I was listening to the latest APS Stamp Talk podcast this week where the new incoming Scott Catalogue editor is being interviewed. He mentioned that Amos Publishing is working on an iPad app version of the complete Scott Catalogue.
It sounded like it would be a great asset to collectors especially since the app version will have scans of every stamp in a series rather than just one like the current print versions, and they're working on making it so you can use the app as a checklist too. Also, as it was described in the podcast, the app would automatically update to include new issues and other errata that force us to purchase a new set of catalogues every few years (at least I can't afford to buy a new complete set every year). The catalogue data would all be stored on their servers, so you wouldn't have to fill up your device with local copies of everything; I'm guessing that the checklist data would be stored locally, however. One of the points that especially caught my ear on this subject was the ability to perform keyword searches. This may be what the customer service rep was alluding to when I wrote them many months ago about getting a list of stamps that were issued on March 4.
That's great and all, but there are two real issues that I can see. First, if all the catalogue data is stored on Amos's servers, what happens when I take my iPad to a location where I don't have access to a Wifi hotspot? Will I be able to cache subsections of the data locally so I can access it then? This issue came up last week when I went to the American Topical Association's National Topical Stamp Show. The hotel that hosted the show did have hotspots available, but they were closed hotspots that required a login/password combination that would presumably be supplied to hotel guests only. Since I live close enough to Milwaukee that I could stay at home and drive to the show, I didn't need to rent a hotel room and therefore didn't have access to the hotel's hotspots. If the data for the Scott Catalogue app is all stored remotely and I can't get to the interwebs, then the app loses a great deal of value for me.
The other main issue is what will the app cost? With each volume of the catalogue set priced at $70 for Amos Advantage subscribers, does that mean that the app will retail in the hundreds of dollars? Will it be a subscription where we have to "rent" the application use? I hope not. I can afford $30 or even up to about $60 or maybe a little more for an app like this, but once we add a third digit onto the price, I will probably have to decide to stick to the print version where I can afford to update one volume a year and I get to keep the volumes I have forever.
So, we wait and we'll see what is released, hopefully sooner than later.