I wrote before about the social networking sites I used for serveral things. I have found myself to still use them a lot, with an addtion of 43Places. The bunch now include most facet of me that is open for folksonomy; music, to-do’s, places, photos. But one thing is still sorely missed. Books.
I have since tried a few of them, and there are a few! After a while, I am still undecided which one to invest my time populating. Here are the list:
Nice looking site. It deals with DVDs, Books, Music, and Games. Which for me is a big negative point. Good idea as it may seem, I believe these different media need different treatment in terms of details and user involvement. And a site that try to be-all will never do them justice. Besides, for music, I don’t think there is anything that can rival last.fm in terms of how naturally you use it.
- pro beautiful, AJAX UI, differntiate read/unread/wanted, RSS for tags/authors/everything. Star rating.
- con limited database (amazon US and UK), small user base
LibraryThing deals with books only, as the title suggested, and seems to have been around the longest among this list. I don’t really like the UI because too many clicks are needed to get things done, and the folksonomy side of things are not as visible as they should be. (I believe it was not there from the beginning, like the other services here)
- pro large and well read user base, good universal importer, extensive similar libraries feature, watchlist, auto-updater of book info, and the most complete database.
- con Feels old, no AJAX (I am spoilt now), only RSS for latest addition. No read/unread differentiation.
Reader² is from the same person giving us MyProgs, and I have the same feeling of unpolishedness about it.
- pro livesearch! (showing book covers too!),
- con small user base, bad auto-fill of information. Don’t make me type!
All consuming is from the 43Things family, but the interface has yet to be revised after it was acquired. It is similar to Listal in that it deals with more than 1 kind of media.
- pro simple but powerful folksonomy features, kind of like del.icio.us. I already use 43Things and 43Places. Many enthusiastic reviewers. Quite large user base. Differentiate read/unread.
- con Searchs only return top 10 matches, database only cover amazon.com,
BookCrossing is a different thing altogether, and sounds like a very fun thing. Only if I live in america. It would never fit in with my life now.
None of them are perfect, and it is a matter of analysis of which gap can be close the sooner. LibraryThing is the most complete one, but it needs revamping on the folksonomy and UI side of things. (not an easy thing if the developer is not into it) Listal has the potential to do well, but it badly need more users and the extention to other Z39.50 enabled source like the library of congress and many university libraries. The second one will be a lot to ask for a site not only dealing with books.
At the moment, LibraryThing is my compromised choice. It is not perfect. But, as always, content is king. It’s the only one that has most of my books in its vast database, and what’s the point of pretty AJAXy site if only my in-amazon-US collection can be added?
P.S. If it tells anything about the average netizen, the top book in all of these services are either Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, or the Da Vinci Code.