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Library Thing, Shelfari, Book Social Networks

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Jul. 9th, 2007 | 03:00 pm

From a Mashable blog entry today on "Good Looking" social sites, I poked at Shelfari. The site is much like LibraryThing. On the eyecandy side it is nice, it lacks Librarything's Utilitarian attitude, and has a very clean design.

I have two desires for sites likes these:

They view well from my Treo. Why do I care? Because I normally want to know if I have a book when I am at a bookstore. I hate buying doubles, and this happens every so often. My "plan to read" shelf is quite large, and when it comes to graphic novels I have discovered that I will buy duplicates if I am not careful. LibraryThing looks passable on my Treo, though its search is still not very optimized for a small screen. Shelfari looks awful and its useable from my Treo.

I find out what Friends are reading. I love to know what the people around me are reading. Books get published at an astounding rate, and frankly I can't keep up with it. I also know my authors, but I don't tend to find authors on my own anymore. Once upon a time I would spend an hour or so at a bookstore every couple of weeks scanning for new titles. I still do this once a month, but since bookstores like Barnes and Nobles just use shelf space for well known authors, who I also probably already know about, I don't find as many good books this way anymore. The big book sellers also waste a lot of shelf space with "series", which I am less inclined to read.

Once one of these systems can get enough mass for social networking, I am hoping that they find a good way to allow people to share recommendations. I keep my books in Delicious Library, so its pretty easy for me to mass import my collection into any system.

One annoying point about Shelfari. On the second page after sign up they have a page for uploading your addressbook into their system. There is no way I am uploading my Addressbook into any system. The big annoying part about that page? There is no clear way to jump from
that page to anywhere else in the site. Not having an opt-out makes the page feel like they are trying to pressure me into signing up my friends.

Yuck.

One other note, LibraryThing just feels more human/geeky. The content of the site gives me the feeling that there is a human behind it. So overall I am left with an impression that someone both cares about the site, aka they are doing it for just more then money, and that they are more likely to innovate.

A lot of these new social sites feel to cookie cutter in nature. I like the look and feel of more utilitarian sites. A friend was recently complaining about Craig's List and how its design is non-existent. Personally I am glad that they haven't changed the site.

In conclusion? I'll keep updating the account I made on Shelfari:
http://www.shelfari.com/BrianAker

My LibraryThing Account:
http://www.librarything.com/catalog/brianaker

Uploading my data to two, instead of just one, sites is no big deal. The book social sites are still very much a new game, with no clear winner.

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Comments {21}

Menolly

(no subject)

from: nolly
date: Jul. 9th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
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Are you using the mobile version of LibraryThing on your Treo, or the regular one? I find the mobile interface quite usable on my V phone.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

(no subject)

from: krow
date: Jul. 9th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Just using the web interface, is there something better? Link to it?

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Menolly

(no subject)

from: nolly
date: Jul. 9th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
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http://www.librarything.com/m/

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Trying to do one true beautiful thing

(no subject)

from: geekchick
date: Jul. 9th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
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Not having an opt-out makes the page feel like they are trying to pressure me into signing up my friends.

They don't have a "skip this step" link anywhere on the page? Yuck. I've seen that "feature" on a couple of other sites but they've all made it optional, although they don't exactly highlight the "skip this" option.

I just set up an account over at Goodreads after someone on the f-list mentioned it this morning. I've just gotten started with it and so far I'm liking the interface, although I don't offhand see a good mobile option that I'd want to try using on my phone. Something else I like: it was trivial to import my books from a LibraryThing CSV export. I think I'll probably use Goodreads to keep track of what I'm reading (whether I own it or not) and watch for recommendations, and keep my LibraryThing library for just the stuff I own.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

(no subject)

from: krow
date: Jul. 9th, 2007 10:46 pm (UTC)
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Why not just review the books on LibraryThing?

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Trying to do one true beautiful thing

(no subject)

from: geekchick
date: Jul. 9th, 2007 11:02 pm (UTC)
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No particular reason, although mostly I'm not so much doing the reviewing (aside from clicking on stars) as I am reading other reviews; heck, I can barely scrape together coherent sentences for my LJ "recently read" posts much less post something useful elsewhere. ;)

After playing with Goodreads a bit, I appreciate LibraryThing's tag system a whole lot more than I already did.

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El JoPe Magnífico

(no subject)

from: jope
date: Jul. 9th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
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Ugh, I'm already replicating my book lists among three sites right now: LibraryThing, Amazon and SPL. It's not so bad ticking off the books as I read them, but it is a pain for the higher volume of addtions to the future-reading lists.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

(no subject)

from: krow
date: Jul. 9th, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC)
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SPL?

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El JoPe Magnífico

(no subject)

from: jope
date: Jul. 9th, 2007 11:50 pm (UTC)
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Seattle Public Library. Most books I don't see a need to own a copy.

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LibraryThing

from: davethebookguy
date: Jul. 10th, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)
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You can actually upload your Librarything library by clicking Build Shelf on Shelfari. Saves a LOT of time.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

Re: LibraryThing

from: krow
date: Jul. 10th, 2007 01:27 am (UTC)
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Is it a one time upload, or are you just allowing users to give you the RSS feed to their new books and importing off of that?

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Re: LibraryThing

from: davethebookguy
date: Jul. 10th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
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it's a one-time upload for now.

Full disclosure, I work at Shelfari... and we'd love to know if more Librarything users want to use LT's cataloging features and use Shelfari for discussion, friends, and sharing. I'm sure lots of people want it, we just need a few more requests.

email feedback@shelfari.com

See my shelf at shelfari.com/dhanley

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Brian "Krow" Aker

Re: LibraryThing

from: krow
date: Jul. 10th, 2007 02:14 am (UTC)
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Is Shelfari based here in Seattle?

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Re: LibraryThing

from: davethebookguy
date: Jul. 10th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
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We are in Seattle: 1st and Yesler in Pioneer Square. We're on the 3rd floor above Mario's, so stop on by if you're in the area.

--Dave

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Facebook

from: davethebookguy
date: Jul. 10th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)
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Full disclosure... I work at Shelfari and I'm a fan. :)

You can also check out Shelfari on Facebook if you prefer to use your existing network instead of joining anew one.

http://apps.facebook.com/shelfari/

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michelle

(no subject)

from: delyth
date: Jul. 10th, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)
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you can also leave comments under your friends' profiles on Librarything *cough*

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Brian "Krow" Aker

(no subject)

from: krow
date: Jul. 10th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
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It never mailed me any of the comments....

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michelle

(no subject)

from: delyth
date: Jul. 10th, 2007 09:47 am (UTC)
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Yeah it never does. Somewhat annoying.

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Bookspoke

from: bookspoke
date: Nov. 2nd, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
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Hey -- There's one more social network out there for book lovers, but this one focuses on writers. It's www.bookspoke.com -- come check us out and see how we compare!

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How do you export / import

from: anonymous
date: Jun. 3rd, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
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I have a shelfari account and Delicious Library but no matterhow I export my file I cannot seem to get the books up on shelfari, what settings do you use ?

Patrik
http://warcry.olterman.se/

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Brian "Krow" Aker

Re: How do you export / import

from: krow
date: Jun. 3rd, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
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I keep everything locally and just upload my book collection to those sites.

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