My reading friend Jeff Hammack recently told me about LibraryThing. This is an online service to help people catalog their books. That Jeff mentioned it is key; he’s the director of the Vestavia Hills Public Library so he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to organizing books. Besides, I love the straightforward, funky name of this Web site.
Because everyone catalogs together, you can use LibraryThing to find people with similar libraries, get suggestions from people with your reading tastes and so forth. You also can search the Library of Congress and 45 other world libraries. And you can import and export your info from just about anywhere.
It requires no special software. Basically, if you can read this, you can use LibraryThing.
At present, a free account allows you to catalog up to 200 books. A paid account will let you catalog any number of books. Paid accounts cost $10 for a year or $25 for a lifetime.
LibraryThing was designed and implemented by Tim Spalding who quips: “I conservatively predict the revenue (from LibraryThing) will enable me to recline all day on an enormous pile of gold.” A Web developer and Web publisher based in Portland, Maine, Spalding also runs www.isidore-of-seville.com, www.ancientlibrary.com, www.bramblestory.com and mothboard.com. (Meanwhile, I’m wondering how many hours this Spalding guy has in his day.)
On a serious note, being able to catalogue your books yourself according to how you remember and organize them is a huge thing. Not too long ago I re-read a book, having forgotten that I had read it a few years back. And I was wondering all along why it seemed so familiar.
But in addition to cataloging your own library (by author, title, subject, etc.), LibraryThing allows you to "tag" your books however you want.
Tagging books with informal, personal markers is the way to go, I think. For example, Spalding says, “The LC catalogs Bean's Aegean Turkey, a guide to the archaeological sites of Turkey's western coast, under the single subject, ‘Ionia.’ For me, however, the book is about ‘Turkey’ and ‘archaeology,’ tags I've applied to dozens of books, including Bean's other archaeological guides.”
That makes perfect sense.
Check out LibraryThing at www.librarything.com.