Of making many books there is no end
October 6, 2012 5:38 PM   Subscribe

How catalog my library? . I need to get information on 400 titles into a list. Title, author, c date, ISBN or other standard code. And I don’t want to type a bunch of stuff.

I suspect the best way to do this, for any single title, is to capture a key piece of info from the book and use it online to find the rest.

I have
• a library of about 400 titles, most published since 1930
• a pen scanner linked to my computer and OCR software (all tested and reliable)

I have 2 questions:

1) What ONE THING should I scan on each book for a DIY project? I’m looking for a) consistency, so I can do mindless repetition on all 400; b) utility, so I can easily translate my scans into standard info. I can handle minimalist hacks and use Excel as necessary, but I hope to spend no more than a day on this.
2) What software solution should I buy? I’m open to end-to-end solutions – but I don’t want to spend more than $200.

posted by LonnieK to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a smart phone?
You can get an app to read the isbn bar code.
Once the bar code is read, you get tons of info on the book.
posted by Flood at 5:45 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

LibraryThing might be good for this. I think you can just scan a barcode from the book and it gathers most of the info for you.
posted by Proginoskes at 5:46 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Delicious Library is the usual go-to app for this purpose.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:53 PM on October 6, 2012

From the previous post I tried LibraryThing, Collectorz, and Readerware. Ended up sticking with Readerware.

My basic flow was to use the barcode scanner on my Android phone set to export to a text file, scan barcodes from one shelf (note that the ISBN barcode on a paperback is usually inside the front cover!), and then e-mail the text file to myself and import it into Readerware. The main place where this broke down was with some older, pre-barcode books (some of the children's books didn't have ISBNs listed at all, even in a human readable form!).
posted by anaelith at 6:28 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

> a library of about 400 titles, most published since 1930 [...] What ONE THING should I scan on each book for a DIY project?

ISBNs were first introduced in 1970, and the first barcode was only used in 1974. For books that have a barcode, scanning their barcodes (not to an image file, but via barcode-reading software) is definitely the best thing you can do, because the number is specifically associated with an edition. Any other single piece of info you grabbed would be insufficient to uniquely ID the book—you'd need author, title, publisher and year, volume if applicable, and possibly publisher's city. Basically, what goes into a bibliographic citation.

Start with a barcode reading app (Delicious, recommended above, does this for you very nicely, if you've a Mac), scanning the barcodes from every book that has one, and making two additional stacks: books with printed isbns, but no barcodes, and books from before ISBNs existed. For the first stack, which may not be very large, pen-scanning the ISBN number and OCRing it will do fine. For the second stack, scanning the entire title page will often work, but not always. Grabbing two random older books at hand for examples, title pages could be as simple as
The Making of a Cook
Madeline Kamman
or as long-winded as:
Billy Topsail & Company
Author of "The Adventures of Billy
Topsail," "Doctor Luke of The Labrador,"
"The Mother," "Dr. Greenfell's Parish"

New York     Chicago     Toronto
London and Edinburgh
... the publication year (1910) is on the back of that page, with no mention of author or title, so as to be a useless page to scan by itself.

This is why ISBNs are so great.
posted by mumkin at 9:20 AM on October 7, 2012

Wow ... a wealth of info. Thanks all, will try these.
posted by LonnieK at 11:29 AM on October 7, 2012

« Older It's all about the kitteeehs   |   I have a B.S. in Engineering. How can I get into a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.