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LibraryThing Logo medium.png
Web address
Type of site Catalog and community
Registration Free with upgrade option
Owner Tim Spalding (majority)
Created by Tim Spalding
Launched August 29, 2005
Alexa rank negative increase 12,972 (April 2014)[1]
Current status Active

LibraryThing is a social cataloging web application for storing and sharing book catalogs and various types of book metadata. It is used by authors, individuals, libraries, and publishers.

Based in Portland, Maine,[2] LibraryThing was developed by Tim Spalding and went live on August 29, 2005. As of April 2013, it has over 1,650,000 users and more than 80 million books catalogued.[3]


The primary feature of LibraryThing ("LT") is the cataloging of books by importing data from libraries through Z39.50 connections and from six stores. Library sources supply Dublin Core and MARC records to LT; users can import information from 690 libraries, including the British Library, Canadian National Catalogue, Library of Congress, National Library of Australia, and Yale University.[4] Should a record not be available from any of these sources, it is also possible to input the book information via a blank form.[5]

Social features[edit]

LibraryThing's social features have been compared to bookmark manager[6] and the collaborative music service[7] Similar book cataloging sites include aNobii, BookLikes, BookJetty, Goodreads, Shelfari, and weRead.[8]


LibraryThing is majority owned by founder Tim Spalding.[9] Online bookseller AbeBooks (now owned by Amazon) bought a 40% share in LibraryThing in May 2006 for an undisclosed sum.[10] In January 2009, Cambridge Information Group acquired a minority stake in the company, and their subsidiary Bowker became the official distributor to libraries.[9]


As of March 2014, LibraryThing offers three levels of membership and the following membership benefits:[11]

  • Join the world’s largest book club.
  • Catalog your books from Amazon, the Library of Congress and 690 other world libraries. Import from anywhere.
  • Find people with eerily similar tastes.
  • Find new books to read.
  • Free Early Reviewer books from publishers and authors.
  • Enter 200 books for free, as many as you like for $10 (year) or $25 (life).
  • Available in many languages.


At the end of June 2006, LibraryThing was subject to the Slashdot effect from a Wall Street Journal article.[12] The site's developers added servers to compensate for the increased traffic. In December of the same year, the site received yet more attention from Slashdot over its UnSuggester feature, which draws suggestions from books least likely to appear in the same catalog as a given book.[13]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^ "LibraryThing - Send us money". 
  3. ^ "Zeitgeist Overview". LibraryThing. Retrieved 2013-04-06. .
  4. ^ "Add books to your library". Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  5. ^ "Manual Entry". Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  6. ^ Regan, Jim (2005-11-09). "Do your own LibraryThing". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  7. ^ Bain, Alistair (2007-04-28). "LibraryThing". Desert of Zin. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  8. ^ Woodroof, Martha (2008-03-20). "Web Sites Let Bibliophiles Share Books Virtually". NPR. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  9. ^ a b "CIG Acquires Minority Stake in LibraryThing; Bowker to Distribute to Libraries". Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Good". 
  12. ^ Rutkoff, Aaron (2006-06-27). "Social Networking for Bookworms". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2006-12-15. 
  13. ^ "Unsuggester: Finding the Book You'll Never Want". Slashdot. 2006-12-04. Retrieved 2006-12-15. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]