I have just spent the last six hours (I am not exaggerating) cataloguing my bookshelf. Why? Because I was browsing around on my phone and I found an isbn scanner that promised a true literate’s wet dream: the chance of a quick scan-add and voila, bookshelf details are digitalized. Only it was not really that simple. It never is…
Initially I was thinking of easing in on the whole thing, you know, scan a couple of books, see how it goes, and then forget about it until tomorrow. It started off at an even pace – pointing the phone towards a barcode led to a ding (very reassuring), and hey presto all the information I could ever want about author, title, publisher, even a little picture of my book. This made me incredibly excited, which led me to haul an entire row of books out of my bookshelf, and then there was no turning back. Only by the 10th book something went wrong – I scanned and scanned, but nothing happened! Luckily, those clever app-developers had a backup for when this occurs – manual registration. The problem is not when you have one or two books that need this special treatment, but rather when it adds up to about 30 percent of the collection. This is a – pardon my French – shit load of manual labour in an age of ‘less is more’-attitude in all aspects of life. (UPDATE: Just read an article on app-funtionality that sums up my points and grievances quite well. See here.) My back is sore, my hands are crooked and I am pretty sure there were no flickering black spots on my wallpaper previously today.
But now I have a nice list on my phone so I will never be stumped when someone asks me if I own this or that book or if someone wants to give me a book present and doesn’t know if I already own it – this, I am told, is very common according to the app-developers, so it is paramount that one catalogues ones’ books. Now I come prepared for whatever book-situation might occur.
One thing that was quite funny (and I don’t even have THAT big a bookshelf that this should happen) was that I had forgot several of the books I, apparently, own. Makes me wonder why on earth I go to the library at all, I am surely well stocked for the autumn-winter season. Now I just need to quit my internship and I can go full-time into hibernation, just me, my books and I. And a cup of tea or two. And some chocolate. The occasional food-run is not to be dismissed. Of course, the seasonal Christmas lunches can’t be missed.
Ah, sod it, the point is, now I have an excellent track of what books I have and which one’s I am missing (ahem!). For someone with a goldfish memory this is quite relevant. Aaaand, I can send myself, and others, an e-mail containing the list of my books. And if I meet someone that happens to have the same app, we can swap book information, how cool is that…
I don’t know if this is a thing I am going to keep and build on or if, in 5-10 years, I will look back and think “shish, what a dweeb” (no comments on that, thank you, not quite there yet!)
By that time I will probably have chucked all my physical books and moved on to la digitalismus – the e-book! I need some good arguments – the ones where I am saving rain forests and reducing CO2 emissions are very good ones, and I probably should make the change yesteryear, only… I’m sorry, but the readers are just so uneventful and rigid. It’s a toughie. Luckily lots of progress is going on in this field, and I am sure that this is something that has caught on forcefully enough to take at least a good chunk out of the book market. But more on that in another post.
Anywhoo, the result of my cataloguing? 229 is the magic number for now – this does not include the ones scattered strategically around the apartment (aka, not on the shelf) or the ones I have borrowed out (so much for the remembrance of books lost).
So if you were thinking about giving me a book and saying to yourself, “nah, she probably has that one already”, I might not! Give me a call, a mail, take me aside, let me hook you up with my awesome list. And I promise, I will catalogue that one too. And the next one. And the one after that. I might just stop if I ever reach this stage.