Second impressions of LibraryThing

Following up my initial LibraryThing report from yesterday, last night I exported my Delicious Library to text (necessary because the underlying XML file was bigger than the 2 MB limit for imports) and uploaded it to the service. In spite of being overloaded by WSJ and BoingBoing traffic, the site was responsive; it reported all the ISBNs that it was going to add to my library, told me how many others were already ahead of mine to look up, and said that it should be done in about 10 hours. It beat that estimate and had my catalog of books live by 8 am this morning—unfortunately, though it was only part of it, since I hit the 200-book limit that comes with free membership.

The UI is a dream. You can view your books as a list or a virtual “shelf” displaying all the covers (fans of Delicious Library will recognize this view). Clicking on a title in shelf view toggles some options—look up the book in Amazon, view your information about it, view the social information (tags, ratings, reviews, weighted recommendations), or edit the information. In addition to the obvious features (tags, etc.), editing the information provides one very useful function, the ability to change cover art to one of a dozen variant editions, to art provided by another user, or to upload your own cover art. Very slick.

Similarity is an interesting feature, as is the ability to browse to see who else has a book in their library. I also like the automated tag clouds, and my personal author cloud is telling (though, again, skewed by the fact that only part of my library is represented). I look forward to exploring some of the additional social networking features over time.

The bottom line is that just a day or two after its launch, LibraryThing is shaping up to be a really interesting way to explore books, authors, and other people’s reading habits. Fun!