Fractured Compass

June 17, 2006

A Tale of Two Libraries

Filed under: Computers and the Net,Straight and Weird Thoughts — roundapple @ 8:32 am

The software Delicious Library has been around on my Mac for sometime. I wanted to catalog my books, movies and music in a visually appealing way. It works well and is able to retrieve information and cover art on almost anything I search. I’m always in the habit of scattering books so I can’t find them after I’ve finished reading, and organizing things was the better option or so I felt.
But what good is a shelf of books or movies on your computer? To remind you of things you have forgotten is probably nobler to say than it serves a fetish. However, I do get reminded of thoughts long forgotten on certain topics or subjects just by looking at the organized collection – the modern, prosaic equivalent of Proust’s madeleine in Remembrance of Things Past. However, my train of thoughts doesn’t run into hundreds of pages. That’s a conceit I can’t sustain. You do get re-discoveries. I even came to see I had a good book entitled The Vanished Library by Luciano Canfora (about the ancient Library of Alexandria), which I read again deliciously.
One interesting use for this software is probably unintended. You can actually input titles of books, music and movies you would wish to have and put them in your shelf. Sometimes to disabuse you of the notion of buying them. Wishful thinking has its ends, or rather, end.
But, Delicious Library missed the opportunity to expand online.
That opportunity has been grabbed by Librarything.com. It is what Delicious Library could have been had it been revved up to life by the genie of generosity. Del.icio.us is a highly successful social bookmarking site. Librarything will be a huge hit with readers who want to share their list of books online.
It will be very successful because:
1. Cataloguing online doesn’t cost you forty dollars (at least up to 200 books, though you have to pay if you want to list more).
2. You get to see whether anyone else likes to read what you read.
3. You don’t install anything that ocupies your precious hard drive.
4. No software will crash on you.
5. You get to add widgets to your blog or site showing off your books. (see mine)
6. You can see what books others rate highly and get ideas on what to read next
7. The site owners (and hopefully, you) get to earn from referrals to Amazon (they’ll get rich quick, as they facetiously acknowledge)
8. It’s accessible whether your favorite place is Cupertino or Redmond.
9. It’s got great word-of-mouth potential.
10. It’s a novel take on the successful social bookmarking model.

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