Librarything versus Goodreads: Book cataloging services comparison

There are two great websites to post your book library and reviews, and Which service is better? The following is a feature-by-feature comparison between librarything and goodreads.


Librarything allows you to export your data. Goodreads does not. I’m always leery of spending a lot of time investing into a website without having my own backup. Librarything allows you to export all your catalog information. Most sites, like goodreads, won’t let you do this, because they fear you will take that exported data and start using another book cataloging website. Librarything knows they are the best in the field of book cataloging, so they know you won’t need to go elsewhere.

Librarything wins exporting.


The tagging system on Librarything is so much easier than Goodreads. In LIbrarything, you can see what tags other users assigned to a book. Goodreads does not. Instead Goodreads version of tags is called “shelves.” Their shelves to be very buggy. I’ll assign a book to a shelf, but then it won’t stick.

Librarything wins tagging.


Goodreads has no fun stats. Librarything has an incredible range of stats for your collection. How many of your books are in English, German, etc. The publication date range. I own 202 books from 2000-2008, 209 books from 1990-1999, 54 books from 1980-1989. I guess I got a bunch of books while in high school and college. Wow.

Librarything wins stats.

Social Networking

This is a big section, so I’m going to break it up into Librarything and Goodreads:


–Librarything offers this really cool feature where it shows members with the same books you own. AiRD owns 29 of the same books as me, but AiRD’s library is 1,628 books! Librarything does a weighted formula to figure out your commonality with users based on how big their library is. The member most in common with me is girl.x with 8 common books out of her 236 book library. But does this all really matter? I’ve never friended any of these people.

–A webpage that shows other members’ most recent reviews of books you own. And an RSS feed. Nice.

–On a member’s profile page, there’s an “Also on” list of 132 other sites the member is on (e.g. AIM, flickr, deviantart, blogspot,, etc)

–Members can add favorite bookstores and libraries to their profile.

–Many many groups to join. Both by location and by topic.


–Goodreads send out email updates whenever any of your friends writes a review or adds a book. Librarything doesn’t do member updates. Although Librarything does offer RSS feeds of a member’s activity.

–The homepage of Goodreads gives a nice summary of what’s new with your friends. Very nice.

Goodreads wins social networking. Librarything does has a ton more social networking feature, however Goodreads implements their few social networking features a tad better. But social networking is all about the people. I have two friends on Librarything. Two. But on Goodreads I have 69 friends. Gotta have friends to make the social networking thing work.


Librarything’s application on Facebook only gives a text list of books you’ve updated. BORING! Goodreads’ facebook app is like a mini-version of their homepage. Much more engaging. And you can choose to put your book updates into your facebook news feed.

Goodreads wins Facebook.

Adding books

Nothing beats the ease of adding books with Librarything. They offer a $15 scanner where all you do is bring up the website, and scan the barcode of the book. And that’s it!

Librarything wins adding books.

Local events

Librarything works with bookstores and libraries across the country to add events into their calendar. The end result is if you go, you will see a list of all the book events around your address or zip code. It’s amazing. They even offer an RSS feed customized to your specs. I have a feed set up to alert me of book events within one mile of my address. Goodreads doesn’t have any of this.

Librarything wins local events–BIG TIME.


Given the large set of features, librarything clobbers the crap out of Goodreads 5-1-1. Yet, most of my friends use Goodreads. The facebook app is nice. But we just need to get more people to join

If anyone would like to add their library to Librarything, I will lend you my barcode scanner. Just let me know. (If you are curious, my Librarything profile is at And if you are part of the huge masses of people already on goodreads, feel free to add me as a friend:

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13 years ago

I am a librarian. I should understand this… but I don’t. Why do you want to do this? Why would you want to catalog all your books? Why would you want to go to all that trouble? FWIW, I am on Goodreads. I use it primarily as a place to keep track of books I come across and WANT to read, so I don’t forget them. I also picked Goodreads because it had a better widget, so I could plug it into my blog, so people could see what I was currently reading… Of course, most of the books on the list I do not own. I just check them out of the library.

13 years ago

Amazon Wish List… yes, I tried that, but then people bought them for me! I don’t buy books, I borrow them.

13 years ago

whoa, thanks for the detailed breakdown.

13 years ago

Thank you for this VERY informative and helpful analysis! This is exactly what I needed to make my final decision.

13 years ago

Excellent analysis. I recently switched to librarything from goodreads for some of the reasons you mentioned above (and the early reviewer program!). Slight correction, goodreads does allow export. Oddly enough it is buried on the import page so it is no surprise that many people miss it.

13 years ago

thanks for the analysis…I’ve decided to use librarythings not only for the books I own but for noting all that I’ve read (I’m a big library user). I may use the private comment section for notes on who I might want to recommend books to, esp christian books. Would love to hear all the different ways people are using these and other sites as I’m a newbie to the computer world…still concerned about privacy issues & would appreciate feedback on that. Thanks!

12 years ago

good comparison ..LT is the far superior site @Cartophiliac the clueless Librarian RE: “Why would you want to catalog all your books?” and “I don’t buy books….” wow…just wow

Phil Bolsta
7 years ago

Hey, Matt. I just added this post to my book promotion post at Thanks!

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