Alternative Organization Systems
Scott here. Most popular book organization systems are designed to let you find the exact book you're looking for as quickly as possible. Title Reader takes care of that for you, which opens up a whole host of alternatives for organizing your library. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting and creative options.
By personal preference
This is the one I use myself. Sort your books in order of how well you like them. They’re your books, after all, so you should know how they stack up against each other. Plus, if you're ever in the mood to read but you don't have a specific book in mind, it’s easy to find all your old favorites.
Chronologically by the order you bought them
This system allows you to associate books with your memory of when you bought them. That time in Prague a few years ago, you and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and that girl with an actual dragon tattoo? That was probably 50 books ago. Plus, since you only ever add books to the end, you'll never have to rearrange your bookcase to fit a book in the middle of a full shelf!
Numerically by ISBN
Each book already has a unique number, so you might as well use it for sorting. The advantage of using this system is that you never have to break a tie. But if you’re going to label your shelves, maybe start with the fourth or fifth number.
Alphabetically by author's first name
Sorting by author's last name is so passé. Instead, sort by first name! Stephen King and Steven Brust can finally hang out with each other.
Numerically by printing year
Not publication year – printing year. Age deserves respect, so older books should get seniority. The 70th printing of The Sorcerer's Stone comes after the second printing of Half-Blood Prince. Possibly well after, depending on how many books you own.
Alphabetically by title, transliterated into Icelandic
Icelandic, especially written Icelandic, is one of the world's slowest-changing languages. If you can read modern Icelandic, you can read the Eddas (written in the 13th century). This option is especially recommended for people who want a robust system that will last centuries before it needs to be changed.
Alphabetically by the first word
If you haven't memorized at least the opening chapter of every book you own, are you even really a reader? Yes. Yes you are. You're a reader if you only read fantasy, you're a reader if you only read romance novels, you're a reader if you only read poetry, you're a reader if you only read fanfiction.
A new organization system every 100 books
Look, commitment is difficult, I understand. It's hard to choose something as important as how you organize your books. This is a great way to try out a few different options and see which one you like best.
By page count
Shoutouts to possibly the weirdest books we read as children, Sideways Stories from Wayside School. The librarian, Mrs. Surlaw, organized the library by number of pages. I can really get behind this scheme - sometimes I need a skinny book to fit in my pocket, sometimes I have hours to kill and I need a really thick book.
By the amount of physical space each book takes up
This is, of course, the best option, because you are now sorting your volumes by volume.
As Tolstoy said, "All good book organization systems are alike; all bad ones are bad in their own way." In a future letter, we’ll discuss some alternative organizational systems that will effectively sort your books so you can find what you need according to how your brain works best.
Got other ideas? Tweet 'em @titlereader. Liked this? Tell your friends. Want more? Join the mailing list below. Otherwise, happy reading!
- Scott Dubinsky