Friday, July 2, 2010

How I file my books

Somewhat to my surprise, several correspondents have asked how I file my fiction books. (Non-fiction is another matter entirely, and I won't get into it now.) So, I'll explain how my filing system should work.

I keep paperbacks and hardbacks separate for a very simple reason: space. I can and do cram more paperbacks into a given wall space than hardbacks. So, I use separate, custom-built shelves for each.

Within a given book type, I file fiction by author regardless of genre. This approach is partly a political question--I hate the notion that an author's genre defines her--and partly a practical choice; after all, when James Lee Burke has Dave Robicheaux talk with ghosts, did he fall into fantasy, or was he still working in mystery?

In an ideal world, the books of each type for a given author would be in chronological order of first appearance, but with the number of books I have and the very little free time I have, that's just not practical.

The hardback fiction shelves start in one part of the house and then flow in a winding pattern that I find sensible but few others do through two other rooms.

Well, that's how it's supposed to be. Right now, new shelves in one room hold new acquisitions awaiting merging with the main collection, and fiction overflows every spare surface in the bedroom.

Non-fiction is in worse shape.

Anthologies are their own thing--but again I keep the paperback ones on different shelves than the hardback editions.

The key points of my system are simple: separate paperbacks from hardbacks to maximize bookshelf density, and file by author regardless of genre.

To those who asked: now you know.


Anonymous said...

I think we should be able to see some pics of these books although if memory serves me you did post some pics sometime ago. Happy 4th and be careful with those fireworks....Chris...

Mark said...

At some point, perhaps I will post the pictures. Thanks for the kind words and wishes.


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