May 11, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - LibraryThing vs. Goodreads

Earlier this year I introduced you to both LibraryThing and Goodreads as sources for receiving books for review. Today I want to discuss the main aspect of these two sites - providing an online library for your books.

I started out with LibraryThing about a year ago. Back then I didn't even know about Goodreads, though eventually I came across that website too. While I have catalogued my whole library on LibraryThing, my Goodreads profile gets only fed with reviews as, quite frankly, I prefer the "book storage" on LibraryThing by far. So if you asked me now which of the two I prefer, I'd have to say LibraryThing. As far as an online library goes it just suits me a whole lot better. Does this mean I don't like Goodreads at all? No, because here I more than appreciate the far better networking possibilities.

So, let's see how the two fare if you line them up next to each other.

- Adding books on Librarything is simple and wonderfully accurate with the many online sources the site draws its data from. You can choose the edition/cover/language/etc. of a book. Shelving books on Goodreads works the same way. If a book cover hasn't been uploaded, you may add one on LibraryThing as well as on Goodreads though in the latter case you need to have a librarian status.

- Tagging your books on LibraryThing equals shelving on Goodreads, which is a bit misleading if you ask me. I seriously thought shelves where equal to the collections you can create for your books on LibraryThing, but they're not. If you tag your books on LibraryThing, you can literally use tons of tags for each book, have a look at your tag cloud and see what tags other users assigned to a book too. And your "shelves" aka collections won't reflect the fact you're tag-crazy.

- LibraryThing allows you to export your data three different ways. For a long time Goodreads didn't have an export feature at all, but now you can also export your library from there (and move to LibraryThing, teehee).

- LibraryThing has a wide, and even fun, range of stats for your book collection. In comparison, Goodreads has only very rudimentary stats. And as of lately, LibraryThing added even more fun features, like telling you how high all your books would be if stacked on one pile ...

Oh, and I'd need 24 U-Haul book boxes if I wanted to transport my books from A to B, which I probably won't, seeing how the idea of 24 such boxes alone already makes me hyperventilate.

- And apropos fun, while Goodreads has features such as Listopia, Quotes and Quizzes, LibraryThing isn't quite so, well, entertaining.

- On LibraryThing you can compare your library with those of other users, see how many books you have in common and view other members' most recent reviews of books you own yourself (those show up on the right side of your reviews page). Nice, but not that special.
Goodreads though implements their social networking features a whole lot better. Best proof for this is that I have only a hand full of friends on LibraryThing, but dozens on Goodreads. I mean, it's fantastic to get their news/reviews/etc. in your newsfeed. Here you get the really interesting information right on the first page. This definitely beats LibraryThing where you don't get any updates on what's happening in your friend's libraries.

- You can join a lot of different groups on both LibraryThing and Goodreads. As I rarely stop by any of the groups I honestly don't know which site offers the livelier groups, but I'm going to assume they are pretty much alike in that regard.

- LibraryThing features Early Reviewers and Member Giveaways. Winning a book here is really easy and they usually come rolling in quite often. Downside is that they are usually eBooks. Goodreads offers First Reads to its members. It's exceptionally hard to win a book here, but that's because only physical books are given away and obviously a much smaller number is available compared to eBooks on the other site.

- Both LibraryThing and Goodreads offer widgets that you can use on your own blog or website. Here, Goodread again beats LibraryThing by lengths, as it offers a bigger variety of different customizable widgets.

- The membership on LibraryThing will cost you if you add more than 200 books, then again it's not really expensive as you can actually choose how much you want to pay each year. Just ignore the warning that with only paying $1,00/year your books are facing eviction. You also have the option to go for a lifetime membership if you wish.
Goodreads is absolutely free.

Looks like we have pretty much of a tie here and, in the end, it's really a matter of your personal taste. I admit that Goodreads is better in some aspects, but I still prefer LibraryThing as my personal online library. If you only know one of these two, go ahead and browse around on the other as well. Who knows, you might be ending up on both just like I did!

1 comment:

  1. I'm a GoodReads girl. I used to use both, but I found LibraryThing's clunky system annoying, so I went with GR. :)