AngiePen (angiepen) wrote,

A Book and a Library

I just got my copy of arieltachna's A Summer Place in the mail, yay! I'm going to set aside the [mumble] other books I was working on and read it this evening, because the buzz around the Slashy Retreat was that the extra verbage added for publication was Incredibly Cool. The story was pretty cool anyway when it was Viggo/Orlando fanfic, so the addition should make it pretty damn stellar.

After opening the mail I dashed right upstairs to add it (and another book I got as well) to my LibraryThing collection. I saw LibraryThing displays on a couple of blogs within the last few days and poked around and decided to try it 'cause it looks pretty cool. What it is, is an online database for cataloguing your personal library.

You create an account and enter your books -- I usually go for titles, or if that turns up too many alternatives then I go for the ISBN, which is foolproof but finickier to enter -- to build your online library. You can have a free trial account which lets you enter up to 200 books, then if you like it and want to keep going you can pay $10/year for an account of unlimited size, or $25 for an unlimited lifetime account.

Anyway, so you're entering your books, by title or ISBN. The site has links to a bunch of book databases, with and the Library of Congress right there as possible defaults, and eighty-two other options from around the world available if those fail you. (I already have the Biblioteca de Castilla y Leon added to my default list, from when both Amazon and the LoC failed to bring up a Spanish-language book on pre-Columbian Meso-American archaeology I got in Mexico.) Most books will come up, though, on just an Amazon search so when you enter the title it brings up the Amazon (or whatever) info on all the editions of that book.

The idea is to find the exact edition of the book you have; when there are a whole lot of editions, that's another time when the ISBN is worth typing in. Most of the popular and relatively recent books come with graphics of the cover, so most of the time easy to find the one you have. Once you've found it, you click on it to add it to your online library and it comes in with the full title, and information about the author and the publication date, paperback or hardcover, how many pages, LoC call number, etc. There are five different display modes you can use when you're looking at your library, easily clickable from one to the other, so you can decide which info you want to see. There's also info made immediately available about how many other LibraryThing users have that book in their libraries (I was ridiculously chuffed to find I'm the first person to have A Summer Place), how many reviews of that book there are, and what the average rating is on a five-star scale. Although there don't seem to be many ratings; maybe my personal library is just weird [cough] but although none of the books I've entered so far (68) have ratings, quite a few have reviews. You can also add tags, to help you organize your library as well as help you find things in your areas of interest that other people have in their libraries. And there's a recommendation option, which (so far as I can tell [squint]) can be based either on your whole library or on one particular book you have.

There's also a community on LibraryThing, which I'm determined to avoid. [wry smile] All my copious spare time, etc. But the book info also shows which books have been mentioned in conversations, so you can find people who are actually talking about some of your books, which could be cool. And if you click on a book title to get more detailed info on it, you get a bunch of other things, such as a tag cloud showing how other people have tagged that book and an icon showing how many people are looking to swap that book. Which could be good or bad I suppose, LOL!

Here's the book page for Eats, Shoots and Leaves, one of my very favorite books on writing mechanics (specifically punctuation) as an example. Figure, any book that has a "HUMOR" tag in its cloud which is just as big and bold as the "GRAMMAR" tag has to be worth reading, right? :D

Anyway, this is a pretty cool system and I'm sure there are a lot of things I haven't tripped over yet (aside from the ones I'm avoiding) and probably one or two I've misunderstood so far, but at this point I'm having fun playing around with it. I spent a lot of yesterday entering all the books (well, all of my books) to be found in the computer room, plus a few handfuls from the living room. I'm already thinking about how I'd go about doing this if I do choose to commit and enter my whole collection, because if I do then it'll be a very long, finicky task. I have thousands of books and most of them are not shelved for the simple reason that we don't have enough bookshelves and don't have room to put more even if we bought them. The library/craft/sewing room has three tall bookcases and one short one, all of which have books piled on whatever horizontal surface is available as well as being more conventionally shelved. There are about a dozen piles on the floor, more books on both of the long tables, and books in boxes in the closet. There's a bookcase in the bedroom filled mostly with humor books, plus more piles and stray books around on side tables and the floor. Each bathroom has at least a few. Downstairs in the living room and what's supposed to be the dining area there's another cabinet with a small bookcase section, plus more piles of books stacked all around it, next to it in a fairly solid block against the wall (more than a square meter's worth I think), and around the recliner (my husband's) and the couch (mine), plus any other place on the floor where a book could be put without being stepped on or tripped over. The coffee table is pushed against one wall and stacked with books. Etc.

Going through all of them will require an organized plan of attack. I can't just start carrying books upstairs at random, or I'll lose my place and will miss a bunch and enter others twice. (It's easy enough to delete duplicates from LibraryThing [cough] but I'd just as soon not.) So I need to plan how to go from one area to another, taking books systematically and then bringing them back, shifting them over as I go in such a way that even if a longish period of time goes between sessions of entering books, I won't lose my place. And of course, I'll need to be consistent about adding any new books as I get them or that'll mess things up too.

I'm still not sure I want to make that committment. On the one hand, I'd really love to have this done. I lost all my books (along with pretty much everything else) back in '90 and there are times when I don't remember whether I've replaced something or not. Or when I read something at my mom's and forget whether or not I've bought it myself. I've ended up buying a lot of duplicate books this way and I'd rather not waste the money. :/ Having this database available online means that whenever I'm heading off to Amazon with some money to spend, I can bring up LibraryThing in another window and double-check anything I'm wondering about to make sure I don't already have it. That'd be very cool and would mean I had more effective book money, yay.

On the other hand, it'd be a buttload of work. :/

We'll see. I figure I'll go ahead and enter in my 200 books and see what I think then. If I'm still as enamoured of it then I'll pay my $25 and procede with The Project. If not then I'll wander away and no harm done.

It is pretty darned cool, though. :D

Tags: books, cool stuff, personal
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