Shelfari (et al) Gripes

I created an account on Shelfari a while back, but never really got into using it. Just today I decided to revisit it, to see a lot of really nifty improvements, both in the look and feel and with the feature set. I love that you can segregate books according to once you plan to read, are reading, and have already read — plus you can specify if it’s a favorite, if it’s a wishlist item, and/or if you own it.

The last few meta information that the collect is fabulous. I’ll admit I haven’t frequented a lot of book library sites (because it’s always frustrated me at some point) but this last bit was something I was looking for in these types of sites for a long time. I don’t necessarily have all the books I’ve read, after all. A lot of my books are kind of co-owned with my sister. Having these options made me go into a book-adding frenzy.

Until I got frustrated because the editions I wanted weren’t exactly there, did not have the right title, and/or did not have the right cover. For example, I have The Gunslinger put up as The Dark Tower, even though it’s obviously not — it’s only part one of The Dark Tower series, people!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m nitpicky enough to need them to list it correctly, and to get annoyed that I can’t get the right entries. I had the same problem with the books from The Chronicles of Narnia, which is a travesty! I now don’t have Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Prince Caspian in my shelf precisely because of this. Not to mention, the books in my shelf aren’t all from one edition! It’s annoying, really annoying.

What online book library sites do you use? Is there something better than this, that maybe I just haven’t explored enough? Or should I just roll my own?


  • I will ;)

  • I know what you mean when you mention LibraryThing feeling clunky. It irritates me too, but I really want to make sure my main book catalog is accurate and LT certainly does better than Shelfari in that respect. I hope that if you do try Good Reads, you’ll post about how it goes. :)

  • @Adia: thanks! I’ll check that out, then.

    @daimira: Yes, the lack of the pretty is a negative for LibraryThing on my account. Actually, I don’t really need all the shiny-ness of Shelfari, but LibraryThing just feels clunky, which is a bad thing. I remember something like the 200-books limit, although I can’t be sure either. :)

    @Lenneth: I actually have a “problem” with most online library/cataloging applications because I can’t list books that aren’t available in Amazon, for example. And I have a good couple of those, since I do have local (er, Filipino) books in my collection. It’s rather sad :(

  • I use LibraryThing. The main reason I hated Shelfari is because, at the time I tried it anyway, it wouldn’t let me catalog Japanese editions of manga. And yeah, the thing regarding correct editions? That bugged the heck out of me. I’m sticking with LibraryThing for the time being, and I plan to use tags to indicate what I’ve read and haven’t read, etc. I want my list to reflect my real library as closely as possible. I’m going to try Good Reads out if only for the sake of curiosity, but it seems to be more about networking and less about cataloging (from what I could tell at a glance). I may eventually use both if I really like the social networking stuff at Good Reads, but I think I’ll always primarily use LibraryThing. Which reminds me, I need to add Chesterton’s “The Everlasting Man”, lol.

    Here’s my library, fwiw:

  • I have Shelfari and GoodReads. So far, Shelfari is prettier but GoodReads is more reliable. It still has the same problem regarding certain missing editions.

    I used to have a LibraryThing account, but if I recall correctly, their free service only lets you log 200-something books. This may have changed since I last used it, I don’t know. Plus, it’s not at all pretty :P

  • Adia said:

    I was rec’d Good Reads when I made a book related post on my LJ a few days ago. Seems quite good and has a clean interface from what I’ve seen. However, I haven’t used it that much yet. And I’ve also heard good things about LibraryThing.

  • […] I also found the site slow but was willing to overlook that since I still like keeping track of the books I’ve read on the Shelfari shelf that’s now displayed on my Facebook page. However, I doubt I’ll be visiting the site except when I finish a book to rack it up. I’m not the only one disappointed with Shelfari. […]

  • Tagging is great, but I like the special treatment one can do for certain things like read/owned/unread/plan to read/etc with Shelfari. I do have a LibraryThing account, but it felt a bit…clunky to me the two times I tried to get “into” it.

    Shelfari lets you edit the edition you have across a number of editions found for that book, which is nice, although their algorithm can also be a little off, with some editions shown as separate books sometimes.

  • I’ve looked at Shelfari, but have never actually signed up for it. It looked pretty cool, but if I couldn’t list all my books in a series, it would really bother me too!

    Right now, I use LibraryThing. I have no REAL problems with it. It goes down occassionally, but considering all the good stuff you can do with it, it doesn’t make it too bad. You can tag your books however you want (so I tag mine as “unread” instead of getting to use meta stuff like Shelfari has, but I think LibraryThing has an option as to whether you can mark it unread, adn you can always put the dates you started and finished reading the book). You can also completely edit the information of the books you enter in there, so if the default one it comes up with has a different cover than yours, you can change that really easily. So I’m happy with what it has to offer, but I don’t know if it would have everything you’re looking for. :)