I've been in and out of Shelfari for the last year or so (it's actually a Seattle company, but I don't think I know anybody that works there). It's a nice idea with a lot of flash and neat integration with book databases (that's quite easy to do). However, as I never got into the social networking aspect of it, I never saw a reason to really use them. I can look at my bookshelf and know which books I have. I never found the use of knowing when I read a particular book, or how well I rated the book.
Today I went back to them, though. They decided to add a new feature allowing adding and editing information about authors. This caught my attention because that means that they are starting to add structured information to their database that is beyond book information. But when I got to it I realized that they didn't seed this data with anything. Also, they have very limited and static set of fields that define an author:
- Date of Birth
- Place of Birth
- Official Website
Kind of depressing. And on top of all this, their search is being very slow today and I can't even add the books I have read recently. Time to move onto something else. Maybe I should go back to the huge LibraryThing. I gave up on them because I felt like a very small reader in the middle of the cattle. Maybe things are not like that any more. I'll give some examples of books I've added in both and the number of other members that have those books.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (my most popular book):
Library Thing: 13,187 other members
Shelfari: 12898 members
Sunstorm (A Time Odyssey) by Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter (a more recent hard sci-fi book):
Library Thing: 236 other members
Shelfari: 116 members
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (more general, but not as popular):
Library Thing: 2,824 other members
So they are all in the same order of magnitude.
Also there were some very odd bugs on their system. This I just saw when looking at the example books. They don't list Stephen Baxter on the list of authors for Sunstorm. Well, maybe I should look at the other options out there:
Goodreads (apparelly huge, but their numbers seem a little misleading, like saying that "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" had 46,791 reviews in one place, 4,400 in another and 38,724 in yet another)
BookJetty (quite tiny, only 30 people with "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time")
Oh well. Or I can get local and use Delicious Monster, a Mac only program that you can catalog your library by using a camera to read bar codes. Too many options!