How do you sort your MLs?

Scot Kamins kamins at dogeared.com
Sun Oct 17 16:16:44 EDT 2004


Folks,

When I first started collecting MLs, I sorted the books by binder 
type (pre-8, 8-14. giants), alphabetically within type. I didn't have 
that many pieces, so when I wanted to pull a volume to read it was 
easy to scan for what I wanted.

When my collection grew beyond a couple hundred titles, this became 
inconvenient. Sometimes I wanted a novel, sometimes a volume of 
poetry - but being over 50, my powers of recall had become not as 
good as they once were. "Who was that sharp-tongued woman from the 
Algonquin Group who wrote all those great short stories?" Scanning 30 
or 40 titles looking for the book was one thing - but scanning over 
ten times that many became a problem.

So I sorted my collection by genres - poetry, drama, short stories, 
novels, biography, essays, philosophy, religion, psychology, and so 
on - in alphabetic order by author, with each section starting with 
anthologies of miscellaneous authors sorted by title. I ended up with 
fifteen areas or so. (I keep all the illustrateds and the buckrams 
together, with the buckrams sorted numerically just for fun.) This 
was a fine solution - scanning the short stories area was much easier 
now ("Oh - there she is - Dorothy Parker - right!"). Novels were 
still a problem because there were so many of them, but I muddled 
through.

The problem came when I began selling my collection. I have 
descriptions and values for most of the books in a database; I 
exported the database files to HTML tables, and that's what ended up 
as my For Sale lists at Dogeared. When someone ordered a book, I'd go 
to the shelves and pull the title for verification and packing.

But in the database I neglected to create a field called "genre." 
Where did I put Homer? He was a poet (genre: Poetry), but I couldn't 
recall if the translations were done into prose - and if so, were 
they with the Novels or in the Mythology section? (Answer: Poetry for 
both him and Virgil, because when I studied them in High School...) 
And Nostradamus - where the heck did I put him? (Answer: Religion, 
for "Prophesy). Flame of Life - what the heck was that???

(By the way, Flame of Life is how the Titles index at Dogeared came 
about. Without searching can you recall who wrote that - and what 
genre it's in?)

So this is a long-winded way of asking: How do you sort your MLs, and 
why? What have you found are the shortcomings of that method?


-- 
Scot Kamins

"Modern Library books are intended to be read and not just to be 
stuck away in bookcases like old sets of Balzac and Victor Hugo..."
                    - Bennett Cerf



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