Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Goodreads Vs. LibraryThing

A friend on Twitter last night asked me if I prefer Goodreads or LibraryThing and why.  It's hard to explain in 140 characters or less, but I did my best.  It got me thinking about the merits of both, though, and I thought I'd share my ideas with you in today's post.  I'd love to hear your feedback as well, so jump in and correct me if I'm wrong or give your reasons for what you prefer.  Here's how I'd compare the two:

Goodreads

     Pros
  • Excellent for social networking.  It's easy to see what my friends are reading a reviewing and also easy to "like" their reviews and comment on their choices. 
  • Also preferable for keeping up with my TBR list.  I like that most of the covers are posted and that putting a book on various shelves is easy. 
  • Best site for posting my own reviews.  I feel like more social readers participate on Goodreads, or at least more of my friends do, so I'm more likely to see their feedback on my reviews and book choices.
  • The site is user friendly and visually appealing.  It's easy to navigate and so easy to use that anyone can do it.
  • Completely free.
     Cons
  • I find the mistakes and formatting errors that are on many of the books' publishing information irritating.  Of course, since I'm a GR librarian, it's also a pro for me - I like going into messed up descriptions and fixing the formatting and correcting errors.
  • Less detail in cataloging information and more difficult to sort by various cataloging factors.
  • My CueCat doesn't work as well on Goodreads.  I generally have to do some editing with ISBNs after they are scanned before the book will show up.
LibraryThing

     Pros
  • The main reason I paid for a LibraryThing subscription is because it works perfectly with my CueCat.  I don't have to edit any input information, I just scan the book and it appears.
  • LibraryThing has much more detailed information for cataloging.  Because I'm a freak about my books, I want full cataloging information on all of them.  LibraryThing includes classifications such as weight, citations in various formats, Dewey Decimal classification, and LCC classification.  All of these are things that I want recorded in my book catalog that I'd otherwise have to look up myself.  
  • In addition to having detailed cataloging information, LibraryThing also has numerous options for sorting books and analyzing the data.  Based on my information and other users' information, I can see how likely I am to like a certain book, see what series a book is in, if the book has won any awards, where the author is from, and what language it was originally written in. 
  • There are also tons of fun "meme" features like how long your books would be if you laid them end to end and how tall they would be if you stacked them.
     Cons
  • Adding more than 200 books requires a membership.  However, membership costs are incredibly low - I paid $25 for a lifetime membership.
  • The site isn't as user friendly and isn't visually appealing to me.  I'm still trying to get things figured out and determine what functions are available.  This could, however, just be a result of my not having used LibraryThing for nearly as long as GR.
  • The social aspect isn't as appealing.  While I like some of the social comparison features (how likely am I to like this book, based on how my reviews compare to others), I much prefer the ease and range of the social features on GR.  Also, the majority of friends who I look to for reviews are on Goodreads, which makes it more appealing than LibraryThing.
  • Not as easy to post reviews.
So there you have it.  I prefer Goodreads for social aspects, monitoring my TBR list, and posting my reviews.  I prefer LibraryThing for cataloging my collection and analyzing the data about books I own in various ways.  I love both sites, and I certainly recommend that you check them out of if you haven't already.  If you're just playing around with listing books and want to meet people and see their reviews, I think Goodreads is best.  If you're wanting to seriously catalog your books and keep a record of all the related data, I think LibraryThing is best.  And, of course, I think having both is best of all!  Which do you prefer, Reader Friends?

PS: If you aren't already following me on Goodreads, you can do so here.  And if you'd like to be my friend on LibraryThing, you can do so here.

20 comments:

  1. I've never looked at LibraryThing, but I love (love, love) Goodreads.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't know anything about Library Thing, other than the fact I've seen it on some blogs, I also love Goodreads, and it's been a good way for me to keep track of what I want to read, and view friends reads.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had a look at both when I started to cataloging my books and found GR much more appealing, like you said. Library thing just looks rather boring. Also I found it complicated to add books. GR is better for me all around.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I prefer Goodreads, though I also have a lifetime subscription to Library Thing. Your pros are the same as mine though I would also add it is much easier to add and search for books at Goodreads than at Library Thing I think.

    Shelleyrae
    www.bookdout.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting. I have never tried LibraryThing but when I realized that I could still get on it at work (GR is blocked) I seriously considered starting one up.

    ReplyDelete
  6. LibraryThing all the way. I found the social aspects of LibraryThing - even to the point of RL meet-ups, which were totally fun. LibraryThing is a much more complex website and needs more time for an individual to discover all of its functions.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I completely agree with you. For my cataloging class last summer, one of our assignments was to join Library Thing and post reviews on 50 books. I hadn't used it before then and didn't find it AT ALL friendly. I seriously tried to get our professor to change the assignment to Goodreads for the future. I feel like the students would be more likely to use GR after the class than LT.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I do not agree at ALL, Angel - I think LibraryThing is MUCH more appropriate for a cataloging class (I've been an academic librarian for five years). I work with future teachers and I also think it's superior for cataloging a classroom library.

    As you might guess, I am LibraryThing all the way. I use it both professionally and personally (both paid accounts). I have a GoodReads account too, but I rarely use it.

    I'd like to correct Julie on a couple things. LibraryThing is free for the first 200 books, not 100. I suggest to my students (future teachers) that they try it out with up to 200 books, then decide whether or not to pay the (well worth it in my opinion) $25 lifetime membership. Once you pay that, ALL the ads on the site go away - a plus in my book.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, I will add, Angel, that I'm surprised your cataloging instructor had you post 50 reviews - not sure how that's relevant to cataloging! The reason I think it's a better assignment than Goodreads is because Goodreads' info all comes from Amazon, while on LibraryThing you can choose to pull your data from a variety of sources, mostly libraries, INCLUDING the Library of Congress - which is a source real catalogers use.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Amanda, thanks for pointing that out - it was a typo and I've changed it in the body so it's correct.

    I also have to say though that ALL of Goodreads info is not from Amazon. I'm sure a lot of it is, but a good deal is also user-generated. Those with librarian status update from whatever site they deem most appropriate - I frequently update with information directly from the publisher's site, although I agree that LOC is the best source for actual cataloging (one of the pros of LT vs GR).

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for pointing that out, Julie. I worry though because anybody with 50 books can apply to be a "librarian" on Goodreads without any real knowledge of librarianship. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Perhaps I should have clarified. I didn't mean that LT shouldn't be used for CATALOGUING. I agree that it may be the better choice as far as that goes. I should have specified that I think GR is friendlier for personal use. Most of us (even future librarians, GASP) could care less if our home libraries are catalogued according to library specifications and our books' metadata records are completely filled. I don't think many of my classmates used either LT or GR before the class and I didn't feel like this assignment made them especially excited about LT. I felt like they might be more likely to use GR for personal reading pleasure.

    Perhaps I can't hang with you guys. I'm not hardcore enough. Ha I just don't care nearly as much about the cataloguing aspect of librarianship as I do the love of reading aspect. To me, cataloguing is important of course, but that doesn't matter AT ALL if you can't get people to actually read and enjoy the books. Know what I mean?

    ReplyDelete
  13. And hopefully that last comment didn't come off nearly as snarky as I think it may have. I didn't mean for it to be.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Not snarky at all - and I agree that GR is better for personal use (unless you want the catalog - I'm just obsessive that way). My personal opinion is that there are differnt types of librarians for a reason - unless you're at a really small library like mine, the same people don't usually do cataloging AND programming/instruction. I'd honestly probably be a better cataloger - I love figuring out what should go where and creating metadata and paying attention to the tiniest detail. I wouldn't be as good at being a YA librarian because I really don't like working with teens. A lot of it has to do with personality - it's not a right or wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Not snarky Angel - and I hope I didn't come across that way, either. I just think for a cataloging class, LT (without having to post the reviews) would be a more appropriate assignment than GR, when you consider that the purpose of the assignment probably is to introduce students to cataloging and not to a book/reading social network. :)

    I'm not a cataloging librarian either - I actually work with education majors, and I introduce students in the children's lit class to LT as a powerful way to organize their classroom libraries - more powerful than GR in my opinion. So powerful, in fact, that I'm slowly but surely adding all the books in our children's collection to a LT account because the tagging is so much more powerful than what our ILS can do (and we can't justify purchasing LT for Libraries).

    I'm on GR too, but frankly it's just one more social network I don't really need. I track the books I read (most of which I do not own) in LT. I'm not compulsive enough to catalog my home library anywhere!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I prefer Goodreads. LT is a bit old fashioned in my view, I don't feel so comfortable with it. I have an account on both, but I keep going back to GR every day to check on new listopias, discussions and books posted. Quite addictive, actually.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Interesting, marikach. I'm totally the opposite; I almost never go to my Goodreads account. Perhaps LT is a little "old fashioned" because it's FAR more powerful.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks Julie. I'm just trying to decide which to use, and this has helped me to plump for Goodreads. I set up a LibraryThing account, but it all felt a bit effortful. Your blog looks great, by the way.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Nowadays most of my choices in web services are based on how long a web site is going to be in business. Websites keep closing down all around me, and something like book catalog is really really important to worry about data continuity.

    While I have a pro account in LT, and love their catalog stuff, I wonder if I should shift to GR, as they are more popular, and are likely to get more funding and hence likely to last longer. Sorry for my cynical view on these things, but I would really like to hear your point of view on this.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I understand your cynical view, and if anything, I'm more cynical about Goodreads. LibraryThing was founded in August 2005 and became a "real" company in May 2006 and is still going strong. Abebooks acquired a minority stake in the company in May 2006, and Cambridge Information Group acquired a minority stake of the company in December 2008. Over 300 library systems around the world use LibraryThing for Libraries to enhance their catalogs (which they pay for, and Bowker, a well-known company in the library world, distributes). My bigger fear is that someone will buy them out.

    ReplyDelete