Live: now, wherever; make, learn, beHappy.

Creating a Library

Every now and then you come across a game changer; something that is so good at what it does, so useful that it changes circumstances and enables you to do something you couldn’t do before.

I go through phases of not reading very much, but for around nine months of the year I read around three books a week. The books pile up.

My partner is very zen in her approach to life. Her space is light and airy, ordered and beautiful She is very sanguine. I’m cluttered and anxious and the books are piling up around the book shelves and in the corridors.

A few months ago I bought a kindle and life looks a little more hopeful, but still: the books, the books.

In the past I have taken boxes down to the charity shops and to friends. On one of these occasions I got rid of over a hundred and eight boxes. Dedicated book boxes, not random, some-were-very-small boxes, but proper mover’s book boxes.

It should get easier with practice, but I’m finding it difficult to do it again.

The problem is that these books, all of them, have a sentimental value as well as a monetary value. I don’t just want to get rid of them, I feel that I have to process them in some way, get a return or spread some joy.

But how? I can almost stock a small bookshop, but how to get rid of it without too much pain.

Amazon is not very helpful. Somehow Oxfam, and others, have worked out a deal to ship books for less than the 2.50 Amazon allows us, and that enables them to sell books for a penny and still make something on the postage. Technical books are heavy and cost much more than 2.50 to send – as do hard-backs, so the problem with Amazon is that for most books there are existing sellers who are selling bellow the costs for the average punter using the post office to send books.

And it takes a time to list anything, even just entering the ISBN number and letting it find it for you takes a good 10 minutes.

I have thought of stuffing them into those book boxes and taking them to a street corner and selling them. Here in Bristol, England, there are dedicated spaces where people do just that on a Sunday, and not only do they guard these places like golden eagles protecting nests, but boy do they look cold.

So a wizard idea: send your mates a list of books, get them to * claim back their own * make offers in money or in kind for books they want * pass the list onto their mates.

Brilliant. Now to list them. Several months into the plan, still no list. Do you have any idea just how long it takes to list just one book shelf of books, even if you only list author and title of book.

Phone has a camera. Laptop has a camera. Cameras can be bar code scanners. Gotta be a something to do this.

And there is. Quite a few.

In the Apple App store they range from 60 pennies through to 69 pounds. The 69 penny one doesn’t seem to work. Others look pretty ugly and take ages to scan and look up, but Delicious Library 2 is a game changer.

You hold up a barcode, and if it is going to get it, and it gets about 90%, it does so in about 10 seconds flat, automagically filling in ISBN, author, title, year of publication and all that gumph, finds the right picture, and gives you a synopsis; then you hold up the next one.

It takes about three clicks to produce a web site, or a list, of all your books. You could set up a library, as in a lending library, with reminder dates set up in iCal and export the storage problem, and it makes listing on amazon very much easier. Three clicks per book, rather than three clicks per library, but still, much easier.

It cost 25 squid [that’s abut 39 usd]; but Delicious Library 3 has just come out – so it’s now 6.99… Bargain.

Of course deep in my heart I know that loading the books into boxes and taking them around Amnesty International, Oxfam and the Heart foundation, is still the most efficient way of dealing with the problem.