SITES FOR READERS AND BOOK LOVERS
There are so many websites that give the opportunity for readers and book lovers to share their enthusiasm for their favourite books and authors. It can add immensely to the joy of reading and open up worlds of reading discovery. We are going to look mostly at the sites where readers can engage with online communities to enrich their reading experience. Some of these sites can also be used as a reader's advisory tool, but the emphasis will be on showing our patrons ways of extending their reading world through these social networking sites.
Wonderful as it is to share your reading in a face-to-face situation with others, it isn't always possible in our busy lives to get together at a time and place to suit everyone - that is to say if you can get a group of like-minded people together. This is where online discussions open up ways of communicating with fellow readers. These online discussions can take various forms.
Online book clubs
There are many book clubs on the web. Here is a small selection:
Guardian book club. This is a good example of how the virtual world and 'real' world complement each other. Hosted by John Mullan, professor of English at University College London, the Guardian's book club examines a book a month. In his column he posts three weekly articles on the book where he discusses various topics/themes. This is followed by a live Q&A session with the author, usually held at Kings Place in London, which is reported in the 4th column including referrals to the book blog discussion. There is an archive of previous books. It is easier to follow this process on their Twitter account which has the links to the relevant web pages.
The book club- an international book club for Twitterers. Follow @thebookclub or use this link which gives you a result page of a Twitter search for the book club, where you will see the books people recommend. Followers can also mark their book recommendation tweets with the hash tag #goodbook so it could be used in a Twitter search to see everyone's recommendations.
Book Clique Cafe - lists various online book clubs, upcoming author chats and instructions on establishing a new group. There are links to the reading groups' home pages, or, in some cases, to the group's page on Yahoo groups. They usually have scheduled live chat sessions. Some also have email discussions, or you could post to their message boards.
Book group online - includes all fiction genres as well as non-fiction, children & young adult groups, and a section for other media and views on life in general. The book groups discuss specific titles. You need to register to post to the forums.
BookTalk.org - A reading group and discussion forum for both fiction and non-fiction. Books are selected through online polls and anyone can make suggestions for books to be discussed. Includes live author interviews and general chats via the chat room. If you are not interested in the current book under discussion you can join the additional fiction or non-fiction book discussion forums. An archive is kept of previous book discussions. Also have a Facebook page and you can follow them on Twitter.
Encompass - the global book club - "EnCompassCulture is a worldwide reading group, the place to find your next book and talk about books with other readers from around the world." Emphasis is placed on books published in the UK and the Commonwealth. Readers can talk through the discussion boards or join the live chat sessions. For the enthusiastic reader there is a monthly quiz . Also have author interviews . It has a widget to create book lists based on your selected criteria, but expect some gaps in the lists. A useful feature of the book list is that there are links to reviews and author websites with each title.
Groups to join in discussions
Another popular form of online discussion is to join the group forums. Yahoo groups is very popular and Google groups is the 'old' Usenet groups that has found a home with Google. Membership ranges from completely open to anyone, to requiring registering for posting, to where your membership needs to be approved before you could join in the discussion.
Yahoo book groups:
- The BookLovers' Club - Reading and Discussion of books with fun :-) - "We read and discuss books here both classic and contemporary."
- Twilight Chat Group - "Any and all fans of the Stephenie Meyer books: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn will find a home here."
- Paranormal Romance - "...discussing speculative romantic fiction, including time-travel, science fiction, vampire, shape-shifter, fantasy, and futuristic."
- 4_Mystery_Addicts · Be clueless no more! - "...discover new authors, great books, and the latest in mystery happenings. Every month we have a formal discussion of two books selected by the group plus one book in an ongoing series, as well as daily discussions of what we are reading and what's happening in the world of crime fiction."
- DianaGabaldon · Outlandish Voices - "...discuss Diana Gabaldon's books, the Outlander series. We ask that only 18+ readers join us. If you are new to Diana's work, we advise you to read all the books before you join the group so that you won't feel that anything has been "spoiled" for you."
- Mary Balogh Fans - "This list is for the fans of Regency romance writer Mary Balogh. We have a great deal of fun discussing our other favourite romance writers and how their work is similar to/different from Mary's."
There are a lot of spam on some of the Google groups! Perhaps that is why many of the book groups on Google groups seem to be inactive. Here are a few that have an active community.
- alt.books.stephen-king - "The works of horror writer Stephen King."
- alt.books.pratchett - "Discussions of Terry Pratchett's books and characters."
- alt.books.reviews - "If you want to know how it turns out, read it!".
- alt.books.m-lackey - "Author Mercedes Lackey and her books."
- Melbourne Young Peoples Book Club - "Post messages, suggest books, arrange get-togethers (outside the regular book club meetings). So get to know your other members and get reading!! P.S. The Book Club meet on the first Tuesday of every month (at a CBD pub/bar location) - 6.45pm (meetings normally go for 1 hour)" - example of online communication supplementing real world get-togethers.
Online reading communities
You are familiar with LibraryThing from the 23Things programme. It is one of the most well known of the online reading communities. There are many other reading communities (Shelfari, Goodreads and Anobii) and they usually offer similar features such as :
- Making a list of your books, usually with tags to make it easy to find and share them.
- Rating items
- Writing book reviews
- Browsing other people's lists, read their reviews and see their ratings
- Joining group discussions
weRead - "is a community for book lovers. Whether you love classics or popular fiction; whether you love Dickens or Dan Brown; is a place where you can find others who share your reading tastes and through them discover new books that you will love." - This is a Facebook group.
Bookarmy - "... is a social networking website for every sort of reader... to discuss and review books, build reading lists, get the best book recommendations, and where you and your friends, family or classmates can read books together. ..here you can make direct contact with authors."
Revish - "Read and write book reviews, keep and share a list of the books you're reading, keep and share a list of your favourite books, participate in discussions with other readers and reviewers." Distinguish itself from LibraryThing by emphasising that it is all about book reviews.
ConnectViaBooks is a social network where book lovers can find other people who enjoy similar books. Publishing and sharing book lists allows users to connect with others, and by writing reviews, users share their love of books with the public. Users can create multiple book lists, publish those lists on their own blog, and engage in lively discussions about books.
yaReads.com - Appealing site for YA readers, with forums for book and other discussion. The portal page gives you a good idea of the activity on the site. Also has a Facebook and MySpace page, and can be followed on Twitter.
Book Divas - "...is a unique online community. We are the leading online book club for young adult and college readers and we've been around since 2002. We love to read. And most of all, we love to talk about our latest literary finds." Rich site with many features, including author interviews, message board and contests. Has a Facebook page and can be followed on Twitter , where the live author chats are announced.
BiblioTravel - ".. is a free online resource for identifying books set in distinct locales." Site was set up by two librarians. Covers all genres - fiction and non-fiction.
Online book suggestions
There are various techniques these sites use for making recommendations - a person recommending reads; suggestions based on reader's lists; etc. Have a look and see whether you think these services can replace, or supplement the services we provide for our readers.
Book Suggester - on Twitter. "Tweet the title of your favourite book and I will recommend other titles you may enjoy."
The Book Seer - A fun way of getting suggestion of books to read based on a title you submit. It gets the suggestions from Amazon and LibraryThing.
BookLamp.org "matches readers to books through an analysis of writing styles, similar to the way that Pandora.com matches music lovers to new music. Do you like Stephen King’s It, but thought it was too long? BookLamp allows you to find books with a similar level of tone, tense, perspective, action, description, and dialog - while at the same time allowing you to specify details like... half the length." The recommendations may not be reliable because the small size of the book database.
Reading trails - a interesting concept to find books. They explain how it works: "A trail is a sequence of books linked in an interesting way—for example, a series of fun beach reads for your upcoming vacation, a tour through the books that influenced Milan Kundera, a professor's introduction to French existentialism. Because one book can appear on many trails, trails intersect. When browsing a trail, click the intersections link in each book to see all the intersections."
What Should I Read Next? - Give the title and author of your favourite book and you get recommendation site based on members’ lists.
Some Twitter sites have already been mentioned in the above lists. Here are a few more of the interesting pages.
LitChat "is a fun, fast, and friendly way for book lovers to talk about books on Twitter. We chat on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 4-5 pm (est)." The topic of the week is introduced in the LitChat blog. You must have a Twitter account to participate in the litchats. Tweets are marked with a #litchat hash tag so they can be followed through other Twitter clients. There is an archive of past litchats.
Fun and quirky stuff on Twitter
Very Short Story - "Twitter sized fiction for your entertainment. Written by @sean_hill. Send me a noun and I'll use the ones that inspire me in a story." Posts are marked by a #vss hash tag so that it is easy to find in a search.
Read it and weep - "a podcast about the worst in contemporary fiction. In each episode, three hip and happening twenty-something males bring their distinctive brand of analysis to popular novels/movies..." It is even more fun following the rants on Twitter.
Tags to look for:
You can also search for the terms 'books', 'reading', 'reviews'.
bkkeepr "lets you track your reading and bookmark on the go, via the web and SMS." You need to have a Twitter account, then follow bkkeeper on Twitter.
DailyLit - sends books in instalments via e-mail or RSS feed. "We currently offer over 1000 classic and contemporary books available entirely for free or on a Pay-Per-Read basis (with sample instalments available for free). You can read your instalments wherever you receive e-mail/RSS feeds, including on your Blackberry and iPhone." Titles cover a wide range of genres and non-fiction. You can discuss books and authors on the forums.
BookCrossing - "is earth-friendly, and gives you a way to share your books, clear your shelves, and conserve precious resources at the same time. ... A book registered on BookCrossing is ready for adventure. ... Track the book's journey around the world as it is passed on from person to person." Also on Twitter with interesting posts and comments.
Books on blippr - described as the “Twitter for Reviews”. "Blips are 160 character reviews with smiley icons that sum up your opinion". These are sections for other media reviews as well - music, movies, games and apps.
My Library in Google Books: If you have a Google account you can create your own 'library' or list of titles by clicking on the Add to my library link. This allows you to add book reviews and ratings. You can also import book lists using the ISBN. The list (My Library) has an unique URL to share your book list with other people - either send them the link or post it on your blog. RSS feeds are available so that people can subscribe to the list and get the latest updates. Detailed information in My Library FAQ.
Noting:books. "Keep notes about the books you are reading, including the day your started and your thoughts as you read. Share your notes with others or read members’ notebooks they keep."
That's all for now folks! ...
What you've just seen is a fraction of what's available on the Internet. You may have heard a lot about the demise of the book era because of the advent of the web ... but hopefully with all you've just read we book lovers can be assured that the future of the book will be alive and well for many years to come.
If the Comments section below is not open .... click on the link to find participants' comments which could be helpful for this topic.