Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So Many Book Websites, So Little Time....

If you have been on the Information Super Highway for more than five minutes, you are likely familiar with social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. If you are book lover, you may even be familiar with the social networking websites dedicated specifically to books. The latest rage for book lovers is to transfer their libraries to the World Wide Web for all to see.

So the question is, which website is best? Which is the cheapest? Which has the most active community? Which website is the most user friendly? I have decided to start a series taking a look some of the more popular websites. Every Wednesday for the foreseeable future I will take a look at the pros & cons of these websites. I know that some of my readers are already members at some of these sites and may even be more skilled at navigating them then me. So I encourage your feedback and helpful hints to get the most out of my time on the Information Super Highway.

In no particular order I am going to start with Library Thing. Library Thing was the first website of this kind that I joined. I first joined in March of 2007. Library Thing does cost, but at different rates. The free membership allows you access to the entire website, but you can only log up to 200 books. You can pay for a year's membership for only $10 or a lifetime membership for $25. Because of these fees, Library Thing is ad free.

Library Thing also has this nifty little tool called The Cuecat. The Cuecat is a little scanner that attaches to your computer via your USB port and it allows you to scan your books into your Library Thing library without having to type in every title or ISBN. It is a very reasonable $15 and can make your life much easier if you have a large library to catalog.

What I like about Library Thing is that they have a pretty well established message board area. You can peruse the "Talk" area by sorting it down to groups that you are part of or read them all in order of most recently posted. When posting book titles or authors, users can use touchstones [ ] that instantly create a link to information about the book or author. Occasionally there is a glitch in that system, but for the most part it runs pretty smoothly.

Another thing that I like is they have an established Early Reviewers program. This allows any member who has joined the Early Reviewers group to request a free copy, usually an Advanced Readers Copy, of a book. The stipulation being that once you have read the book, you post a review of the book in your library. There are theories amongst the members that there is an algorithm factoring in your library and number of the number of reviews that you have posted that determines who gets what requested book. Theory or no theory, I have received several books through this program and have enjoyed many of them.

Like Facebook or MySpace, you can "friend" people and browse through other member's libraries. Your home page is easy to navigate and you can customize the page to suit your needs. My home page includes a "This day in history" feature as well as a list of Talk posts that I have either followed or responded to. Not to mention "Local Events" that may list book club meetings or author signings in your area.

Library Thing also has a "Widget" function which allows you to embed the code for your library into blogs or other websites. The Widget function at Library Thing gives you several options to customize your Widget. From how many rows/columns you want to display to what books in your library you choose to feature, it is pretty user friendly and a neat feature to add to your blogs or websites.

In order to make my "free" membership last a little bit longer, I only add books that I actually have read and own. I also take snippets of my reviews here and add them to the reviews for the books. Until recently, I have used Library Thing the most, probably because it was my first, and that is what I am familiar with.

For the most part, I enjoy using Library Thing. Is it perfect, no. Though, having been a member for over two years, I have seen the website come along way in the last few years and I look forward to seeing what other upgrades and improvements they may have in store for bibliophiles like me. My Library Thing username is CharlotteG, feel free to "friend" me. I would love to browse through your libraries.


Hooptee said...

I had no idea there were other "book" sites like this. wow - guess I'm spending too much time reading blogs! ;)

Charlotte's Web of Books said...

Oh, once you get started, you will be hooked!

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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