“Librarything is”:http://www.librarything.com a combination lookup tool for bibliographic information, a way to tag and catalogue your books collection, and a social service, where you can browse other people’s libraries. Type in a few identifying words from a book’s spine, and it will go off and find corresponding entries in the Library of Congress then add your selection to your library, with optional tags. these library collections are all public by default (though they can be private); if someone else has a book you own, you can copy it into your own library, saving more typing. I think this is just stupefying for anyone who needs to organise their bookshelves, and who likes other book lovers.
I’ve done a wormseye about it, which I will probably post later. But there’s some stuff I left out of that. There are a couple of web-based competitors — “reader2,”:http://www.reader2.com “bibliophil,”:http://www.bibliophil.org/ [“Alexandria”:http://alexandria.rubyforge.org/]. The last two seem to have rotted like most linux ideas; the first seems to me to be aimed at people who don’t read all that much. There’s a huge emphasis on the covers of books, and all the lookups are done from the Amazon catalogue, rather than the LoC.
Librarything uses Amazon as a fallback and (at my request) will also use the European amazons. But Spalding would rather use the British library, which has to be the right thing to do. From a cataloguing point of view, I really don’t care what the cover of the book looks like. The only useful service would be a picture of the _spine,_ and no one provides that.
The service is free for up to 200 books (but, as he says, why would anyone want to catalogue so few) and $10 for any greater quantity. This is a lifetime fee. I think that’s a fantastic bargain. Even if the whole thing blows up and dies in a year’s time I can export all my records from it — and will, once they’re all entered. then I have paid $10 for a complete catalogue of my books that can by fed into any other database.
I do know about Delicious LIbrary. It is pure mac software: glossy and narcissistic. But it’s also more expensive, and lacks the social aspect. $40 is a perfectly reasonable price for thesoftware. But then you must add in the bar code reader, and the mac mini. That’s a lot of books foregone.
fn1. I know there are hundreds of programs that require you to type in all the details of books yourself. Forget them.