Back in July, I posted a poll on this site asking for input into LibraryThing and Shelfari. I was very curious as to what other bloggers used and why.
Since the Blog Improvement Project this week is to discuss some “social media” tools that we use for blogging, I’d thought I’d revisit these. I feel that both Shelfari and LibraryThing help me blog, although I find them to be more of a help for me than for others.
I love Shelfari for the widgets. I keep two widgets in my first sidebar (scroll down to see them). The first is a “Currently Reading” widget. I love to visit other sites and see, in the sidebar, what books they are currently reading. I think a graphic format makes it more appealing, and I love Shelfari’s widgets because I can make it look like a bookshelf.
The other widget I use is a “Recently Read” widget. I have all the books I’ve “recently” read in the widget; one need only click on the next arrow to see the past year of reads. Again, I like the graphic format, as well as the ability to browse.
The best part of Shelfari is that it lets me have separate shelves for “current” and “past” reading, as well as a “shelf” for the “up next” reads. I don’t work with the “up next” reads because that is always changing for me! It’s too hard to keep that up-to-date on the web.
The downside of Shelfari is just about everything else. There is lots of advertising. I don’t spend lots of time on the site because the interface is annoying. I haven’t been impressed with the groups or the reviews. It’s also hard to get a specific copy of a book in my shelf; I go with the nicest cover, rather than the specific copy I’ve read because my copy may be hard to find.
In other words, I like to work with Shelfari because their widgets are awesome. It’s a great place to start for cataloguing books read for the widget format. Visit me on Shelfari here.
On the other hand, I love LibraryThing for everything else. LibraryThing doesn’t have shelves to separate reading into past and present, nor does it have very practical or “pretty” widgets. I think it’s a rather “ugly” interface. But it has everything and anything else you might want.
First, LibraryThing has reviews. Members like you and me write up reviews of the books in their library. When I hear about a book, I go and look it up on LibraryThing. If it gets good ratings and reviews, then I add it to my list. Bloggers or friend recommendations as well as LibraryThing is my criteria these days.
Which leads me to my next point: Bloggers, your LibraryThing reviews can be an awesome introduction to your blog. I put a short-and-sweet review on LibraryThing, usually with a link to a longer review on my blog. I don’t know if anyone finds my blog that way, but I can tell you that I find other blogs through LibraryThing reviews. If I really liked their review, I’ll browse their other LibraryThing reviews and their profile, looking for a blog link. Then I browse their main blog page; if they have lots of books I like, I may add it to my reader.
Is it a pain adding my reviews to LibraryThing every month? Yes. But I think it’s worth it. (Also, if someone likes my review, they can give it a thumbs up, and that’s always nice to see!)
Also, LibraryThing has groups. I love the groups I’ve joined about the classics and classic authors. It helps to know that there are people also reading these books that I can discuss them with. As much as I love blogging, my blog readers haven’t always read what I’m reading; the LibraryThing groups help give me guidance. I even just joined a “group read” group, where we are going to read the same book. There is also a group for bloggers where people can ask questions and post about giveaways.
Lastly, LibraryThing has books. Need I say more? I can organize my personal library by Dewey Decimal System or Library of Congress. I can add reviews to all my books, not just ones I’ve blogged about. In addition, it’s so much fun to browse reviews and get recommendations and go from one book to another to another via the “similar books” links. It’s like browsing the library shelves. From home. With reviews. This doesn’t help me blog (it’s just another way of “wasting” time online) but it is so much fun!
You can participate by reading the reviews and joining groups and book browsing all without paying a penny — but paying lets you add more than 200 books to your personal library ($10 for a year; $25 for life). Visit me at LibraryThing here.
The bottom line is that for me my LibraryThing membership was well worth the $25. I love it!
What about you? What book services do you subscribe to (if any)? Do you think it helps you in blogging? Does it help you in your reading?