Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Library Thing Saves The Day

Some people would classify by collecting of books as a sickness. I happen to have a great local library that has several large books sales every year. The majority of the had-cover books cost $1.50. During each sale, I make efforts to get there twice. I try to get there the first day to snag the most popular or rare books. I also go back on the last day when I can fill a paper grocery bag with books for only $6. I am quite good at packing it to fill every cubic inch of space without stressing the bag so much that it breaks.

Over the years, I have amassed hundreds of books, many of which I still have not had time to read. In fact, for several books, I have multiple copies. I have so many books, that it is difficult to keep track of the ones I already own. Luckily, I found a web site that helps me out. Library Thing makes it easy to enter and categorize my books.

I’ve test driven the site for a little over a week, and I like most everything I’ve seen. There are several methods for entering books. You can add a book by entering a book title, author, or ISBN. Library Thing searches a source, which you can specify, and presents the results. Clicking on one of the results adds that book to your library. Using a hand-held scanner, like CueCat, you can scan the ISBN on the dust jacket, so it isn’t even necessary to type a search string. They also provide a bookmarklet that works from within Amazon.com that adds the current book to your library. You can modify the books in your library by adding such things as tags, comments, and reviews.

Library Thing also provides a social networking aspect to book collecting. For example, you can see other libraries that most closely match your own. The tags that you and other users add to their books can be presented in a tag cloud give you instant insight into the individual. You can explore those libraries for other books you might be interested in reading or collecting.

I am so impressed with the site, that I purchased a lifetime membership for $25. The free account is limited to libraries of 200 books. Library Thing has over 240,000 members who have entered over 16,460,000 books. It seems that are many obsessed bibliophiles, like myself, who have found this site to be useful.

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