Talking Tech Friday – Shelfari

I’m a big fan of social networking sites, especially book websites.  I have both a Library Thing and Goodreads account.  The last thing I need is another book site – yet, today I will review Shelfari.

What is it?

Shelfari is a social site that centers around books.  Much like Library Thing and Goodreads, you have a profile, you list books in your library, you can tag and review books, join discussion groups, and befriend people on the site.

How does it work?

To create an account, you register with name, email, and password.  Once you register, you have the option of searching your email address for friends already on Shelfari (you can skip this, look for the “Skip” link), and inviting friends to join.

You can customize your profile, the URL to your virtual bookshelf, and all the typical bells and whistles.  To add books, you can search by title or author, browse “What’s Hot”, or browse by subject.  Adding books to your shelf is very simple – and you can immediately choose to classify a book as “Already Read,” “I’m Reading Now” or “Plan to read” – so it’s easy to keep track of your book lists. Something else that’s kind of nice – you can mark that you’ve read a book more than once – though I’m not sure I’d like to track how many times I’ve actually read, say, Anne of Green Gables.  That might tell me a little too much about myself.  Additionally, you can specify that this is a book you own or something that it is your wish list. Finally, you can import your books from another site, such as Library Thing.

Because Shelfari is actually owned by Amazon, you can also import your wishlist from Amazon into Shelfari.  Similarly, on every book in Shelfari is a link to purchase that book from Amazon.  I think this is a mixed blessing, but for my own purposes, I can definitely see myself buying a book (I often use Library Thing to manage my book club books, so buying it as I add it might save me a bit of trouble.)

Two things that I think set Shelfari apart.  First,  it has a very clean and nice, dare I say “library-like”, interface.  Your virtual bookshelf looks like a shelf, and the design of the bookcovers and navigation is very simple and clean.   It also resembles Netflix in design – holding a mouse over a bookcover brings up a review or more information on the book in a bubble.

Secondly – Shelfari also has some great and attractive widgets that you can embed on other sites.

Possible Library Uses

Obviously, this would be a great tool for book clubs and reading groups.  The simple and clean interface makes it intuitive to learn.  Also, that Amazon link is handy when a library can’t stock several copies of a single title.

Some other uses: using it to track past story times or book talks, or even using it for collection development. You could check out reviews, or mark books you want to consider purchasing for the library at a later date.

I’m probably not going to switch over to Shelfari from my book sites, but if you haven’t already invested time in a different site, this may be the one for you.

Note: Now that I’ve read some of the reviews, while Shelfari does have a nice interface, it seems that they use email very liberally – check out the Thingology review below.  Annnd…this seems like a good lesson for me to read other reviews before reviewing a site.  I’d thought I was being good by going in blind and innocent, and now I’ve spend an hour writing a column for a site I can’t recommend.  So – while I think Shelfari has a lot of nice features, be careful if you decide to use it!



~ by Anali on December 5, 2008.

One Response to “Talking Tech Friday – Shelfari”

  1. I have heard good and bad about this site, though sadly more bad. That’s unfortunate as Jen Maney was presenting at AzLA today and one of the Play Pages from the Baker’s Dozen wiki had a Shelfari widget. I’ll admit, I was quite taken with the look. Maybe Library Thing can come up with something similarly pretty for us. 🙂

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