“ Online library and community of readers. „
This site is so me! My world is my books. I love to buy them, to read them, to collect them, to smell them, and yes, to catalogue them.
Cataloguing is what librarything.com does and allows you to input all of your collection online, where it is obviously available anywhere, anytime. You can keep your collection as either public or private, which means you do or don't let people see your 'library'. Moreover, you can add as many books as you like - bearing in mind that after 200 you must pay a fee. I paid (after the exchange rate) in 2007, £12.00 for a lifetime membership.
Details of the books are retrieved from numerous sources, though largely places like Amazon, and it is very simply to use. For example, you enter an ISBN and the program searches, retrieves and downloads the information straight to your 'library'. You can add tags, key characters, key places, and ratings, which can be shared across the service. You can even upload your book covers should the one downloaded not be the correct one. In addition, the details of the books contain recommendations for further reading. I have found this to be particularly helpful and have come across several - mainly American - authors I has never heard of through this website.
In your profile, you can add your favourite genres, authors, libraries, other interesting locations as well as accept comments from other readers. You are also able to join discussion groups. Essentially, you can interact with like-minded people and share views on books and your collection.
The layout is very attractive and is not overburdened with colour. If there is anything to be mindful of is that it has "a community of over 600,000 book lovers" (Librarything.com). This, at times, can effect the speed and delivery of the site. A minor glitch, though.
I love this site and I cannot recommend it enough. I would even go so far as to recommend to libraries and societies to get their information on it in order to access all these readers.
I love books. I love reading books, talking about books, buying books, holding books, smelling books, stroking books......[trails off and stares into the distance]
As you can imagine this 'addiction' (oh such a harsh word for so much pleasure) has led to my house being somewhat filled up with books; I have seven bookcases, four of which are double stacked. My daughter has a further bookcase in her room and all of these are regularly increased from sites such as Bookmooch and Amazon as well as charity shops.
So when I discovered Librarything.com I got a little thrill down my spine - a site dedicated to books and libraries, packed with booklovers and their personal libraries, where I could catalogue my own books.....swoon!
I started with a regular free account, this is very simple to set up and you only need an email address. With this type of account you can only add 200 books to your library but this was definitely sufficient while I was getting the hang of the site, making friends and deciding whether to fork out for a proper membership. As it happened I spent a very happy twelve months on the site before I felt that I wanted to upgrade; a lot of people don't upgrade and there is really no pressure to do this at all. I personally upgraded because:
a) I was buying a lot of duplicates as I couldn't remember what I actually owned
b) I get a lot of 'so how many books do you actually have?' and I wanted an answer
c) It appeals to my orderly mind and I can find all my books on a similar subject in an instant and whether I have read it or not.
d) I wanted to be able to compare my library with similar libraries and....
e) Get recommendations on other books I might enjoy. The more books you have listed the more recommendations LibraryThing can generate for you.
f) Wanted to have evidence of how many books I had (for insurance etc)
Upgrading is very simple, click 'upgrade my account' on your profile page and you are taken to a box where you can choose a yearly or lifetime membership - and the price you want to pay in dollars. There is a sliding scale starting at a dollar for a yearly membership. I decided on a lifetime membership and paid via paypal a little less than the average $25 dollars, just $21 (about £14.50). Upgrades are activated immediately.
Once you have signed up then adding books is very easy, just go to the Add Books tab at the top of the page, type in the ISBN or book title/author and the site you want to search (Amazon.co.uk etc). The results come up down the side and you simply click on the book to add it to your library. LibraryThing also sell little ISBN scanners called CueCats ($15) which will scan the ISBN on the back of the book so you don't have to continually type in the numbers. At any point you can add tags into the tag box. These are key words to describe the book e.g. Novel, Romance, Prehistoric, Read etc, which you can use to searching your library for a particular book or genre of books at a later date.
Each book has its own LibraryThing page where you can see how many other members own the book, what discussions are going on about it, reviews (you can post your own), whether you will like the book based on a scan of your own library and also what tags other people have used to describe the book. You can click on these tags to find similarly tagged books which is a very good way to find further reading material. Also on the book page are links to the major booksellers and the major swap sites so you can buy the book immediately or see if there are any copies available to swap.
The 'Your Books' tab provides you with a manageable list of your books, so you can adjust your Tags, add star ratings or comments easily. You can also search and sort your books from here, see which ones are missing cover images (and upload them if you wish) and see if there are any discussions regarding the book on the forums. The forums and your library list are linked through 'touchstoning' where a title typed in square brackets in a message becomes a link to the book page in the posted message. A list of these touchstoned works are down the side of each thread and a green tick indicates those which are already in your library. A simple but brilliant idea which saves me scanning through a long thread for books I particularly like the sound of.
Adding books is just half the fun on this site, the forums are extensive and very active. There are forums for most genres and a huge list of user generated forums and you can pick and choose from those to find those that suit you. I am a member of some speciality forums (historiography), a couple of social forums, some genre forums and a forum just for those who use Bookmooch as well; I visit all of these pretty much everyday! The two biggest and most active forums are The Green Dragon (a 'pub' for friendly chat) and The Hogwarts Express (for fans of a certain boy wizard). A lot of members are there for the chat rather than to catalogue their books which isn't surprising given the activity and diversity of the 'Talk' area. A lot of authors are also listed on LibraryThing and join in on the forums as well, a list of these authors is given in the Zeitgeist section of the site.
LibraryThing also have sections where members can give away their own books, publishers can give away review copies of new books, you can find bookshops and libraries in your local area and members who are local to you, find top books (and the worst books) by star rating, most owned books, rarest books, largest libraries etc. All in all it is a one stop shop for everything bookish and book related. The interface isn't particularly exciting, but it is easy to get to grips with although I do find the homepage can be somewhat cluttered and full of information - I have to read it very slowly and carefully to make sure that I haven't missed anything.
I could enthuse for hours about LibraryThing, I really believe there is something for almost everyone there. If you don't have a huge library you can list books you have read (or want) or just get involved in the forums, which are in general intelligent, vigorous and polite. If you have just finished a book and want to talk about it to someone, want some new ideas about what to read, want some sociable chat, some political or religious debate or to find out what that book was that you remember reading 10 years ago about killer spiders this is the place to go. My mother uses my LibraryThing account to see what books she wants to stea.....sorry borrow the next time she visits! I have got a list of my books, hundreds of recommendations, a few new good friends and a community of people who understand that thrill of a freshly bought book without the eye-rolling and sighing of my husband (who calls LibraryThing 'that bookgeek site').