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In a time of increasing readers’ advisory services in our libraries (public and school libraries, at least), free online tools that help our users are valuable commodities.  For however wonderful people think NoveList, What Do I Read Next, and other online subscription services are, the reality is that many libraries cannot afford to subscribe to these services.  For those folks, I have a whole list of favorite sites (forthcoming in a future LiB post, I swear).  For now, take a gander at  Last month it was relaunched with free access to its fiction book database with over 50,000 book lists and 200,000 titles.  The site also offers a select number of series lists, summaries, and more.  This is definitely rising toward the top of that list of mine.

“ – free online readers advisory”

  1. Dorothy Says:

    The problem with FictionDB is currency, accuracy, and usability. For example, I entered Sarah Allen in the title search of FictionDB and didn’t get a hit. So I reversed it – still no hit. I had to go into Advanced Search and search by title to find her two books. Garden Spells has been out for over a year, and there is still no cover image. When I searched for Garden spells by title a second time, I got a message that one title was found, but the record was not served up. Kinda hit and miss.

    Basic searching is limited to author and title, and the Advanced keyword search uses Google search, which works okay, but lacks refinement. Which usually results in a lot of titles to shift through.

    The pseudonym list is handy though, and easy to scan – but again, not complete. For example, it does not include J.K. Rowling’s pseudonuyms, Scamander, Newt and Whisp, Kennilworthy.

    This is one of those “you get what you pay for” things – when I executed the same searches in NoveList, Fiction Connection, and Books and Authors, I got instant results which included complete records, suggested reads, much fuller subject headings, and multiple reviews. In each of these databases, it took me less than 30 seconds to find what I wanted – in FictionDB, it took about 4 minutes. Doesn’t seem like much, but when you are on a busy ref desk, those minutes can really add up.

  2. Lorraine Bradshaw Says:

    I was reading the ALIA Incite mag and came across a note to two great free ebooks sites. These are: and

    and thought i would pass on to all your readers

    Kind Regards

  3. LynneW Says:

    How does FictionDB compare with FantasticFiction out of the UK? Have you looked at both? I know FF has some issues with incorrect information, and is sadly lacking in annotations/plot and character descriptions, but all in all I have found them to be very helpful most of the time.

  4. Sarah Houghton-Jan (LiB) Says:

    I like Fantastic Fiction too, and usually use both. There is some overlap, but as always – a lot of unique content too. It’s always good to have two or three sources/choices to choose from.

  5. eric childress Says:

    Sarah, I might also suggest looking OCLC Research’s FictionFinder db It provides access to 2.8 million works of fiction found in the OCLC WorldCat database, and is a freely accessible experimental service. (Disclosure: I work in OCLC Research)

  6. Kelly Wong Says:

    Sarah –

    Thanks for the kind blog article on FictionDB. We certainly appreciate your support! We have never specifically targeted librarians, but have found a lot of support in their ranks.

    One of the best things about opening more access to the site has been all the feedback. Sometimes you don’t know you have issues until someone gets around to telling you. Most don’t. We will certainly work to get the author search fixed. Searching by Allen, S would have shown Sarah Addison Allen (as she is listed on our site) but Sarah Allen would not.

    Up until recently, we specialized in genre fiction, particularly romance and mysteries. With the addition of general fiction to the site, we are making up a lot of ground.

    There are a lot of choices for readers’ advisories on the web. We each have holes you could drive a truck through, NoveList and Fiction Connection included. The best strategy is to find the sources that work for your situation. FictionDB is the best romance novel reference out there, but if your patrons read primarily literary fiction, then other sources might currently work better. I’d also like to add that we are strengthening all areas of our site and are working to become the best fiction reference anywhere.

    I was surprised to see you’re a fellow Coug — why would you want to go to grad school in a wheat field??

    Kelly Wong

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