Entering the books
Past couple nights, I've been entering my father's books--the ones I don't want--into Delicious Library. My theory is that once I'm done, I can export to some kind of text or even HTML format, perhaps nicely alphabetized by author or title or ordered by publication date or something, and post the list online; then anyone who wants any of them despite the smoke-damaged covers can let me know.
This is a lot more work than just taking them to a bookstore. But I suspect (without having actually checked on this) that most used bookstores (and library sales) would want me to clean the soot off before they would take the books, and anyway I would rather that as many as possible of the books go directly to good homes, with people who would actually read and/or appreciate them, than that they end up in a store.
That said, I suspect that none of y'all will be interested in most of them, and that they'll end up at a store or library book sale in the end after all.
But this is good practice for the bigger task of cataloguing all of his books that I'm keeping, not to mention all of mine that I haven't yet catalogued. I've already scanned in most of my books that have ISBN barcodes, that being the cool fun way to use Delicious Library; and I'm discovering that for books that don't have barcodes but do have ISBNs, it's almost as easy and almost as fast, just typing in the ISBN instead of using the barcode scanner. But if a book is too old to have an ISBN, which is true of many of these, then the D.L. interface is a little annoying--if you search by title and author, it presents you with a list of usually identical items, and the only way to tell the difference between the editions in the list seems to be to click through to the Amazon page. I've filed a feature request for better handling of the no-ISBN situation.
Still, it's not all that bad. I've entered about 150 books so far, and it's taking about one and a half to two minutes per book, average. (For books with barcodes or at least ISBNs, it's only a few seconds.) I have about 100 to go from the getting-rid-of boxes, so that should only take another two or three hours. It sure beats typing up all this info myself.
Probably the prize among the books I've gone through so far is the 1902 (?) hardcover of Hilbert's The Foundations of Geometry in quite good condition. I'm not certain it's a 1902 edition; the only date in it is the 1902 copyright date for the translation, but it's possible that it's an edition published a couple decades later; it doesn't look as old as (for example) the 1909 Plane Trigonometry.
Oh--also deserving of special mention is The Story of Mankind, written and illustrated by the aptly named Hendrik Van Loon. It aims to be a history of humanity for kids, more or less; published in 1926, and has much but not all of the Western-centrism that you might expect from such a book.
When given the option, I'm trying to select (from among the options provided by Amazon) the edition of any given book that has a publication year closest to that of the edition I've got, and I'm trying to get cover images from Amazon where accurate. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to export those in any useful way; I may just have to provide links to Amazon pages. It won't be perfect--sometimes I'll be linking to an edition other than the one I've actually got--but, surprisingly to me, most of the specific editions I've got have turned out to be listed at Amazon.
Anyway. I should probably hold off on the explanations 'til I actually post the list, so I'll stop and go to bed now. Don't know if I'll manage to finish entering the books and post the list in the next week or so--pretty busy--but sometime soonish.