Websites for Book Lovers

(V1.0) Here is an arbitrary list of arguably the very best websites for book lovers, bookworms and afficiandos of the written word. 

My Favourites (detailed descriptions are in the individual sections)

  1. Rare Book Room – I can’t explain how cool it is to be able to look at and read all these rare books online ;) I was looking at a 1620 book and they have super rare books like gutenberg’s bible of 1455 ;)
  2. Book Crossing – sharing is caring. 
  3. Shelfari – ! No longer on my favourites list because of the Invite Friends ‘invites everyone by default’ death by viral marketing stuff they do. I just hate it when websites or facebook applications bombard people with email.
  4. LibraryThing – a labor of love that lets you create a catalog/virtual bookshelf.
  5. BookSwim – amazing idea – Netflix for books.
  6. aNobii – because of what their name stands for ;)
  7. Project Gutenberg – because of all the time i wasted reading snippets of Dune on my PDA.

Create your online Book Shelf + Book Social Networks + Reviews 

Please also see ‘Book Swapping Websites’ section (next section) as a lot of those websites are community based too.

  1. LibraryThing – Wow! This is a labour of love. Kinda sucks that it’s paid for >200 books.
    1. Meet the world’s largest book club. Find people with eerily similar tastes.
    2. Catalog with Amazon, or 253 other world libraries. Import from anywhere.
    3. Get recommendations. Tag your books and explore others’ tags.
    4. Put your books on your blog.
    5. Enter 200 books for free, or unlimited for $10 (year) or $25 (life). 
    6. BTW AbeBooks bought a 40% share in LibraryThing in 2006.
  2. Goodreads lets you create library catalogs and reading lists and get recommendations. As of December 2007 the site has over 650 thousand members and over 10 million books.
  3. What Should I Read Next - a great resource along the lines of Pandora (for music) which suggests books you should read after you enter a favourite book and/or author. 
  4. aNobii – The name ? – the short answer is that it comes from the first few syllables of Anobium Punctatum, which is the proper name for bookworms. “aNobii provides as much of a books community as you’ll find anywhere” – LifeHacks.org

Ranking on hold: Shelfari – basically despite the excellent features and excellent website and my Seattle spirit i’m forced to hold back form recommending Shelfari because of their ‘evil’ invite everyone by default setting – this is just an example of viral marketing gone really bad and a website forgetting that its aim is to provide happines and value to customers. Anyways here’s my original writeup and i’m really disappointed because this would have been #2 on my favourites list. Also found out that they were (they claim it was an intern’s ignorance) astroturfing i.e. creating an artificial grassroots campaign to create publicity etc. If their invite feature is modified to not pre-select everyone I’ll put them back in the rankings. 

I thought LibraryThing was wow – however Shelfari is almost as good as Flickr in terms of usability and design (although i do wish they had better pictures for book covers on your shelf). And they have great functionality – it’s a snap to use. Its got reviews, tags, most popular, most commented, share with friends, groups, and a ton more. Its based out of Seattle – ironic that i found out about them after moving to London.

Book Swapping Websites

  1. Book Crossing – (basically the website that got me started on this idea of collating great websites for book lovers – i was wondering – are there other really cool websites like book crossing, and decided to just search and collate online). Welcome to BookCrossing, where 655,790 people in over 130 countries come to share their passion for books with the world. How? It’s easy. Simply click on the link below and sign up for free in less than 1 minute– that’s it!At BookCrossing, you can register any book you have on the site, and then set the book free to travel the world and find new readers. Leave it on a park bench, at a coffee shop, at a hotel on vacation. Share it with a friend or tuck it onto a bookshelf at the gym — anywhere it might find a new reader! What happens next is up to fate, and we never know where our books might travel next. Track the book’s journey around the world as it is passed on from person to person.
  2. Book Mooch – Love it because it’s international, charges nothing and has a great point system. Right after book crossing as a great website.
    1. Give & receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you’ve read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish.
    2. No cost: there is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others.  
  3. Mooch Much – MoochMuch is a handy way to help you and your friends mooch stuff from each other. We’ll let friends search for something, keep track of who has it, and automatically remind them to return it.
  4. Whats on my Bookshelf – I’m suffering from reviewing fatigue so will perhaps review this later. For now it offers –
    1. Trade books using a simple point system.
    2. Classify books by tags (simple words that describe the book) rather than by traditional categories.
    3. Get notified when books you want are available for trade.
    4. Meet People with similar reading interests.
  5. Paperback Swap – Actually swap any type of book, CDs, DVDs. They say postage is typically $2.13 and have a 1 book=1 credit scheme. If you have a lot of valuable books then you might prefer Bookins. They also have a note that says somewhere down the line they may charge their members $10 or $20 a year for membership – so watch out ;)
  6. Bookins – I don’t really like that their postage services are $4.95 per book received.  However take a look since they seem to take a lot of work out of it i.e.
    1. You own the books you get, keep them or exchange them when you are done.
    2. Convenient shipping. Print shipping labels with free prepaid U.S. postage from our website. Use regular paper. No need to go to the post office. No need to use your own stamps.
    3. It’s Easy. Bookins arranges for you to get the books you select. No need to contact other members. No bidding, or negotiating.
    4. Flat rate shipping. Every book you receive is $4.49, regardless of weight. This shipping charge includes delivery confirmation. Track all shipments right on our site.
    5. Other Websites in this niche
      1. FrugalReader
      2. TitleTrader
      3. swapsimple
      4. SF-books
      5. thebookcart
      6. ZunaFish
      7. SwapThing

Free Books

I also happen to have compiled a list that is (some would say arguably) the best resource for free books online – Free Internet Books & Ebooks

Book Rentals

  1. BookSwim – BookSwim is the first online book rental library club lending you paperbacks and hardcovers directly to your house without the need to purchase! Whether it’s New Releases, Bestsellers, or Classics, we’ve got over 200,000 titles to choose from, with free shipping both ways! Read your books as long as you want. — no late fees! Even choose to purchase and keep the titles you love!  

Book Search Engines & Book Price Comparison

  1. eBookSearchr is a GREAT ebook Search engine. eBook Searchr* searches only manually selected high quality eBook sites. No SPAM or irrelevant search results, just eBooks!
  2. Google Book Search – Read the Classics online – do remember to select ‘Full View’ to get the free books.
  3. BookFinder - [owned by AbeBooks which have their fingers in a lot of pies ;)] Compare prices on over 150 million books for sale – new • used • rare • out of print • international • textbooks, I found this on their blog really interesting – There are substantial savings buying a semester’s worth of textbooks from BookFinder.com:
    • $175.75 (54%) saved vs. buying the cheapest copies at local campus stores
    • $278.69 (65%) saved vs. buying new books at local campus stores
  4. Abe BooksAt AbeBooks.com our mission is to help people find and buy any book from any bookseller anywhere. AbeBooks, the world’s largest online marketplace for books, lists over 110 million new, used, rare, and out of print books from more than 13,500 booksellers. Quite simply an amazing website if you love books, especially their community and add-on features like BookSleuth and GiftSleuth. 
  5. Another good source for cheap textbooks is ValoreBooks – students marketplace to buy cheap textbooks and sell used textbooks. ValoreBooks.com has an enormous selection of cheap used textbooks from high quality book sellers along with some of the highest buy back prices for college students looking to sell textbooks online.

Rare Books

  1. Rare Book Room – What an idea – Starting around 1996 the California based company Octavo began scanning rare and important books from libraries around the world. These scans were done at extremely high resolution using high-quality equipment, with some pages at over 200MB each. They were sold by Octavo as commercial products on CD-ROM. In 2006 the “Rare Book Room” website was created which contains the complete collection in medium to medium-high resolution freely available to the public through a web browser or as a PDF file. Some high resolution versions are still being sold by Octavo through a separate website. As of 2007 over 400 books have been scanned.Samples of titles include books by Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, Kepler, Einstein, Darwin. Most of the Shakespeare Quartos from the British Library, the Bodleian Library, the Edinburgh Library, and the National Library of Scotland. It also contains the First Folio from the Folger Library. The LIbrary of Congress ’ copies of Poor Richard ’s Almanac by Benjiman Franklin. Very rare editions: Gutenberg ’s Bible of 1455, Harvey’s book on the circulation of blood, Galileo ’s Siderius Nuncius, the first printing of the Bill of Rights, and the Magna Carta. 
  2. Bibliophile Mailing List – The Bibliophile Mailing List is maintained for the benefit of sellers and/or collectors of rare, out-of-print, scarce books in all subject areas. Subscribers include librarians, students, scholars, and book lovers of all kinds and books offered range from a few dollars to many thousands of dollars. 
  3. Biblio.com Marketplace and Search - Search Engine with over 50 million used and rare books.
  4. BiblioQuest – Search Engine for Collectible and Out of Print books. 

Book Stores

  1. Powell’s Books in Portland is literally a whole block big and touts itself as the biggest independent bookstore on the net for used, rare and general books. I’ve been there and loved it. Although i wish the books were arranged a little messier. They have a lot of cool stuff on their website like Review-A-Day, Q&As with authors, and so forth.
  2. Play.com – They’re based in Jersey so they don’t have to pay VAT on items below 18 pounds. They really run their company well and have some solid sales and deals. It is the second biggest online retailer in the UK, according to traffic monitor Hitwise, and it is in the top 50 globally.

Publishing Your Work

  1. The EServer is an open access electronic publishing cooperative, founded in 1990,which publishes writings in the arts and humanities free of charge to Internet readers. It is one of the most popular arts and humanities websites in the world. In December 2006 it hosted approximately 66,000 readers per day (two million per month). 
  2. Scribd -  Scribd makes it easy to share documents online. You can think of Scribd as a big online library where everyone can publish original content, including you! Part of the idea behind Scribd is that everyone has a lot of documents sitting around on their computers that only they can read. With Scribd we hope to unlock this information by putting it on the web.

Book Collections

  1. World Public Library – The World eBook Library Consortia Collection shelves more than 500,000+ PDF eBooks in 100+ languages. The World Public Library Consortia contains 125 of the finest eBook and eDocument collections published on the Internet today. They do charge $8.95 a year. They also have a Public Access Section with 175K searchable books.

Book Genres and Niches

  1. Stop, You’re Killing Me! is a resource for lovers of mystery, crime, thriller, spy, and suspense books. They list over 2,400 authors, with chronological lists of their books (over 28,000 titles), both series (2,800+) and non-series. They have a really cool ‘By Character’ index.
  2. MysteryNet – Mystery & Detective Stories, Community, Puzzles. Its a rather impressive website that really caters to its target audience. Loved it. 

Uncategorized

  1. Banned Books Online – Exactly what it says ;)

Book Blogs & Books Sections of Newspapers

  1. So Many Books – The Agony and Ecstacy of a Reading Life - This is a beautiful blog – its also awesome to see a good solid blog that’s free of ads and commercialization and devoted to the art. Probably my favourite books blog. 
  2. Trashionista – Really like their posts although their monetization via huge banner ads strategy is torture for my senses. Tips for book lovers with a slant towards future writers.
  3. eBook Reporter, since it covers eBook Design, News, Book Reviews & everything about eBooks . The focus of the blog is “Everything about eBooks – Design, Content, Delivery, News, Opinions, Reviews.” I really like that its updated very regularly (new post nearly every day) and has a bunch of news updates and covers some things my blog doesn’t i.e. bestseller lists etc.
  4. NY Times Books and Preview - The Books section of the New York Tims is easily one of the best online resources for book afficiandos and has some great reviews, articles and news updates.
  5. About Contemporary Literature and Preview - Quite frankly it really bothers me to see About.com prostitute its website design for money – However, the About Contemporary Literature section avoids that trend (for the most part) and has some really good insightful stuff.
  6. Book Slut – Not a fan of the name – however its one of the most popular book blogs and very well laid out and easy to navigate.
  7. Books Section at Slashdot (Tech Books) - It’s Slashdot’s books section and covers as far as I can see tech books, a lot of sci-fi and probably a few other genres i missed.

Book Reviews

  1. Mostly Fiction Book Reviews – It has a nice layout and a variety of genres. I relaly like that the individual review page includes what amazon readers gave the book on average, about the author, a bibliography and bookmarks related to the book. Very well done site.

Book Notes and Study Guides

  1. Pink Monkey has two distinct sub-websites
    1. They have an online Study Guides store where you can download their study guides, literature summaries, and lots of other study resources.
    2. There are 450+ Free Book Study Guides for junior high, high school, college students, teachers and home schoolers. What does PinkMonkey offer you? The World’s largest library of free online Literature Summaries, with over 450 Study Guides / Book Notes / Chapter Summaries online currently, and so much more

Audio Books

  1. LibriVox – LibriVox has become the most prolific audiobook publisher in the world, with over 1000 full length audio books, producing 60-70 books a month. About 1,500 volunteers have contributed audio recordings to the project; and a catalog that includes classics, such as Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice, Moby-Dick, The Bible, Darwin‘s Origin of the Species, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Kant‘s Critique of Pure Reason, Marx‘s Communist Manifesto, and many other well-known works.
  2. Wired for Books – an amazing range of interviews and lots of great audio content. They say – poems, stories, plays, essays, lectures, and interviews for children and adults.
Internet Book Databases
These are attempts at creating a book database like the IMDB. Of course, Amazon.com and BN have done that somewhat unintentionally.
  1. Wikipedia has a ton of books listed.
  2. The Internet Book Database – The Internet Book Database (IBookDB) is an online database with information about books and authors with an added social networking component. It was started as an effort to be the IMDB equivalent for books. It currently contains information on over 77,000 books (over 237,000 ISBNs), 21,000 authors and 2,100 series making it one of the largest online databases of author and book information. Unique features include finding historical publication information for books using their ‘Other Versions’ feature on every book page. They also provide price comparisons.Registered users can catalog and manage their book collections online, find users with similar books, authors or series’. They can also rate and review books in addition to Tagging them. Users can also rate and tag authors and series’. Other features offered include showing random books from users catalogs on their websites, blogs or on their pages on social networking sites, and search other book databases. IBookDB also holds a monthly giveaway in which they giveaway around 10 books each month to users of the site, most of which are signed by the authors.
  3. And there is FictionDB, which is the amongst the largest databases.
  4. IBDOF – The Internet Book Database of Fiction.
  5. IBList – The Internet Book List.
  6. Parchayi.net – Parchayi.net Book Database.
  7. SciFan – SciFan.
  8. The CBDB [cbdb.com] for comic books 
  9. Fantastic Fiction – Bibliographies for over 10,000 authors. Use the browse menu on the left to find an author by surname, or use the search boxes on the right to search for an author or book.Information on over 200,000 books. Throughout the site, just click on a book to see its cover picture, description and publication details. 
  10. Bibliopage – Assuming that libraries choose the best books and their choices would also be ideal for consumers this website is an Amazon affiliate site with a database of books gathered from libraries across the world using the NISO z39.50 protocol for accessing bibliographic databases.
  11. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database – a database of bibliographic information on science fiction and related genres such as fantasy fiction and horror fiction. As of 2008, the database contains over 46,000 author entries tracking nearly 48,000 novels and 80,000 works of short fiction. ISFDB also tracks cover art and interior illustration credits. The major strength of the ISFDB is its integrated approach to author information, combining variant titles, pseudonyms, series, and awards information into a single bibliography. It also contains the largest online collection of content listings to magazines published prior to 1984. Both its database and wiki are open for editing and user contributions.
  12. Major alternatives to the ISFDB include:

9 Responses

  1. Great list! I have bookmarked this post – I’ll be using those links I’m sure. Hope there will be additions to your list. I noticed that for “Book Blogs” you don’t have anything for “2.”. May I suggest eBook Reporter http://ebookreporter.blogspot.com. the focus of the blog is “Everything about eBooks – Design, Content, Delivery, News, Opinions, Reviews.” Edit: Cutting it short and adding this blog to the book blog list since its focused on an area we’re all probably interested in i.e. ebooks.

  2. […] Excerpt from:Websites for Book Lovers […]

  3. Thanks so much for including us on your wonderful list.

    And sorry about the ads, but that’s down to the big bosses, not us lowly reviewers…

    Keris x

  4. There are a lot of good links in this post. Or at least I think they might be good links. However, I gave up trying to visit any of them because of the dratted pop-ups that appeared every time I hovered over a link. Let me tell you, it was a real nuisance. There is an easy way to turn those pop-ups off, though:

    Go to Presentation > Extras and uncheck the Snap Preview feature box to disable it on your blog. Click Update to save the changes.

    I’m not sure if I’ll come back to this blog again. Perhaps, but if the pop-ups are still here you can bet I won’t be staying for long.

  5. thx – i have snapshots turned off on some of my other blogs – however i sorta forgot to do it here. I agree that they are a bit on the irritating site. and i do hope you come back. and stay.

  6. Thanks a lot. And yes, I will revisit from time to time. Off now to put you on my bookmarks list.

  7. College studnets will be able to save money on college textbooks by trading textbooks at their own home campus. I created http://www.StudentBookTrades.com for that very reason. Automatically match with other students who need your textbook and you need theirs. Trade for free or buy and sell textbooks for additonal savings.

  8. There are also book sale directories that list book sales form libraries. You can usually get many good deals at them. (I just went to a local one and purchased 25 books for $5!

    Here are the two directories I have been using.

    [one removed since it’s very recent and no idea of its reliability]
    and
    http://www.booksalefinder.com

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