How to catalog a print collection for sale
August 21, 2006 7:21 PM   Subscribe

I am helping a family friend sort out a basement full of well-preserved books, magazines and ephemera so that they can be sold. In desperate need of a system to catalog the inventory.

Some ideas I have are: photocopying the front cover or index page and then storing them in a 3 ring binder and/or taking photos of them. I would then have to enter each item into Excel or similar.

Does anyone have any better ideas how to do this? Are there barcode labels I could attach to the items and then scan into a program? How would such a process work? How much would I need to spend?

Having an outside firm come in to do this is simply not possible as the friend does not trust strangers.
posted by Francophone to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
Cataloging using barcodes was discussed recently here . It might help.
posted by yqxnflld at 7:44 PM on August 21, 2006

Attaching labels may hurt the value of the books as collectibles (or even just as used books).

As I understand it, there are two key things you'd want to get out of this:
1) Having all the info in one place, and making it easy to search/manipulate
2) Being able to find the book back.

Make sure you don't get carried away and create something more complex than you need (or that's missing a key piece of information about each book that you need to go back and get). Figure out before you start exactly what information you have to have.

For #1, Excel will probably do the trick. If you have access to a laptop (or can set up a computer in the room where the books are), try to enter the info straight into the computer. If the books have ISBN numbers (and older books might not), you might be able to use or a similar site or software to pull all the catalog info (title, author, publisher, etc.) and all you have to enter is the number.

For #2, how specific do you need to be? Can you just number the boxes (or shelves, or whatever the books are in) and keep track of which box number it's in? In any case, don't do more than you need to find the book back. Barcodes are cool and all, and probably a good idea if you're running an ongoing business with new inventory coming in regularly -- but probably overkill if you just have one group of books that you're going to sell and then be done with it.
posted by winston at 8:41 PM on August 21, 2006

About how many items? What subjects? Age?
Why do you think this collection is valuable?

Are you planning to sell individual items or the lot?

Collection buyers probably will not care about a catalog,
they'll want to see all the items then make an evaluation.

For piece-by-piece sales HomeBase software (free) or many others will help catalog then upload your inventory to online book sale venues. Assign an SKU and put a slip of paper with the item (no stickers/tape on valuable old stuff). Design a storage system so you can find inventory.

There are specific softwares available for eBay.

But, there are no shortcuts, you'll just have to do the keypunching. Properly describing a book will take many minutes, even with a fast typing assistant. Look closely at the book descriptions where you plan to sell.

Scanning will not save any work and may damage old books/magazines, however a scanner is useful with ephemera.
posted by Fins at 8:42 PM on August 21, 2006 [2 favorites]

I am in the process of logging all of my dvd's, games and books using Listal.
posted by cbushko at 9:55 PM on August 21, 2006

I think written descriptions are the way to go as well. Avoid barcodes and scanning. Assign books to numbered boxes.

And why not kill several birds with one stone and take digital photos of the books as you go along? Then you can upload them to Flickr and assign tags of the box numbers and basic descriptors. This way you will end up with a simple database and catalogue at the same time.
posted by copystar at 4:47 AM on August 22, 2006

If you need to attach information like barcodes etc to the books but are afraid of damaging them, you can get these archival quality strips to place in the books.
posted by Biblio at 6:33 AM on August 22, 2006

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