Books give-away, featuring Airtable

Roughly every three years, I find I’ve amassed too many books, and have to give some (around 50-75) away.

There was a great “used books store” in downtown Mountain View, which (tragically1) had to close up shop and move away, and the time after that, I went to the local Goodwill, and this time I’m thinking of donating what I can to the local library, we’ll see.

It’s somewhat disappointing that there isn’t any record of the hundreds of books I’ve given away over the last decade and change … so this time I thought I’d make a list.

Now the idea of making a list of the books I have, has come up in the past, but it has either

  • been on paper
  • or otherwise not accessible any more
  • or not re-attempted because there’s just no easy way to do it.

Until now.

I have this love-hate relationship with Airtable, it seems — I’ve written before about how their pricing is geared towards enterprises and lacking a good “personal use plan”, but … the fact is, for something like this, it’s dead simple to use.

What I recorded here is the name of each book, an image of the cover, and whether it’s hardcover/softcover2, and … I was going through them at the rate of about fifteen seconds per book.

Here3 is the result: an accessible list of everything I’m about to give away this time.

P.S. I realized something else: in case you live nearby and want to pick up anything on this list, leave a note on the list (it’s read-only, but comment-able), and I’ll figure out a way to hand them over.

  1. https://www.sfgate.com/books/article/BookBuyers-closes-its-doors-in-Mountain-View-7288142.php
  2. Not sure why I did this, it’s something I thought would matter …
  3. https://airtable.com/invite/l?inviteId=invfJzu4jolUgZd7t&inviteToken=ffd7628ff3a544f4f40ecd56c4406bdefbf232cfca5b0a274b3a62890945e512

More on Notion and Airtable

I had talked about tentatively trying out both Notion and Airtable earlier, and I have more to report on that.

Airtable is just a really great experience, makes it so easy to “just create a Base”, add tables, easily add color-coded “tag columns”, link between different tables, and so much more.

But — the price is too high, at $10/mo, and it seems to be more enterprise-focusses, or intended for teams, because no other personal software has such a high subscription cost — this is more than Notion, more than Bear, more than Evernote, more than Dropbox, more than Ulysses, more than … you get the point — so I don’t even want to go down a path of really using it a lot any more.

Meanwhile, in a sort of mirror-image of my dissatisfaction with Airtable, I’m amazed at just how much Notion can do for me. It’s great for my flexible note-taking style — I’ve always bumped up against “the rules of the world” with other apps — and it’s a very pleasant feeling to have it get out of my way.

It’s easy to add new bits and pieces, and then mold them as needed, and then make the whole thing easy to share, embed or organize.

Finally, the “dead-simple and fun-to-use tables” experience is mostly true within Notion as well, so I’m quite happy to not have to give that up either 🙂

I ended up signing up for the personal paid plan, because it’s just that useful to me now, and a super-set of the functionality of quite a few other apps.

Now (since I’m quite conservative about using new apps!) I hope Notion stays around! The team is responsive and seems to be focussed on the right things, and I wish them all the luck in getting more adoption for what they’ve been able to make.