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?