Friday, July 23, 2010


As I've been working on our book club web site, I've been exploring online book-related tools and resources. LibraryThing is one of my favorites.

At its core, LibraryThing is a digital card catalog for your library. You establish an account and then add your books to your virtual "bookshelves". It's easy to add books; you just start typing a title, and it'll bring up matching books that you select. These are really data files that include the book's ISBN number and other meta data. You can also pick from the cover images available. You can rate your books and write notes or reviews of them. LT analyzes your library and returns statistics about your books, such as the breakdown between male/female authors or living/dead authors, settings for your books, and awards won by your books.

LibraryThing also generates html code for widgets that display your books on websites or blogs. Here's an example:

But LibraryThing isn't simply a personal book database. It also aggregates book information across all its member accounts and facilitates online community. Here are a few examples of what you can do with LibraryThing:
  • See community-wide ratings
  • View other people's libraries
  • Get suggestions from LT about other users with libraries similar to yours and then view their libraries
  • Read others' reviews
  • "Follow" or "friend" other members
  • Get personalized reading recommendations generated by analyzing your taste
  • Swap books with other members
  • Get free copies of books from other members or from being an early reviewer
  • Participate in online chats with authors
  • Buy LT merchandise, such as the LibraryThong
  • Public, shared “Work” pages, allow users to fill in info about book, like quotes, setting, characters, awards, descriptions
  • See community-wide statistics for all the books on all member shelves, like word clouds showing where authors went to college and where they live
  • See a feed of upcoming book-related events (e.g. signings, readings) in your geographic area
And that's not even a complete listing of its features and capabilities. I recommend spending some time poking around.

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