The Book Shelf

One of the traumas of moving to an eReader such as an Amazon Kindle is that you have no more books to display on your bookshelves. Bookshelves can be a trauma in their own right, as my friend Lee Wochner describes here. But the prospect of not having any books to display on those shelves, makes moving to an eReader a life-defining decision for many.

A few weeks ago, Steph and I were hosted for a wonderful dinner by Lee and his wife Val, during which Lee’s ongoing struggle to abandon analog media, both newsprint and books, came up. Lee and I both share the habit of examining others’ bookshelves. Since we both consider your books to be an open window to your defining characteristics, your thinking and your soul, we both indulge in this short-cut method to figure people out. In the same manner, we both consider our bookshelves to be a detailed, public billboard of what we are, what we’re thinking, what we’re researching and what we find interesting. Obviously, with an eReader, there are no books to put on a bookshelf, so how will people know what and who we are? And for that matter, how will we know what and who we are?

You will probably find it no surprise that some bright kids programmed up an answer to this dilemma. It’s called Shelfari. You can see what it looks like here:  If you don’t want to look there, you can get a feel of it by scrolling down on this page and looking at the books I’ve got queued up, am reading, and a small subset of those I’ve read.

It’s a pretty slick system, and solves the dilemma of the bookshelf-less future. In this way, we still have a method to check out people’s books to see what they are about, as well as to display our own.

Oh, and BTW, those bright kids who programmed up Shelfari sold the business to Amazon in August of 2008. The site launched in October of 2006, so less than two years from launch to exit. Well done.