last.fm for books?

my 'goodreads' bookshelf

I’m rubbish at choosing books to read, so recommendations from friends who are better read than I am are very useful. I enjoy using last.fm as a way to discover new music that I might like, so thought I’d look to see if you could get the same for books.

I’ve found two sites that I quite like:

goodreads
This is a lovely site. Track the different books you have read, and are reading. Sort them into different “bookshelves” if you want to group them.

It’s got a ton of RSS feeds, and it’s focus absolutely seems to be to make it easier to track what your friends have read and are reading, what they like and don’t like.

As with all social sites though, how useful it is does depend on how much of your social network you can bring with you! Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone else who uses the site yet, so I can only follow myself. And I already said that I make lousy recommendations to myself! šŸ™‚

In the meantime, their public timeline is pretty good – even short reviews from strangers is a good way to come across interesting new stuff.

The site design is very pretty, and I love the “covers” view for bookshelves – the image above is a screenshot of my current bookshelf. (Although, as with the RSS feeds, there are different ways to sort and view the bookshelves.)

And friendfeed have added good support for sharing your reading list with your wider social network. (That’s how I came across goodreads in the first place, actually – from the list of supported services on friendfeed.)

what should I read next?
This site has the recommendation engine that I wish goodreads had. The idea is that you give it a list of books, and it takes that list – comparing it with the lists others have submitted, to come up with a list of recommendations. Very last.fm.

And the recommendations seem pretty good, too!

But, the site isn’t pretty. There aren’t any pictures, or pretty backgrounds.

And it doesn’t have any RSS feeds. And there’s no system for tracking or following your friends. All the recommendations are generalised and anonymous.

In fact, the login only needs an email address, and needs no password. (So if you know my email address and felt particularly inclined, you could go and vandalise my list to your heart’s content – please don’t!). This means I’m reluctant to link directly to my page here, as there isn’t a distinction between my view of my list of books and a public view – it’s the same thing. Any site which makes me reluctant to share my info isn’t on to a great start.

It’s such a shame – because the recommendation engine does seem to be very clever.

Please sign up! šŸ™‚
I’ll have to try and arm-twist some friends who read interesting books to try and sign up to goodreads – there are a bunch of people I can think of that I’d love to follow. And if you do sign-up, please do add me as a friend!

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12 Responses to “last.fm for books?”

  1. Ben Spencer says:

    I would recommend giving Readernaut a try. It’s currently in the very early stages of production, but is looking very promising.

    http://readernaut.com/

  2. Roo says:

    I’m currently weighing up GoodReads and LibraryThing. I like them both. Best of all is bkkeepr (bkkeepr.com) which makes it easy to update what you’re reading via Twitter (as long as you can remember how to spell bkkeepr, and accurately type ISBN numbers without any feedback that you’ve got the right one. Both of those things have caused me problems today. šŸ™‚

  3. ssseth says:

    Please check also my site: http://neednext.com similar to “what should I read next?” it’s oriented on recommendation list.

  4. dale says:

    ssseth – thanks for the link. Unfortunately, every book I tried on your site returned “Sorry, your book returned zero results.”

    Hopefully I’ll try again once you’ve populated the database a bit more.

  5. ssseth says:

    dale: that’s the thing – the database use books that registered users add to their list. I just start the web so there isn’t much registered users thus not much book in the database.

    of course I can populate the database by my self but then the recommendation will be not realistic

  6. ssseth says:

    anyway thanks for trying šŸ™‚

  7. […] went looking for an equivalent for the books that I read in August 2008, and started using […]

  8. Patrick says:

    How about http://www.bookwhack.com ?
    It doesn’t require the same level of commitment as goodreads or librarything. You can just go to the site and use it.

  9. dale says:

    Looks good – I’ll give it a try, thanks!

  10. Paul says:

    You could alos take a look at booksiamreading.com which I used on my literary blog, though presently it is throwing bleeding SQL errors it worked for me for a good two years… and I would be curious to hear if it throws them for new users too – the developer is usually quick to respond (but not right now unfortunately). Cannot believe there are still IBM codemonkeys around – I used to code assembler and the like but now I reuse/recycle computers

  11. dale says:

    Paul – Thanks for the link, it looks interesting (Couldn’t see any errors from it, but maybe it’s been fixed since your comment)

    (PS – Found your comment in my blog’s spam bin… sorry about that – not sure why it ended up there!)