Why LibraryThing Rules

Disclaimer: we don’t work for them.

I talked about this before in the comments of this post, where the hosts from a book podcast kindly stopped by to talk with us about preferred book sites.

Long ago, I heard about GoodReads first.  The idea captivated me, so I went looking for it and found LibraryThing from the same Google search.  Based on checking out both briefly, I went to LT and was instantly hooked!

LibraryThing is our drug of choice. LibraryThing (and no, we don’t work for them) cares about data, and obscure books, and user community. The developers listen to the users and converse with them every day, and take their input. The developers are LIBRARIANS. The site is text-based, rather than looking like a blog or an ad for the iPad. I like the design choices: no stupid avatars!

The people on LT are my kind of people: that is, the only people in the world who own more books than I do. I feel like LT is more “hard core” and GR is more for the casual reader. LT has lots and lots of features for precise cataloging. The recommendations features are outstanding. The tagging features are all so amazing! And fun and useful!  GR has inaccurate covers, and I care that the covers in my virtual catalog look mostly like my actual books.  The people on LT “get” me.  It’s the only place I’ve found where the users legitimately own thousands of books each.  That “does it” for me.

LibraryThing has never had any ads of any sort for their members. In fact, advertising on the site is shot down swiftly by any users that find it.  GR can get vaguely circle jerk-y with promoting self-pubbed books.  LT has rules about promotion.  Ads really, really bother me: that’s why I browse the web with Firefox running the Adblocker Plus plugin.  I almost never see ads, so why would I voluntarily go to a site that has more of them?  I guess ABP would hide them from me, but yuck.  (#2 doesn’t mind generic ads if they mean free things and don’t impinge on the quality of the site.  She also doesn’t mind the reasonably sized fee for LibraryThing usage.)  LibraryThing can be free for entering up to 200 books and using all the features of the site.  If you want to enter more, you pay for it.  I bought a lifetime membership around 4 years ago, and it’s the best and most entertaining $25 I ever spent.

LT also has the ability to use many non-amazon and international sites for finding bibliographic data for your obscure academic books. The developers care a lot that the site not become corporatized (if that’s a word). The types of reviews that users write may also be more useful for me on LT. LT lets you export your library in easily-transferable ways.  Apparently it’s hard to import data to GR but I haven’t tried.  #2 thinks the cue cat is cute and fun to play with.

LT has a strong international community of readers, too. And I’ve heard lots of complaints about GR’s downtimes. LT rarely goes down and when it does, they tell you exactly how long until it’s back up, and what went wrong and why. Even at 3am.  And then the founder and the developers post explanations and apologies.

Do you have a preference?  If you’re not connected to either, why not?

17 Responses to “Why LibraryThing Rules”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    Sounds like a cool site. I suppose it’s a much better way to find new books to read vs browsing the “you may like” feature of amazon. I’m very unscientific when it comes to picking books to read.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      You can also browse recommendations in LibraryThing: it is based on what you enter. It’ll give you automatic recommendations based on that, and other members also give their recommendations too.

  2. Everyday Tips Says:

    I had never come across Library Thing before.

    I recently bought a book that I am trying to finish just because I made the investment. Maybe LT would stop me from making such dumb purchases!

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. bogart Says:

    I, too, am very unscientific and had, in fact, never heard of either site. I usually go on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends or from something I read a review of the NYT. Frankly I’m so far behind in reading stuff everyone should have read that I don’t really need new recommendations!

    I recently checked a Kindle out from my university’s library that came loaded with 100 books and while I’ve since had to return the Kindle, just getting that (again) and reading more of what’s on it (basically “stuff everyone should/should want to read”) would put me ahead of where I am now.

    I hardly notice ads on sites (unless, I suppose, they are really obnoxious, i.e., Flash). Do you mean actual ads (as opposed to spam comments/links)? Because my eyes are totally drawn to the text, which is usually the substance, and scan right over pretty much all the images. So that *sounds* like a good thing, but unfortunately the same exact phenomenon emerges when I read journal articles involving graphs, tables, and equations unless I am really really strict with myself.

  4. Cloud Says:

    I haven’t gotten onto either site yet, mostly because I am afraid they would suck time from me like a giant temporal vacuum.

    Also, I can barely keep up with reading the books I come across from book club (I’m in an awesome one that almost always picks good, interesting things to read), random recommendations from friends and family, and the Economist’s book section.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      #2, curiously, has not become addicted, despite her strong addictive tendencies. But she does like having her books on there and thinks the LT recommendations for what she’ll like are WAY better than Amazon’s. Her favorite part though is the spot where it tells you which books you’re missing in series in your collection (which is especially awesome when new books come out without you noticing).

  5. Ally Says:

    I’ve used both – when I first joined LibraryThing, there was no good way to include books you had read but not owned – so I joined GoodReads to keep up with what I read, and LibraryThing to catalog my books. Now that you can do that at LT though, I’m using it most (I’m a librarian -it’s better) but I’m remaining on GoodReads because a couple of pop-culture academics I follow are on there and not on LT…

  6. MutantSupermodel Says:

    You know I’m on GoodReads and the only reason I’m there is because some friends use it and pointed me in the direction. I’ve never looked at Library Thing because I don’t want to spend the time moving over. Also, I’m not really interested in going back and entering every thing I’ve ever read because I don’t even think that’s possible. And I got rid of a ton of books awhile ago. I wish I was on the same one you guys were on but I’m so comfy, it’s hard to change. it’s been awesome for my Reading Challenge. And I love that it has an endless to-read shelf. That was the big clincher for me to even start the site.

  7. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    If you’re not connected to either, why not?

    Because I have no idea what the f*cke these things are!

  8. Rumpus Says:

    I like LibraryThing, though I tend to forget the name. I don’t spend as much time reading as I used to spend, so it’s not so important. Though the internet has been good for reading…I remember walking into a store and just buying whatever sci-fi/fantasy had the right “looking” cover because different types of covers were signals for different subgenres/styles. Now I can actually see what other people think about a book before buying it.

  9. Favorites the Enjoying Summer Edition First Gen American First Gen American.com Says:

    […] you heard of Library Thing?  It’s apparently an online utopia for bibliophiles. Nicole and Maggie think it’s the […]


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