The Big List of Bookish Social Networks

Trinity College Library, Dublin

As I mentioned when I discovered Wordie and Coastr, I’ve yet to find a book-oriented social network that’s inspired me to register. And it’s not like there’s any shortage of them. Here’s an alphabetical list of all the players I know of, annotated with deconstructive criticism. The bold-face names are serious contenders.

  • aNobii: Multilingual Hong Kong-based book-lister with a clean design.
  • Personable. Feature-rich. Unfortunate design.
  • Booktribes: Bookish social network with extremely busy pages.
  • BooksWellRead: Way too many ellipses…
  • Bookish community site for German speakers.
  • ChainReading: Aimed at reading addicts, but site activity doesn’t suggest an addicted user base.
  • ConnectViaBooks: Socializing, rather than cataloging, is the main focus of this London-based booklover site. Some real potential here.
  • Douban: Bookish community site aimed at some of the world’s 1.1 billion Chinese speakers.
  • Goodreads: Simple bookish social network that emphasizes book recommendations from other users.
  • GuruLib: For readers with a compulsive desire to catalog everything they own. Not pretty.
  • Media collection organizer in a precarious position.
  • LibraryThing: The most established bookish community site of the bunch, with active developers. They just hired Wordie’s John McGrath and they’re encouraging people to make Chuck Close-style mosaics of themselves out of book covers. One to watch.
  • Listal: Taggerific media-cataloging site with rich profiles, a surplus of content and widgets galore.
  • Established media-cataloging site whose best feature may be groups.
  • Reader2: As in “reader squared.” I found it difficult to browse.
  • German book and music social network. Seems pretty active.
  • John McGrath, who created Wordie, is the co-founder of this social collection organizer, so I want to like it, but I don’t.
  • Shelfari: Nicely designed bookish social network out to take out LibraryThing. They’ve got big widgets.
  • Lists are called shelves here but you can’t begin browsing them until you register.

I guess what I really want is a combination of Wordie, Flickr and Amazon, with the book information pages of Google Book Search (maps included!) and highly customizable widgets. Is that too much to ask?

21 responses to “The Big List of Bookish Social Networks”

  1. Have you come across anything that is basically a cataloging site (like LibraryThing) but allows other users (that you accept – friends, really) to see your lists and to add or manipulate them somehow.

    For example, I have used book want lists that, if someone sees and buys for me, then they would mark the book on the site as purchased.

  2. Shelfari is definitely tempting for it’s good looks, but I just can’t see myself entering all my books instead of, you know, reading them. Listing collector’s items (and old or first-edition books that really serve the purpose of collector items) a-la squirl, sure, maybe if I was bored—the primary purpose of a collection is to show it off. But listing all the books I’ve ever read seems insufferably tedious—the primary purpose of books is reading them!

    On the other hand I did make friends with a stranger on the other coast in the early days of Friendster based on our mutual listing of the same obscure book. Haven’t emailed her in years, but we did have a few enjoyable games of email Scrabble. So maybe there’s something to it after all.

  3. I use gurulib for a while, and I don’t care about its “not so pretty” design. You should try to test it longer, it is really user friendly, and the smarter for great collections of book, movies or documents, furthermore if you often grow it.
    I personally don’t care about the social features, I tried a bunch beffore choose gurulib, and it’s the most complete for organization.

  4. Have you tried Bookcrossing? I used to be a very active member, read tons of books traded through the site and went to tons of meetups. It is a great site with an excellent and very active community.

  5. One site you have not mentioned is Authonomy ( by the publishing house Harper Collins. On it unpublished, self-published and other obscure authors can display extracts of their work. The books are arranged in a charts system according to how many fellow memebers have backed them.