Besides my favourite public library on the ‘interwebs’, there are several excellent book-related websites I’d like to share with readers. Some will be familiar while others may be newish and worth a visit when you have time and a hot cup of coffee (or other beverage) beside you.
Goodreads.com: This is a great way to keep track of what I’m reading, what I’ve read, and what I would like to read in a perfect world. With quick access to the best databases, you assemble a virtual personal library, along with your ratings and mini-reviews. On the site you can also find friends with similar reading habits, take literary quizzes, and find ‘best of’ lists that may perk your interest. Part of the deal is getting automated emails of what your goodreads friends are reading, so you can stay in the loop. I personally like seeing all the cover graphics of the books I read in one spot. And you can always check which books you liked best and why, and mull over which mystery thriller or memoir you’ll tackle next from your ‘to-be-read’ list. And, when a dark, foreboding cloud of doubt moves in on the mental horizon, you can prove to others, or just yourself, that you didn’t waste absolutely all of your time on Facebook!
Bookcrossing.com: This is a fun, rewarding way to ‘pay it forward’ and make extra room on your bookshelf at the same time. “If you love your books, let them go,” the New York Times quips. I’ve tried this service and would like to do it again. This site organizes the dream: wouldn’t it be great if we shared the books we’ve enjoyed with total strangers, who then keep passing them on? All you do is register a book you’ve finished with the site, attach a sticker with a unique ID, and drop it off at a bus stop or park bench. Any public spot really. You then can track it through the site, and be prepared to be amazed at where and with who your book ends up! I’d suggest using worthwhile books. Stop the spread of second-rate pulp!
Abebooks.com: If you are sleuthing for hard-to-find used books, textbooks and rare, expensive books, then this is the place for you! Where other online bookstores stop, this one starts. Did you know that a first edition of E.M. Forster’s ‘A Passage to India’ recently sold for $9,766 US? Yikes. A bit expensive for my wallet. But don’t let that you scare you. If you’re a collector, maybe browse the virtual stacks of their subject page.
Project Gutenberg: You’ve likely heard of this storehouse of 33,000 free ebooks for your PC, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, or Android device. They’re all digitized and ready to go. Nothing really recent here, since the copyright has to be expired. But if your idea of ‘bestseller’ includes Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and Robert Louis Stevenson, then you’ve come to the right place. For Canadiana, check out Project Gutenberg Canada.
Of course, there are the major bookstores: amazon.com or amazon.ca, chapters.indigo.ca, and, for local flavour, mcnallyrobinsonbooksellers.com. Each has their particular strengths. I tend to use Chapters for fiction and Amazon for non-fiction, but that could be just me.
“Authors only begin books. Readers make them complete.” – Stephen Weeks