Whats on Your Shelf?
In case you havent noticed, literary social networks are proliferating faster than they can be adopted by the digerati (hat tip to Bettina for that term). As far as I can tell, Goodreads is the most popular, though I wouldnt be surprised if another application sweeps it (its happened before- remember Friendster?). This article notes how egocasting contributes to literary social networks growth and also wonders which of them will be the facebook of the group (i.e. dominate). I wrote a post in February comparing Goodreads and Google Books, and concluded that I preferred Google Books, but thought I should update the thought to include some other approaches.
The Guardian article that I mentioned above introduced me to two new literary social networks, Library Thing and BookRabbit. Library Thing is a US-based social network that is definitely more data-oriented, as it gives users a large number of options for associating information with a book title. In the screenshot below, youll see the default view for a book on Library Thing- note that the level of detail available is definitely for the librarian in all of us:
This next image shows how Library Thing consolidates some of the data into an easy-to-use tabbed interface:
Lastly, for visually-oriented users, Library Thing also has a covers view similar to Google Books (BookRabbits shelf view takes the cake, though, as youll see).
BookRabbit, which is a newer UK-based social network, has some unique details that make it worth checking out. One neat approach is its shelf view, which allows you to submit a picture of your actual bookshelf and then map the image of each book to a record of it in your account. Then, you can just mouse-over the hot-spot youve created to show the books details to the right of your shelf:
BookRabbit also makes it easy for users to browse each others libraries and purchase available books:
As I wrote before, GoodReads definitely seems to be the most social of the literary social networks. Im not sure what the numbers are in particular, but I would guess that it is the most popular, too. In my earlier assessment, I said that even though I like to use Google Books to catalog my library online, GoodReads definitely had them beat in social features. They still do. That said, if youre interested in information about a book, rather than connecting with other readers, Google Books is probably better- some books even allow you to search through the text (see screenshots below- Goodreads first, then Google Books)!
For a more in-depth comparison with a feature-by-feature breakdown between Google Books and GoodReads, check out my earlier blog post. In the meantime, its hard to know which platform will come out on top as so many of them offer unique and helpful features that will be more or less attractive to different kinds of users.