website - www.comiccollectorlive.com – This free software has been advertised pretty extensively in comics over the past couple months. I decided to give it a look to let you know how it works.
ComicBase Professional 11
Publisher Website - www.comicbase.com – This software bills itself as “The World’s #1 Software for Managing Comic Collections”. Does it fit the bill? Continue on, fearless reader!
About the reviewer:
Ben Sweetser is a guest reviewer for about.com. By day he works for a software company teaching people how to use software and working with development to improve software usability. He doesn’t blog or have a website on the topic of comics. He is just your average, everyday avid comic reader and collector. Interested in seeing other software reviewed? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.