Hello and Goodbye

February 16, 2007

This week I’m saying hello to a couple of new geeky things, and a sort of goodbye to some old favorites.

First, I’m frustrated with Delicious Library, the beautiful Macintosh library tracking system. It’s been sort of ridiculous-forever since they released an update, and the software doesn’t do what I consider “basic” Mac things, like smart folders. Nor does it allow arbitrary tagging. It’s also pretty slow. I love it, but I need more.

I started a LibraryThing account. I pretty much immediately had to pay for it as their max library size on a free account is 200 and I have about 550 books.

Some nice things:
* LibraryThing seems practically sentient in regards to information it will import. I dumped my Delicious Library data to a text file and it had no trouble with it. It will also import XML, CSV, HTML, etc. etc. That is quite nice. It queues your import into batches and smoothly gets things done. About 30 of my books didn’t import, but I’m guessing that is because they are quite old and don’t have ISBNs.
* Very flexible interface. You can make it look kind of like Delicious Library (e.g. view your library as cover images) or configure up to five different list layouts.
* Web 2.0-ish. You can double-click to add tags, simple-click to add ratings, reviews, etc.
* Integrated. You can (theoretically) submit a book to, for example, BookMooch, instantly.
* Social information. You can see all of the other people with the same item, see tags given to that item, see reviews, etc. This is probably the #1 thing that Delicious Library doesn’t provide. I especially like being able to see how other users rated a book.
* Recommendations/suggestions. I don’t find that their recommendation engine is particularly outstanding, but it’s there.

Some not-so-nice-things:
* Frankly, it’s kind of buggy. I’ve seen several rather significant issues since I started using it. One: sometimes my layout settings will just “disappear.” When I view my library I see nothing. I have to go back into the config tool and re-configure to be able to see anything. Annoying.
* Sometimes tags I enter end up associated with the wrong book! That seems pretty bad.
* The BookMooch integration doesn’t seem to work right. I’m not sure if this is on LT’s side or BM’s?
* When you delete an item, it doesn’t “go away” right away. Apparently it’s all batched and not everything happens live. (A note to this: I actually submitted this bug because it was frustrating, and I thought my book wasn’t being deleted at all. They were very quick in getting back to me.)
* There are several features that I think are missing: the ability to add books to a wishlist (books are either in your library or not at this point; there’s nowhere to “save” interesting books), the ability to add some of the tags other people used for the same item, the ability to have “shelves” (akin to folders, if you will).


Another change that just happened: I use Vienna as my RSS reader. It’s a fabulous program–does exactly what it should and nothing more. However, the most recent build is un-usably slow. Like practically hangs my system when I run it. Takes about 10 seconds to switch between feeds. Maddening.

So I am giving Google Reader a try. We’ll see.


  1. Fran says:

    Once I discovered LibraryThing, I never went back to Delicious Library. It’s far easier to add books, and I like the social aspect. And it never adds an ugly cover icon when cover art isn’t available.

    One thing is a bother. It doesn’t matter for most books, but for a classic like “Great Expectations,” it only lists other users who have the exact same edition. So you’ll never know how many users actually have the title in any form.

  2. Brett says:

    Google reader rocks! You can even get a feed of your feeds and subscribe to it in google reader. Meta.

    Now I just which there was an OPML syncing service…

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