In the "there's too many books in boxes to find them all, time to sort" mode:
I'm starting to rearrange our home library by ISBN instead of by topic or call number. This has a couple of interesting side effects, which seem to be useful. Pictures to follow at some point once it's stable.
When you do an ISBN sort, effectively you're sorting by publisher, and within the publishers you're sorting by size and longevity. This puts the McGraw-Hills and the Penguins at the front of the shelf, the MIT Press and U of Michigan Press in the middle, and someone who figured out how to get an ISBN number to print your own books dead last.
Actually shelving books is starting to look super easy. For big presses, just throw the book somewhere near others that have the same logo on it; for little presses, throw it on the right shelf. At some point you'll want to reorganize to make things make more sense, but remember for now some books are in boxes and you're just trying to unearth them. In part, you want to make it dead easy to put books into the right box without thinking too hard and to still find the book on the first try.
Some things pop out fast. Any book pre a certain vintage doesn't have an ISBN, which makes it an antique in some way. Bound galleys don't have ISBNs, and some (but not all) magazines are missing individual ISBNs for each issue. The journals that you wrote don't have ISBNs (yet!), and all of those annual reports are missing these numbers.
It's remarkably nice to have all the books from the same press next to each other, because it suggests another path to more books, as well as a path to people (editors, publicists, designers) who are part of the process of book marketing. Some presses regularly print all kinds of related stuff and by seeing what you have collected together you can guess there may be more of the same to look for. The little presses are all at the end, so you have a jumble there (but a fun jumble).
The biggest usefulness of this quite frankly is that it doesn't take any time at all to decide where a book goes once you have settled on the shelf sizes, and you can safely box things away and find things using ISBNs as you external markings on boxes.
The problem with the ISBN number is that it isn't a very good number to use to catalog the books. Sorting by ISBN number would create a list which didn't have anything to do with the author or the subject of the book. This would create an effectively random order of books and make it very difficult to find what you are looking for.
To the extent that one McGraw Hill book is pretty much the same as the other, this might be true; but there's a distinctive style from a lot of smaller presses that I seem to collect books from, and with the smaller presses you start to get a lot closer to contact with individuals.
This classification does also show up one thing about the typical library binding; the standard place for the call number is on the spot on the book where the typical publisher's logo is. Someone somewhere has an opportunity to preserve the logo and put a call number on it at the same time for additional ease in findability on the shelf.
Now - just - to get the first block of my very own ISBN numbers financed. There's a big perceived difference in quality between books in the 8xxxx series and the 9xxxxx series - the ever so slightly bigger publishers seem to have a lot more chance of producing a book that looks real.
A subsequent task, naturally, is to register as an official library, one that can send and receive inter-library loan requests; I have a sneaking suspicion that if I compose a properly ordinary looking ALA form that this is something that might just work.
Every so often I run into corners of the world that I want to explore. Here's some list of the things I'd like to write more about, even if I don't have a full blog-length posting for any of them written right now. I'm keying off the categories I've set up.
This is part 1: Amazon through Google Book Search.
Sorry no links yet....will hyperlink as I have time to edit, but I thought I'd get this out into the world.
Amazon - about the book cover and album cover art database they have; how to set up an affiliate bookstore that actually works; on using Amazon to do wish lists that are then fulfilled through your library (via Jon Udell); on using Amazon as a book finding system and then using Book Burro or similar to connect back to your library; much more I'm sure.
Ann Arbor - plans for a new library downtown; reviews of all of the branches; reviews of other Washtenaw County libraries; special libraries in town like the Ford Presidential Library
Archives - an interview with the folks who run the Labadie Collection; an interview with the Prelingers; an interview with Brewster Kahle; some discussion of the peculiar nature of archives in the digital age
Archival Television - Jeff Ubois blog of the same name; the loss of the video record; clearing and securing rights; bootlegs on Youtube; museums of the broadcast industry
Beyond big vendors - this was the title of a talk I gave; an exploration of consolidation in the integrated library systems space, and some understanding of new alternatives
Book Burro - at least an annual post on what it is (repetition is the soul of the net); a screencast showing how I use it; documentation for online book finding system developers to get them to have Book Burro pop up on their book screens; a discussion of how tools like this can be funded by affiliate revenues
Book covers - as finding aids; variations between editions; in online book finding and book inventory systems; search by contents of the cover, not contents of the book
Book trading - more reviews of any book trading systems I find; some stories about book swap clubs that meet in person; children's birthday parties where everyone brings a book and everyone gets a book
Bookins - how they advertise new inventory on Twitter; comparison with other book swap sites; integration with LibraryThing
Books - more book reviews, lots of book reviews would be welcomed; the book publishing industry as a whole; old books; smelly books; pretty much anything is fair game.
Books sorted by color - more discussion of cover art, illustrations, other metadata about the book captured in the cover art but not indexed by typical book finding systems; the book illustration business; how covers are designed; history of binding systems; algorithms to determine which color a book is; art and photographic illustrations of installations where books have been sorted by color
Bookshelves - compact shelving, buying shelves for personal libraries, reviews of bookcases, shelving for libraries, innovations in book shelving, reviews of books about bookshelves, how to build your own, built in shelving, what to do when yours fill up
Code - more code! software that does interesting things with book and library data; mashups, data extraction, search algorithms, recommender systems, page layout, interactive design, home grown alternative views of the library
Collection development - impact of patrons on collections; controversial materials and how they are added to the collection and perhaps subtracted from the collection; metrics used for weeding and deaccessions; building your personal library from another library's discards; libraries as endangering printed materials
Electronic collections - library originated book and non-book collections; hardware, software, and systems for managing and cataloging same; preservation of digital relics; copyright, fair use and international implications of same; the proper provenance of enthusiast collectors
Events and exhibits - individual events and exhibits, and also ways by which libraries can improve their ability to bring people through the door by hosting book-themed events. Compare libraries to bookstores and see how they stack up; facilities building and planning with events in mind.
Film - libraries for film; collecting video and film; archival television (via Jeff Ubois); rights, copyrights, and the like; stock footage libraries; impact of digital distribution on the circulation patterns in public libraries that have big DVD collections
Friends Bookshop - relationships between Friends groups and libraries; examples of particularly fun bookshops; self service bookshops; using friends book inventory to do outreach; purposes of friends bookshops - to entertain people who want to run a bookstore, or to raise money, or both
Friends of the library - about national and local organizations; demographics of friends groups; "Friends of the Library, for the net"; library advocacy; when friends groups turn into haters groups
Games - games in the library; word games; something more about Eli@AADL; Wii at the library. Games in the kids room - ice cream truck. Learning from games.
Google Book Search - contracts, restrictions on use of data, inaccuracies within, quality of scanning, quality of metadata, shout out to Ben Bunnell, aftermarket greasemonkey hacks to fix issues with, comparison with Microsoft et al, comparison with Open Library, Distributed Proofreaders
Google Scholar - library use and access to, Andrew Odlyzko on open publishing, relative frequency of citation of non-internet publications, Math 40 yr history of increased collaboration via Patrick Ion, quality of data, quality of metadata, use by scholars as replacement for vita
from Marginal Revolution, on the practice of buying (or more generally reading or finding) books based solely on cover art:
My thought was this: presumably the publisher designs the cover to appeal to people who will spread favorable word of mouth about the book. As a sometimes good (but non-reductionist) Bayesian, if I like the cover I should infer I will praise the book. Furthermore I should be especially keen to buy on this basis for a "word of mouth book," and indeed this author does not have a celebrity name.
If I like the cover *a lot*, can I receive a worse evaluation by checking out the blurbs and thus skewing or minimizing my gut reaction to the image? Surely if someone is able to manipulate me, my optimal strategy is let just some of the manipulative information through. The case for viewing the cover -- and only the cover -- is simply that many more people see the cover than evaluate any other part or aspect of the book. Might we then not expect the cover to be the strongest and best thought out signal?
My own experience with cover art is that especially for kids books you can tell a huge amount by what you see on the cover, and even if you end up with a story that's meh you can still get a lot of enjoyment out of good art. I've picked a few choice titles out of my "wall of books" just this way - the "street sweeper" book that entranced my 2 year old was nothing I would have ever found with a text based search.
I have not turned that (yet) into "book search results sorted by color", which I think is as easy as pulling down an RSS feed of search results, pulling a color for each, and doing the sort. Alas RGB color values prove hard to sort into a rainbow as is, so you might want to use
The categorization scheme is a response to physical constraints on storage, and to people's inability to keep the location of more than a few hundred things in their mind at once. Once you own more than a few hundred books, you have to organize them somehow. (My mother, who was a reference librarian, said she wanted to reshelve the entire University library by color, because students would come in and say "I'm looking for a sociology book. It's green...") But however you do it, the frailty of human memory and the physical fact of books make some sort of organizational scheme a requirement, and hierarchy is a good way to manage physical objects.