Thursday, August 03, 2006


Have you been to yet? If you are a reader you'll love this site. You may even want to contribute to it. This is a site where you can search through a rapidly growing catalog of close to a million different books contributed by over 50,000 individuals. Subscribers use LibraryThing to catalog their own book collections and share that information with the world. Some do it anonymously while others include a lot of personal information about themselves. Every title that is added gets "tagged" with descriptive words and phrases that can be searched by anyone using the site. In library lingo, we call these "subject headings." Each book gets a star rating by its contributor, and many also include short book reviews.

The real fun begins when you search LibraryThing. The search page allows you to search for Works (by title), authors and tags (or subjects). Once you have found a title that interests you, one of the first things you will see is that book's "Tag Cloud". A tag cloud is a list of the tags that people have used to describe this book. At first you may think that someone went wild with their computer fonts, because they come in all different typeface sizes. But the way a tag cloud works is that the larger fonts indicate a tag that has been used more often than the smaller ones. So these larger tags are the ones that most accurately describe the book. Click on any of these tags and you will be presented with a list of the books in LibraryThing that use the same tag.

Each book's record also has a graphical chart showing user ratings, from half a star to five stars. Following the chart is the "Book recommendations" section. Here you will find a list of the most common other books owned by the people who own this particular title. This may give you some ideas of other books to read that are similar to the first. Another list contains titles that are "similarly tagged", so these are likely to be on similar subjects and in similar genres. Finally there are the "special sauce recommendations", which list another group of titles. Don't ask me where this group comes from, because I couldn't find an answer on their website! Apparently they use some complicated algorithm to come up with other titles related to this one.

I could go on with some of the other features, but I'll let you explore them on your own. If you are a reader I expect you will enjoy browsing this site. It has many of the same features as flickr (where people share photos) and (where people share web links.) Give it a try.


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