Graphical bookshelf for etexts?
June 22, 2005 9:55 AM   Subscribe

I was looking through my collection of electronic texts, and I thought of an interesting idea for organizing them...

a little app displays a graphical bookshelf with one bookspine for each of your texts with the title displayed on the spine. You click on the spine, and the file is opened in your editor of choice. Perhaps it could be a generated HTML page you open in a browser. Is there anything like this out there, or is this new? Does the idea have merit or are there better ways to organize and display text files?
posted by sudasana to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
 
The text written on spines is usually sideways. The font, colour and size vary from book to book (except french paperbacks which are usually black text on white spine) and edition to edition. Sure it looks neat on a shelf, but it would annoy the heck out of me scrolling through them on a browser. It's just an artifact. Use a list instead and have it show a picture of the cover of the book when moused over. Of course, that's just my take on it.
posted by furtive at 10:10 AM on June 22, 2005


Sounds like Delicious Library, although I don't believe DL supports etexts.

If nothing else, DL shows that the idea isn't a bad one (it's won all kinds of fancy design awards).
posted by shaun at 10:14 AM on June 22, 2005


Sounds like Microsoft Bob...

For those not knowing about MS Bob, let us just say it was the worst selling application ever made by MS.
posted by shepd at 10:24 AM on June 22, 2005


Neat idea, if done well. Furtive mentions something very important - the variability in width, color, etc. It could definitely be distracting, but could it also be used as an advantage? For example, commonly accessed files would get thicker "spines," or bigger files might.
posted by whatzit at 10:26 AM on June 22, 2005


Not to belittle your idea, which is neat, but I've yet to see any software where physical representation is reproduced electronically with any degree of success. What I mean is, the sci-fi idea of walking through a room and pointing at what you want seems nice, and has been tried before, but the whole idea of a computer is that you are no longer tied to the physical representation. An idea which these physical-mimicry models directly work against.

So, besides eye-candy, what do you see as being the advantage, productivity-wise, to the virtual bookshelf idea, as compared, to, say, typing in a few subject keywords and having matches pulled up?

The bookshelf can't do that, so we fall back on physical memorization (i.e., the color of the spine, the size, weight, height, etc.). With the computer, we don't have to fall back on that, because we have full-text search capability built in.
posted by odinsdream at 11:07 AM on June 22, 2005


It's worth a shot anyway, though it seems a bit unwieldy to me.

I might use the thickness of the "book" to represent the size of the file; a 200K etext is half as wide as a 400K one. I would use a consistent font and black text on a few colors.

The important thing is that the bookshelf should be organized with either LC or Dewey call numbers. Perhaps you could auto-download them from a big university library somehow; I doubt you could get access to OCLC unless you already work at a library.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:08 AM on June 22, 2005


I take that back. It shouldn't be that hard to automate something that takes a title and returns a series of valid ISBN's for different editions, and then you can take the ISBN and automatically generate a series of searches at the library of congress (or a big university library) to see if you get a hit.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:15 AM on June 22, 2005


I like Delicious Library a lot, but I don't understand why there isn't ebook support. Maybe they're working on it.
posted by symbebekos at 11:46 AM on June 22, 2005


Oh, hey, don't take what I said as an insult {I didn't mean to come across like that!} I just thought you might want to know about that application!
posted by shepd at 1:01 PM on June 22, 2005


I like to browse through my bookshelf, looking at titles when deciding what to read. Sometimes a title jumps out at me and I take it down. I wanted to reproduce this on the computer, but there's no real benefit to productivity or anything, just a way to organize and present stuff you already have. It's not really like DL, because everything indexed is availible right away when you click on it. Maybe it's akin to a collection of links, except that every link goes to a local file and you can create a graphic for each link.
posted by sudasana at 1:31 PM on June 22, 2005


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