About a month ago I took the plunge and set up a LibraryThing account. Accounts are free for the first 200 books you catalogue on LibraryThing. For larger collections, you will need to pay $10 a year or $25 for life. Obviously, this is different from GoodReads, which is free, no matter how many books you have.
The name of this site and the term cataloging suggests the big distinction between GoodReads and this site. GoodReads is a social media site that allows people to share books they are reading or have read with their friends. Incidentally, it does allow you some capability to catalogue your books by categories you make up. LibraryThing is much more library based, allowing you to catalogue your books, and even access cataloging information used by librarians.
Let me give you a quick tour. Once you’ve set up your account, the first page you will visit is “Home” which is also your “Dashboard”. In the left column you can go to “recent news” “about you” and “discover”. From your Dashboard, you can add books, or import books from other sites like GoodReads and Shelfari (I haven’t tried that yet because I will then need to be a paying customer). You can edit your profile and add pictures. And you can access groups and forums, which, unlike many on GoodReads, seem quite active. Below this is information about your books, images of your most recently added books, your collections and tags, and automatic recommendations of books you might like based on yours, as well as member recommendations of other books similar to a book you’ve both read. Then there are conversation topics, local events for your area, and my favorites: authors who were born or died on this day.
If you click on a book you have added, it will take you to a page chock full of information about the book. You can see how many members have it, how popular it is, links to various sites that sell the book, including free sites. You can rate the book, add a review, put it in different collections, and tag it. The page provides a word cloud of popular tags. You can see who else has it, get recommendations of other books you might like, read other member reviews and extensive information about the book from publication date, to characters, places, awards, epigraphs, and quotes and book descriptions.
Perhaps the most fascinating page is the “Zeitgeist” page, subtitled “more information than your require.” For example, at the time this post was written, they had 2,052,484 members. eandino2012 has the largest library with 81,313 books. The Hunger Games is their most reviewed book with 2,930 reviews, and J.K. Rowling their top author. Their most prolific reviewer is “bluetyson” with 35,779 reviews (and you thought I reviewed a lot of books!).
Most recently, they’ve set up the ability through TinyCat to create a true library catalogue of your books that works with LibraryThing. It is free to LibraryThing members to use for personal use, as opposed to a public library. It is designed for small libraries, like what most of us have. Signup is at librarycat.org which may be accessed from your dashboard on LibraryThing.
My overall sense is that LibraryThing is geekier than the more socially-oriented GoodReads but has far more cataloging capabilities and connections to so many other book and library-related resources. I haven’t decided yet if I will plunk down for a membership, but I only have 21 books on the site so far. I have to admit that I’ve had lots of fun poking around the site, with lots more yet to explore and try out.
Tomorrow, I will do a post on the genius behind LibraryThing, Tim Spalding.