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How to organize our cookbook collection? [moved from General Topics board]

My wife works in the cookbook industry. We have hundreds of cookbooks. Actually, a few thousand. An entire wall of cookbooks now encompasses our living room in the city. Our collection at the country house is growing. The collection keeps growing even though my wife is choosy about what is admitted into our shelves.

Well, now we can't find anything. It's VERY disorganized. I need some help. I haven't found anything helpful online.

I would love suggestions on how to organize the cookbooks.

I've been a frequent lurker and reader for several years, but this is my first post.

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  1. Mine are in two areas - the ones I use most regularly - maybe 30 or so, are on a bookshelf in the kitchen. The rest are in another room organized - frankly - by size. I have about 100 only, though.

    My suggestion would be though to figure out how your wife accesses her cookbooks - by which I mean - when she wants to find a cookbook, does she think of the cuisine/region/technique, the author's name, or the title? Depending on what the answer is, I'd organize them along those lines.

    Congratulations on your first post - let it be the first of many!

    1. MMRuth made a brilliant suggestion on a similar topic. I don't have nearly as big a problem as you do, but also feel helpless when I have to find something. She suggested making a photocopy of the index in every cookbook and keeping that filed. With your collection, I'd go further and suggest that you keep them either sorted by topic and within that topic, stacked in alphabetical order by author, or just alphabetically. Keep your index file in the same order as the books.

      I've just made a start by buying a low-cost photocopier (Costco - around $70).

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        1. I do mine by departments, like in a bookstore:

          Italy
          France
          Spain
          Eastern Europe
          Mediterranean / Middle Eastern
          Japanese
          Chinese
          Other Asian
          Mexican
          Other Latin American
          American standards (Joy of Cooking, Fannie Farmer, NY Times)
          American regional
          Theme (barbecue, fish, game, ginger)
          Vegetarian
          Chefs (that don't fit in any particular region)
          Historical
          Baking
          Wine
          Cheese
          Reference

          1 Reply
          1. I do the same but separate bakng from dessert books since not all desserts are baked

            1 Reply
            1. re: Candy

              I'll probably do that someday too if we accumulate more non-baking dessert books.