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All Those Cover Prices Sure Add Up

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Friends and family members often predict my death. As a bit of a pack rat, a not-terribly-neat person, and an obsessive book reader, it’s pretty obvious to everyone how the Grim Reaper will come for me. Undoubtedly, my so-called friends claim, I will be buried under an avalanche of books, from all the texts stacked in every corner of my apartment, towering far above, hanging perilously over my head.

When the end comes, I have no doubt that I won’t be lucky enough for a collection of Larry Brown or Raymond Carver short stories to cause my demise, nor will I be honored by The Great Gatsby or The Sound and The Fury tolling the bell. With my luck, it will probably be Why You Behave in Ways You Hate: And What You Can Do About It or Confessions of a Shopaholic or any number of embarrassing texts that unfortunately do lurk on my shelves. A friend used to obsess that if he were killed unexpectedly, family members cleaning out his house would find his extensive collection of porn magazines and videotapes of old GI Joe cartoons. I, on the other hand, worry about the authorities finding chick lit and self-help books.

However, I recently installed some software that may at least allow me to organize my library to such an extent that I can put the good stuff in the place most likely to be noticed when the coroner comes to claim my body.

Book Collector, offered at Collectorz.com, allows you to type in the ISBN numbers or scan them with an optional Flic laser barcode scanner. Once you’ve entered all the ISBN’s, you can search a number of databases including Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, The Library of Congress, and others to automatically retrieve cover images, author information, genre, publisher, publication year, and other important information.

Once you’ve got your books in the system, you can store information about the date you read the book, if you’ve loaned it out to a friend, how you rated the book, and any keyword or subject data you want.

All the fields in the database are sortable and you can search the library using any number of keywords.

Perhaps the coolest feature (or most frightening item if you’re the frugal sort) is that the software automatically downloads cover price and number of pages for each book you save. The final damage for me is 968 books containing 208,302 pages with an average cover price of $19.62 totaling $18,635.41 spent on books. I have about three more stacks to enter, so that’s probably another fifty titles or so.

I could console my accountant with the assertion that those cover prices are tax deductible. Or I could point out that many of those titles were gifts so no expense to me. I could even illustrate how many of the rare books have appreciated in value and try to prove their investment worth. But that might work against me since I paid well more than cover price for many of them. In the end, I don’t guess it really matters. When they unearth my body from beneath the wreckage of books, they can sell all the titles and give me one helluva a funeral.

ps: They also offer similar software for tracking your music, movie, comic, game, and other types of collections.