As an Android phone user and a member of Library Thing for the last year and a half, I’ve lamented the lack of an Android app. Why should the iPhone users have all the fun. Well, I no longer need to lament. The middle of last month, LibraryThing announced that its Android app was finally available. They even accompanied it with a fun video, showing how easy it is to catalog your whole library using the bar code scanner on the app.
Let’s begin with that function, since it is probably one of the most useful aspects of the app. From the Home screen, you hit the button labeled “Add to catalog.” That will take you to a screen that allows you either key in a title or ISBN number, or much more easily scan the bar code for the book. To do this, tap the bar code symbol with a red horizontal line through it. You will see a frame appear using your phone’s camera. Hold it over the bar code on your book, wait for the beep (a bit startling the first time you hear it), and then it will pull up a small image, title, and author of the book you are scanning. It’s worked accurately every time I’ve used it, has always retrieved the correct title, and in my experience, does so more quickly than the scanner on the GoodReads app. One complaint I’ve heard is that you cannot use the bar code scanner to search for books already in your library.
Probably the other most significant button on your app is the “Your Catalog” button. Tapping it will display all your books either in a list or tiled covers. Tapping on the book will take you to a page on that book, allow you to edit what “collections” it appears in, see publication information, member tags and go to links on LibraryThing or Amazon for the book. At the bottom, you are able to delete the entry from your library, or edit your own information, including your tags, ratings, review, and other comments on the book. I would say this is much easier to do on a computer (and often I cut and paste reviews from a blog, which is easier to do on a computer).
You can also search your collections by title, author, ISBN, or even tags. This is quite convenient if you want to see how many books you’ve read, or own, of a particular author, or find books on a particular topic. This comes up often when I’m asked for a book recommendation and the ability to do a quick search comes in handy.
The “Cover Explorer” button is one I’m not quite sure of why it is included. It’s basic function is to tell you the source of the cover image–Amazon (ISBN or ASIN), and low or high member-uploaded cover images. The only reason I can see for this is that the book data from Amazon including ISBN is probably more certain to match their image.
The “Account” button allows you to sign in or out and an “add to catalog resources” section (where LibraryThing looks to find a book you are adding to your library). The defaults are Amazon and the libraries connected to LibraryThing’s database. This accounts for the amazing ability LibraryThing seems to have to find books (and other media).
Finally, the “News” button takes you to the news articles that appear in the right column on the internet version of LibraryThing–including Early Reviewer posts, and information about other changes on LibraryThing.
As an app, it is simple and uncomplicated and accomplishes speedily one of the basic things many people turn to LibraryThing for–cataloging books. It doesn’t have the newsfeed showing you what friends are reading. It’s not especially “pretty.” It shows you your catalog and helps you organize and add to it. It is fast and accurate.
If you are already on LibraryThing or have considered getting on, another bonus of using the app is that it automatically qualifies you for a lifetime free membership on LibraryThing. It has been the case that membership was free for those with under 200 books cataloged and $10 a year or $25 lifetime otherwise.
The app is available at the Google Play Store, and is free as well. What a great way to use smartphone technology if you have a library you want to catalog, or just want to start a list of the books you’ve read!