Blog posts tagged "science fiction"

Cataloging and Selling Old Science Fiction

April 13th, 2008

Both of my grandfathers were compulsive readers. They left behind large libraries. My Grandpa however was a life long fan of science fiction, and his library includes boxes, and boxes, and boxes of paper back science fiction novels purchased starting in the 1930s and running up until a few years ago.

Going through the collection some had been damaged by rodents, and weather, and had to be tossed, but even keep only those in good condition they filled 21 file boxes.

My brother and I spent a little while trying to identify software to help with the cataloging. We didn’t find anything useful. In particular most assumed that the bulk of your catalog had ISBNs (introduced in the 1970s), or even barcodes.

We ended up setting up a shared Google spreadsheet, and, along with our Dad, hand entered the first box. (thankfully the data is repetitive. One of the delights of the experience was going to type in an author or publisher, and auto-completing as someone else had already added a book by that author).

Now the question is, how do you go about enriching that data, and identifying which of the books are interesting. We found a first edition 1954 “I Am Legend” which a quick web search suggests sells for $50-$100USD. But we have no idea how many other interesting titles we were simply unfamiliar with.

And we have even reach the esoteric stuff, like the “double feature” printings, which can be read front to back as one story, or flipped around and read back to front for an entirely different pulp novel.

Are there books? Newsletters? Websites? God forbid APIs for doing this stuff? Alibris, and Abebooks seem to be the most prominent, but not terribly useful. Ideally there would be a database out there with confirmed first edition information, estimated value, cover art, etc.

Any ideas?

Anyway, the first box of 107 books is up and indexed, including a Matheson, Merrit, Moorcok, and Laumer.