Wednesday, September 26, 2007

BookLover, Bibliophile, BookWorm - Links & Reviews

Whatever name I go by, it means the same thing. I'd rather read a good book than (almost) anything else.

If I'm at church, I find the church library; at a party, I find the host's bookshelves; on vacation, look for my face behind the printed book cover. In bed when I was little, I'd hide under the covers with a flashlight so I could read when I was supposed to be sleeping. When we went camping, I didn't worry about bringing snacks, but I'd make sure my flashlight batteries were working - eating was optional, reading was not. It was a compulsion. When I was a kid, I got motion sickness in the car from reading all the billboards and signs as we passed them.

In this Age of the Internet, reading has achieved the distinction of a rare science. Buying books, borrowing them, collecting them or giving them away, loaning, cataloging and reviewing them is facilitated by sophisticated software, available on websites from commercial to community to the free and independent enterprise.

Here - listed alphabetically - is a sampling of delights for book lovers world wide.

Shop at! - If your regular shipping costs from Amazon are over $79 per year, you can save money with free shipping through Amazon Prime. Used books sold by third party vendors don't qualify, but I've bought like new hardbound books for little more than the cost of shipping, typically $3.95 shipping and $1 to $5 for the book. Many of those books originally sold for over $20. (I make a point of pre-ordering the next book by those authors I like the best. Without their royalties, they might not keep writing! Disaster!)
Advantages: fast, huge inventory, free shipping, convenient
Dis-advantages: I think I'm spending too much money on books - ordering is too easy!

BookCrossing has to be one of the wildest ideas I've seen for books (pun intentional). I plan on bringing at least seven or eight books with me to "release in the wild" when we take our trip on Amtrak. I hope some of them will be 'caught' and be logged by their 'catchers'.
Advantages: the fun of sharing my favorite books
Dis-advantages: although many people read books released by BookCrossing members, only about fifteen percent of them log on to BookCrossing to report catching a book, and since the fun of finding out where the book has been is a large part of it.....

BookMooch works for me. I can browse over three and a half million books available to mooch. If I don't find the book I want to mooch, there's a convenient link to purchase it at Amazon. Once I read a book I've mooched, I can keep it for my permanent library or list it in my inventory for other moochers. In 'turn', I ship a book from my inventory to someone who mooched it from me, for less than I'd pay if I went to the used book store. I have received eighteen books since I joined a few months ago, and sent about the same. "Media Mail" postal rates are $2.13 for a book package weighing one pound to go from Portland, Oregon to Washington, D.C. A book package weighing 7 ounces goes first class for two pennies more.
Advantages: books I want to read are delivered conveniently to my home for "free"
Dis-advantages: taking the time to wrap and ship books mooched from me

Internet Public Library, founded by the U. of Michigan and hosted by Drexel U., offers a catalog of digital resources such as Project Gutenberg , World Wide School Library, and Digital Book Index.
Advantages: free access to hundreds of thousands of texts.
Dis-advantages: how many lifetimes do you have to spare?

Library of Congress
, located in Washington, D. C., "serves as the research arm of Congress". It is the largest library in the world. Their Virtual Reference Shelf includes a link to Bartleby, with its links to free digital works such as thirty-seven of Shakespeare's plays. Bookworms are all born asking "Why?". Now, we can get answers. Ask A Librarian, or even Chat With a Librarian, (American Memory Historical Collection - one of six collections where you can chat live with a Librarian).
Advantages: research the world's largest library from your own home. Request books or materials not available at your local library. Find bills in the House or Senate with Thomas, launched in 1995 "to make federal legislative information freely available to the public". Learn with webcasts and other audio-video LoC resources online.
Dis-advantages: it takes some time to locate what you're looking for, whether online or in person. The last time I was in D.C., I spent two days at the Library of Congress - and that was just for the tour and the exhibit halls!

LibraryThing is the place to catalog your books, find recommendations and reviews for books, chat with people who like to read what you like to read (or want to read), and so on. You can purchase CueCat at LibraryThing for $15. Mine arrived today, so now I can scan the ISBN number for my books, and speedily load them into my library at LibraryThing. I think it will work for my inventory at Bookmooch too. It doesn't require any software, and works through your computer's USB port. CueCat would make a great stocking stuffer for the bookworms on your Christmas or Hanukkah list.
Advantages: bookworm heaven.
Dis-advantages: so many books, so little time.


Jaye Patrick said...

Wow, P. you are so right: so many books, so little time.

And I love the idea of BookCrossing. We have something similar here, though it seems to be restricted to the Capital cities.

heather said...

great resources!

i checked out librarything but was annoyed by the restrictions (unless you pay). that's why i ended up on goodreads, which is free, and i adore.