Monday, May 9, 2011

Connecting with Books in the Digital Age

Today I taught my students about nontraditional (non-scholarly) ways of looking up information about books -- especially ways that connect them socially with other people. Here's a recap of some of these sources:
  1. Goodreads
    Goodreads has reviews of books, lists of books (via Listopia), and a variety of ways of connecting with other readers through its social network. 
  2. Amazon
    Amazon provides not just a way to buy books, but to find books, get recommendations based on similar books, find or post reviews, and to create wishlists that can be public and thematically related.
  3. Google Books
    Google Books provides a way to search inside of books, find reviews of books, find related books, etc. One can also add books to one's Google library (essentially bookmarking books). Of course, you can also buy books through this service.
  4. Google Blog Search / Icerocket / Technorati
    These are three different blog search engines to find out who is talking about specific books within the blogosphere.
  5. Diigo
    One can also find discussion about books by searching social bookmarking systems like Diigo. Diigo also has a groups community, allowing one to join communities who are actively researching and bookmarking on a desired topic.
  6. Slideshare / Prezi
    These are both presentation archives with social components. It's a good place to find recent and current presentations people have prepared on all kinds of topics, including books.
  7. Open Educational Resources: OER Commons / MIT OpenCourseWare / Connexions
    There are amazing, freely available collections of online courses or course syllabi. These are often great ways to find out a context in which certain books are being discussed or used, especially currently or recently.
  8. Twitter Search
    Find current comments about books or authors through straight searches or hashtag searches


  1. Sweet! I hadn't thought of using presentation sites or blog search engines to find out the discussion going on about books.

  2. I have found Google Books to be extremely useful for literary research, especially for work from the 19th century. Because much of the material from that time is now public domain, entire primary literary and historical/contextual sources are viewable and searchable for free. And because one can search not just by title or subject, but actually all the text within a book, Google Books is much more powerful than a library catalog for finding secondary sources. Even if the full text isn't available, a preview is enough to see if the source is worth looking for in the library. Using Google Books in conjunction with the library catalog is how I did the majority of my research for English classes this past semester.