Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Shelfari Group Member Introduction Page

Shelfari Research Page

Shelfari is an online, interactive, and virtual bookshelf. It provides a place where avid readers, teachers, students, friends, and colleagues can all collaborate, compare, and discuss their favorite, or least favorite books.

I. History

Shelfari is based out of Seattle, Washington. It is the world's largest social media site focused on books. " A powerful yet simple interface enables Shelfari users (“Shelfarians”) to build virtual bookshelves and socially interact around the books they care about. The company was founded by three technology veterans from RealNetworks who believe that people want to discuss and discover great books online."1

            Shelfari was originally launched in 2006, and was founded by Josh Hug and Kevin Beukelman.  Hug came up with the idea for this virtual bookshelf while he was on leave from his original company he worked at, and it only took him $9000 to create.  Finally after all of the construction for the wiki was complete, Shelfari was open and ready for users in May of 2006.  Later, however, in August 2008 Amazon bought the company.23456

            Within Shelfari, you search for books by title, author, ISBN and subject, or import a text file from services like Delicious Library or LibraryThing.7 Each person’s bookshelf is literally an electronic shelf allowing visitors to browse through your book collection.  You can also tag books in your collection.  There are indicators above the books on your shelf that display how many of your friends also have that book, and how many people are discussing it, as well.  Users can browse for books on the site, and then add them to their shelf sending recommendations to friends along the way. Once you have made new friends and made your own shelf, Shelfari suggests users who are similar to you based on the books on your shelf.8

            Shelfari is a social network, too. You can create a profile, upload a photo, and add other people as your friends. Shelfari can also be found on Facebook and MySpace. This gives users another chance to interact with each other rather than using Shelfari all the time to connect.91012

Throughout the years, Shelfari has gone through many “Milestones.”11Those being:

  • Shelfari received $1M in Series A funding. (2/1/07)
  • Shelfari added Kevin Beukelman as co-founder, Chief Architect. (08)
  • Shelfari added Josh Hug as co-founder, CEO. (08)
  • Shelfari added Dave Hanley as VP Marketing. (08)
  • Shelfari added Mark Willamson as co-founder, Board of Directors. (08)
  • Shelfari was acquired by Amazon. (8/25/08)

The above graph shows a rough estimate of Shelfari visitors per month


Table of Contents

II. How to Use Shelfari

Shelfari is very easy to use.  It is used to make a bookshelf to show to friends, peers, and colleagues what you are currently reading, books you have read, and books you plan to read.  To get started, all you need to do is go to and sign up for a account.  Once you have made an account, you are free to search the database and add friends and books to your profile. Books can be found by searching for author, title, or series. Another popular way to search for books is by finding Tags-how certain books relate to each other. Making an account is free. The only time a user would have to pay money is if the number of books on his or her bookshelf exceeds 200.  Another thing that Shelfari can be used for is for internet book chats with friends, and even people unfamiliar to you, on discussion boards.In a sense, it is a virtual book club meeting. This can help eliminate having to travel to group member's houses when the book club can be easily done online. 

Table of Contents

III. How Shelfari Relates to Other Applications

Shelfari is one of many different Web 2.0 sites for bookworms. Other similar websites include LibraryThing (, GoodReads ( and even Facebook (

LibraryThing has the same basic concept as Shelfari. The user can keep track of books they have read, what they are currently reading, and what they are going to read. The user can rate books, write a review, and even start online discussions with other users. There are some differences between the two sites. LibraryThing requires you to pay if you catalog over 200 hundred books unlike Shelfari, which is free no matter how many books you catalog. It is $10 per year or $25 for a lifetime subscription. LibraryThing also is able to integrate itself with bookstores. Users can see what a particular bookstore is offering and special events.13 According to a review of the two websites, “the main difference between Shelfari and Library Thing is that the former is more focused on social-networking and aesthetics while the latter is for serious bookworms.”14

GoodReads once again has the same basic concept as Shelfari. The user can keep track of the books they have read, books they are currently reading, and books they would like to read. The user can start a discussion and users can create their own book club. However, two major differences are that users can contact the author of a book through GoodReads and can even submit their own writing. GoodReads also claims to be the ”largest social network for readers in the world. We have more than 4,100,000 members who have added more than 110,000,000 books to their shelves.”15

Much like Facebook, Shelfari offers an instantaneous connection with others readers. They will be able to see each others profile; and access there likes and dislikes for books. Not only can readers connect with others on Shelfari but Shelfari users will be able to share what they are reading with friends on Facebook. Josh Hug, CEO and co-founder of Shelfari stated that, “The Facebook Platform represents a seismic shift in the way people are using social networks to express themselves and new applications like Shelfari will enable Facebook members to instantly engage with a large community of readers. The Shelfari application is unique because it not only enables Facebook members to quickly share their reading lists but it also provides an avenue of exploration via the Shelfari site which is deeper than what can be provided by an independent third party developer whose applications are disconnected from a larger, vertically-oriented community.”18

Table of Contents

IV. Real World Applications


This elementary lesson plan will encourage the students to cooperate with a group, as well as provide them with valuable technology skills. Some students find reading chapter books intimidating, but by breaking down the book into smaller parts and allowing for group work the assignment will become much more manageable. Shelfari is essential for the organization of this project and can also be helpful for developing the social skills of younger students.

Elementary Reading Circles.docx 

Elementary Reading Circles.pdf

Here is an elementary plan based on a more project-oriented approach.  The lesson revolve around groups of four to six students choosing books from different genres(science fiction, history, mystery, etc.) to read.  After reading the books, they rate, review, and add them to their group's bookshelf. They then present their bookshelf to the rest of the class.  The full step-by-step procedure is explained in the lesson plan:



For the STEM elementary lesson plan concerning Shelfari, students will calculate the total number of pages they have read in their lifetime. They will look up books and find the page number, record it, and then find a total number. At the end, each student will present different books that they have read and dress up as one of the characters from one of the books.

STEM Elementary.docx

STEM Elementary.pdf


This secondary lesson plan is especially useful for encouraging more reluctant readers to participate in an English class because it allows for students to monitor their classmates in a way that teachers cannot. This reliance on fellow group members can be very motivating for secondary students, and the group setting is often seen as more fun. Shelfari is perfect for this lesson, not only because it allows for socialization, but also because it gives the teacher the ability to evaluate the discussions in a single location so he or she can keep track of students’ projects.

Secondary Literature Circles.docx 

Secondary Literature Circles.pdf

Here's a secondary school plan based on a more project-oriented approach.  The lesson revolve around groups of four to six students choosing books from a paticular author to read.  After reading the books, they rate, review, and add them to their group's bookshelf. They then present their bookshelf to the rest of the class.  The full step-by-step procedure is explained in the lesson plan:



For the STEM lesson plan for secondary students, each student will be assigned elements from the Periodic Table. Each of the elements has certain characteristics, and students will be asked to find a character that possess those same characteristics. This allows students to remember characteristics from the character they selected and attach it to an element.

STEM Secondary.docx

STEM Secondary.pdf


This post secondary lesson plan is designed to help guide 100 level students through works like Shakespeare. Having class discussions allow the students to give and receive feedback and insight to tougher material, while also requiring them to think for themselves. With Shelfari all the students in one class can connect without having to be in a classroom together, which allows for more flexibility without wasting lecture time.

 Post_Secondary Literary Circle.docx

Post Secondary Literary Circle.pdf 

This post secondary lesson plan is designed to help philosophy students gain a better insight into the works of Paulo Freire. Utilising the Shelfari online community students will be able to discuss and review their assigned chapter with fellow students.  Having to provide class feedback to the other groups will require a deep understanding on the material. Using Shelfari for this lesson will allow flexibility for the students and will also provide the lecture with an insight into the students understanding of the topic.

Philosophy Lesson Plan.docx

Philosophy Lesson Plan.pdf

This post secondary lesson plan is designed to help English students learn a type of literary criticism. Using Shelfari, students can write a reader's response criticism on the book they are reading or assigned to read. They can then post their review on an online community. This will not only help them learn a type of criticism but students will be able to review books for future classes and look at it through a different type of lens.

Reader's Response Criticism Lesson Plan.docx

Reader's Response Criticism Lesson Plan.pdf


Shelfari is an application that can easily be used in the business world. Shelfari can allow for colleagues and peers to share and recommend books. Shelfari would also be a great application to use for a book club. It would be easy to select a book because all of the options could be seen at once. Once a book is selected, discussion could occur online. In each of our busy lives, it is hard to work with everyone's schedules. With Shelfari, discussions could occur online-whenever it is convenient for an individual. 

Table of Contents

V. Demonstration of Educational Value

Shelfari demonstrates educational value in several different ways.  Have you ever wanted to share books with friends, but don’t want to have to lug those books all the way to school?  Shelfari is a way for students to not have to carry those heavy books back and forth.  To help make this website safe for all students to use, the privacy settings make it where students must be 13 years of age of older to use this application.16  The age limit is just to unsure security-anyone is able to use Shelfari. After a student joins Shelfari they have access to several different aspects of Shelfari such as:

  • build virtual bookshelves to express themselves to their friends and the world
  • discover books that are popular in their trusted circles of friends
  • influence peers by rating and discussing books online
  • discover and learn from people with similar reading tastes
  • participate in online book groups to further explore literature and share ideas
  • interact with and learn from authors.17

If a student is asked to do a book report, Shelfari can really help with that.  Shelfari offers users the ability to have discussions on books that they have read, or are reading.  Users can post questions on any aspect of the book they want, and they wait for replies,which usually are rather speedy.  Shelfari can also be helpful to teachers. They can have homework questions for their students students on certain books, or a particular book, and students can do their homework within the Shelfari discussion page.  The following video explains the discussion process.

There are several different profiles on Shelfari that can be used in numerous ways.  The following link is from a TV show that goes through all the different parts of Shelfari and how to use them. This clip is not the whole TV show, but it does explain some of the main parts in detail. 

Table of Contents

VI. Shelfari Internationally

Shelfari could be describes as an international community, an online virtual book club.  The beauty of Shelfari is that you are not restricted by your geographical location; instead you are connected and have access to millions of people worldwide.  This in itself has many advantages and brings about numerous opportunities for the online user.

Aspiring authors

Aspiring authors can share ideas, discuss story lines and get feedback from people all over the world. Authors and readers are no longer bound by location or the country they live in; they can have instant access to a worldwide community of readers.  This can allow aspiring author to tap into the minds of their potential readers, fellow authors and people with expert or firsthand knowledge of their chosen subject. 


Shelfari would be an excellent resource to facilitate a global bookathon.  Readers all over the globe could participate in the bookathon which could be used to raise funds or awareness for global charities.

Book Launches

Book launches in a local context usually consist of a press release and a signing, which normally take place in a book store, reaching a local audience. 

Utilizing Shelfari, the author can launch his/her book on an international level and reach a global audience.  Incorporating the features offered on Shelfari, the author can conduct an online discussion or forum, answering any questions his/her readers might have about the book.   This would create a great connection between the author and his/her readers.

Table of Contents

VII. Showcase Documents

 This brochure gives a brief overview of the Shelfari application and its potential in the classroom, locally and internationally.


Table of Contents

VIII. References


















Table of Contents

  • No labels