You may or may not remember my post on new website; if not, take a look and read it here before reading this!

So here’s an update: BookRabbit is now live, and as I had some free time with nothing better to do on sunday, I took photos of each shelf of my books (I have 12 shelves of books, 8 of which have two rows of books on them, which makes 20 individual rows!), signed up to BookRabbit and started uploading! The layout looks pretty good and seems easily navigable, but I had thought from what I read before that they were going to have some fancy software which would at least attempt to read the spines of the books automatically: either I haven’t found it yet, or that’s not the case. Instead, it’s a bit like tagging people in photos on Facebook: you draw a box round each book, search the title and the author and click on the right book when it comes up. Then, when you run the mouse over the photo, each book pops up at the side so it’s easy to see. It works pretty well, but as you can imagine it’s very labourious when you have to do 20 shelves one book at a time, so it’s going to take me a while – I’ve done 2 1/2 so far. The site also seemed to be very slow on Sunday and kept not responding, which I imagine is either because my connection is too slow, or because the site can’t deal with all the traffic it gets.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to exploring the site more. There are forums for discussing and reviewing books, interviews with authors and extracts from books; you can add friends and send messages; browse bookshelves and buy books. There is a section which tells you how many ‘bookshelf connections’ you have: any other user who has at least one book in common with you. The idea behind this is that if they have several books in common with you, you might like some of the other books they have and might be tempted to buy. It acts as a form of personal recommendation, which is so crucial to book buying, and it is a handy way to ease you in to the massive number of site users quickly and conveniently.

On the same lines of personal recommendation, they have a limited offer for new users at the moment. If you sign up soon, they’ll send you a free book (ostensibly) based on their analysis of your tastes. It’s a very good idea, because if they get it right, you’ll be more likely to trust recommendations made through the site and to buy through them. So did they get it right? My book arrived today; I haven’t read it yet but it looks interesting enough. It’s Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee; it’s set in South Africa and, according to the blurb, explores the ripples and ramifications when a bored, twice-divorced university professor has an affair with a student, amidst the turbulent and ever changing political situation of South Africa.

It interests me enough that I will definitely read it. I wouldn’t necessarily have bought it if I were browsing in a shop, but I guess that’s the point of recommendations: to get you reading you wouldn’t normally choose. I also have family links with South Africa, which makes it even more intriguing, though BookRabbit couldn’t have known that! However, when I showed it to my dad, he said he’d already got it somewhere and that he hadn’t been that enthralled by it, so we’ll see.. definitely worth a try!

Meanwhile, take a look at BookRabbit, maybe sign up and add some bookshelves, if only so I can start adding some friends there! And if I continue to be impressed with the site, I may well start linking any book I mention over there rather than Amazon!