I have been a reader for a long, long time. I started collecting books in my early teens and, despite two deep – and I do mean, deep – purges, I still have a prodigious collection. The hieroglyphics above is a screenshot of the index I use to keep track of all this bounty. (You can click on it to enlarge the picture if you’re that masochistic.)
A couple thoughts about personal library organization:
If you’re serious about being published, making an index of all the books you either own or have checked out – and liked – from the library would be prudent. But don’t just keep the author and title. Dig a little deeper for clues into the business:
Who is the publisher?
Where are they located? Are they an international conglomerate (tip-off here is if they have multiple, international, cities on their title page, like New York, London, and Tokyo).
What year is the book published?
What genres are listed on the Library of Congress listing? This will give you an idea of other topics in which you might be interested, as well as give you thoughts about topics about which you might be prompted to write – even for blog posts.
Who is the agent? You might have to do some digging. It may not say in the front material, but some internet sleuthing might reveal it to you. If you adore five authors, for example, and four of them are from Publisher A, and three of them are represented by Agency B, then poof! You know to whom you might want to submit something in a similar vein. (This is the natural extension of the old adage, “Write What You Know.”)
You might also be interested in where you bought it or who gave it to you.
Even more, you might want to say a few words about whether you liked it, or when you talked about it on a blog, or other information that is of use to you.
I keep my book index in Excel because I’m good with Excel and it’s immensely customizable. Others I know have done it in online communities such as GoodReads or LibraryThing. I don’t like those options because I can’t control them, can’t customize them, and at the end of the day, don’t own them. I like to have complete control over my list.
Over time, your library can reveal to you the shape of your own mind. Maybe in 2010 you collected nothing but books on such-and-such subject, but this year, you’re deeply interested in this other subject over here. You can write essays on your books and share them with other bibliophiles online. Or, like I’m doing here, you can even write a blog post about your organization system.
Fun times, nu?
Now, back to reorganizing. We moved last year and it threw my library into disarray. Next up: textile arts books. I can’t wait!