Built on Facts


I’m going to be out of pocket most of this weekend, though with any luck I’ll still have the standard Saturday miscellany and Sunday Function posted. Today I’ll be on the road, and leave you with a slightly useless bit of trivia:

The average density of books in my apartment is 1.83 per square meter.

Fortunately books are pretty compact and so in actuality there’s a very small number of square meters with many books on them. Nonetheless, I was still a but surprised that the average was as high as it was. I keep a spreadsheet with all my books listed by title, author, and LoC call number, so the calculation is exact. Yes, I know this is probably the most nerdy thing you’ll hear all week.


  1. #1 rob
    April 3, 2009

    and i thought i was bad when i put my books on the shelf alphabetically!

    spreadsheet! geez.

    however, that level of organization should prove beneficial in your physics research. it is much easier to find data when it is on a spreadsheet versus scattered on post-it notes all around the lab.

  2. #2 Janicot
    April 3, 2009

    Thank you (at least my wife thanks you). It’s reassuring to see we’re not the only delusionally compulsive people in the country.

    This month we’ve been making just such a list for ourselves with the rationalization of keeping track of the books as they get sold.

    I’m not yet sure if you’ve got us beat or not. So far we’re only scoring ~1.42 books/sq. meter — but we’re only about 3/4 done. (And even that doesn’t count the boxes of books in the garage.) But I am sure we’ve been accumulating much longer than you (Get off my lawn you kids!!!).

    That does bring up a point though. Our house is about 177 sq. meters. If you lived in a dorm room for instance, your metric number might not be so embarassing.

  3. #3 zaardvark
    April 3, 2009

    What about by volume :P?

  4. #4 Anonymous
    April 3, 2009

    My thought was “That low?”

    My house is about 240m², and I easily have over 500 books, putting me over 2 books/m².

  5. #5 Janicot
    April 3, 2009

    You truly have a twisted point of view.
    Besides… ‘Where would all the calculators go?’

  6. #6 Janicot
    April 3, 2009

    Sorry, wrong tab in my browser — feel freq to delete my last post…. (Slinks away sheepishly)

  7. #7 G.E. Wilker
    April 3, 2009

    Add me to the ‘that low?’ crowd – I don’t have the numbers handy, but my apartment is about 80 square meters and I have at least 800 books, which leaves a wince-worthy 10/m. (Yes, I am considering moving. Largely because I have run out of places to put shelves.) Nothing to be embarassed about; it just shows you’re highly literate.

  8. #8 Max Fagin
    April 3, 2009

    Bah, amateurs. I’ve got over 15/m^2.

    That’s what I get for being a science major living in the cheap dorms 🙂

  9. #9 three of clubs
    April 4, 2009

    I’m also on the dusky side of the hill and slowly realizing that my kids won’t read all the books I carefully collected for them.

    But a question for a younger generation, how many songs do you have per meter?

    (By the way, thanks for a great blog. can we have a smackdown on string theory sometime soon, please. I know it’s in you.)


  10. #10 andyb
    April 4, 2009

    I would love to come to your apartment and tell you that I have swapped two books.

    Evil, I know.

  11. #11 The Chemist
    April 4, 2009

    I only have around 300 books, but my square footage number (~6 books per sq.meter) is inflated because of my small apartment (though to be fair, half the apartment is my roommates and he owns virtually no books). I’ve been trying to get my books organized by spreadsheet like you, but it’s a pain in the ass.

    Because I’m laaaaaazy: I’m waiting for someone more programming and net savvy than I to make a nice little program with a nice little Excel OLE for me, and all I’d have to do is get a barcode scanner and have the computer yank the details by searching UPCs. I have some books without UPC of course, especially the foreign language ones that are a little harder to come by at your local Borders, but it would still lower my workload.

  12. #12 Uncle Al
    April 4, 2009

    Get an average-sized apple and weigh it. None of that pounds or grams stuff – SI and weight. How ’bout that?

  13. #13 Douglas
    April 5, 2009

    The Chemist: Take a look at Library Thing, and/or the CueCat:

  14. #14 Chris P
    April 6, 2009

    Be careful not to get too many expensive books. My insurance company will not cover mine unless I get them individually valued. What are you to do when you buy books (engineering ones) that cost a dollar but are worth over $1000?

    Cannot win. I tried starting a list with valuations but it becamse too much like hardwork.

  15. #15 JM
    April 9, 2009

    Ummm my apartment is 60m2 and currently has 350 odd books = 4.42/m2 (average linear space ~ 50 books/meter)

    That’s only a fraction, my house is about 160m2 and has around 5x as much (estimated from shelf space) so it must be somewhere around 11/m2

    And that’s without a warehouse containing around 30 cartons of books (let’s say 30 books/carton for a total of 3000.

    So if I moved ’em all into the house (where they all where at one point) I’d be up around 19/m2

  16. #16 joulesm
    April 9, 2009

    The Chemist: if you own a Mac, you can use (purchase) Delicious Library. It uses the iSight to scan barcodes and keeps everything in order.

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