Isabella links to LibraryThing, an online book catalogue service, free for the first 200 books, $10 thereafter.

I would find this useful so when I wanted to recommend a book to someone. The service doesn’t look quite like a proper academic bibliography. But you can enter books automatically if they are in the Library of Congress catalogue – or in I wonder if it’s better for the USA than Europe. You can enter books manually too though.

language hat mentions this too, and you can see his library (as far as entered) and that of Tim Spalding, the creator of the service.

You can add tags to books and explore other people’s libraries. You can have a private library if you prefer. Otherwise it could become a bit Flickr-ish. I could imagine looking at other people’s lists. I could also imagine some translators finding out a member has a particular book and pestering that member by email (presumably only if available) for a quotation.

There’s also a blog, where Tim says he’s added a few more requested social features. It looks as if Tim is constantly rethinking the system, so I am certainly going to give the service a try.

But I often find social features a bit odd. For instance, if you join flickr, you get people coming along and writing stuff like, ‘Wow, great picture!’ or ‘Yay!’ under your photos or adding you to their list of friends. (Like Live Journal, with this ‘friend of’ and ‘friend to’ distinction, active and passive). Isabella very kindly gave me a subscription to flickr, so I should not be so negative, but when I got the first mail from them saying, ‘You lucky ducky!’ I began to feel out of place. It’s either my age or the W.C.Fields in me.

There are references to other programs for cataloguing in language hat’s comments, including a Mac one and a Linux one.

7 thoughts on “LibraryThing

  1. Hi Margaret,

    Glad you like the LibraryThing. The only thing about social software is that sometimes people use it as a big ego extension. ;-)
    Anyway, I promise I won’t write any comments under your Flickr pictures ;-)

  2. This is perfectly OK, Isabella. I mean, I have stopped using Flickr because I have done some sets of photos I want to show various people but not make public, and I can do that in Smugmug. But comments that actually had some content I might be missing out on! But isn’t it odd when you have hardly put anything online and some obscure 20-year-old youth from South America puts you on his list?
    Not to say that I don’t use all sorts of things as ego extensions, of course.
    Flickr does have some very good functionality and Smugmug seems a bit laborious in contrast.

  3. Oh dear – I deleted Amy’s comment before I saw Trevor’s.
    ‘If anyone needs translation help, please let me know. I can help with German to English or the reverse.’
    Amy’s bilingual – do we have a word for people who can translate in both directions?

  4. I use Readerware for books and CDs ( – comes with a free barcode scanner. Works very well for English language books, sometimes has problems with German and other langauges (Umlauts etc. sometimes get stored incorrectly). Has good export to Excel.

    DVDs and Readerware don’t work well together if you buy the DVDs in countries other than the UK, Canada or USA because it seems to have problems looking up the localized UPCs (universal product codes) – a German DVD may only have English and German, a Spanish DVD of the same film Spanish and English – requiring different UPCs. For DVDs, I have been very pleased with Delicious Library, which is mentioned on language hat’s blog – but that requires an Apple Mac to run it.

  5. The two products I mentioned are intended to catalogue books etc. Unless you export their data and publish it on the web, they won’t help you in sharing your catalogues with others.

  6. Thanks, John. No, I don’t want to share my catalogue, although I can see the interest in sharing some. What I am interested in is cataloguing books with the help of the Internet, and that is apparently what Readerware does.
    Looking at that site, I remembered how I miss my Palm. Pocket PC is just not the same.

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