I have always loved reading. And I have always love the internet & Social Media. Now what if you could combine reading & social networking together? Well, you can! With book cataloging websites. Don’t know what they are? Let me give you a simple explanation.

The basic purpose of these websites is to give you a place to catalog all the books you own/you’ve read. You can organize them in different ways (collections, tags on some websites; shelves on others).
They also have other features such as adding friends, finding people with libraries similar to your, widgets to show off on your blog, book recommendations, etc. Now obviously, there are a ton of such websites out there, but I will only consider the three most common ones & then tell you which one I picked & why.

note: I originally wrote this post in 2010. If you are currently reading this, please scroll to the bottom of this post for a recent update.


What can I say about them? They have a Book Compatibility Test similar to Flixter’s MCT (Movie Compatibility test) That was where I noticed the first flaw- there is an option to give the book a particular star rating, & there’s an option to say ‘I want to read it’ but there’s no option to say ‘Not Interested’ (Flixter’s MCT has an option). It is wrong for goodreads to assume we’ve either read the book or want to read it. What about if we are not interested at all? Then are we supposed to give it a lot rating? It wouldn’t be fair to give the book a low rating if we haven’t read it. The after I skipped this badly made test, I was shown all sorts of books in regional Indian language (guessing the sites crawls your location & then recommends books). That was the last straw for me. Bye bye goodreads


A lot of you must have seen the shelfari widget on people’s blogs. It’s this thing that simulates a wooden bookcase with the books on shelves. I find the wood look extremely gaudy (that’s just my opinion). A lot of shelfari fans claim to dislike other book cataloging websites because they don’t have shelves to organize their books. But shelfari has one pretty big downside: spam. Shelfari is notorious for constantly spamming their users (don’t believe me? Just google ‘shelfari spam’ or read this. After I read all that stuff, I was thanking my stars I didn’t register there myself.

3. LibraryThing

At first I didn’t like this websites because it was so understated. I don’t like gaudy but I don’t like websites that look like they have absolute no CSS (styling). Slowly, I started to appreciate the site more. It has the largest user community because it was the first in this game, all others are just ‘me too’ websites. There is a catch: you can only add 200 books with a free account, after which you have to upgrade to a paid account. Paid membership costs $10 yearly or $25 for a lifetime. That too put me off at first but then I did a little research & understood the value of that money- LibraryThing is massive, yet has basically no advertising on it’s website. So they need something to offset the running costs, if not make a profit. And a lot of people say that $25 isn’t much when you’re supporting such a good site. I too am completely willing to pay that money but have decided that I will do it when I actually do reach the point where I’ve 200 books- It will be a wonderful personal milestone. LibraryThing lets you organize your books according to collections (such as my library, currently reading, wishlist) & also allows to add tags to your books (I tag according to genres).

You can also give books star ratings & write reviews.

You can also add widgets to your blog, which are highly customizable. You can choose the number of books to display, whether to animate or not, whether to show reviews or only covers, which collections and/or tags to display books from. I have chosen to display a ‘currently reading’ widget. (Check my right sidebar) I chose one book, cover only, no styling, display from ‘currently reading’ & animate after 20 seconds. (I chose the animate option because I’m always reading more than one book at a time. If you read only one book at a time, choose ‘don’t animate’) You put up the code once & you don’t have to bother to change the code every time you’re reading a new one, jut edit the relevant collection on LibraryThing. I know this widget will be really useful for blogger who love putting up a picture of the book they’re currently reading on their blog sidebar.

You are also able to see people who have a similar library to you. You can also add friends & leave comments on each other’s profiles. You can even add pictures. Then there’s author cloud. After you’ve added some books, you can go & see which authors are most common in your library. You can add ‘favorite authors’ so everybody can know who you like reading. Needless to say, I’m hooked! I’ve added more than half of my book personal collection & am contemplating whether to add dad’s books (he’s got a lot more than me!) And there was another little surprise: I found that I had created an account for myself way back in August 2007 (I’m not using that account now.)

Here’s you can see my LibraryThing Library.

If you are already on LibraryThing, or chose to join it now, feel free to add me: My LibraryThing profile. I’d love to see what you’r reading!

Update (June 2017): Goodreads was bought by Amazon in 2013 & is still running. Shelfari too was acquired Amazon in August 2008 but was shut down / merged with Goodreads in Jan 2016. LibraryThing still looks to be running well, with a thriving community, I don’t think they’ve upgraded their graphics or interface since well before I originally wrote this article. I don’t actively take part in any community & I’m not sure if either websites are offering any new features, but I’m keeping this post up for posterity’s sake.