Our Books: Project Status & Background

After a few days of online research into the software available for organizing books, I settled on Readerware. This has mostly worked out very well. The database interface is a bit ugly, but the database itself is nicely customizable, and the drag-and-drop cataloging feature (which allows you to pull up a page on sites like Amazon and drop it into Readerware for automatic data extraction) is a godsend.

I twinged briefly when, 300 books or so into my cataloguing, I encountered Singlefile, which has the sort of Web interface I'm longing for. (Readerware is a great database, but its Web-publishing features are pretty much limited to "dump my current view into an HTML file.") Singlefile has a couple of significant drawbacks: I'm not sure you can use it for books without ISBNs, and if you publish your collection to the Web, it plugs Amazon affiliate code into your database, which is fine in free versions but highly annoying if you've paid for the service. Still. I may at some point investigate further the possibility of migrating my database and also using Singlefile.

I started scanning my books in late September. It's relatively slow going. Auto-extracting is saving me a ton of time, but I'm customizing each entry extensively, so I can't just bung in a list of scanned ISBNs and turn the software loose. Also, we have a fair number of older books predating ISBN and other such technologies that make cataloguing easier. Those have to be entered by hand. Sigh.

Our book collection is organized into subcategories that likely seem haphazard, but they work for us. Most should be reasonably self-explanatory. "Projects" is the one that's not. It's a rotating (but not very quickly rotating) collection of the books we have sitting near the computer for projects (usually writing projects) we're working on. Oh, and "Oversize Books" -- that's things too big to fit on the usual shelves.

"Collected authors" is a section for the small number of authors we're completist about. The Egan, Smith and Wyndham collections are reasonably developed and should have all of the authors' major works; the Willis collection is fledging and small.

I'm scanning books more-or-less by category. The section below indicates what's done, what's left to do, and what section I'm working on at the moment. I've no idea how many books we have, total. Somewhere just north of 1,000 is my guess.

Currently scanning (as of 7/16/03): General Fiction & Nonfiction (I'm up to H)
Recently added: the bits that are scanned of General fiction & Nonfiction
Recently updated: All Books, photos page

Fully scanned: Advocacy/Polemics, Anthologies, Books on Books, Food & House Writing, Humour, Oversize Books, Maths & Sciences, Sports, Theatre Books & Plays, TV & Film, Subcollections: Egan, Smith, Willis, Wyndham, Year's Best SF series
Waiting to be scanned: General Fiction & Nonfiction, Politics & Philosophy, Young Adult & Children's Books, Classics (Latin & Greek), Slush (books that have been crowded off the bookshelves and piled up elsewhere)