Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Librarything: More new stuff

Librarything just turned one year old and already has over 5million books cataloged on its site. Librarything, for the uninitiated, is a true book lovers social networking site which has garnered tremendous grass roots support from readers, librarians, bookstores and other ‘book people.’ Tim Spalding, who founded the site, has probably been courted by everyone from Google to Amazon and recently allowed ABE books to invest in the company and provide him with some much needed capital for investment. As a result of that investment, Librarything is now more stable than it was in the early summer when the interest in loading books to the site was causing slow response time and server crashes.

In recent weeks I have only seen minor problems and as noted in the librarything blog they continue to work on these issues and get them fixed. The increased investment has enabled some improvements to functionality as well as partnering. Interestingly, it is a trait of social networking – as with any social interaction – there needs to be constant stimulation. I noticed that after loading my titles initially and being generally interested in the site, I didn’t return for a few months. Social sites need to constantly add new reasons to interact with the other members on the site and I am happy to say that Tim and his small team of 3 have stepped this up.

In terms of functionality it is now far easier to tag your own titles and you can manipulate the display of your titles by selecting various fields of information you would like to see in column format. Additionally, you can format five different views of your content. This is a great feature and enables much faster tagging. Once your tags – and these tags are entirely of your invention but you can take a lead from others who have tagged the same titles – you can then see cloud maps of the tags. Clicking on the column heads enables resorting so you can easily bring to the top titles that have no tags which makes editing much easier. There are a few other new things and they continue to add more all the time.

Recently, librarything has enabled integration with bookswap sites. This is relatively new and I haven’t played with this yet; however, it is a simple matter of turning this on in your profile. This feature enables more opportunity to interact with others and share book titles just like a library. Interestingly, in an entry on their blog they discuss how to get scarcer titles added to the ‘share’ listing and there is consideration regarding using pricing (from Amazon) as a measure and applying some type of points system to the books. Obviously, the bookswap idea is less appealing if the only books available for swapping are books everyone has.

Librarything has generated some excitement and they are clearly interested in listening to their users and adding new and interesting items. Recently, they added author pictures and I expect that other information and data will continue to be added.

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