Book Inventory Systems (and selling 'em advice)

I have somewhere around 1,200 to 1,500 books piled haphazardly on shelves and stored in boxes. I’ve finally realized that just because I enjoyed a book, I don’t have to keep it forever. So I wanna get rid of my collection. But first, I need to inventory everything.

Any of y’all out there used any of the commercial book inventory systems? Do you like it? If you’re not using a commercial program, have you crafted something on a spreadsheet or database program. Anyone ever experimented with a barcode reader like Cuecat for entry?

I did a search and saw that some Dopers supplement their incomes selling books. Do you use Amazon or Half or both? I’ve read that Half changed their system and is now unpopular with some listers. How do the fees work? I know the buyer pays shipping and handling which may or may not cover your actual shipping costs. Do you list all your books and just wait for a notifying email?

I’d really appreciate some insights… (mods, I couldn’t decide whether to put this in IMHO or Cafe Society. If you feel it would be better elsewhere, please move it. Thanks.)

I wrote an itty-bitty card catalog program for the school library in high school. I use the term loosely - you probably have more books than my high school library did. It was harder than I thought it was going to be.

One of the really painful things about inventoring books (or anything else for that matter) is that somebody has to do the data entry. Your best investment would probably be something that could take a Library of Congress number and get all relevant information based on that (title, author, publication date, etc should all be cataloged somewhere).

Sorry, I don’t have any other first hand knowledge.


Well, dang, the Dopers are such a well-read lot, I was hoping I’d get a little more feedback. Thank you for the reply, Tower Dweller.

Anyway, I’ve been researching, and, if anyone is interested, I think I might go with this system. It’s not all that pricey, seems to be well-supported, will automatically look up ISBN and book info, and you can use it with barcode readers. And on Ebay, I can get a hacked CueCat (those litte barcode readers that used to be free and were supposed to link you to the internet) for $3.50. So now I just have to unpack and scan 16+ boxes of books plus my six bookshelves…

I can’t help with your inventory question, but if you want to sell them on Ebay you can punch in the ISBN and all the relevant information will come up for you to use on your listing. By relevant information I mean: Copyright date, # of pages, size and weight, category (as in mystery, historical, non-fiction etc) and in most cases a picture of the book. You can add any additional info you need to.

I’ve never used Amazon or Half, but I imagine they’d have something similar.

Good luck! ~S

Do books come with barcodes in them? When I worked at the library in college (what’s with me and libraries, anyway?) the library-edition books that we got did not have barcodes in them. There was a department in the basement that added the books to our catalog system and pasted bar codes on them. New paperbacks and such probably have a UPC code on the cover, but I doubt that any hardbacks that you own would be bar-coded.

The software you found looks good, but I have no idea if it works well. It looks like you can download an evaluation copy and try it out before you buy it, which I would recommend you doing (it may be buggy, or difficult to use, or something).

And yes, we are a well-read lot, but I live in a 600 square foot apartment - I have room for one large bookcase, and when I run out of room I donate anything I’m not planning to read again soon. It’s a nice feeling. :cool:

Lately I’ve been trying to catalogue my own book collection (just a spreadsheet in Excel right now, but I hope to inventory them later using MS Access).

I’ve found that this websites to be very useful:

My book collection is in my bedroom. It’s only a mid-size collection (I’m guessing around 500 books), but my computer is on the other side of the house. So instead of having to write out all the book information and then re-enter it into my spreadsheet, I’ve just been writing up a list of the ISBN’s and then getting the information off the websites.

I’m not sure how they are with out-of-print or obscure titles, since most of my books were originally published within the last twenty years.

Oh, and I forgot to mention in the above post that those websites databases are also searchable by author or title, not just by ISBN.

Side Question: When I buy used books from Amazon, I could get some books for .02 cents. How are the sellers making money? Do they ship it cheaply and keep the rest?