How To: Get Rid of Books Without Losing Them Forever

How To: Get Rid of Books Without Losing Them Forever

Lisa
May 1, 2006

With the birth of our daughter coming up, it became clear that many things in our small apartment had to go. Among them were the shelves and shelves of books, cds and dvds that were cluttering up our place. The problem was how to organize them so that we could still use them if we needed to find, say our copy of Alice in Wonderland. Fortunately, we already had most of what we needed: and we could get some really cool software, Delicious Library. With this stuff in hand, the rest was simple. You hook the camera up to the computer (we used the computer and camera above, but any G4 Mac and Firewire based camera would do). Delicious Library monitors the incoming video from the camera and when it notices a bar code, looks up the product data on Amazon.com and downloads it into your virtual library including a picture, so you have a nice way to look at all your stuff. When it finds the item on Amazon, it will read the title back to you, so you can really scan a bunch of things quickly. You can also add your own information to each library entry, including a location. We used this to indicate the box label for the books, so that it would be simple to find any book in our collection. (Though sadly, we have to actually get to the boxes first and they are in a storage facility. It would work better if we had dedicated storage space in our building.) Some caveats:
  • Using the camera to scan the UPC codes can take a little getting used to. What worked for us was to actually look at the computer screen preview of the image, as opposed to staring at the camera and whatever is being scanned. This is a little weird, because the image is backwards in the preview, so you wind up kind of thinking like a dentist.
  • If your collection contains older stuff, it might not actually be sold on Amazon, or the UPC may not match the UPC that is used currently. Really old stuff might not even have a UPC. In that case you have to use the software to do a title (or ISBN) search. This works OK but isn't as cool as the camera and slows you down. These items also may not have images, so if not having a color preview of the cover for every item is a problem, then you might have to dig around on the Web for an image (which you can then simply drop onto the library entry).
Over the course of this little project (which took a couple days), we found out that we have 612 books and 271 cds. Which is interesting, but more importantly, we recovered about 50 feet of shelf space that we could then either use for other stuff, or leave uncluttered. Sadly, we couldn't find equivalent software for PC or Linux users, anyone out there with a PC that's done something similar? -jack
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