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July 4, 2008

Shelfari – Your Virtual Bookcase

ss-shelfari

Designed with book lovers in mind, Shelfari could easily become a bibliophile’s best friend. After registering for a free account on this nifty social cataloging site, members are prompted to personalize their profile and then build their “shelf” by listing books they have read, books they are reading, and books that they want to read. From there, you can connect with your own friends or reach out and find other members who possess similar reading tastes as you. Some book authors even utilize Shelfari, allowing you to communicate and share feedback directly with the source.

Once you have established yourself in the Shelfari community, you can find and join groups which match your reading preferences, or if you cannot find one that suits your needs, you can start your own. Each group is run by at least one administrator and files its own “group shelf” full of books for perusing. Group members can also post topics on a discussion board or submit questions about the group to its administrators.

Recently, Shelfari added book pages to its system, allowing you to look up relevant information about the book title. You can also see members’ comments and reviews along with any discussions that the book has been featured within. If you are still not sure whether a book is worth your time or not, you can look for other Shelfari members and request their input. Shelfari will match you with members who have already read the book to respond to your inquiry.

In earlier days, finding a new book often meant wandering the library aimlessly looking for titles and book covers that caught your eye. As any avid reader knows, this is an exhilarating experience but it is also a solitary one. Shelfari offers an alternative for when you are seeking a more social and active community. Whether you want to find a new read, submit a review, or simply chat it up with fellow book lovers, Safari provides a unique community of readers unmatched by any other.

Practical Uses:

  • Keep track of books you have read, are reading, and want to read
  • Read book reviews to see what members like and then write your own for others to see
  • Connect with other members who possess similar reading tastes and recommend or discuss what you are reading

Insider Tips:

  • When searching for Shelfari members, click the “Just For You” tab to find people who seem like good matches for you based on your profile information
  • You can download a list of your books to your computer under the “Fix Settings” option
  • If you have a blog, you can install a Shelfari widget in your design to display your reading list to your readers. Widgets also exist for both Facebook and MySpace so you can easily publish your Shelfari information to popular social-networking sites

What We Liked:

  • There is no limit to the number of books you can file into your shelf – and you can even file them under different categories
  • After you fill out your book lists and connect with other members, the “What’s New” section on your personal profile updates you automatically about your friends’ reading activities
  • A “Should I Read This?” button on each book page makes it easy for you to ask around for others opinions on whether they think you would enjoy the book or not

What We Didn’t Like:

  • The application pushes relentlessly for you to send out email invites, and some of the program’s features will not work unless you have connected with friends

Alternatives:

Company Info:

  • Launched: October, 2006
  • Privately Owned (Taste Makers, Inc.)
  • Headquarters: Seattle, Washington
  • Co-founded by Josh Hug and Kevin Beukelman
  • Web site: http://www.shelfari.com/

Costs:

  • Free