|Two of many, many bookcases|
Here's how I made Goodreads work for book cataloging:
You can set up custom lists outside of Goodreads' three default ones: Read, Currently Reading, and To-Read. But here's the catch: as far as I can tell, you can't export the custom lists. So, the custom Owned shelf I created didn't really matter. For the purposes of the project, I decided to scan the book collection into the To-Read list. Yes, any friends who pay attention to the home page on Goodreads got flooded with my work for two days. There's probably a way to make what you add to your lists private, but I was too lazy to look into that (sorry, Goodreads friends!).
When I finished scanning and searching, I exported my shelves into Excel and filtered it to only show To-Read (it automatically includes all three lists in the export). That's the base for my catalog, and I can add new books to the Excel list as well as other books that don't have barcodes.
The negative part about using Goodreads for the project:
Like I said, Goodreads worked fine. Many of the hiccups I encountered would likely have happened regardless of which app I used, but there was an annoying thing about using Goodreads. You can't have a book on two lists. That's fine, it makes sense. However, that means any books I own and have already read and have in the Read category on Goodreads got moved out to the To-Read list when I cataloged them. I made note of those books by taking pictures of them, and I need to carve out some time to add them all back to the Read shelf.
I could have left them on the Read shelf and just made notes to add them to my final spreadsheet, but that also would have involved taking a picture or writing the title down. It would have been a little less work but still a pain.
The tedious aspects of cataloging:
Aside from anything specifically related to using Goodreads, these were the most tedious parts of the hours and hours I spent cataloging:
- If a book didn't have a 13 digit ISBN number, I had to use the search function and look it up manually. That meant old books, nearly all my paperbacks, and many trade paperbacks that were labeled as "direct sales" couldn't be scanned. That added a significant amount of time to the process.
- If you like purchasing sketchbooks or indie books at conventions like I do, prepare to make a handwritten or typed list of all those things because chances are they aren't in Goodreads. And I'm not saying sketchbooks should be in Goodreads, that doesn't necessarily fit, just a caveat to be aware of. I wrote the titles down at first and then switched to taking pictures of the covers. I have yet to translate those pictures to items on my list.
Overall though, I was surprised it only took a couple of days. I marathoned the Serial podcast and then rewatched some Vampire Diaries as I worked, and that helped the time go by. At the end of cataloging, my joints hurt and I was covered in dust, but it was worth it. It makes me happy to be able to see every book, trade, and graphic novel at a glance and to learn in a second whether or not I have the first two Saga trades (and I don't for some reason even though I know I've read them). The process also allowed me to weed out duplicates.
For 2015, I'd like to take my spreadsheet and use it to determine a way to organize the book collection so it's easier to find any given title. It won't be simple to arrange nearly 1,400 books in a proper system so I'll probably put that off until next December.