Ken October 27th, 2007
?When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.? ~Desiderius Erasmus
I stumbled upon an intriguing website a few weeks back: LibraryThing.com. Basically, the website is social networking for book readers. After registering an account, you add all the books you own (or have ever read) into your catalog. Then LibraryThing can show you other users’ profiles who have the same books in their catalog. You can browse their catalog and see what they thought about the books you have read, or even get ideas for new books to read from like-minded readers. A pretty nifty concept that is extremely well done.
First, creating an account is free* and easy: to register all you need is a user name and password…they don’t even need an email address (though if you want to retrieve your password, you should add it to your profile). After registering you are ready to add books to your catalog. To do this, you just search for the title or author of the book, and LibraryThing searches Amazon.com’s website for the book in question. I have always found the book I’ve been looking for. Just in case, though, you can search more than 80 different libraries for the book, including the Library of Congress.
*Free membership is limited to 200 books, a lifetime unlimited membership is a mere $25.
After adding books to your catalog, you are ready to begin the addicting part: arranging them on the shelves. There are a plethora of options once a book is added, including changing the cover image to the one that you have, tagging the book with keywords to easily sort and search your collection, rating the books on a scale of 0-5, and entering a review of the book for others to see, or perhaps for your own recollection. The process can sometimes be tedious, but is also very addicting. In fact, I’m only writing about this now because LibraryThing.com is down for a couple hours for scheduled maintenance. I still have about 200 books to tag and organize.
Another feature LibraryThing offers is a range of different book suggestion options. They can look at what books you have and see what other people who liked those books also have (sorted by fiction or non-fiction, and including authors you have read or completely new ones). They also have an interesting suggester called the “Unsuggester”-this allows you to put in a book you hated and it will give a recommendation that it thinks you will love (or vice-versa, I suppose). There is also a handy feature to display random books from your library on your website or blog. Mine is located on the right of our website…clicking the book takes you to Amazon, clicking “my library” takes you to my catalog.
All in all, I think this service is a blast and I thought it entirely appropriate to break out a new category of posts, curiously named “Cheese.” These are reviews in which I rate certain products, companies, services, and ideas by giving them between 0-5 “cheese” based on usefulness, fun, mood and other arbitrary criteria. I am please to rate my inaugural review a solid 4.5 out of 5. Well done, LibraryThing.com