Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I haven't been posting more this week because I was sucked into the whirlpool that is LibraryThing. This is FaceBook for nerds like me -- people whose idea of Heaven is a pleasant tropical island where a ship brings you neverending weekly shipments of books from Amazon (and hopefully the occasional rum-based tiki drink, too).

With LibraryThing you set up an account (very simple and non-intrusive) and list all the books you own. The free account lets you list up to 200; if you have more than that you can list those too for either $10 per year or $25 for a lifetime subscription. If I just paid $10 and added all my books they wouldn't delete any should I go back to free at the end of the year. But because my library is only limited by bookcases and constantly morphing, I think I'll eventually send them $25. Besides, I like the idea of being enrolled as a book nerd for life.

It's once you're signed up and in the midst of enumerating your beloved volumes that the fascination begins. There are innumerable groups to join, boards to post on, chatrooms to chat in. I just joined the Science Fiction Fans group where they discuss the relative merits of Steampunk and mourn the passing of the great Forest J. Ackerman. More than that, there are tons of authors large and small who are members of LibraryThing and you get to hobnob with them. The Featured Authors box on your homepage shows you 2 new ones everyday. So if you're a writer, this is the place to be as well (perhaps more than cozy upscale cocktail parties).

Then there are the cool toys. LibraryThing tells you whose library is most like yours, automatically recommends other books based on the ones you've got, informs you which book subjects you have the most of and what books you share with only one other person (I've got 2 so far). They also spit out vast reams of data on the site, like Total Number of Books Cataloged (35,197,440), the author with the most book copies listed (J. K. Rowling, still), members with the most books (Wendybell has 25,564!!), and how many authors use LibraryThing (1544, including Vicki Cobb, writer of Science Experiments You Can Eat).

Incidentally, it's very easy to add a book. Most of the time you just type in the title or author and LibraryThing does the rest. They even sell a little barcode reader in case you want to go for maximum cataloging efficiency.

And then there's the widget I put in A Few Paragraph's sidebar the other day. Not only can you stylize it to suit your fancy, but it can be linked to an Amazon Associates account. That way if you find yourself lusting for a book from my library, you can click on it, order it right away, and I'll get 15%.

Oh, and I almost forgot the cool t-shirt

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