Saturday, March 17, 2007

Social Bookmarking | LibraryThing, Booktribes, Shelfari, Storycode

Today I discovered a new 'social bookmarking' website called Booktribes. So new that I was (apparently) its 802nd member, Booktribes "helps you discover great books and the people who love them." Booktribes is the partner site of ABCTales.com, a UK-based online writing site.

As an experiment, I entered some Toronto novels whose international currency is well established. Where they were listed at all, they seemed to show up only in mass market or trade paperback editions, leading me to infer that the website's database is limited to major publishers' 'in print' catalogues. And indeed, someone from the site does indicate that "Neilsen's" is their source. I assume (but do not know for certain) that this has something to do with Neilsen BookScan, a clearing house for publishing industry data. At present it is not possible to add books to the database.

It appears quite clear that Booktribes is in an early beta state, meaning that these (and other) limitations will presumably be worked out. In the meantime, it is worth checking out, but I am not going to abandon my LibraryThing account anytime soon.

Guessing that Booktribes and LibraryThing must not be the only 'social bookmarking' websites out there, I ventured further afield and came across Shelfari and StoryCode (thanks to Vecosys, whose blog provided the links). Shelfari (click here to view my profile and truncated 'bookshelf') allows users to import their libraries from LibraryThing; such portability is a good thing given that the size of most serious bibliophiles' libraries is likely to lead to inertia (the prospect of uploading the same library titles again and again is quite unappealing). I have to admit liking Shelfari quite a lot, as it seems exceedingly user-friendly. A limitation is that (like Booktribes) it is not yet possible to add books to the database. This cut short my attempts to import my LibraryThing library (because so many Toronto titles I have listed there are rare and out-of-print). However, Shelfari is also in beta, and the word is that before long users will be able to add books -- a must if Shelfari is to match LibraryThing's appeal.

I also signed up at Storycode, but have not stayed long, as (1) it allows users to 'code' only fiction; and (2) the protocols for 'coding' (reviewing) 'stories' are exceedingly banal. After that, I browsed through the Internet Book Database, but was so horrified by the "top authors this week" list that I veered away almost immediately. Perhaps I have become a snob. In the end, LibraryThing remains my favourite for its sheer size, sincerity, and extensive customizability.

I am perennially amused by social networking websites, not only because I find them enormous (but cheaply scintillating) time-wasters [disclosure: I met my husband online], but because each week they attract more would-be entrepreneurs hoping to cash in on the 'Web 2.0' Zeitgeist. Social bookmarking encouraging close encounters among bibliophiles, however, seems to get closer to the roots of the web, and reminds me very much of the days when I prowled the web researching nothing other than ... books! Plus ca change ...

3 comments:

Internet Book Database said...

What exactly horrified you about the top authors? - Thanks for the mention though!!

Amy Lavender Harris said...

When I visited the site I noticed a preponderance of bodice rippers and pulp thrillers, genres which are simply not to my taste. Today I note that Adolf Hitler is listed as a "top author". I realize that many history buffs may have a copy of Mein Kampf on their shelves, but it does seem odd that their numbers would be sufficient to give him such prominence on a list of authors, especially when many of the other slots are taken up by writers like J.K. Rowling. Now that would make an interesting tea party.

ibookdb said...

Well thats the flavor of the week. We can't help what people search, esp what search engines put us on the top for :)

For more info, you may look at our overall stats too.