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One of the most common attributes of all of the Sherlockians I have had the chance to meet is that we like to buy books. Notice I didn't say "collect," because I'm far too aware that some of us accumulate books rather than collect them. And a common difficulty is locating that book that you know you just saw and making sense of an ever-increasing library.

By day I work in the marketing world where my specialty is social media - the convergence of marketing, advertising, PR and technology - taking the forms of blogs, podcasts, online communities, wikis, RSS feeds, etc. The Baker Street Blog in its current form exists because of my interest/expertise in this area. As a by-product of this work, I get to see a lot of social networking sites that can enhance productivity, make our lives easier, or are just plain fun.

Here are three new solutions for book lovers that I thought you might want to check out for yourself. All of these sites share a couple of main features: the book titles, images and descriptions are driven by large databases such as Amazon.com and the Library of Congress; and they allow you to connect with other readers.

"In his library..." LibraryThing
The first up is LibraryThing. This site launched last summer and has really taken off. Essentially, it is two things: a way to catalog your library and a way to connect with other people who have the same books. You just need to create a user name and password and you're done. And here are some of the things you can do:
  • Input the ISBN and let the databases populate the fields
  • Rate your books and write reviews
  • Search, sort and edit your book inforation
  • Apply tags that identify your collection the way you want to think about it
  • Join groups and chat about your interests
  • Get recommendations from LibraryThing based on your collection
LibraryThing has a limited version and a paid version; with the free version, you can catalogue up to 200 books; with the paid version you can list an unlimited number of books. The paid version costs $10/year or $25 for a lifetime membership. Either way, it's a handy application. Take the tour for yourself and see what it's like. You can find my profile here.

"Filled a shelf..." Shelfari
In January, Shelfari joined the crowd. Their motto: Read. Share. Explore. With Shelfari you can create a virtual bookshelf to show off your books. It's essentially the same model as Library Thing: Connect with friends. Discover exciting new titles. Voice your opinion. All for free. But the major difference is that you actually can show off your books. Here's a shelf from my page:
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For a more in-depth review, click here.

"You have shown your relish..." Revish
I've saved the powerhouse for last. Revish is a site that takes LibraryThing to the next level. You still have the power of Amazon from a number of countries, as well as other major databases, plus Revish has actually integrated other social networks, such as LibraryThing, Flickr and del.icio.us. Among the things you can do with Revish:
  • Review books
  • Read and comment on reviews
  • Keep a reading list and a reading journal
  • Participate in groups, discussing books

This is definitely a site for the serious book lover. A review is available by clicking here. And you can see my profile here.

I can recommend each site for ease of use and integration with other online services. With any of the above options, you'll have quick and easy way to reference your site. Feel free to poke around and chose the one that works best for you.