Wednesday, October 01, 2008

GoodReads, Shelfari and LibraryThing: A Features Comparison

After I wrote my GoodReads post the other day, I decided that I needed to take another look at the different library programs out there. Bright, new and shiny aspect aside, what made GoodReads different from Shelfari and LibraryThing other than the fact that I liked the layout?

When too many books happen to good people...

So confused by all the programs out there wanting to help you catalog your library? Overwhelmed by the project before you? Trying to figure out what will work best for you as a reader or an author? Well, benefit for my one day of comparison--all findings based on what I could actually find on the website without any outside research for possible hacks and the like.


  • Owned by: Otis Chandler (privately owned)
  • Membership: Free
  • Source for book Information: Amazon (by clicking on a book you can choose where you look it up directory-wise, but it appears that GoodReads gets all of its default information from Amazon)
  • Widgets: Flash, HTML, Javascript
  • Widget applications: Specifically for MySpace, Facebook and Bebo (also most blogging software)
  • Amazon Bookmarklet application: allows you to add books from Amazon to your Goodreads account through the Bookmarklet
  • For Authors:
    • Book Clubs
    • Writing Area
    • GoodReads Author Program
      • Participate in Online Q&As
      • Book Giveaway program
      • Publicize events
      • Share excerpts and videos


  • Owned by: Amazon
  • Membership: Free
  • Source for Book Information: Amazon
  • Widgets: Javascript, HTML, Flash
  • Widget applications: Myspace, Facebook, Bebo, Blogger, LiveJournal, Typepad, Vox, Xanga, WordPress (Widget application dependent on URL entered)
    • Your Amazon ID can be entered in your widget
    • Note: You cannot change the visual presentation of a Shelfari widget, but you can submit any design ideas through Shelfari Feedback.
  • For Authors:
    • Featured Author Sheflari profiles on Author page (anyone can edit wiki style)
    • Writing groups: sub-category called "Shameless Self-Promotion"


  • Owned by: Tim Spalding, 40% owned by AbeBooks (which was recently bought by Amazon)
  • Membership: first 200 books free--Yearly or Lifetime membership opportunities afterwards
  • Source for Book Information: Library of Congress, Amazon, over 80 libraries
  • Widgets: HTML
  • Widget Applications: Does not work on LiveJournal
    • Your Amazon ID can be entered in your Widget
  • For Authors:
    • Author Chat
    • Early Reviewer program
    • LibraryThing Authors: Authors who also have are LibraryThing Members
      • Author Members receive feature
    • LibraryThing Local
      • Allows you to look up local events in your area by plugging in your zip code
      • Brings up all the bookstores in the area that have been added to the LibraryThing database
      • You can add a venue or event
      • Do not have to be signed in to use the LibraryThing Local feature.
EDITED TO ADD: I just found out that Kristi J--a book cateloger of long standing--did a wonderful break down (with pictures and graphs) of these sites as well. Please check out here post "Book Cataloguing--An Analysis of Online Sites." Brings to mind this quote by Chuck Palahnuik from the new intro for Fight Club:

"Now this is the first rule of fight club: There is nothing a blue collar Nobody
in Oregon with a public school education can imagine that a million-billion
people haven't already done... "

Coming Monday (10/13/08): What works best for readers? Authors? Publishers?


Linda said...

I used LibraryThing which I really liked. But I use Readingsocial through facebook which helps me connect to my friends.

Val Kovalin said...

Hi - just coming over from the link on DearAuthor. Interesting comparison. I could add a warning about Shelfari:

The Shelfari system can be a bit obnoxious in that when you join, it asks for access to your email address book in order to run a search and let you know which of your acquaintances are already on Shelfari.

Fine and well; this is also what Facebook and some other social networking systems do.

Unlike those other systems, however, Shelfari will pester your acquaintances over a period of weeks with three or four stridently-worded "invitations" sent in your name to join Shelfari. So, as your acquaintances get more and more annoyed with you, you never even know about it.

I haven't had this happen to me, but I've been pestered with invitations from someone who joined Shelfari and had no idea this was happening in her name.

Now, Goodreads, on the other hand, I've found to be an organized, visually appealing, and lively place. LibraryThing seems fine but there isn't much interaction between people.

Kevin Radthorne said...

Very helpful info, BSC! And looking forward to the "what works best for authors" edition. :o)