Two Random Thoughts: Storing Books More Efficiently

Two Random Thoughts.

First, I gave away 100+ books the other day. Great public domain literary classics which I no longer need to possess because of my ebook reader. This compensates somewhat for the purchase of 200+ books I’ve made over the last few years.

Second, I have a system for storing my books more efficiently. Previously, I had stored 75% of my books in banana boxes (the best boxes for book storing), and left 25% of them out. I kept a spreadsheet for my booklist, with one column devoted to the Box Number the book would be found in.

But this system, while helpful, proved cumbersome and quickly went out of date. I was adding books and removing books from boxes, and not filling in a value for the box number for others. I just wasn’t maintaining an up-to-date list. Doing so would have required dragging the box to my PC and taking a visual inventory.

Until I remembered my PDA. In the last year I’ve been storing my book inventory on my PDA (which has proven to be handy at bookstores). As a result of this, I only bought two books I already had copies of (a new record–usually it’s more). Those two were Paris Trout by Pete Dexter, and The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken, neither of which I have read.

I don’t feel comfortable doing a lot of data input or writing on a PDA (not without a bluetooth keyboard anyway). But editing a single digit of a spreadsheet does seem easy enough, plus I can sort by box number to see what books are supposed to be in each box (without having to drag the box near my PC). That makes it easier to update my book inventory and allows me to feel more comfortable keeping a larger percentage of my books in storage (because I’m more confident that they are in the box number they are supposed to be).

I have at various times considered and rejected two promising ideas. One is a barcode scanner (which to put in place would cost $150). That’s a major timesaver, but I can’t justify the cost (unless I could print it to the web automatically). (see this book inventory program). The other idea is using some online web catalog of books (whose name escapes me now). It lets you browse other people’s book collections and input your own. Nifty idea, but impractical, and doesn’t really solve the input/storage problem.