Yes, it is, but how good of an alternative depends on how you used goodreads and what your priorities are for a book related social cataloging site. LibraryThing’s emphasis is on the books, not the social aspects. Many people use LibraryThing to catalog their home libraries, but use Goodreads for the groups, reviews, and other features. I’ve said before that Facebook is for friends, LibraryThing is for books, and Goodreads is for readers. Goodreads asks, “What are your Friends reading?” and LibraryThing asks, “What’s on your bookshelf?”
Before I go any farther, if it is still March 31st when you read this and you are a goodreads member that doesn’t already have a LibraryThing account, rush over there and get one before the free year offer runs out.
Yes, LibraryThing is a pay account. You can get a free account, but you can’t add more than 200 books. Actually you can get more than 200 by importing your books, you just can’t ever add anymore books without upgrading your account. I wish I had known that when I joined. Now that I have free account with 36 books, I’m afraid it would create duplicates if I import my books now. Most people say it’s $10 a year or $25 for a lifetime membership, but that’s not quite accurate. You can pay less or more if you want. I thinking about paying $6 for a year to decide, then if I want to keep the account, I can pay $19 for the lifetime membership. That would equal the $25 suggested price.
No, Amazon does not own 40% of LibraryThing, even if it did, it’s not the same as Amazon buying 100% of Goodreads. Yes, AbeBooks did purchase 40% in 2006, but Bowker now owns part of that 40% (not sure exactly how much), and Tim Spalding still controls the company with his 60%. Amazon does own AbeBooks now, but they bought a bookseller, not a social cataloging site. Goodreads may have been purchased for access to the community, although some think it was purchased to prevent Goodreads from becoming a bookseller.
I’ve always liked Goodreads a little better than LibraryThing, but it’s nice to have a choice. LibraryThing is best for cataloging collections because you have more control and better data, but the vast majority of the books I read are library books. I don’t own a lot of books because I don’t reread. Even when I do buy books, I’m likely to trade them in at a used bookstore for more books I haven’t read. It’s easier and quicker to add books on Goodreads, but LibraryThing does have half stars. The fact that LibraryThing is ad free doesn’t matter to me because I use AdBlock Plus anyway.
I wonder how many of the volunteer librarians on Goodreads may reconsider the time they spend correcting the database when they realize they’ll be working for Amazon for free?