Thanks for starting this thread, Rodolfo. I purchased the Classic catalogue app yesterday and I'm very pleased with it. I'll follow up later when I have more time. In the meantime, if anyone has questions, please post them here and I'll do my best to answer them.
I've now had some time to explore the new iPad app for the Scott 1840-1940 Classic Specialized Catalogue, which I purchased last week. I posted similar comments on the Delphi Virtual Stamp Club; you get a somewhat expanded version!:
Notes on using the Scott Classic catalogue app
Ads: Every screen in the catalogue is accompanied by one of a series of pop-up ads for Amos products. Amos Publishing justifies this by pointing out that there are ads in the dead-tree Scott catalogues. There are, but hey don't come and go, they just sit there in an undistracting way! And not on every page! Ads in the paper catalogues appear at the beginning and end of each volume, and occasionally at the beginning or end of country sections. The vast majority of pages just contain stamp information.
Web designers too often fail to understand good communication depends on concentration, not distraction. Many apps offer a "lite" version with pop-up adds, and more expensive versions without ads. I'd pay to have the ads gone, but I can also live with them. They're about as distracting as the scroll at the bottom of TV screens, or advertising that fades in and out, and I've more or less gotten use to them. (People using the app on iPhones or iPods say that the ads take up about 15% of the already-small viewing area.)
Searching: Not only topical collectors will have problems. I often search catalogues to find catalogue numbers. I have a broad range of collecting interests, and when I come across a stamp that looks appears to be a candidate for one of my collections, I go to my catalogue and start browsing. One of the most common pleas in stamp collecting forums is for help in identifying a stamp.
The iPad Scott catalogues need to have a vastly more sophisticated search engine, allowing searches by keyword, year of issue, country, and stamp type.
Archiving: Sections of the catalogue can be archived, but you do get warned that archiving a section will remove any notes and bookmarks. However, I'm not sure why anyone would want to archive any section that they use, however infrequently. The app doesn't seem to take up an inordinate amount of memory. I'm not very savvy when it comes to digital technology, so perhaps there's a good reason to archive as many sections as possible.
Of greater concern to me is the restriction of the number of notes you can make per page. The app ties notes to bookmarks; when you create a bookmark by touching the paper clip at the upper right corner, the paper clip turns blue, indicating that it's active, and a text window appears where you can write a note. That's fine and dandy, but what if you want to add a note about another stamp on the same page? Well, you can't! You can only read the note on the home page, or go to the bookmarked page where the note won't be visible. If you click on the blue (active) bookmark, it turns grey and your note vanishes. Bye-bye note, I'll miss you. (Someone needs to explain to Amos Publishing that bookmarks are not notes and notes are not bookmarks, and perhaps that notes that disappear so easily aren't very useful.)
Cost: I don't have a lot of patience with complaints about the high costs of any apps, not to mention ebooks. The costs of development of apps and ebooks is high, and the more sophisticated they are the higher the cost. My son is currently developing ebooks and audiobooks for his business, and he's had to get bank loans to pay for the services of hard-to-find programmers, and he's doing about 75% of the work himself. Should he give his products away when they're published? I hardly think so.
I am surprised that Amos has chosen to develop the Scott catalogue apps at all. I wonder if part of the reason is falling sales of the dead-tree catalogues, not to mention environmental issues. Not that iPads are environmentally pristine, but in fact Apple is paying a great deal more attention to Green than most hi-tech manufacturers. Anyway, the market for stamp catalogues of all types has to be vanishingly small in a society comprised mostly of people who watch Fox News and think that philately is a sexual perversion of some sort. It's possible that Amos cannot afford to produce more than bare-bones e-versions of its paper catalogues. Nevertheless, you're not getting my iPad and my Classic eCatalogue unless you pry it from my cold, dead hands!
"Amos cannot afford to produce more than bare-bones e-versions of its paper catalogues"
I'm sure that's the situation. I don't have any inside knowledge, but if you calculate the size of their market (probably about equivalent to APS membership), and divide by the number of years collectors typically go between catalog purchases, then subtract staff salary and printing costs, you're not coming up with a lot of spare cash to spend on new ventures, and they probably only had enough to hire a contract programmer for several months.
The situation is similar to that of general encyclopedias in the 1990s; to survive, they had to transition first to computers, then to the Web, but only had enough resource to do minimal jobs. Then they took an arrow to the knee, in the form of Wikipedia...
John: No, unfortunately the app can only be used with an iPad,iPhone, or iPod.
Stan: I'm hoping that Amos sees a potential market in eCatalogues that it doesn't see in continuing purchases of its dead-tree catalogues. Ours is an "an iPad family" -- my wife, our son (he just turned 40) and I can't imagine living without our iPads. The digital Scott catalogue only makes my iPad more valuable. I hope that other collectors will join me in benefitting from what really is a revolutionary catalogue.
Multi famam, conscientiam pauci verentur. 14 Mar 2012 01:16:40am
re: Scott for iPad and iPhone are ready!
With my Apple laptop I confess that I am so 1990's, and obviously so; however, my cutting-edge wife has an
i-pad and I will chat her up and perhaps talk her into downloading this oh-so-wonderful application which you are enthusiastically promoting and which I suspect your son has designed and you are the commission-sales front man and we need full transparency here.
Seriously, I'll have a look at this "app" and I thank you for bringing it to the attention of Stamporama members. With my fast-fading image-recognition memory, I reluctantly admit that I need all the electronic intelligence that I am capable of putting to use.
My iPad is the original iPad "1," so your wife should have no trouble downloading it. I suppose I am promoting it, but I don't want anyone to think it's perfect. Its biggest drawback is the lack of a good search engine.
My son is pretty good with computers, but his expertise lies in areas other than app design. I'm still waiting for my first royalties from him, which surely will someday flow from all the education we paid for! ;-)
Stamp catalog publishers are in an unenviable situation, as they have to thread the needle of funding their electronic transition with the dwindling sales of printed catalogs.
Worse, most of the raw data and images needed to build a free world catalog is already out there on the net; once Colnect or Catawiki or Stampedia or StampData (ahem) hit on the magic formula, and/or come up with a way to build on each other's work rather than typing the same bits in over and over, the proprietary catalogs are going to have come up with an alternative business model if they want to stay alive.
Good points, and one that Scott has not listened to, as has most of the publishing industry not listened, but they are now.
Look at the albums that Scott produces as an example. They had a warehouse full of albums and album pages. Years ago (1970s) they played games with discontinuing and restarting the specialty albums, then dropping the line. They were hoping that their international series would be what the collectors would buy. Well, that didn't work, because the specialty albums were complete, and permitted collectors to buy only the albums/pages for the countries that they collected. SO, Scott starts dropping parts of the international albums. Brilliant. Demand finally played its hand, and Scott slowly started bringing it all back. Again, they started filling up the warehouse, which is a costly undertaking.
What comes along in the publishing world? Print on demand. A big cost saver for publishers, because they no longer have to warehouse merchandise. Nothing goes to waste. They save lots of money. Scott converts its albums to print on demand. How do they handle the cost savings? Look at the international albums as the example. They split the parts into additional parts and raise the price astronomically. For the 2010 international supplement in two parts it retails for $270.00. Part 1, 1840 through 1940 is in 4 parts at $600. In 1968, one could buy a complete part with binder for $19.95. Binders are now almost $100.
A collector can purchase an online subscription AND a CD to well over 50,000 album pages that have been custom developed and are more complete than Scott pages. The price? $40.00 The collector prints the pages wanted on demand.
Scott, instead of lowering prices when its costs go down, raises the prices so high, that many collectors no longer purchase the product, but they have gone to the other location to get the online subscription.
Scott catalogs do not need to be published every year. Not every country has value changes every year, and this would give Scott editors a chance to properly follow the market. Some countries are not evaluated for years, and then all of a sudden Scott announces major value changes for a group of countries, which is misleading since they hadn't even followed those countries. A loose-leaf-style catalog with replacement pages would work just fine for the print version. Scott has advertising in the catalog, yet the retail price of the catalogs keep going up. How much is the advertising offsetting the cost of the catalog? I don't know. When they first added advertising, Scott said it did so to hold the line on the price of the catalogs.
Is this just a money grab by Scott, or are they following the mantra of the USPS? "We are losing customers, so we have to raise pricing in order to maintain our revenue stream." So prices are increased, and more people go away, and the mantra is heard again. This repeats over and over. I think it is called pricing oneself out of the market. Lower the price, cut costs and offer a quality product, and people will buy.
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"Author of the books: Seasons of Fantasies and Dreams; The Whitechapel Fog"
a few years ago, scott tried publishing its catalogs on CD. I bought a set. the cost was slightly lower than the dead-tree version, but not a lot. however, it was searchable, a fantastic advantage! not very intelligently searchable, but compared to looking for a particular word in a volume of print, it was great. i could (and did) print out country sections to add to my stamp albums, which by the way are all from bill steiner.
the next year, printing was disabled. the next year the idea was discontinued. i still have the CDs, and i use them to make my own identification guides, cropping out stamp and watermark illustrations.
this catalog completely filled 12 CDroms, probably would only be 3 DVDs, which is several gigabytes. this suggests to me that the ipad etc app must not contain the data, but be just a gateway to the data that is stored online. i like to have the data rather than just have access to it.
i believe i will wait for the next increment. don't get me wrong here, i am not a luddite in any way. in fact, i used to own an ISP business, so i applaud all manner of internet innovation. i hope enough people buy in to justify development. enough other people, i mean.