Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Things on a Stick: Thing 35, Books 2.0

You might think Books 2.0 represents a move towards replacing books in some robotic, relentless manner. In fact, Books 2.0 is a celebration of books, a means of sharing what you read and enjoy, and finding other people who love the same kind of books you do.

I'm creating accounts on each of the suggested sites for this Thing to see what they offer.

The site allows you to catalog and review your Books, DVDs, Music and Games. Tags can be added to further identify your items.

The tagging here is like del.icio.ous, you need to use underscores to get phrases, or else your tag words will sort alphabetically. The phrase will be smooshed together as one word, but at least you can get the idea across. My example is science_fiction_films which comes out sciencefictionfilms on screen. You will be able to edit and change your tags if they aren't what you had in mind.

A text box is provided for your written review of the item. Unfortunately, once you post the review you are unable change it, you cannot even delete it and start over.

Here are the two entries I did as an experiment:

Use the category tabs at the top of the page to see what others have added from their collections. Choose "My Collection" on the right to see only your own collection. is in its "Alpha" stage, meaning it is very new and it will likely change with its users.


bookjetty's main page says "I am a Reader" in large letters, and it then offers a sort of "Proclamation of a 2.0 Reader":

And I...
I need to keep track of good books I want to read.
I would love to check books availability in my local libraries (from over 300 libraries in 11 different countries).
I want to know what my friends are reading, view Google Books preview, Amazon rating and sales rank, bookshelf widget on my blog, and probably more.

When you log in to bookjetty, you see what books are popular, what has been recently added by other users, and snippets of the latest reviews. You'll need to select "My Books" in order to see your own books or add new ones.

To add a new title to your library (or in my case I'm putting in my "To Read List"), type the title in the search box at the top of the web page. Amazon is searched and a mockup of the cover appears. Clicking on that can confirm for you that you have the right book. Just select "add to shelf" to put the selection in your library list. The search box seemed more forgiving of typos and variant title searches than most such search mechanisms.

Add tags by mousing over the book title.

I cannot see where to add reviews or book description. I must just not see it since there are reviews aplenty on the left column of the screen. This site also has a discussion board where you might discuss particular titles or ideas.


iTrackMine allows you to add a wide variety of items to your collection pages. Books, DVDs, music, and wine. (Although after you've swilled your collection you'll have to go to the trouble of taking it off iTrackMine.)

Because iTrackMine has a Home and Garden category and an "Everything Else" category, I thought this might be a place to enter the plants from my garden. As it turns out, the Home and Garden category is subdivided into such categories as "Kitchen", "Musical Instruments" and "Automotive". No garden plants and no "Everything Else" choice.

Charging onward anywho, I selected "Kitchen" and typed in my plant name, leaving the UPC, Manufacturer ID and other descriptive spots blank. To my surprise I could upload a picture and there were fields for description. I wasn't sure if my entry would be rejected so I didn't fill those in. Finally, I selected the big "Create a Custom Item" arrow and voila! a box popped up pleading with me to make sure my item was unique and not something already included in the catalog they had worked so hard to create.

I was able to add the rose. I could in fact enter my entire garden here, but I would feel guilty since it is clearly not what they intended for the site. There is almost a mini-eBay feel to it, as they ask you to describe items in detail and say where you got it and how much you paid, and would you be willing to loan it out?


They really need to rewrite this paragraph:

Once you've created your shelf, you can find out who have the same books as you do, see what they have on their shelves, and see who else have what they have on their shelves, and what those people have on their shelves, so on and so forth ...

Also "Add your first book (in a breeze)" did they mean "Its a breeze"?

You are encouraged to enter your books by ISBN and are told you can use title but it will take an extra step! That is not very user friendly. As it turns out, searching by title brings up a picture of the book cover, just the way the other book collection sites do. In fact, the site design is identical to bookjetty's, but the language and choices offered are less well thought out.


Booktagger appears to share a site template with another book collection manager called Shelfari. There are plenty of variations however, offering the ability to make booklists (though I'm still working on this function) and create a Book Club in addition to the typical list of books that you own.

Living up to its name, Booktagger has the best tagging options I've seen so far (outside of LibraryThing). It keeps phrases together so I could use "19th Century Novels" and "Psychiatric patients" to tag Wilkie Collins book The Woman in White and those words stayed together as I entered them, without any underscore shenanigans.

The instruction for adding your book to your shelf is to search for it, then drag the cover to the subtopic you wish to use. This can awkwardly slip your book into an unintended category (you can fish it out but it isn't easy). It is also possible to carefully mouse over the title, allowing a set of check boxed categories to show up. Check the correct box, and hit save. Nothing appears to happen (nothing on the screen changes,) but the item will indeed be added to your collection.

I added a Book Club with the titles my msytery book group is reading , or tried to. I could not figure out how to add titles so I ended up slipping them into the "Mission Statement" box and they now are displayed right up front. Lots of possibility with Booktagger, I'll just need to play with it somewhat.

Books on Your Phone

I looked at these sites and can see the value in them for someone who uses their phone for many purposes. I do the old fashioned making and taking calls on mine. Last fall some kid was mistakenly texting me such message gems as "hope you're not late for school, lol!" My husband said he thought I'd be charged every time I looked at one of these witticisms, so I didn't take the time to learn to respond.

I am following Twitterlit on Twitter so I am not a total loss on this part of the Thing.

Reader's Advisory

Reading Trails

This is a good place to compile a booklist to share and allow others to add to it. I created a list of garden writers with 43 titles.

Reading Trails allows you to search for titles in their database and add to it. There are not many covers available so they put up those plain colored covers in many cases. You are able to easily add a title if it is not in their existing list.

There is some sort of venn diagramish trick to the site that is supposed to allow connections between these lists. I'm not sure what to make of that part of the site.

I watched the tech demo, which was impressive, and read the forums a bit which made me feel as if the project were sort of stalled. I think it would be a great addition to any book related site. They seem to be figuring out funding as well. I would think a fee for using the software would be reasonable. If it worked as described it would be a great tool.

What Should I Read Next?

If this is the same company that our library subscribed to at one time, it really isn't up to date enough with its authors and titles to be useful. It was also very weak on local authors.

What's Next? Books in Series

Produced by Kent District Libary this slick series search tool allows for search by Author, Title, Series Name, Book Title, Reading Level and genre.

I did two searches:

Author Name: Tony Hillerman (I can never remember the series name) and a nice numbered list of his Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee books came up.

Series: I always recall the series name "The Edge Chronicles" but not, alas the author, who is Paul Stewart.


Whichbook has an interesting slider selection tool. Pick from each interest range and use the slider to indicate how strongly you feel about any particular attribute. Here are your choices:

larger than life/down to earth
no sex/sex

I chose the far left sliders for happy, funny, safe, expected (the other sliders were not available) and got these results:

My Latest Grievance
by Elinor Lipman
Reader comment
A light but warm touch delivered with minute observation and an obvious enjoyment of words. This novel has just enough tartness to keep it sharp rather than sugar sweet. I found Frederica - one time college mascot and precocious resident teenager endearing, amusing and wise, when she could have been irritating and clever-clever. For readers who prefer humour to make you smile with subtle recogonition rather than laugh out loud.

Read extract
Published: 2006

On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The C Words
by Mark Mason
Reader comment
Bridget Jones for men - Brigham Jones perhaps? Chap Lit. rather than Chick Lit. Light, stylish, and very funny this is a fine romantic comedy. Told from a male point of view, it follows two guys getting increasingly stressed out trying to get into bed with the right girl. It seems its a lot harder than I'd ever appreciated.

Read extract
Published: 2005

Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
Dinner for Two by Mike Gayle
The Food of Love by Anthony Capella

Blessed Art Thou a Monk Swimming
by Miriam Dunne
Reader comment
A young Catholic girl growing up in Ireland in the 1960s. Highly entertaining and surprisingly poignant. A great first novel.

Read extract
Published: 1997

The Snapper by Roddy Doyle
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

A Matter of Fat
by Sherry Ashworth
Reader comment
On a diet? Obsessed with food? Then this is the book for you! The women in the book are members of a Slimming Club and all have their different reasons for being there. Great fun, but not without a serious side - an entertaining read.

Read extract
Published: 1991

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes
Rosie Meadows by Catherine Alliott

Diary of a Househusband
by Carl Peters
Reader comment
If you enjoyed Bridget Jones's Diary you'll probably enjoy this. Written from the point of view of a young, black man. Funny, entertaining and ultimately warm. Perfect read for the train or the bus.

Read extract
Published: 1997

The Snapper by Roddy Doyle
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

I did not see the first time I looked at the site that this is a British site and it links to British libraries. I'm not familiar with many of the recommended titles called "Parallels" so I can't judge how well this system really works. It certainly is intriguing.

Book Stumper

A fine idea, to have a place people can get the titles of lost but not forgotten books figured out for them. An old List Serv, Stumper-L used to do this for free, whilst the bookseller running this charges $2.00 per query. It is possible to read solved queries and help answer queries for free. Here is a sample of the path to non-Stumperdom featuring an old favorite book of my own:

13th is Magic
Joan Howard
Harper & Row, 1950
There are two books I loved as a kid--this goes back almost 50 years, and no-one seems to have any idea of either book. The first was called The Thirteenth is Magic, and involved a couple of children who, on the 13th of each month, could get onto the otherwise non-existant 13th floor of their apartment building, and the magical adventures they had while they were there.

Sounds like: Becker, Eve. Thirteen Means Magic. Harper & Row, 1976. Sound right to you?
That's too late. Try this one instead (although it's very difficult to find!) Howard, Joan. The 13th is Magic. Illustrated by Adrienne Adams. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., 1950.
Thank you so much! I'm reasonably certain that's the book. Now, if I can just find it, I'll be very happy. Oh, nostalgia....
Hi. So many books I didN'T read as a kid! But there are just as many I did read and want to find again. To start with: Do you or anyone else remember a book about a boy and a girl, possibly siblings or cousins, who are sent back in time via a unicorn tapestry showing a well in their aunt's garden? The boy's name was Ronald and he was called Roland when in the past. The girl's name was Jill? Possible title: The Thirteenth is Magic? Possible author: Patricia Gardener? As I might be confusing this with some other books I'd read and would like to reread, if those strike any chords please let me know. Thanks for running such a great site.
Joan Howard (pseud. Patricia Gordon) , Thirteenth is Magic. NY: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, '50. The children are named Ronnie & Gillian. The Summer is Magic came out in '52: same publisher & illustrator (Adrienne Adams).
Howard, Joan. The 13th is Magic. Illustrated by Adrienne Adams. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., 1950.
Joan Howard/Patricia Gordon wrote other children's books, do you know their names? (One was about a boy going through a dangerous journey where, if a ghost touched him, he would freeze)

Book Calendar

This resource introduces the reader to a book a day. These aren't reviews, but sort of "spot announcements". Non-fiction, as far as I can see, a reader might enjoy having these emailed to themselves daily.

Online Book Commmunities


Devised by a librarian, this site has the hot new books in multiples categories. This is mostly a reader's advisory site. If you dig quite a bit at the bottom of the home page, you are led to an Overbooked NING page with discussion forums. There aren't many discussions going on that I see. I think that this aspect should have its own tab at the top of the page in order to be used more.


Announces in its current post it is going under: "Every year when June rolls around, I try to find some way to mark the anniversary of the official launch of Readerville. I’m sorry to announce that this year, instead, I’m suspending operations." So much for this part of this Thing.

Reader2 and Gabbly Chat!

The forums for this site led to one of those dead doggie/can't load the page pages. The Chat loads up Gabbly Chat! Maybe its a free little chat box program or something, but it flashes FIND A FRIEND! FIND A DATE!


This online book club and possible book club management tool is aimed at the young, hip, having-a-snorting-good-time-over-their-books reader. (Note the photo below). What is long term problematic here is that it promotes Target's limited selection of books.

Living Social

Available on their site or as a Facebook application, Living Social attempts to connect you with other readers based upon the books you input as being your library. Outside of Facebook, I'm not certain how useful this would be.

Book Group Resources

Litlovers is a great resource for groups looking for "serious" reading. For book groups, they offer questions for discussion and themed booklists.

Reading Group Choices

Reading Group Choices offers a wider range of titles for groups. It also offers a monthly newsletter, interviews, and reader comments on guided topics of the month.

Reading Group Guides

Reading Group Guides is similar but it has a relatively active discussion forum. The interface and overall look of Reading Group Guides is a bit more bare bones than Reading Group Choices.


This will be useful for book groups who might want to make their choices available online. The formatting is attractive. A list of Hot Books shows what other groups are reading. Nice way to get an interest group going, I saw one in particular based on reading books on a specific management style.

Wired for Books

From Ohio University, this features audio interviews with writers, and audio readings from various authors works. The tie in forbooks groups would bios?

Audio Books

I listened to a selection from each of the offerings in this section, curious about a volunteer reader. I had to lean over and stick my head under the reference desk in order to hear a little. The readers did admirably.

I was a bit put off by a long (over a minute!)ad for a suspense novel when I started the recording for The Wizard of Oz on Podiobooks.

Open Culture's site with its informative articles and forward looking philosophy was particularly enjoyable.

Book Swaps

BookMooch's lovely front page graphic

These sites can be a great bargain for those who aren't collector types. If you are attached to your collection(s) as I am, no way you'll try this.

Book Review Sites

The Complete Review caught my eye in this section: A selectively comprehensive, objectively opinionated survey of books old and new, trying to meet all your book review, preview, and information needs.

A tall order! The books reviewed are not your run of the mill bestsellers. I found only one book I had hear of, in fact, Jedediah Berry's "The Manual of Detection". This labyrinthine novel of spies and identity and secrets does not get the "complete" treatment". Here is what they say:

Why we haven't reviewed it yet:

Gave it 100 pages, just didn't take to it -- despite the promising premises and literary flair it just didn't keep me in any suspense

Chances that we will review it:

Very slim

I loved Book Browse for its timeliness, variety of age and reading choices, and the slick layout of the site. I was admiring some of its extra features such as the ability to search by geographical location and time period (key for fiction lovers!) when I noticed you need membership to access those and it costs $34.95 per year.

The One Minute Critic has one minute video book reviews. Most entertaining without sound, especially the review of the "Eyre Affair". I think this is a great idea, and a reviewer can potentially give a much meatier review with voice and body language included than the usual printed review.

Children's Books

LookyBook is dead: Regrettably, we have come to the last page in our exciting adventure together. It would not have happened without your enthusiasm, support, and patronage.

Lookybook is closed simply due to lack of resources.

Storyline has a "web page not found" message. :( :( :(

The International Digital Children's Library is a really creative teaching resource as well as an online source of stories. I liked their idea of looking at a book written in a language you don't know and writing your own story to go with the pictures.

Just One More Book

Nicely designed site, great resource for finding new children's books and series to read. I thought the background noises in the coffee shop were a bit distracting but these reviews are something the parent and child can listen to together and it may promote book discussion and review in its listeners as a fun thing to do.

Tonight's Bedtime Story

As far as I can tell, these are downloadable files (the stories are not on the site itself for viewing) of public domain stories. I think that might discourage use somewhat.

I thoroughly enjoyed working through this long long Thing!

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