Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Online Discovery...For Book Lovers

In another blog post I talk about my passion for books. If you are as fond of books as I am, then I think you may be interested in an online discovery I made recently.

How would you like to catalog your books? That's easy, you say, all you need to do is get some index cards, or make a spread sheet on the computer, or even do what I've done in the past and type them into a word processor file. No problem -- just time and patience. But what about fun? Is any of that really fun? Maybe you can keep the excitement going for the first one hundred and fifty books or so, but then that fantastic head of steam you'd built up condenses into moist drudgery.

How about a way to catalog your books, look for others who have the same books as you, and develop connections with other avid readers and book lovers? Sound like your cup of tea? Well, pull out the silver serving set and the fine china, because I'm going to tell you about a couple of web sites you won't want to miss.

The first site is called Library Thing. It's been around for a while, but I've just decided to create an account, which is very easy. All you have to do is select a user name and password to set up a free account. With a free account, you get to enjoy all the features of the site, including cataloging up to 200 of your books. If you want to catalog more, it costs $10.00 a year, or a one-time $25.00 payment for a lifetime membership. You can enter your books' ISBN numbers, titles, Library of Congress catalog numbers, and the search engine scans several databases, including Amazon.com, the Library of Congress, and over 60 international university libraries. If your book is in the database, you select it and add it to your library. For most books, an image is available, and if one is not, you can upload your own book images. It's a lot of fun to look at your book images or the libraries of other members. For all the information on how to join and use Library Thing, just go to LibraryThing.com.

The other site is Shelfari. It's a newer site, and I've found lots of my books (particularly older ones) are not in the database. It searches Amazon.com also, but it doesn't have an option to enter your books or book images, which is a helpful feature of Library Thing. One feature that makes it very appealing is that it's free! The site owners have assured me they are looking at ways to add new features to the site where users can contribute info and book images. Members have their own profile page, and they can enter as much (or as little) information as they want. Members also have their own "shelves" where their books are displayed. Shelfari has a very user friendly social network. You can leave notes for other users and add friends, much like MySpace or Facebook. You can take a look at Shelfari.com.

By the way, if you're interested in looking at my shelves at either place, you can take a look at my LibraryThing libary at http://www.librarything.com/catalog/macheartist. My Shelfari shelf is at http://www.shelfari.com/macheartist/shelf. If you decide to join, look me up and add me as a friend. See you at the library!

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