How Do You Track Your Collections?

I’m a collector. I’ve got numerous comics, books, and movies to keep track of. It’s also a safe bet that a number of Bureau readers do as well. Below, I’ll describe how I keep track of mine, and open the floor for the alternatives our users are using.

Tracking

In all three cases, I keep track of things with the software available from http://www.collectorz.com. It’s easy to use, and has a substantial online database as well as numerous features. It also has online user forums, which are used by users as often as programmers and database managers. Heck, when they put out a call for feature updates for the comic tracking software, the company president was very active. Two of my own suggestions (“Download back cover only for wraparound covers” and “update only issues I own”) received rapid recognition by him, and were implemented in the next version in less than a month. I’m thrilled with their stuff and the community they’re building. (Don’t just take my word for it, take J. Michael Straczynski’s.) If only the comic collector software could make use of the barcode scanner as the book and movie software does, we’d be in great shape. I’m having FTP issues right now, so instead of posting the pictures of my collections right here on the site, I’ve set up this Facebook album. The same FTP issues prevent the updating of the comic and movie collection web pages that the software automatically generates. (It can create individual detail pages with cover images for all of them, but I don’t have the web space for that.)

Comics

I’ve got a few methods of storing comics. The DVD ROM products from GIT Corp aren’t pictured; they’re compact enough that I don’t need special arrangements for them, so they’re in an alphabetized stack in a cupboard near the computer. The regular monthly issues are stored in one of two ways. Most series are stored in drawer boxes, which I highly recommend to any collector. They’re sturdy, the short versions fit in a regular closet, they come with dividers, and they let you maintain access to the boxes on the bottom as easily as those on the top. I’ve still got a couple of traditional long boxes for special needs. For example, when Marvel pulled the GIT Corp license mere weeks before the “Daredevil” DVD-ROM was due, I decided to fill in my collection of the issues not collected in trade paperback form the old fashioned way, and filled an entire long box with nothing but “Daredevil.” (I now have the complete run.) Most of the trade paperbacks are on a regular bookshelf, which was also pictured. The Essential and Showcase Presents volumes are on a bookshelf that was built in when the house was built, also as pictured. The location of any particular issue is tracked with this file, hand-typed and formatted with LaTeX.

Movies

I’ve experimented with a few arrangements of storage for these. At present, the bulk of my movies are in dedicated drawers in the theatre room itself, as pictured in the album. This keeps them accessible, it keeps appearances nice and clean, and it allows for a little more space than the usual DVD rack which is nice for oversized box sets. (Ultimate Superman Collector’s Edition, I’m looking at you.) I filled them up pretty quickly, though, and had to expand out of them. I picked up a number of DVD racks, none of which were slotted by the size of a normal case, as I have many non-standard cases (like TV seasons) that don’t fit well in those. I decided to use the three biggest racks for the TV on DVD product. When I originally adopted the high definition formats, I put them on their own rack. That rack’s almost full, and the collection will expand, so I’ll soon be reintegrating the titles with the rest of the collection. I also ran into problems with some of my box sets making things awkward in the drawers, as alphabetized sorting left gaps in rows where the boxes wouldn’t fit (due to a box on the other side) so I pulled those with consistent spines (Walt Disney Treasures and Looney Tunes Golden Collections initially, later some of the really old movies in my collection, as in the silent movie box sets not involving Buster Keaton) out into their own racks. I filled the last couple of shelves here with my Nintendo DS, PS1, PS2 and PS3 games. (Collectorz.com also has game collector software, which I have less call for, but which is equally well designed.)

Books

I’ve got these on bookshelves. (Novel concept, I know.) There are bookshelves in the “office” by the computer (the TPBs pictured take up less than a quarter of the space), bookshelves in the laundry room, and stacks on the floor near them. I think it’s time to sift through them and start donating those I won’t read again to some entity that will. I’ve got the fiction together, sorted alphabetically by author’s last name first and publication order second (except for series, which are kept together even if the same author released other titles in between.) The non-fiction is arranged by topic and subtopic, as most are either about math, physics, or movies. For example, they start with the math section, which is then sorted by “history of math and/or mathematicians,” “algebra” (e.g. group theory, modern algebra, algebraic number theory), “linear algebra,” “calculus” (starting with introductory stuff, moving into ODEs and PDEs, and ending with analysis), and “geometry.” Each subtopic is sorted by increasing complexity, with the idea that the entire section could be read from left to right, start to finish, and the reader would have all the prerequisite knowledge required for the next book on the shelf.

What About You?

This is what I do. What do you do? Please share below.

7 replies on “How Do You Track Your Collections?”

  1. AceCaseOR says:

    Nowhere near as organized.
    At the moment… I have a filing cabinet. When I pick my comics up from the comic shop (I try to – and occasionally fail – to regularly check my pullbox) they’re already polybagged. After reading the comics I, for the moment… unceremoniously put them in the filing cabinet…

    *Breaks down*
    I know! I’m a horrible comic geek. I know I can do better. I repent, I repent my horrible, potentially comic damaging ways. Forgive me!

    There, I got that out of my system. As far as DVDs and Blu-Rays go, I have one rack for DVDs, another rack for video games. Packaging that won’t work on a standard rack for one reason or another I put on a bookshelf, spine facing out.

  2. Scifi^2 says:

    GCStar for tracking
    For tracking purposes I use GCStar. It works probably 95% or the time in finding what you intend, which as a linux user that’s a higher percentage of working then I’m used to. I had to go through a few hoops to have it id my Social Distortion Greatest Hits CD but my R.O.D. import soundtrack was found right away. It looks pretty similar to the collections software in the main title but without some of the polish and features (you have to rely on imports from third party websites for your information).

    When it comes to the actual storage of stuff I just use simple bookshelves. The comics are placed on the shelf with tabbed separators in between the various titles. Though if my comic collection grows any larger I may have to resort to something else to keep them from getting damaged while still being locatable.

  3. Alexius says:

    My pitiful state of affairs:
    My Comics are in two different boxes, in the closet. Organization is ‘Alphabetized ten years ago, then just thrown in, but mostly accurate. Then randomly separated into two boxes.’

    I was hoping for a free, open source comic software for Linux, but it doesn’t seen like anyones written it yet.

    I tried to install the Comic Collector Live software that was heavily advertised in comics the last time I could afford to get a bunch, but unfortunately, it didn’t run (On a clean XP install), and they never responded to my multiple support requests. They sent plenty of newsletters, though. :(

    • Alexius says:

      Re: My pitiful state of affairs:

      My Comics are in two different boxes, in the closet. Organization is ‘Alphabetized ten years ago, then just thrown in, but mostly accurate. Then randomly separated into two boxes.’

      I was hoping for a free, open source comic software for Linux, but it doesn’t seen like anyones written it yet.

      I tried to install the Comic Collector Live software that was heavily advertised in comics the last time I could afford to get a bunch, but unfortunately, it didn’t run (On a clean XP install), and they never responded to my multiple support requests. They sent plenty of newsletters, though. :(

      Oh, Movies:

      Movies are in two forms. My Wife has all of her DVD collection alphabetized around the entertainment center.

      Mine are all by date I got them. Though if I click the other headings, they will re-order themselves by whatever criteria I choose. I usually go by date so I can find my most recent one, but sometimes I’ll alphabetize them by filename, so that I can get the one I want. ;)

  4. Timeshredder says:

    Alpha

    Alphabetical arrangement on shelves, sort of. We have thousands of books, so we tend to have sections, like a library. Some things have been misfiled for years. The comics are in two sections, ordinary comix and trade paperback/graphic novel. Movies are pretty much all by alpha.

    We have many shelves.

  5. Erf says:

    Punnage

    I’ve got these on bookshelves. (Novel concept, I know.)

    Ouch. That’s terrible. I love it.

    Me, I don’t have enough of a collection to be worth tracking everything. For tracking academic papers, tech reports, etc at work I’ve found BibDesk to be an excellent, simple database manager; the database is stored in BibTeX format for easy use in my own reports, and it keeps PDFs of the papers in a directory and gives me easy access to them.

  6. vanyel says:

    readerware
    I’ve been sporadically using readerware, but don’t really like it, mainly because it uses an internal database without a way to hook up an external app (e.g. web page). That may be fixed by now, it was something he was planning on doing, but I haven’t checked recently, nor have I spent a lot of time looking for others, so this is a good excuse to take another look.

    As for physical storage, my 800 dvds are alphabetical in two sections: watched and unwatched (the latter is big enough that I’ve stopped buying them for the most part ;-) ).

    My 600 books are on bookshelves; the fiction alphabetical, the non-fiction categorized, but nothing formal like one of the systems. Or they were until the last move, which was about the time I started going digital. Now about 2/3rds of the books are in boxes waiting for a garage sale. I haven’t gotten around to finishing the partial order of the remaining, and I’m trying to figure out a good way to manage the 200 digital titles I have.

    Likewise, the 100 or so cds are semi-organized into genre/alpha artist, but what I do listen to is all from the mp3 rips of them, and I’m trying to find a better way to manage those as well.

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