Sunday, September 11, 2005

Library Thing

I've started using LibraryThing to keep track of the books I've read and wish to read. It replaces BooksWeLike and AllConsuming which I tried out but didn't like as much.

The OpenDirectoryProject has a current list of "collection managers" like LibraryThing, but doesn't list BooksWeLike or AllConsuming, so I guess they're in a different category. Here's the list:
  • - Keep track of your books in a customized library.
  • Delicious Library - Macintosh software to catalog, browse, and share books, movies, music, and video games.
  • Elf - Offers reminders via e-mail and RSS on library books that are checked out.
  • LibraryThing - Catalogs yours books online. Free for up to 200 titles.
  • Listal - A Web-based DVD, music, game and book collection manager.
  • Reader² - Keeps a list of books you read and/or recommend.

You can see part of my LibraryThing list in the Current Reading section of the right-hand column of this page. You'll find the book I'm reading (or books, if more than one), the one I just finished, and the one I think I'll read next. You can see my whole catalog on LibraryThing here. Click Title, Author, or Date in the column header to change the sort. Click the little catalog card icon on right to see LC bibliographic data and click the book cover image at left to see Amazon's entry. The icon of a person on right leads to "social data." It's a listing of the LibraryThing users who have put the book in their catalogs. You can click on the links to see the other books in their catalogs. (If you're a user at that point you can also add books to your catalog from their catalog if you wish.) Click the numbers that follow the words "display style" to see different forms of catalog entry. No. 3 is most like a library catalog record.

LibraryThing has its own blog and there's been lots of discussion of it in others' blogs, including Library Stuff, Findory, Early Modern Notes, and TransBlawg.

Stefan Hayden has an in depth review. Here are excerpts from his review:
LibraryThing is a great new app that let you catalog you’re books. It’s in early beta and although it needs a lot of feature as far as search, design, and usability it’s a stellar start to what could be the next great website. It’s so easy to bash sites for what they don’t have and so I’m gonna make an extra effort to highlight why it’s so great.

First, as a designer and developer, I was glowing when I saw the “One-step sign up / sign in”. This is such a usable sign up form that it almost made me cry. Simplicity at it’s best. After you sign in you can go to the Add Books tab and start searching for books. Search results are listed in a side iframe which allows for dynamic loading of results. Wonderful use of AJAX as if you are unhappy with your search you can edit what is already in the search box. Clicking any link will add the book to your library and if you make a mistake you can just X it out directly after you add it. It’s some nice work of javascript. Back on the Catalog page you can view all your books. On the right you can edit the book and add tags (yes tags!) and comments as well as view the Library of Congress Card Data. All the text is searchable through a little javascript find link on the top right. Other features include exporting a CSV format which works with excel and (still being worked on) importing your library from Delicious Library. The free account only lest you index up to 200 books. The best part is that the pro account is a one time fee of $10, which if you have more then 200 books is a very worth while investment.

[He goes into a whole bunch of drawbacks at this point, then concludes:] Wow this is really long. While I have been rather harsh to LibraryThing only my love for it could develop this much passion (which is the new way to market of course). When it’s all said and done the site is in beta and is being actively developed. While it is interesting that some elements are done beautifully and some are badly designed or even missing there is every reason to believe that they will be addressed and quickly.

Visit my Library at STHayden!

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