Organizing books can be a challenge, particularly in a family that tends to collect inordinate numbers of them. I think my mother bought three copies of Tom Sawyer over the years, because she could never remember whether we had it. Luckily, there’s a solution: LibraryThing.com.
LibraryThing is an online card catalog. It’s accessible from your phone, so if you’re tech-savvy enough, you can stop yourself from buying that fourth copy of Tom Sawyer.
Of course, if you’re clueless about your phone, like me, you can still access your catalog — just call your younger brother and ask him to log into your LibraryThing.
Here’s a screenshot of my LibraryThing page:
From here, you can access all kinds of useful things — in the green box on the right, for instance, there’s a list of members who have the same books I do. This is a nice way to glean recommendations. And if there’s a member who has a book you’ve been thinking of buying, you can send them a message to see if it’s worth the money (people crazy enough to keep an online catalog of their books usually enjoy discussing them). You can keep track of your friends on LibraryThing, too, and view their catalogs — if I’m looking for new reading material, I can snoop through my mom’s catalog to see what could be borrowed. Or if I’m trying to decide whether to buy her a book for her birthday, I can see whether she’s got it before I buy it.
Adding books is quick and easy — you just type in the ISBN and add it to your library. Organizing them is easy, too. You can type in whatever tags you like, and then go to your Tag page to see everything on a particular subject.
This is the catalog page. You can configure this however you like — I currently show all the information you see here, and they’re sorted by the date that I added them. (I’ve been on a bit of a cookbook spree.)
And now for the great bonus feature: the Early Reviewers program. LibraryThing has a monthly giveaway of advance copies of books. You can get books for free if you write a review (you don’t have to write the review, but if you don’t, you probably won’t receive another book). So far, I’ve received six books and one e-book. The latest to arrive in my mailbox was Liz Curtis Higgs’ new book, which will retail for $14.99.
These are a few of the books I’ve won (the only ones I was able to round up, since half my books are already packed for our upcoming move). I think it’s a nice little variety.
LibraryThing is free for the first 200 books; after that it’s $10 a year or $25 for a lifetime subscription (which my mother gave me for Christmas a couple years ago). I think it was a bargain. I’ve probably already saved that much by avoiding multiple copies of Tom Sawyer.