What Are You Reading? Social Networking for Books

I must say that I am enjoying updating my own and looking at other bloggers’ “What am I reading” widgets. The issue I am facing is deciding which tool to use? There is no reason in maintaining your book shelf on more than one site. This blog post is about helping me decide which of the following three sites to pick and then stick with that one (at least until the next new cool site becomes available that will then allow me to import my list).

All sites let you search for the book title, ISBN or author. They let you rate, review and tag (except Amazon as far as I can tell) your books.

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Amazon’s Associate Program

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I have been using the Amazon widget on my blog, because of its simplicity in adding book that I have searched for purchased through Amazon. No need to go to another site and another login. I like that I am able to add comments to each book if I choose to and customize the widget layout to fit my blog’s layout. I like the clean look of the widget. This option lacks somehow the social-networking-feel feature. I don’t feel “connected” to other readers, unless I click my way through to Amazon and read the reviews on their site.

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The Library Thing let’s you easily search for books via Amazon.com, from the Library of Congress or 252 other sources around the world. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed of recently added books, reviews, or reviews from others about books you have added. You are linked to other members’ profile by adding the same book to your list and adding others as friends. Definitely more networking feel to this site than Amazon.

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  • Meet the world’s largest book club. Find people with eerily similar tastes.
  • Catalog with Amazon, the Library of Congress or 252 other world libraries. Import from anywhere.
  • Get recommendations. Tag your books and explore others’ tags.
  • Put your books on your blog.
  • Enter 200 books for free, as many as you like for $10 (year) or $25 (life).

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Shelfari has a really nice interface of adding your books to a “virtual” shelf. Once you find your book, it lets you choose between adding it to books

  • I have read
  • I am reading
  • I plan to read
  • I own
  • Wish List
  • Favorites

Shelfari is using the social networking sites concept of “Friends” which you can search for and add to your list based on their interests. Just as in Twitter, once you build your network of friends, you should never be left out of recommendations for a good book.

Shelfari is an interactive social media site for book lovers. Using Shelfari, you can create a personal shelf of your books, see what your friends are reading, get and give recommendations for what to read next, create book lists, and even share your opinion on a book with friends or the growing Shelfari community.

Shelfari also let’s you add your Amazon Associate ID and it integrates nicely with your Facebook page if you have one.

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After taking a closer look at these three sites, I have decided to give shelfari a try. Although I am missing the feature of the choice of seeing my review in the widget as well (I am using the WordPress widget), I like the overall look and feel of the site. I am looking forward to building my virtual library shelf. In real life, I love my book shelf and can get lost standing in front of it, reminiscing about the stories and places I have traveled to through its books.

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Please let me know your favorite book widgets/ networking sites and how you are using them to organize your reading, connect to other readers and get recommendations on what to read next.

Update:

I have spent some time this morning adding, tagging, and rating books on Shelfari. I have also requested usernames for shelfari on my Twitter network It has been a LOT of fun browsing their virtual bookshelves. Here and there, I am finding books that look very interesting and I add them to my bookshelf, listing them as “I plan to read”. I am also making connections and getting to know some people better based upon read books that we share. I added the mobile Shelfari URL to my iPhone bookmarks. That will make it a lot easier when I am at the bookstore looking for a book that I can’t remember the exact title or author.

Here is the link to my book shelve.

I wonder if there is an RSS feed available for new books I (or friends) are adding?