Gotta Catch Em All!
March 3, 2007 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Booktribes is a new site from the creators of writing site Abctales where bibliophiles can compile lists of every book they've ever read. Replete with a simple, intuitive interface, compiling your life's reading list becomes strangely addictive, and for the whole of March, the best comment of the day on this as-yet underpopulated site wins a copy of David Mitchell's Black Swan Green, with the best comment of the month winning the entire 21 volume Sceptre Collection. And if you're worried your reading list isn't up to scratch, don't panic - you can always cheat.
posted by RokkitNite (20 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
PS - yeah, the 'Rokkitnite' dominating the 'recent comments' bar is me. I've been vying for Saturday's prize but I've no affiliation with the website.
posted by RokkitNite at 5:01 PM on March 3, 2007

Interesting. I don't see a mechanism for adding books, though--and I've already run into books that their search doesn't seem to include (although it's hard to tell when they give you so many results.... I assume it sorts by relevancy, though). Shame, I was hoping for something to replace LibraryThing (it limits you to two hundred with a free account--I have significantly more than that. It was cool otherwise, though).
posted by sleeplessunderwater at 5:29 PM on March 3, 2007

I would consider using this to help me keep track of books I've read, but it's not easy enough to enter books. I figure every new member's already read hundreds or thousands, so it would be nice if the process were a little streamlined.
posted by grobstein at 5:39 PM on March 3, 2007

*nod* It was better when I noticed that hovering the cursor over a search result's cover pic would bring up the read-reading-favorite buttons for it, but it'd still be nice to:

1)Be able to enter more than one at once, by author, title, and/or ISBN. It's okay if that leads to a confirmation screen--"Is this the book you meant" for each one, but you should be able to do this.
2)Import books.
3)Limit searches to only books that match search criteria exactly. (With a link to "see similar results".) When I search for Robert Asprin, I don't want to see books by unrelated people who happen to have the first name Robert. (Seriously, try this and go to page seven or so.) Not being able to limit searches also means that you can't see at a glance how many relevant results you have.
posted by sleeplessunderwater at 7:57 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

looks pretty beta, but cool anyways. this could be common knowledge, but there is a similar site which seems to work a lot better in my mind, which is Library Thing. I found entering books pretty easy, and they have some basic zeitgeist feature.

not sure if I am sympathetic to these sites or not, as they are potentially more of a vanity/'list everything I know' than a way to network and find new books of interest.
posted by ryanfou at 8:01 PM on March 3, 2007

Why would anyone want a definitive list of every book they've read? Documenting every damned thing one does seems to be one of the most unfortunate trends spawned by the web. Reducing one's lifetime reading to a gimmicky internet list replete with links to Amazon and Powell's and other booksellers, and populated by Yahoo-type "groups," seems so, somehow, pathetic.

There's a value, I think, in leaving what you've done somewhat murky. Sites like these book-list sites turn people into obsessive curators of their own experience, in a way that distracts people from actually living and doing.

I rate this, as an idea, about as highly as I would rate a site allowing me to document every shit I've ever taken.

Sorry, I just had to vent.
posted by jayder at 8:48 PM on March 3, 2007 [3 favorites]

Woah, epiphany--thanks, jayder. It's not like they're not all alphebetized and sorted by category anyway... I know what I've read and not read. I've been looking for a replacement for that Excel spreadsheet I have (and don't maintain) but that was actually fairly pointless, too; it was just my love of databases coming through.

I feel better now.

*goes to shelve the ones that have been waiting to be cataloged*
posted by sleeplessunderwater at 9:53 PM on March 3, 2007

I read a lot and to keep track of the books I wrote a Greasemonkey script. Most of the books come from my great local library system (which makes a point of not remembering what you have checked out after it is returned) so my script mainly looks at my library account and scrapes out info about what is currently borrowed.

Since I started running the first version of the script, it has recorded 227 books that I borrowed. Maybe 12% were stinkers that I rejected before reading to the end, so I can't say I completely read all 227 books.

On reason to make such a list is that bad books are hard to remember - mainly because most are profoundly unimpressive and don't get completely read. For example, if I examine a book and I don't recognize the author and the jacket copy doesn't set off any stink flags then maybe I'll borrow it - little knowing that 2 years ago I did the same and rejected it after 10 pages.

I tend to be a bit liberal in choosing potential books to read - in some categories I will borrow books that I doubt I will like but they seem to have some potential. There is no reason I have to read a borrowed book past the first 10 pages, though there was one Rushdie book I thought I should reject after the 1st chapter that I read through to the end only to confirm my initial impression.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:06 PM on March 3, 2007

Looks like an interesting site! I wish there was a way to add books not found there - I suspect if it's not been released in the UK it's not going to be listed.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:13 PM on March 3, 2007

This had my attention a while ago.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:33 PM on March 3, 2007

Why would anyone want a definitive list of every book they've read?

I'm a mad bibliophile, with overflowing bookshelves in almost every room, piles of them awaiting shelving, etcetera, but it's never occured to me to want to keep track of the books I've read in such a way. Of course if people want to do that, then fine.

I also don't understand the collecting impulse, but that's just me.
posted by jokeefe at 10:34 PM on March 3, 2007

To be fair to the site, it's designed more as a place for themed networking and discussion than an exhaustive compilation resource - it's just that I found myself digging out old cardboard boxes in the hunt for extra books to add to my list. It's still in its infancy, so I daresay more advanced search and input facilities will appear in due course.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:24 AM on March 4, 2007

I was hoping for something to replace LibraryThing (it limits you to two hundred with a free account--I have significantly more than that.

A lifetime membership at LT costs about as much as a single dinner out. Is it really not worth it to you? It keeps getting better (more features) all the time.
posted by languagehat at 6:23 AM on March 4, 2007

What I wish from LibraryThing is a way to record the books I've read without marking that I own them, since I get about 95% of my books from the library these days-- Booktribes looks nice, but there are too many books it doesn't have, and so few users I can't get any interesting social data yet.
posted by Jeanne at 8:53 AM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

If I spend all that time listing books I've already read, I won't have time to read anything else.
posted by JanetLand at 9:02 AM on March 4, 2007

Jeanne: You can use LT any way you want. You can include all the books you've read, and (if you feel like it) note in the Comments section the ones you don't own. Or not; nobody's going to raid your house and make sure all the books are on your shelves. The amazing reach of LT search (it's found books I would have bet money I'd have to manually input) puts it head and shoulders above things like this.
posted by languagehat at 9:14 AM on March 4, 2007

There are 3 or 4 book cataloging sites now but LibraryThing is still the best and just keeps getting better. The recent feature to see book citations on Wikipedia is really outstanding and helpful.
posted by stbalbach at 10:40 AM on March 4, 2007

"A Cozy Book Club, in a Virtual Reading Room", New York Times (March 4) article on LibraryThing.
posted by stbalbach at 11:11 AM on March 4, 2007

I'm a massive Library Thing fan. And Jeanne you could just tag the books you've read, but don't own, as such.

I'll also second languagehat, the lifetime membership is well worth it.
posted by sotonohito at 1:14 PM on March 4, 2007

Ugh. I see a misspelling in the first tag that's listed ("bizzar"). Why can people read, but not run a spell check?

(I see no compelling reason to switch from Library Thing, but I always think that books are cool.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:15 PM on March 5, 2007

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