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Monday, September 21, 2009

The Apple iPhone as a Book Scanner and Book Scouting Software

Is there an app on the iPhone that can take the place of your PDA book scanner and book scouting software? Almost but not quite yet though it is clear the capability is there. So do not cancel your book scouting subscription and throw away your PDA yet. Hopefully the day will come soon when you can.

There are several apps for the iPhone that try to replicate a scanner by taking a photo or video of a barcode and transmit back price info. I have used all these apps and they do not work. They may work every 2 out of 10 times and are not worth buying - they are just a headache. These scanning apps will often have trouble reading a barcode and the info they give back isn't all the info booksellers need.

Amazon has their own app that when you take a photo of an item it emails you back the info - this is a bit slow if you are at a library sale but okay if you are just out at one of your book buying haunts. You can take a picture of a book cover and Amazon will email you back the info on the book.

SnapTell is another app that is pretty good and like the Amazon app it is free. SnapTell works the same way as Amazon's app - you take a picture and it brings back info on the book.

If you have an iPhone it is clear the capability is there to provide an application that will be able to integrate with the Amazon database and provide Amazon sales rank info, book conditions and price info. At the very least the app would enable you to download the database and be able to get the info you want from it the catch is going to be getting the isbn's entered into the iPhone quickly.

The camera on the new iPhone has been improved and hopefully we are close to seeing the potential uses for booksellers come to fruition.

The iphone is not a book scanner yet but it seems apparent that as the operating systems improves and the camera gets better there will be a book scouter on the iphone

Dave Wilson is a full-time online bookseller. He has written an informative guide to help all online booksellers improve their business. The guide is available at

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