It’s been two months since I started actively using LibraryThing and BookLikes in addition to my Goodreads account. I figured it was a good time to step back and take a look at all of them.
I still prefer Goodreads. That might be bias simply because it’s what I’ve been using for nearly five years, but I find it to have the best interface of the three sites. I love the look, the feel, and the utility, and it’s the standard that I can’t help comparing the others to. LibraryThing especially, since those two are more similar to each other than either is to BookLikes.
As for all the behind the scenes nonsense, it almost feels like it never happened. But I haven’t been using the site nearly as much as I used to, so it’s hard to tell if my friends’ activity has also died down at all.
LibraryThing feels incredibly sterile. It has a lot of data, more than I would ever need. I’m sure it’s a great cataloging tool, but I’m not using it to track physical copies of books. I’m using it to track books I’ve read and compare my thoughts with those of other users, and that’s where LT really doesn’t measure up – the community.
I’ve friended a few people… and that’s where our interaction ended. I haven’t bothered joining any groups; maybe I’d find a thriving community there if I would. But the community isn’t integrated with the cataloging part of the site. On GR, when I log in, I’m greeted with a stream of my friends’ recent activities. If I’m browsing, I can see at a glance which of my friends added the book and what they thought of it. I don’t get that on LT unless I go looking for it.
BookLikes isn’t quite GR – in fact it’s almost nothing like GR – but I definitely like it better than LT. BL unfortunately has the same downfall in that my friends’ reviews don’t jump out when browsing the book pages. But, at least it has the activity stream front and center, so I don’t feel like I’m the only one on the site.
Some have complained about BL saying that it’s just a bookish Tumblr. I’ve never been on Tumblr so I can’t comment on the similarities there, but the blog-like nature of it is both a good and bad thing, I think. Good for those users who don’t have other blogs, but potentially redundant for those of us who do. I’ve been thinking about ways I might use it more as a social media outlet, adding more than just the occasional NetGalley review, but without stepping on the toes of my real blog.
The thing that I really don’t like about either of these sites is that I’m not just saying “I read this book.” I have to pick a specific version of the book. That’s true to an extent on GR, but it’s easy to switch between editions, and reviews and ratings are shared among all of them.
On LibraryThing, I’m picking not only a specific edition, but I have to pick it out of a specific catalog. (I’m also not sure how the catalogs are synced because I’ve been unable to find things by searching Library of Congress that are in there if you search the LOC site catalog.) On BookLikes, I have to choose a book through a specific retailer. This is great for those who use affiliate links as one more potential source of income. But for me… I just want to pick a book!
The trouble is I don’t like being forced into decisions that really have nothing to do with me, and also that I’m stubborn. If I wanted to make it easy on myself I’d just shut up and add all my books through Amazon, since they seem to have the most complete catalog on either site. But on LT I like to stay as neutral as I can, picking from the LOC or other library catalogs… and on BL, since I can’t be neutral, I use Kobo for ebooks and Powell’s for physical books whenever I can. But really I’m just causing more work for myself.
I wish I didn’t care so much. Unfortunately I have this nasty habit of fixating on and caring the most about things that really don’t matter.
So… which communities will I be sticking with? I think it’s safe to say that I’ll continue using Goodreads and BookLikes, but maintaining a LibraryThing account as well seems to be adding more work with no reward. The primary reason I’m keeping it is as a way to potentially connect with readers who might not use the other sites. So far, that hasn’t happened… but I don’t think I’m quite ready to give up on it just yet.
Which bookish site is your favorite? Do you use it for the catalog, for the community, or both?