January 12, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - LibraryThing and Goodreads

I don't know about you, but to me being a book-addict does not only translate in giant book stacks all over the place and roaming bookshops as often as possible. It also translates into me hunting down giveaways, sweepstakes and contests all over the web to get my hands on interesting books for free. I'm pretty sure that a lot of you will nod in agreement now. Nothing beats getting a nice read without having to pay a penny for it.

Basically there are two good ways to get hold of free books – you either win them with no strings attached or you request them for reviewing purposes. The second case usually includes writing a review of the book which you then publish on your blog and sites like amazon.com and the likes. While I like both options, some of you might not be that much into putting the effort and work into commenting on a book, but I actually enjoy it. It gives the author and/or publisher the feedback they are looking for and I had the chance to read a book that intrigued me for absolutely no money.

On my quest to search for good sites with giveaways I came across a few I would like to recommend to you over the next few week – starting off with two sites that are mainly for cataloging your library.

LibraryThing offers the Early Reviewers program and Member Giveaways, the first being mostly from publishers where usually hardcopies of the books can be won (recently though there's a tendency to eBooks), and the second being from members of the LibraryThing community, mostly from new authors in need of reviews for their books (usually eBooks).
While it is a lot harder to win a book from Early Reviewers due to the popularity of some authors that appear there vs the number of books available, books from the Member Giveaway program are more easily obtained as sometimes 50 or even 100 copies are given out. Depending on where you live there will not be every book available to you, though I have to say that living in Europe still gives you plenty of interesting books to choose from.
Another important difference is that in the first case you must write a review (if you don't, you might end up not winning any more books) while in the second it is only encouraged to do so. I end up doing reviews for both, as it only seems fair to me, and while you might suspect that books from the Member Giveaways are probably of lower quality, I must object, because I found some gems among them, while at the same time I encountered some of the worst books I ever read among the Early Reviewer books I received.

Goodreads also offers giveaways, but without the eBook option which drastically reduces the chances of winning a book due to the sheer number of requests. While I've been a LibraryThing member for about half a year now and have won quite a number of books from both programs I only got lucky once at Goodreads where I joined late last year. I won a book from a German author there and with 7 available copies and 14 people requesting I knew that this one was (almost) a safe bet. Most books are in the English language though and often you have 2 books with sometimes 500 than 1.200 people requesting. Good luck, is all I'm saying.
Just like the giveaways at LibraryThing you are only able to request books available to your country. Furthermore, you are encouraged to write a review, but to my knowledge it will not minimize chances of winning more books if you don't.

More interesting sites for free books next week – see ya then!


  1. Thanks for the information! I tried requesting books through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program for several months in a row, but never got lucky so I eventually just quit trying. Maybe I need to try again!?

  2. You should definitely try again!!

    I have no idea why I've been really lucky with winning books from Early Reviewers, but I did win five months in a row now. Admittedly, I have this theory that they might consider how many reviews you're generally putting on the site and I've been reviewing quite a lot, so maybe that's a reason why I received so many. And of course I request every book that's even remotely interesting to highten the chance of winning one.

    Good luck with the next batch, Katie!!