LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth.
In April 2013, LibraryThing staff and members collaborated to write What makes LibraryThing LibraryThing?, a blog post outlining what we see as the key elements of LibraryThing.
What software does it require?
None. If you can read this, you can use LibraryThing.
What does it cost?
A free account allows you to catalog up to 200 books. A paid account allows you to catalog any number of books. Paid personal accounts cost $10 for a year or $25 for a lifetime. (See here for organizational accounts.) I conservatively predict the revenue will enable me to recline all day on an enormous pile of gold.
What information do I need to give up?
None. Setting up an account requires only a user name and a password. You can also edit your profile to make yours a "private" account. With a private account, nobody else can see what books you have.
What else does LibraryThing do?
LibraryThing is a full-powered cataloging application, searching the Library of Congress, all five national Amazon sites, and more than 690 world libraries. You can edit your information, search and sort it, "tag" books with your own subjects, or use the Library of Congress and Dewey systems to organize your collection.
If you want it, LibraryThing is also an amazing social space, often described as "Facebook for books." You can check out other peoples' libraries, see who has the most similar library to yours, swap reading suggestions and so forth. LibraryThing also makes book recommendations based on the collective intelligence of the other libraries.
Who is behind LibraryThing?
LibraryThing was created by Tim Spalding, a web developer and web publisher based in Portland, Maine. Tim also runs www.isidore-of-seville.com and www.ancientlibrary.com. Since becoming a "real" business in May 2006, LibraryThing now employs a number of talented people. More about the rest of the team on the Who we are page.
Where does LibraryThing get its information?
LibraryThing uses Amazon and libraries that provide open access to their collections with the Z39.50 protocol. The protocol is used by a variety of desktop programs, notably bibliographic software like EndNote. LibraryThing appears to be the first mainstream web use.
But where do I get the t-shirt?
Who else should we thank?