Wednesday, March 18, 2009

3 websites to keep track of books

I just finished The cult of the amateur, a book which I mentioned here, referring to time as a precious resource.

And what I realized is that I forgot most of the books I've read. Not that I'm reading that much, but for instance I cannot remember what books I finished 6 years ago. Therefore, I needed a method to keep track and to do this, I looked at 3 websites designed for this purpose.


As they state: "LibraryThing gets all the right data from and over 690 libraries around the world, including the Library of Congress."

LibraryThing provides tags, a lot of attributes for each book and Zeitgeist - statistics about your activity. The interface is a bit clumsy, but the application is fast and has a lot of features.

They offer another neat thing called Local, which acts like a gateway to local bookstores, libraries and book festivals. This allows me to find a place nearby where I can get a certain book.


GoodReads is also fast, they offer a few basic features of book management, insisting more on social interaction with other fellow readers. The website works around bookshelves, which you may manage in various ways.


Shelfari is the handsome of the group, with a neat look of the site, but at the same time it seems to be the slowest. It has predefined lists for what I plan to read, I'm reading, I've read, Favorites, Own and Wish list.

All the above services offer social interaction. You can see reviews by other people, connect with them and share the books, but I'm not really interested in such features. At least not for now.

In any case, since all these services support importing and exporting the list of books, it's quite easy to switch between them. Actually, for this review I added the books to LibraryThing, then I exported the list and imported it in the other two services.

This worked with a few interventions. After importing from LibraryThing to GoodReads, I found "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the list. It's true I don't remember all the books that I've read, but I know I didn't read this one. The import from LibraryThing to Shelfari worked like a charm, even though it missed most of my ratings and the tags for the books it didn't find by the ISBN.

In the end, it was a bit difficult to choose between LibraryThing and Shelfari. The latter feels good when using the website and as I said, looks pretty neat, but since I'm mainly using the service for storing information, I opted for the flexibility LibraryThing offers.

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