Thing 20: Books 2.0

With all the emphasis on online tools for learning and socializing in the library, what has happened to the book? This Thing looks at online sites that encourage reading and interacting books.

We know there has been much debate and worry about when and how people read, the future of the printed book, and our role in libraries in both of those debates. If you work in a public library--or use one--you know that people are still coming in for books and reading. While some say the Internet is making us stupid, other think it is not.

Even as the "book" has started to evolve into handheld devices like Kindle or Sony Reader, we know that there are still strong communities that develop around the love of books and reading. Based the number and type of Book 2.0 tools out there, the desire to read and share is strong among the technology users. The Internet and Web 2.0 have made it easier for readers to connect.

This Thing introduces tools and sites that make reading and books the center of their service.

1. Where do you come in on the future of the book and reading? Check out some of these articles or sites for some food for thought:

Future of the Book

Literacy Debate: Online R U Really Reading?

Fiction Reading Increases for Adults

NEA Report Reading on the Rise (press release)

How Libraries Can Survive in the New Media Ecosystem (PowerPoint)

Watch the video about Kindle 2

Kindle in Libraries

2. Explore one tool/site from each category in the Learn section. You don't have to go deep into the tool--look at the intro, FAQs, review the features, and try a few out. The starred ones are those we like.

3. If you already have a Facebook account, explore the book apps and add one to your Facebook page.

Books On Your Phone
Take a book along in your purse or pocket! These services let you read books on your cell phone.

*BooksinMyPhone formats and packages books so that you can read them on a java enabled phone. Most phones sold today are java enabled. The available books are out-of-copyright or Creative Commons-licensed.

txt2ph requires an Internet-enabled phone. You can download from their book collection or upload your own books. You can also read and discuss the books online.

*DailyLit lets you read entire books in short, customized installments sent to you by email or RSS. You can read on your computer or any mobile device. Has books for free and for purchase.

*Twitterlit "serves up literary teasers twice daily. At 9:00 AM and 9:00PM Eastern Time I post the first line of a book, without the author's name or book title, but with a link to Amazon so readers can see what book the line is from. Why? Because it's fun!"

Readers' Advisory
These sites help answer the questions, "What do I read next?"

*ReadingTrails lets you "discover trails of books linked by any possible theme, topic or whim, from guides to bread baking to classics of Brazilian poetry. At trail intersections, wander from trail to trail to find unexpected reading pleasures."

*BookLamp "matches readers to books through an analysis of writing styles, similar to the way that matches music lovers to new music."

*What Should I Read Next? Enter the title of a book or author you like and get a recommendation for something else you might like.

What's Next? Find the next book in a series.

Which Book? makes recommendations based on your descriptor choices. Borrow link goes to UK libraries.

*BookStumpers lets people ask about books they are trying to find based on vague memories. Other people make suggestions. It costs $2 to post a Stumper, but you can answer and browse others' answers free.

Book Calendar sends a book a day to your email or RSS.

Online Book Communities
Like to discuss books or recommend books to others? Find forums, blogs, and more all around books at these different sites.

*Overbooked is a "web site for ravenous & omnivorous readers. Overbooked provides information about fiction and readable nonfiction"

*Overbooked has a Ning--join the conversation about books.

Readerville has lots of book information, including a discussion forum.

Reader2 lets you put your reading list online and find other books to read. *BookGlutton and the

Unbound Reader offer a new way to read and discuss books online. Watch this video to learn more--it is hard to describe!

BookTalk is an online book group/form.

Bookmarked is Target's (yes, that Target) online book club with tools to organize, schedule meetings, & discuss online.

Living Social is a book organization and discovery tool.

Book Group Resources
Resources and discussion groups for traditional and online book clubs.

LitLovers started as an online course and grown into a public literature community. "The site is about WHAT we read, HOW we read, and how we THINK about our reading."

Reading Group Choices has lots of info to share with your book groups: author interviews, music
for book groups, reading guides--not exactly 2.0, but useful.

Reading Group Guides is similar to RGC above, but includes a message forum.

*Booksprouts is a way to start an online reading group.
Two sources for author interviews:

Wired for Books offers Mp3 downloads of interviews of authors. has video interviews (in case you couldn't tell by the title). "The social media video site offers the back story about the lives, personalities and the inspirations of these engaging writers."

Audio Books
We know you have audio books, downloadable and/or other at your library, but these Web 2.0 services offer something slightly different.

*Librivox aims to record and release all books in the public domain. It relies on a volunteer community to read and record.

Podiobooks distributes serialized audiobooks via RSS, much like a podcast. Listeners can choose to receive the episodes of books via their RSS feed or by listening to episodes by directly downloading episodes from the site. Includes mostly unpublished authors and a lot of science fiction.

Open Culture offers many free bookcasts as well as other recorded material like university courses.

Book Reviews
Metacritic summarizes the information on the Internet about entertainment, including books. Stopped updating, but still has many reviews available.

The Complete Review offers reviews of old and new books.

*BookBrowse seeks out and recommends only the most interesting and well-written books and provides you with everything you need to decide which are right for you - so you can browse the best and ignore the rest!

One Minute Critic is exactly that; quick reviews of all kinds of books. You can do this!

Book Rental

These services are the "Netflix of books" offering various paid account levels for book borrowing.

BookSwim lends paperbacks, hardcovers and, college textbooks.

BooksFree lends paperbacks and audio books.


Many 23ers liked Facebook best of all the Things they learned. Now take time to explore some of Facebook's book and reading apps.

Visual Bookshelf


WeRead (Books iRead)

*A list of book-related apps on Facebook

Book Swaps (Optional)

Got too many books or need more? These online book exchanges can help.

BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want. Works on a point system.

Paperback Swap is more than paperbacks--hardbacks, textbooks, audio books, and more. Credit system.

*SwapTree has an algorithm to match your needs with others offers and vice versa. Includes books, music, games, and movies. SwapTree will even calculate the postage and let you print out a mailing label from your computer.

*BookCrossing Not exactly a swap, but interesting nevertheless. "Release" your book into the wild and track its journey via the Internet. Set up an account. Here is Bookcrossing in four easy steps:

1.Pick one of your books-one you have read or one you haven't read.

2.Log-in to Bookcrossing and click on "register book" under the "My Shelf" tab. Follow the prompts to register the book and generate a BCID (BookCrossing ID).

3.Write the BCID (BookCrossing ID) in ink inside the cover. Add a label or write the BookCrossing info. You can add some additional markings, stickers, notes, etc to make the book noticeable, if you wish.

4.Release the Book. There is much more information on how this all works at See how many books in the wild there are in Florida. Start hunting! And release a few of your own.

Children's Books (Optional)
Here are some innovative ways to share children's books using Web 2.0 tools.

*Lookybook let's you read entire children's picture books online. Register and build your own bookshelf to save and share favorites.

Storyline is part of the Screen Actors' Guild Foundation. Famous people read well-known books. Al Gore reads Brave Irene by William Steig, for example. Warning--opens with sound.

International Children's Digital Library has entire books online to read in multiple languages. Register to save books, choose preferred language, and more.

*Just One More Book "is a thrice-weekly podcast which promotes and celebrates literacy and great children’s books." Recorded in an Ottawa coffee shop.

Tonight's Bedtime Story offers free pdfs of classic fairy tales, many with illustrations. Wallpaper for your computer of various classic illustrations, too.

Vintage Children's Books is a Flickr pool of scanned images. Over 2500 members add to the pool.

Old Children's Books is another Flickr set of mid-century children's book illustrations.

Sillybooks "is an animated world of free reading, writing and learning fun for kids." Illustrated books read aloud and a place for kids to get their stories published.

*Recommended to try.

Blog Prompts
What are you observing in your library about books and reading?
Do you think these Book 2.0 tools hamper or enhance one's reading experience?
Which of the sites/tools did you visit? What are they appealing features? Any features seem unnecessary or just there "because"?
Do you know of other tools around books and reading we should know about? You can add them in the Comments below and blog about them.

Challenge (Optional)
1. Choose at least one of the sites/tools you explored and go deeper--set up an account and get started or go farther into the site.
2. Try out BookCrossing--let's see if we can release and hunt for books among the More Things Community.


Debbie said...

Some of the links on this post are no longer working, most notably LookyBook, which had to close due to lack of resources :(

aimbarr said...

The International Children's Digital Library is a wonderful resource designed with the help of children! It is frequently used by our Elementary Education students to find books for use in their lessons. I love the search options: book cover color, "short books," "imaginary creature characters," "happy" or "sad," etc.!!

ruthsgirl said...

I agree that some of these links no longer work.

johnofjack said...

This Thing is too long.

Cloud 23 said...

Storyline was a great source. Sometimes I could not get a link to come up, but would get it with the 2nd or 3rd try. The resource list was so long that it took hours to sort through it.

Cruicin’ Thru Life said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cruicin’ Thru Life said...

I agree with johnofjack... too many "things" in this Thing. While it's nice to be able to learn about new sites and the new technologies, this should be called "223 Things @ NEFLIN!"

WebKitteh said...

Ha!! I LOVE Bookcrossing!!! I cannot believe there are none listed in Gainesville yet. We are too stingy with our books apparently...
Anyone ever heard of letterboxing?!

Add me to the "there are WAY too many links" in this thing group, but I appreciate that there were starred links by NEFLIN so we could see the best of the best...

Judy Stephenson said...

Thing 20 needs to be broken into 5 things at least, if you do this again. If you choose to leave all of this in one thing, then consider moving it to the middle or the beginning. It is too much to leave to the end.

Judy Stephenson

Sean Johnson said...

There is an online book giant that is really shaking things up. They are offering book rentals and eBooks, as well as new and used textbooks.

Use the following coupon code for 5% off of your order total: GOLDFISH

Check em out at: Textbooks - Buy Textbooks | Rent Textbooks | Sell Textbooks | eTextbooks | Books | DVD + Blu Ray | Used Textbooks - - College Books and Gear. Cheap!