Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Resources for Bookworms

I thought I'd write a quick blog post and share some of my favorite resources, that help me with my daily obsession with books. If you are a hopeless bookworm like me, you know that we need all the help we can get with managing our addiction. :-)

Need to find a book? Before plunking down full price at your local Barnes & Noble, why not try looking at your local used bookstore? If you're in the Valley of the Sun, I recommend Thrifty Joe's Books & Music. If you're an online shopper, there's Alibris, an online used bookstore. However, you'll have to pay shipping, so I only use this site when I'm on a quest to find something really rare, or if I have a coupon that makes it worth it.

If you're looking to go cheaper than used, there's Paperback Swap, an online book club where you swap, trade and exchange books for free with other members (all you have to pay is shipping). Of course, there's always your local library, which has come along way since you were there as a kid. With an electronic database of all the books available in the library system, you can now reserve books, have them transferred from another branch, etc. and you can't get more "free" than the library. I'm not sure when I got out of the habit of utilizing the library, but I need to get back into it.

Lastly, if you do want to buy a new book instead of used, there is also an online movement, encouraging readers to support their local bookseller (instead of the big chain stores like Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc.) however, I've yet to find an adequate independent bookseller in my area. I've heard good things about the Changing Hands Bookstore but it is way over on the other side of town. Not convenient for me.

Okay, painful as it is for me to type that, I will admit that getting rid of books is a necessity, unless you want to wall up your home with books. Those of you who have been following my blog know that I'm currently going through a massive decluttering project in my house. The management of our book collection is a huge task. We made some hard choices, and decided to purge some of our books. There's more paring down to be done, but where do you take them to get rid of them?

Well, you can sell it back to a used bookstore, if it's in good condition. You can also sell it on Amazon, or swap it on Paperback Swap. If you're not interested in recouping some of your investment, you can donate them to a library. If you have children's books, you can donate them to a women's shelter or other charity that works with children. You can leave it in a random place for someone else to discover, a practice explained at Book Crossing. You can also donate them to soldiers, through Books for Soldiers.

When you have a large collection of books, and tend to loan things out to people, it's hard to keep track of it all. We use software called Delicious Monster to catalog our books and DVDs. All you do is hold the book up to your computer's webcam so it can "see" and scan the barcode. Once it's scanned, then it instantly adds it to your list, so no data entry is required. You can mark the status as "Checked Out" along with the name of who you loaned it to. Most importantly, you can store the database online, so if, heaven forbid, you have a fire or some other disaster and lose your collection, the database can be presented to your insurance company as proof of what you owned.

You can also put a book plate into the front of your books, or you can emboss the first page with a personal embosser. We have one of these, and it's pretty fun to use. Of course, we only use it on the books that we know for sure that we're going to keep in our permanent collection.

Just as I-Tunes and the I-Pod have changed how we purchase and store music, the digital age is slowly hitting the literary world as well. If the Kindle electronic readers weren't so expensive, I'd probably already have one. I still like the textile experience of reading a real book - the feel of the new pages under your fingers, the smell of the paper, the illustrations - however, I think the Kindle could really help us with our storage issues, especially for all of my husband's research and reference books. For those of you who have I-Phones, Amazon has an application for a Kindle reader that can be used on your phone. Of course, storage space on an I-Phone doesn't compare to the storage you'd have on the Kindle.

Booklovers are finding new and creative ways to marry technology with reading. One example is DailyLit, an online service that will e-mail you installments of a book, so that you can read it over time. Always wanted to read Oliver Twist? Just tell the service what you want to read, when you want the installment sent to you (daily, weekly) and to what location (computer, I-Phone, etc.) Another really cool online movement, is the posting of epistolary novels as blog installments. I'm currently re-reading Dracula this way. An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of letters or diary entries. The blog owner publishes each diary entry as a blog post on the day that it was written by the narrator so that the audience can experience the drama as the characters would have. You experience the story in "real time." It's such a cool idea, and I'm enjoying Dracula in a fresh new way.

I could talk about books, my love of books, and anything related to books, all day long. How about you? What are some of your favorite places to find books? Do you have a large collection? Do you collect bookmarks? (I do!) What do you think of the movement into digital media? Do you have a hard time getting rid of books? Leave me a comment and let me know.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I love books. I don't really own many, unless we count children's books... then... oh wow. Garage sales are the best places to pick up quality children's books, thrift stores also have good selections and often you can even find used library books.

I guess local county libraries can't keep all the current books "current" unless they have some turnover. We've purchased some excellent quality books that have "El Monte Public Library" or some such stamp inside the front cover. If they book still has a dust jacket, it also likely has it's Dewey Decimal number on the spine. Those are just fun.

I have a very hard time enjoying audio books. Maybe because I am an actor (wannabe) I like having my own narrative in a voice I get to choose while reading. I've actually been frustrated with an author who was reading his book because he was soooo sloooow... I found him boring, not the book. :P

If I want a dramatic reading of a story, that's fine but it's not anywhere near the same experience as creating all the setting from a novel in your head. You might as well just wait for the movie adaptation if you're not gonna invest the time and be swept away. And, we all know it's never as good as the book in the first place. ;)

I'll always choose paper over electronic. I don't think that will ever change.