Goodbye, Allconsuming

08 March, 2005

I’ve given up with, it’s just too slow (when it’s responding at all) and too much work to maintain my books there.

Over the next few days I’ll be exporting my data via the HTTP API, and probably converting it to RDF using the RVW format so that I can later do with it what I like.

What this means is that I’m in the market for a replacement. It doesn’t have to do all the social engineering part, but it does have to be easy, pretty, and let me export my own data if it’s a hosted service.

I’ve known this was on the cards for a few months, but I’ve not really given it anything other than idle thought before now. I had considered using, but I don’t just want a list of titles and 255-character descriptions, I also want the book cover and the ability to thousand-word descriptions should I so desire, as well as multiple dates for things like “bought on”, “started on”, “finished on” etc. and they shouldn’t just be tags.

I had vaguely considered using Alf‘s suite of tools like rvw! and blaxm!, but I don’t think they’re what I’m after. rvw is all well and good if I want to post a review to my own site, but I don’t. blaxm! is a kind of interesting experiment, but that’s all it really looks like. I’m sure the code underneath it is enough to give me 70% of what I’m after, but the services as-is aren’t enough, and my Perl’s probably not good enough to run with the code even if Alf was kind enough to let me see it.

I must admit, it’s pretty tempting to just forge on ahead and knock it all up myself (how hard can it be, right?), but basically I can’t believe that someone out there hasn’t already done this (and I’m kind of dreading using the Amazon API too).

So what say you, my readership? I know you’re out there, I see your aggregator polling me right now! Does anyone know of any service that’s like Flickr, but for books?

See other posts tagged with general and all posts made in March 2005.


08 March, 2005 at 10:17

Like Flickr, but for books? Bookswelike comes to mind, because it allows tagging and has a large social component. I haven’t tried it myself and it’s “down for maintenance” (huh?) right now, but you can check out a cached version here and a brief review here.

Also, Again, haven’t tried it yet, so if you sign up for one of these, I’d love to see a review. 🙂

08 March, 2005 at 12:41

Thanks for that Andrea, I’ll definitely take a look at those over the next few days!

08 March, 2005 at 14:14

Whoops. Strike that last statement, I just signed up for It pulls data from (a big plus), but the interface and search function need a bit of work.

If you limit a keyword search to the German or UK store and then navigate to the second page of search results, it gives you results from the (default) US store.
And you can’t set a month or year for read books, but only a specific date or “don’t know”, which seems a bit strange to me (who reads all their books on one day?).
And some ISBN searches turn up empty pages.

The exported CSV doesn’t look very useful to me (there’s a column called ‘UnknownDateRead’ filled with rows of “TRUE”), although you can, of course, use it to keep an inventory of your library by ISBN.

I might sign up for bookswelike (when it’s up again) for testing purposes, otherwise I’ll probably keep looking too.

08 March, 2005 at 16:38

Um. Had to scratch the research itch.

Freeware: eLibProShareware: Book LibraryI’m liking the eLibPro interface and will probably play around with it some more. The shareware is a bit too cluttered for my liking and looks a bit ugly.

I will stop spamming you now. 🙂

08 March, 2005 at 21:33

I’ve been coming to the same conclusion about allconsuming, pip. I hadn’t gotten as far as investigating alternatives (or even bloging about it :). the blog software I use (drupal) has a book review module. But I’m more interested in keeping track of books I read than reviewing every single one.

So what I’m trying to say is, if you find a really clean solution I expect, no, demand, that you blog about it 😉 in the mean time I’ll go check out andrea’s eLibPro.

09 March, 2005 at 19:36

Thanks for the tips Andrea, I’d not seen any of those sites before!

eLibPro seems pretty decent – nicely customisable too, and because it’s just an Access database, with a well-documented schema, it would be easy to generate any kind of web pages you liked from it, but I think I’m really looking for a web-based solution.

I think my problem is that I’m not entirely sure *what* I want! 🙂

14 May, 2005 at 00:40

I used to use Singlefile ( but it seems to have disappeared for good. It was web-based, used Amazon database, and was all-around awesome. Export your data often if using web-based, I would say, just in case it disappears. bibliophil looks promising. First decent-looking web-based thing I’ve seen since Singlefile went bye-bye.

I started using ReaderWare a few weeks ago (since you can export to pda nicely) just because I need SOMETHING, but I’m not real fond of it. I really really like being able to email a url of my collection to folks.