How to organize your book collection the right way

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As an avid book reader and collector, you face two problems: you have to organize your book collection and deal with the lack of space. Books come in all shapes and sizes, cover every subject, and bring the world firmly to your doorstep. It is the joy of books. But they can be a nightmare to sort through.

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Fortunately, technology can help you keep your books in order. What’s the best way to organize your book collection? How do you organize a library with lots of books? And should you really get rid of your treasured novels?

5 ways to organize your book collection

Books are personal, so you need to organize them in a way that’s most accessible to you. Do you separate hardback books from paperbacks? Do you pile them in a heap? With that in mind, here are some ways to organize your books.

1. Sort Books Using the Dewey Decimal System

How to organize a library? This is the professional way of doing it, i.e. how they are listed in educational institutions. So what is the Dewey Decimal System?

It is simply a numerical method of organizing books by genre and then by author name. Here is the basic system used in public spaces:

000: Computing, information and general works

100: philosophy and psychology

200: Religion

300: Social Sciences

400: Language

500: Natural Sciences

600: Applied Science and Technology

700: Arts and hobbies

800: Literature

900: History, geography and biography

Each issue then splits into smaller categories. For example, literature is divided into American literature in English (810), English and Old English literature (820), and many others. William Shakespeare even has its own subcategory (822.33).

But of course you can do your own thing by creating your own organization system. Dividing by genre could simply mean that you group all detective fiction together. Romance has its place, as do thrillers. The classics might deserve their own space—it’s entirely up to you.

Or you can simply divide your collection into fiction and non-fiction.

Let’s explore a few less intense ways to sort your collection.

2. Make a “Must Read” Pile

You finish a book and want to start a new one. But they are scattered randomly, so you may not find the one you are looking for.

Instead, create different stacks, shelves, or cupboards. These separate the books you’ve read (and want to keep — which we’ll come to) from the tomes you still want to enjoy. This means it’s easier to decide what to enjoy next.

3. Keep your favorite books separate

Are there any novels you would like to read again? Or journals that will be useful for work? Keep them separate from the rest of your books.

Keeping your favorite books aside can be a handy pick-me-up on days when you’re feeling down. If you’re feeling down, a fantastic immersive story can lift your spirits. Remember that there are many websites you can check out when you’re feeling down.


4. Organize your books alphabetically

It’s the easiest way to keep your collection in order. Organize your volumes in alphabetical order, according to the names of the authors, or by title.

It can be a first or last name, as long as you remember which one you chose. It wouldn’t be such a problem to look for Christie, Agatha, but it’s more important for Zafón, Carlos Ruiz.

5. Sort by series

Few things are as frustrating as finishing one book in a series and anxiously awaiting the next… only to find you’ve misplaced it. You spend the next day going through your shelves, intermittently crying, and checking behind the couches. Then you order a replacement copy online.

Alternatively, you can keep the series in chronological order and make life as easy as possible.

Cataloging sites help track reading progress

How do you keep track of which books you’ve read and which ones you’d like to catch up on?

A good option is to use a cataloging website.

The best known is Good reads, which contains details of the vast majority of books, including the various editions. You can mark anyone you’ve read and review them. Many authors are also members, so they will see the comments and can be asked about their work. Plus, you can bookmark books you’re interested in and Goodreads will email you further recommendations.

At the end of the year, Goodreads will give you a useful summary of everything you’ve read.

Another solution is LibraryThing, a similar service that is now free and also includes movies and music. The interface is simple but don’t be discouraged: it’s a fantastic social network for readers. You can filter by tags, which means organizing your collection is easy.

And if you prefer physical documents, LibraryThing allows you to print your catalog!

Collectorz builds a virtual library

You can use various cataloging apps, but one of the best is Collectorz. This covers many mediums, including movies, books, and video games. It goes beyond that, though: the comic book version, for example, includes a library of graphic novels.

Access the library through the website, download the appropriate software or check out the app. It’s a cloud-based system, so whatever items you’re using, just sync them to see the full range of your collection.

The application is particularly impressive: just scan the barcode or search for a title or series. It connects to the database and lists publishing details for everything in your library.

The best piece? Its filters are exceptional. Not only can you check if you have a particular edition and find gaps in your collection; Collectorz lets you add ratings, so you can see where you’ve rated a particular book or comic.

Go digital to save space

It’s definitely not for everyone. But if you’re looking to free up space in your home, try switching to digital editions.

E-readers like Kindle or Kobo allow you to carry an entire library in your backpack. It’s an exciting notion, and increases accessibility. Imagine you’re going on vacation and you still have thousands of stories at your fingertips. Yes, even if you love physical books, there are still plenty of reasons to buy a Kindle.

You don’t have to do this for everything, of course. However, if you’re curious about certain titles or a particular author, this is a decent way to test the water before you fill your shelves with physical books.

Donate books you no longer want

There’s not enough space in your living room for all the novels you want to read. Sometimes you have to consider the unthinkable: getting rid of certain pounds. You could sell them on auction sites like eBayor store them using To make room or a similar service.


But the best option is to donate them to charity. You share knowledge — what could be better than that?

There are various sites where you can forward your used books. These include Books2Africa (which distributes to schools in Africa), Book Aid International (sharing of publications between disadvantaged areas), and best books in the worldwhich offers drop boxes in the US and UK.

How do you organize your books?

Although reading can be a very intimate activity, there is a thriving community of readers to chat with and exchange recommendations. The real trick is to make sure your “To Read” stack is bigger than your “To Read” stack.

Check out our list of the best books of the year for more recommendations.

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