an open letter to the wonderful developers at Delicious Monster

In July of 2009, demanded that Apple remove a new iPhone app from the makers of Delicious Library, an excellent Mac desktop application for managing your personal library. I grovel and beg… I mean, I outline some ideas for the way Delicious Monster could have their cake and eat it, too.

Please show Amazon that they are silly bullies and give us the app Delicious Library deserves. DL is not Amazon product information. It’s an insanely easy-to-use app for managing my library–it’s the only library app I want to use. But I haven’t been able to use it to the fullest because getting my library into DL is taking too long (laptops are heavy, man).

Please strip down your iPhone app to just data entry.

Here’s the deal: The iPhone is a handheld device with a camera and Bluetooth.

The Microvision ROV Scanner is–get this–a handheld device with a “camera” (laser) and Bluetooth.

I don’t expect the Microvision product to tell me Amazon prices and reviews. Why on earth would I expect my iPhone app to do the same (ok, so I would–it’s a freakin’ internet device and is in my hand when I am in a bookstore and would make Amazon so much more money each time I am reminded that it’s cheaper to buy on Amazon 60% of the time, but that’s another story).

What if the DL iPhone app just allowed me to scan barcodes to grab ISBN’s and then automatically imported those ISBN’s into my DL desktop app via Bluetooth? I don’t need to see the info on my iPhone. There would be no distribution of Amazon product information on my mobile device. I would only access that information via the DL desktop app, a process that is already approved. My mobile device would simply be a data collection engine. The only place I want to see the full details of a book including the Amazon info is inside the DL desktop app. Period.

The Amazon information is only helpful if I want to purchase a book (pricing, reviews, etc.). But the main reason I purchased DL is to inventory my home library, not to make decisions on which books to purchase. The fact that Amazon’s policies are impacting the future of DL is completely out of proportion to the value of the Amazon product data to me and my primary usage of DL.

I just expect an iPhone app to make it possible to get my hundreds of books into DL before I am eligible for Medicare. Making obeisance in front of my laptop until it deigns to recognize it just doesn’t work for that initial push of a home library into DL (though it’s a great feature for new books, one or two at a time). And now that I have a barcode scanner already purchased (I mean, now that I have an iPhone), I’d really rather not spend another $300 on another barcode scanner (no offense to Microvision, that’s a great product).

If you gave me an app that allowed me to get ISBN numbers into DL by scanning with my barcode scan… I mean, iPhone, you’d double the usefulness of DL as a whole.

However, you could go even further. FLB made an excellent point:

Yes, the dream of standing in a bookstore and checking out reviews or prices of a book is great (and it blows my mind Amazon doesn’t want to get in on that kind of feed into their revenue stream), but again, not the reason I bought DL.

However, the dream of being in a bookstore and scanning a book to see if I already scanned it into DL (and thus helping me remember which books I’ve already purchased or read) is completely do-able without the assistance of Amazon. Yes, this dream requires there to be some sort of general book information on my iPhone inside the DL app. But there is no reason that information has to be the Amazon product information.

What would be awesome is if DL used two ISBN databases. First, an open-source ISBN database for general non-purchasing-related book information, the kind of information that I need to match a DL record to the book I have in my library (title, author, date of copyright… the stuff you can find on the inside cover of any book). Second, for product information (pricing, reviews, etc.). If I’m using the DL desktop app, then make two database queries for each book. If I’m using the DL iPhone app, only query and display information from an open-source ISBN recordset. No harm. No foul. And DL is forever protected against the ridiculous, misguided, and short-sighted terms of use of an Internet giant who forgot where it got its start.

I beseech thee on behalf of your quite devoted customer base. You can easily deliver an app that Amazon couldn’t block in court since they have already approved the use of their data inside the desktop app, and that is where their data would remain.

All my best,


4 replies on “an open letter to the wonderful developers at Delicious Monster”

  1. I put a lot of passion into saying that Delicious Library isn’t Amazon product info. I realize that right now, all of the info DL uses to describe books is downloaded from Amazon (the general and the Amazon-specific purchasing info). However, because there is more than one location to find the generic book information, I consider “Amazon product information” to be pricing, reviews, and other Amazon-only assets.

  2. You took a wrong turn at the point in your life when you decided: “I want to inventory my home library.” It’s much simpler to say “yeah I’ve got some books and stuff over there in the corner” ..and leave it at that. What is it with people like you, ..and my wife for that matter? Your creed seems to be: “things exist so that they can be organized”.

    I bet the whimsical authors who write/wrote most of your books are anti-organization and would despise your cataloging efforts.

    -drew from his messy office, who managed to un-bury his keyboard from desk clutter and compose this reply

  3. If you saw my closet you would be proud.

    I really don’t want an organized library. What I want is to stop buying books I’ve already bought/read (some authors don’t publish in nice sequential volumes, damn them). The rest just kindof blossomed from that.

  4. Drew, you can be as messy as you wish, I prefer to maintain an organized life. I, too, purchase multiple items and wish I had a way to prevent this. Add in the fact that my mother also purchases the same item and you can see the mobile need for the DL. If Amazon is the problem why not just create an app that transfers only the saved info from ones mac account to the iphone app for reference? Also, the ability of the iphone to be the scanner…why is this not a given?

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