Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Virtual bookshelves

In 2006 I signed up to an application called Bibliophil to keep track of the books I had read, mostly with the book club I belonged to at the time, but also documenting past reading going back even to my childhood. I thought it was a neat idea and had a lot of potential, an online place for a community of book-lovers to share their experiences with books .
I have to admit I haven't accessed my library there much in the past couple of years, partly because I have less time to read and no longer belong to a book club but also probably because Bibliophil didn't live up to the potential I thought the idea had. I had forgotten all about it. I was reminded of it recently however, when I came across references to Shelfari, which describes itself as:

"a community-powered encyclopedia for book lovers."

It has a social networking aspect:

Create a virtual bookshelf, discover new books, connect with friends and learn more about your favorite books – all for free.

Intrigued I did a bit of digging and found out that there are a number of similar applications now- GoodRead and LibraryThing are a couple of others.

These applications seem to be what I envisioned, building on what Bibliophil began.

I was tempted to join one of these newer applications but then - what about my library in Bibliophil? Perhaps I should just pick that up again, I thought. I searched the site out again, found my user name and password (no small feat after a couple of years!) and got into it to look at my list and explore what the program offered now. It hasn't changed that much (sadly) and doesn't have the jazzy look of the other options. It doesn't connect to facebook or twitter. Its link to Project Gutenberg is dead. Although it has some recent added profiles and it still functions, it appears neglected, abandoned somewhat by its creator, as if he may have left it to run itself down.

So. Do I stick with Bibliophil (losing my list!) or switch to one of the other newer applications which have more bells and whistles?
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)