I post about LibraryThing every once in a while, because well, I love the place. It’s not just a way to keep track of my books (3,000+), it’s a place to think about books and research about books and talk about them.
One of the most delightful things is this: every time I get over there (which is not as often as I’d like) there’s some new feature. This is one of those rare cases where the early adopters (of which I was one) provide feedback — and the people running the show actually listen. All the early quibbles have been addressed, and they keep adding on new features.
Once in a while a feature doesn’t work so well. In my case, they’ve got a new thing going where you look up a book — say you’ve heard about Edward Sawtelle — and click on a “will you like it”? button. This only works if you are registered and keep an account there, of course. At any case, it seemed like a good idea to me.
And then I tried it out.
I looked up Lake in the Clouds and here’s what I was told:
Lake in the Clouds:
Then I looked up The Story of Edward Sawtelle, and here’s the prediction:
So you can see that this particular feature is not working for me, as it got both guesses wrong — and in a huge way. I happen to like the novel I wrote, and to really, really dislike Edward Sawtelle.
If you don’t have a LibraryThing account — and they are free — you might want to think about getting one. Even failing that, it’s a huge source of information. If you look at the detail page for any book you get scads. Here is the (partial) page for Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day.
Clicking on the small image will take you to the actual page at LT, where you’ll find links to book details, alternate covers, member reviews, discussions that mention this book, members who own it, and all the different editions (this has been tremendously helpful to me). The author’s name is a link to his author profile page, which includes links to all his published work detail pages. There is also a tag cloud — contributed by those who have added the book to their libraries — a list of books that are similar, the “will you like it” feature (use with caution), member reviews, links to bookstores, swap sites and libraries where you’ll find the book, and the most unusual (and very useful) feature: the ‘common knowledge’ section. This is information contributed by readers that may include a list of the characters, places, the book’s awards, its epigraph, any honors received, the first paragraph, the last paragraph, blurbs, important events in the course of the story, formatted citation for the book (MLA, Chicago, etc)… and the list goes on.
Another really useful feature is this: any series of books can have a ‘series’ page in which the books are listed — in order. If you’ve been scratching your head on where to start with Lynn Viehl’s Star Doc series, this is the place to look.
So there you are. A place not only to find out about books you own or want to read, but to contribute to the pool of knowledge. Because everybody’s a librarian over at Library Thing.