The real highlight of the LT service is the forums. There are forums for almost every reading genre and specialty book collecting genre. Some of the most knowledgeable people about books reside in those forums.
How did LT survive? Because it and Goodreads are inherently different services. Someone else described their usage of it and the differences between them perfectly when they said that they keep track of what they have read in Goodreads and what they own in LT. Plus LT has forums as I said and Goodreads cannot compare with their commenting system and the communities created in LT.
I've long joked I wish there was a storage company devoted to personal libraries, a "Rent-a-Library". There's so many storage companies that are just ugly warehouses full of what are just storage sheds, imagine a place full of shelves and comfy chairs, and maybe good librarians to dust, alphabetize your section, greet you, and maybe even hush you for being too loud for old times sake. (I feel that need less now, given how many of my books are e-books now, but it's still a good idea I think.)
I've long had a similar thought, though not as user-friendly as yours, just the book storage part, not the reading room part. Some combination of LibraryThing, storage boxes, storage units, and shipping companies, managed to make book storage, retrieval, and sharing, convenient and reliable for its users. I think the only novel thought that I've had on the topic would be that the charge for not returning a book that was shared with you would be some base processing fee (say $5) in addition to the cost of repurchasing the book.
I figured if I picked a bookshelf at random and could enter all the books without a problem I'd do the whole house. As it turned out a random bookshelf had about 60% success rate.
I knew that I have some books without ISBN entries, and some that have got barcodes covered in stickers, etc, but I didn't expect it to be such a hard job. I guess every decade or two I try auditing books and I never get very far.
I should just pay a student to enter them into an online CRUD application and be done with it..
Both sites were founded around 15 years ago.
But they're both still going. (GoodReads, of course, now being owned by Amazon.)
Which seems like a pretty unusual situation to me -- can't think of too many parallels where the extreme underdog doesn't either a) just call it quits or b) keeps innovating until they get some kind of "reasonable" market share, whether that's 10% or 30% or 50% or 80%.
Above all in a social network. (A big value of GoodReads for me is seeing my friend's books and activity too. As much as I'd be curious to try LibraryThing, I don't think any of my friends have even heard of it.)
I'm quite curious how LibraryThing has managed to keep going despite such a tiny userbase, comparatively? I'm genuinely impressed.
The data from LibraryThing powers book recommendations for libraries and other metadata for a lot of libraries, and they also sell a very low-cost cataloging system targeted at small libraries.
I switched to LT from GoodReads a few years ago, and really prefer it.
So in this case there is actually is a sustainable business model for the company having it free. cool.
LT got traction significantly earlier than GR (or Anobii, which is big in some countries). In fact, they could have gone hockey-stick, but basically chose not to - they kept it somewhat exclusive and expensive, àla Apple, while GR went free. It always felt like LT was a lifestyle business and GR was a VC-style business (I don't know if this perception actually matched their financials). When the chips are down, you need very little to keep going what is essentially an online book database, if you don't go chasing growth metrics.
And (2) they focused heavily on the medium-scale market with tinycat (an online catalog for "tiny" libraries like community centers/etc) and (3) used their extensive user-generated data to help 'enrich'/recommend/etc books from bigger libraries. These are all cool niches that were under-developed, especially b/c goodreads with amazon wanted to keep as much data as possible to themselves.
I do which they would update the main website more (it doesn't even have a mobile version of the site, although 2 stripped down apps). But they do have an API which is amazing and very useful. I use it for a lot of stuff (find books I want to read in my library/overdrive, find new books my authors I've liked, etc)
The surprise takeaway for me in this announcement was that a "2.0" complete redesign is apparently not only in the works but around the corner (just not entirely ready yet).
IIRC, in search Google has a ~93% share, and Bing is number 2 with something like 2.3%.
I probably should see if I can go through all my LT books and compare the rating with that on GoodReads. Would make for a fun little project.
(Note: Just looked at a few random ones, and while LT ratings are lower, not really by much (e.g. 3.8 vs 3.9).
I think a lot of hardcore readers don't care that much for the GoodReads social aspects.
I made my account in 2010. I considered GoodReads, but LT won because they allow you to download all your data. Maybe GoodReads does, but they either didn't back then, or it was non-obvious. I haven't ever tried to look at GoodReads again, but to be frank, I kind of like that LT looks like it was made 15 years ago!
You mean LibraryThing?
The social aspect pretty much does not exist for me.
If you love fine books and supporting small independent publishers, LibraryThing is an amazing niche community.
(Also, it says "Au revoir mes petits choux!", and I think it's funny.)
As an aside, I vaguely recall that at some point their memberships were pay-what-you-can. Super curious what the distribution of payments looked like.
My dad has over 10,000 books. He's a retired professor, and he just … loves books. He's older, and is trying to figure out what to do with his books. Most of them aren't in great shape, so most general-purpose libraries aren't interested. The topics span just about every topic you could think of — philosophy, watercolor technique, Civil War history, chess strategy, ethics, business, fiction — so it's not like there's a topic-specific library or school that would be interested in them.
He'd love to get them to people who will really find value in them, whether that's through a donation or through selling them, but he's not extremely tech-savvy, and he lives across the country from me, so my ability to help coordinate is fairly limited. I thought perhaps some sort of "catalog them, then send to Amazon to sell on the secondary market" approach might work, but that could also be a disaster.
Any ideas? Have any of you handled something similar?
LibraryThing's forums are also where I'd start to ask the hard questions of what to do with the collection. Especially once it is cataloged you could get a ton of good opinions in the LT forums on which books might have value where. A lot of small and niche libraries already use LibraryThing for their operations and you might be surprised who you network with once the overall collection is cataloged.
For those curious here's decent youtube video giving an overview of LibraryThing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuYOcRiXLcU
Where I can search for a novel in a certain genre from a certain publication date with a certain rating from at least x users. Nothing like that seems to exist for Goodreads.
I have never used it can someone please explain what are pros/cons compared to Goodreads?
That said, I wonder the catalogue could be exportable to a web-based option like omega.org, which is self hosted.