Mar 4, 2007

[Web] Shelfari

You may or may not have noticed, but I pretty much stopped updating this blog after my previous entry discussing how social networks are becoming more and more specific. I couldn't help it - I fell prey to of the sites I had been discussing in a totally geeky rush.

The culprit is Shelfari, which is the social bookmarking service for books. Who would have thought that playing librarian would be so fun? Practically after a day's worth of playing around on the site, I learned this lesson the hard way.

Of course this site isn't for everyone - it tends to reward the well-read, or at the very least those individuals with large libraries of read or unread books. You can either upload any pre-exiting library file you might have (like who even has those?) or just search for your books in any variety of ways such as title, author, ISBN or whatever. Of course with most books having multiple versions, the truly obsessive compulsive are bound to search by ISBN in order to get the best matches possible.

Yeah, yeah, I'm guilty of doing just that.

Once you have your library built, the time comes to invite friends, join book groups or just see which users have the most number of books in common with you. In all likelihood, these are the people you're going to want to know better or to seek book advice from. The site also allows users to rate and review books and see how these same titles were reviewed over on Amazon, which helps generate revenue for the site.

The principle is insanely simple but any true geek is bound to get hooked as you find the need to encode every single title in your home. There will be some bugs if you have a large number of non-US books, but the site owners state they're working on making Shelfari more global in scale.

The catalog side of Shelfari might be enough for most - it's an efficient way of knowing what you have on your shelves for that day you might want to finish off the last of the books you purchased yet forgot about and left them gathering dust. If you're more daring, you can try exploring the social network side of things to see what the user pool is like. Given most people on the site are true book lovers, expect a higher level of intelligence in your exchanges, which might be a welcome relief for some given previous experiences with other more "diverse" social networks.

Go on, try signing up and see where things get you. In time, you'll find yourself looking for more books to add to your shelf whether you actually own them or if you just read them once before. While you're there, feel free to look me up and we might have some books in common.

Photo linked from sindrityr's photostream

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