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Bibliophiles Anonymous

Prompted by a post by autopope (friends-locked), a poll about book storage:

Poll #1021506 Bibliophiles Anonymous

How many books do you own?

Less than 500
More than 8000

Do you have:

more books than shelves?
more shelves than books?

How do you store your books?

Free-standing shelves (IKEA Billy, etc)
Wall-mounted shelves (spur shelving, etc)
A mixture of the above
A collection of mismatched cardboard boxes

How are the books in your library organised?

Alphabetically by author
Alphabetically by title
Alphabetically by publisher
By genre
By date of publication
By date of acquisition
By size
By some combination of the above that I will describe in a comment
By some other means that I will describe in a comment
They aren't organised

Are your books catalogued?

Yes, I have an electronic catalogue
Yes, I have a non-electronic catalogue (card file, etc)
No, it's all in my head
No, I have no idea what books I have

If you have a catalogue, is it comprehensive?

Yes, every book I own is in the catalogue
No, I'm not dedicated enough to maintain the catalogue
No, I'm not sad enough to maintain the catalogue

Do you keep records of who you have lent books to?

No, I'm too lazy
No, I'm too trusting
No, I don't lend out the Precious Things
No, I need to lose books through natural wastage so that I can buy more
Tags: ,

On the book lending I am both too lazy and too trusting; plus I always think I'll remember which I never do.

On the distinct lack of books, I tend to recycle away my pulp fiction/beach reading and only keep stuff I really like and/or is special, so the total books I have owned is many many many multiples of what I bother keeping. Still being in rented accommodation and having moved recently revealed a ruthless streak in me about culling a lot of stuff I didn't really need (books, clothes, computers, all sorts).

We file fiction alphabetically by author; that's kept downstairs, with separate sections for drama and poetry. Travel is also downstairs, alphabetical by author. Recipe books and most writing about food that includes recipes are between the dining area and the kitchen, filed with the most useful/frequently used most readily to hand and otherwise by cuisine.

We file history and current affairs chronologically (although with separate mini-sections at the end for military history and for the sort of alternate history that is not fiction and thus probably calls itself counterfactual); that's in the smaller study.

We file literary criticism and other writing-about-writing alphabetically by author, although with a separate section for sf criticism; that's in the larger study along with the sf magazines. Also in the larger study is the other non-fiction (sciences and arts), which we file by sub-genre and haven't yet properly organised it within those sections.

Reference (organised in a way I can't quite describe) is on the landing between the two studies. Humour and collections of journalism (also sufficiently few that they are arranged by brain pattern and general connectivity) are in the spare bedroom along with the children's books (alphabetical by author) that aren't swept up by general fiction; the fanzine library (alphabetical by title) is off that.

The unread books that we really want to read next are kept in the main bedroom. The book catalogue includes information about what we have read, but not where things are stored. This occasionally leads to hunting and swearing, but mostly works.

We only just have more shelves than books, but still have a few places in the house where we can fit more shelves. Eventually it may become a problem. I hope that's all quite clear...


The books that I keep organized are the reference books (proofreading style guides, Penguin encyclopedia, an old Petit Larousse, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.) and the mass-market paperbacks. I keep the reference books on one particular shelf so I can find them quickly. The mass-market paperbacks are all of that one standard size, so I put them on one shelf in order to use space efficiently.

Everything else is packed in where it will fit or in a couple of stacks on the floor by my bed. Either I need another bookshelf or I need to host a book giveaway!

I used to have LOADS more but when I thought I might have to move I got rid of loads of paperbacks (all of which I now want to read again *sighs* even though I hadn't read them in years).

I should have a catalogue because I have been known to get the same book twice.

Catalogue is a work in progress

Library: general paperback fic by author
Bedroom: poetry, plays, biography, new acquisitions, criticism & reference on children's lit & children, myth & folktale - all randomly within the category
My study: children's fic, alphabetical by author; feminism, lit crit, witches, food studies, craft, dictionaries - all random
Landing: South East Asia incl fiction & non-fiction (except cookery) - random
His study: music, journalism, India (fic & non-fic), sf lit crit & reference, philosophy, architecture, travel guides, and stuff that has no accepted category but sense to us - all random
Lounge: Latin American by author; film & TV (except SE Asia), local history/geography, maps - random
Dining room: hardback general fiction by author
Kitchen: cookery & food writing

There are also some boxes and crates around that need shelving.

It's not entirely logical but it makes sense to us.

We have a nice selection of books in common according to LT. :)


6 months in my new house, and I still haven't sorted out the books... my plans of putting in floor to ceiling shelving in the box room are still that, plans.

On the standalone shelving, there are double stacked books; elsewhere there are piles of books in a corner, books in bags and books in crates in the loft. No idea what's where, though. Of course, once this is done, they'd be organised alphabetically by author. I can't bear to throw things away, so the collection is rather large at the moment, if a little jumbled up.

I used to have more, but went through a pretty aggressive donate-to-charity-or-friends policy before our lodger moved in, to free up bookshelves and prepare for when we inevitably have to move. As physical artefacts I find books quite a pain, though. I'm quite a fan of electronic readers - I would get rid of practically every book I had if I could have the information replaced on a Sony Reader or Iliad type device.

Fortunately for my reader street cred (but unfortunately for the amount of packing I will get lumped with when she/I/we move), I have dear fides buying up academic texts and fantasy novels like they were going out of fashion.

My academic books are filed by subject area, and then alphabetically by author, but there is a degree of filing by size, due to some shelves being too small for the larger books. A small selection of my military history books are similarly filed. My SF/fantasy is out on shelves, arranged by author, and then by date of publication within that (though series are grouped together, and tv tie-ins get a separate shelf). Comics collections are filed by the title of the main series. Music, railways, and other fiction are still in boxes upstairs, but they are slowly being grouped into subject area boxes.

Kate does her own thing with her boxes.

As lamentables describes - although this almost makes it sound as if there is some order. We used an Access database for the books but are moving over to LibraryThing (but don't have all books yet catalogued on either).

Sorted by genre is a broad term. It means I can point to different walls in the library, a medium sized room in its own right, and say there's the RPG's, there's the Graphic Novels, etc.

Alphabetically by author, but only for fiction, and not multi-author anthologies. Those are separate, as are non-fiction, which is gradually being sorted by subject. Cookbooks and food reference are downstairs in the kitchen. Most of it is on LibraryThing, with the nonfiction going in last (and slowly).

Had a big clear out when I moved house, and continue to have a 'steady state collection development policy' although it can be sad to part with books. Was drummed into me by my Mum that other people can be enjoying books if I'm not actively using them, hence I do give books away on a frequent basis. Occasionally I regret giving something away and have to re-acquire copy from second hand bookshops (now made much easier with Abebooks).

Books that are kept are vaguely grouped by genre and size plus I have a small bookcase next to my seat in the lounge to shelve all my 'on the go' books and dvds/videos. H only has about 3 shelves of books and he laughs at my attempts to group books saying that I'm 'too librariany'. But it is a small price to pay for being able to find things.

Am very pleased to be reunited with my books after a year in a flat. The flat was dangerously close to Nottingham Waterstones so acquired lots of new books during that time but it is still nice to have my old books back.


you professional you ! :)

A format fiction paperbacks in one room, double stacked, alphabetically by author. Other fiction in another room, alphabetically by author. Graphic novels and similar alphabetically by author. Non-fiction is mostly Dewey Decimal, but really needs tidying up, except for A-format, which is in a big stack next to the shelves.

The use of radio buttons in your penultimate question means that one can't choose not to answer it (it may be non-applicable) once one has selected an option (and, pedantically, the HTML spec says that browsers should select an option automatically if there's no default).

You are Nick Lamb and I claim my five pounds.

(alternatively, you are Ian Hickson and I claim my five pounds)

(narenek made me come and answer this because it made him laugh to think about my answers.)

Strictly speaking, not all the books in my library are catalogued, but it's not because I'm too lazy to maintain it, it's because they're in boxes I can't physically get to. Radio buttons make this poll difficult - the books that are shelved are on a combination of bookcases and shelves, but there is also a small collection of cardboard boxes. I have the majority organised but it's a system that relies on my brain rather than external observation (e.g. hardback Pratchetts had a shelf to themselves in the hallway (see icon) but paperback Pratchetts lived upstairs with the paperback and hardback Tom Holts; this mystified visitors for some reason). Since I'm in the process of moving my entire library the organization has collapsed a little but I still know where to find everything, more or less.