Discovering niche reading/writing websites: LibraryThing.

With so many websites out there celebrating reading and writing, two difficulties develop for two distinct groups. For users, it’s time-consuming, daunting, and nigh-impossible to find websites with the content they want / need / enjoy. For site owners, it’s just as difficult to help potential users sift through the sludge pile and discover their website. Part of what makes the blogosphere important, as far as information dissemination is concerned, is viral networking. That said, viral networking is at the mercy of taste, and that means users may hear about sites ranging from helpful to fun to weird to mind-boggling in terms of usefulness. From me to you, here’s a bit of viral networking for a website celebrating reading that I find fun.

LibraryThing is a social networking (well, social cataloging) website that, for once, celebrates something completely outside the word of the interweb. It’s completely about what you do offline – reading. Sign up, list books you own, recommend books to others, see who else has the same interests, and join author-crazy groups. It’s a cool niche site perfect for the reader who thought they were alone in liking that obscure book. I couldn’t tell you how I first heard about it. At some point a year ago, I listed it on the online section of an English composition course I was teaching. Today I clicked the link for the first time in a long time and the experience was fresh for me. Fresh enough, in fact, that I registered and created a small, selected library.

The only LT disappointment for me so far is cover images. LT has synergy with Amazon and utilize Amazon’s cover images. However, Amazon isn’t being 100% helpful. For example, I own the first-edition hardback of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, but Amazon only has this cover for the more-recent paperback release. In other instances, covers aren’t initially available, like the “no image available” tag for the first-edition hardback of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on this search list. However here it is, and in-stock no less, when I click the hardcover link on the paperback’s page. This may be an LT search / code issue, but Amazon isn’t making itself 100% accessible, either. In short, if one is interested in making an accurate library reflecting actual covers, editions, printings one owns, they may have to sacrifice the desire for a library consisting of accurate images.

As for my library, you’ll see it at the bottom of my posts from now on unless I forget and/or suddenly get paranoid about exposing to the world my affinity for (cough!) the original Weis & Hickman DragonLance novels…


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