Saturday, February 21, 2009

Library Thing Membership with CueCat Scanner

Here is a stocking-stuffer-appropriate gift for the book lover in your life. Are you familiar with Library Thing? It's a social book-cataloging website where people enter the books in their personal collections, usually by the ISBN (a unique number that identifies the book in question). You can catalog with as much or as little detail as you like, and the really fun part is that you can tag books with any word or phrase you can think of, such as "to be read" (which a lot of folks abbreviate as "TBR"), "mystery", "romance", "favorite covers", "storage box 1", or anything else you can think of. You can then click on your tag to find all of your books with that tag assigned.

LT still calls itself a "beta" website, but it's been around since August 2005 and now boasts more than 600,000 members. To date, more than 35 million books have been cataloged. There are also group chat topics where people can discuss books or other areas of interest, and a Common Knowledge wiki feature that allows users to enter character and other information (so you can theoretically find every book that features William Shakespeare as a character, for example). Perhaps more importantly, it's an awful lot of fun. You can even make a photomosaic of your own photos, made up of your book covers! And depending on how into tech you are, you can view your LT book collection over your iPhone or other Internet-ready device. That means if you're in a bookstore and can't remember if you already have a book, all you have to do is check, instantly. Your LT collection can also serve as an insurance inventory, and since the information is stored on the LT server, it will still be there if your house burns down. (You can make your library private instead of public, if you're so inclined.)

How does this all fit into a stocking stuffer blog? Well, there are free Library Thing memberships available that allow the user to catalog up to 200 books. But a lifetime membership -- which you can give as a gift -- is only $25. That lets the user catalog as many books as he/she wants, forever. And here's the icing on the cake: you can buy a CueCat scanner for only $15 plus shipping. This is a little scanner that's actually shaped like a cat, which reads in the books' ISBNs, making cataloging a book collection even quicker and easier. (I still think it's funny that it's shaped like a cat -- and so fitting, since book lovers and cat lovers have so much overlap.) Inexpensive CueCat scanners on ebay.

All in all, I think a CueCat in the stocking, accompanied by a Library Thing membership, is one of the nicest gifts you can give to a book lover.

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