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Blog 09.09.2019

Organizing Your Book Collections

Whether you are a collector of rare books or just someone who has accumulated a lot of them over the years, it’s important to have a strategy to avoid clutter. Books are a treasure, but they do take up space. Unless you have a system, you’ll never find the title you want when you are getting ready to sit down and read.

There is no right or wrong way to organize your book collection — there is just your way. Here are some suggestions to get you started, though.

Get It Together

This is a good time to go through your collection and donate the books you don’t want to keep. Repurpose or recycle damaged books unless they are true collector’s items worth paying to have restored.

Weed out the cooking, coffee table, and photo books, too. These books are not the kind you store for a rainy day. Go ahead, display them appropriately.

Create a Record

Next step, inventory the books and create a catalog. The good news is there are apps available that can help:

Many cataloging apps allow you to scan the book’s barcode or input the ISBN to save time.

What Made You Buy That Book?

Start the organization process by thinking about what attracts you to a particular title and use that to sort the books. For instance:

  • The author– It’s very common to look for books written by the same author because you like their style.
  • Genre – Genre refers to the category of the story. Stephen King typically writes horror stories, for example. James Patterson writes mysteries or crime stories and Nora Ephron focused more on romantic comedies.
  • Book Structure– Hardcopy, paperback, graphic novel
  • Classic vs. Contemporary – Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway were classic writers. George R.R. Martin is a contemporary author.
  • Series – Speaking of George R.R. Martin, you could group books by series, as well. A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast of Crows, A Dance with the Dragons— These are all part of Martins A Song of Ice and Fire series
  • Fiction or Nonfiction– Michelle Obama’s Becoming is nonfiction. Michael Crichton’s Congo is fiction.

Once you work out what attracts you to a book, use it as your primary organization strategy.

What Do the Books Have in Common?

The next step is to create a secondary sort based on what the books have in common or go alphabetically if you prefer. For the secondary sort, choose from the same list of options like:

  • Author
  • Genre
  • Book Structure

You can add a few other choices to the list, as well, such as the color of the cover, condition of the book, edition or height.

You can never have too many books around because, if nothing else, it encourages everyone in the family to step away from the screen and read once in a while. Organizing them properly ensures you’ll find the right book at the right time.

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