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Goodreads vs. LibraryThing

June 10, 2008

Recently someone asked what are the differences between LibraryThing and Goodreads.com. I use and like both of them.

To me, the main difference between Goodreads and Librarything (LT) is that Goodreads is more social in its nature. LT seems to be a better tool for cataloging your own collection, in a librarian-like manner. Apparantly people
want to be able to do this. In fact, the whole left side of the page (where
people naturally start reading) is filled with tabs to help you catalog, edit and share via your blog your books that you read (pushing information OUT). If you look over on the right, the tabs there are related to discussing books with
others, joining a group, searching for local information, or checking out the Zeitgeist (what other LTers are doing on LT). It’s also text-heavy: almost no graphics except book covers, and the layout reminds you vaguely of a card catalog. I mean, it’s BROWN!
Goodreads is completely different in its focus, which is its users. When you log in to Goodreads, your homepage doesn’t show your books that you’ve marked as read, currently reading, or to-read, it shows what your friends are reading (sucking information IN). In fact that’s the tagline. When you look up a book or find one through any of its book discovery tools, the first thing listed, even before the title, is the name of a user who’s reading it. Your inbox, where you get e-mails from other users, is right next to the place that says you’re logged in. Little bibliographic information is included–just enough to know how long the book is, plus the publisher. Most of the information is a review written by the first person who added the book. And the rest of the page includes reviews
written by other people. Goodreads has “librarians” who aren’t MLS librarians–they’re users who are allowed to edit bibliographic information. So, it’s highly social in its nature, and it’s about book discovery and talking about books with others.
Lisa, who gave us a tour through Goodreads in our last Geek Out, Don’t Freak Out! video (see last post), said “I Goodreads”. It was so darn cute. It really is a neat site, and while I don’t Goodreads the way I Twitter, I have to say it’s the one that every book lover should see.
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