After receiving several invitations over the last few months, I signed up for GoodReads the other day (hence the pretty widget in the sidebar and the one to the left). I wanted to log in all my books as I packed them up to move.*
Graph from O'Reilly Radar article, "Social Networking for Books: One Ring, or Loosely Joined?"
I wasn’t attracted to it for the same reason Tim O’Reilly was, not for the ability to “follow and [be] followed by a small circle of friends and people whose taste in books I trust.” I wasn’t expecting to have any friends when I signed up, I just wanted the ability to catalog my books and check out all of GoodReads functions.
For authors, I’m intrigued by the Book Giveaways section as a way to set up a focus group on a title, which shows up when you click the authors tab (it's the same page includes a link to the stories and writing area where anyone can contribute their content). This would allow an author to post excerpts connected to the book's profile or otherwise work within the confines of the GoodReads.com system. But LibraryThing has an early reviewer system as well which members can sign up for.
As for author pages, from what I can tell only someone who is the author or has the "Librarian's Status" (which can be applied for, although I have no idea what the requirements for the position might be) can edit an author's page, but any member can edit a Shelfari or LibraryThing page.
I'm sure other differences could be discovered upon closer examination, and I have no idea if any of the sites are more likely than another to capture the search engine bots, but I would love to see a side by side comparison. It is interesting to see how high the unique visitor rate for GoodReads ranks so high at the moment, and I would be interested to see if these numbers level off within the next year. Is this spike due to the number of invites floating around or due to people turning from the other two book catalog systems to this one instead.
Or maybe it is the "ooh, new, shiny" aspect and something else will capture our interest soon.
*And one must not discount the "ooh, new, shiny" aspect that appeals to my inner magpie.