I finally got around to looking at Google's My library offering. It's little short of a trainwreck and a complete waste of time. Let me explain...
We've all got bunches of books, so the ability to quickly and easily add them to a 'My library' function has to be paramount. There are two ways you can do it with Google - you can either give them a bunch of ISBNs, or you can search through the Book Search function and add books using the 'Add to My Library' function. Well, I've got some books on the LibraryThing resource that I thought I'd add - it's about 180 varied titles. I exported the list, cut and pasted the ISBNs into the Google My Library import box and got it to add them. Except that it came back with the error that it couldn't add 64 titles. Did it tell me which 64 titles it didn't add? No of course it didn't - that would be much too helpful for Google wouldn't it, though to be accurate their engineers probably arn't capable of that level of coding. So about one third of titles didn't get added and the only way I could find out which would be to go through by hand. The other problem is that they all had acceptable ISBNs - as far as LibraryThing and Amazon were concerned, and quite frankly I'm going to trust them above Google anytime.
The other method - of going through Google Book Search is fine - as long as Google as the title listed. If it doesn't then you're stuck, and it's the end of the line. Unlike other My Library programs where if the worst comes to the worst you can manually input the whole thing Google doesn't allow that. I'm also not impressed by the fact that Google thinks that Max Hasting's work on D-Day (his book Overlord is one of THE main works on the subject) is actually fiction. Dear God.
Exporting books is little better - simply an XML file, with no other options. Absolute rubbish.
So, having added a book, I can label it, which is great, except that it doesn't work well. I can add anything I want as a label, but when I want to go back and re-use existing labels Google doesn't appear to be able to separate out individual labels (although it does know they're individual since they appear as such in a listing under 'All my books'). If I want to add labels I have to look at what labels I already have first, add those, then add new ones. I can't pick and choose. This makes the function almost useless.
Searching my collection isn't bad, but it's not great either. I can run a search and it will pick up terms in the title or the summary, which is useful. However, it won't search on the keywords that I've added - I need to do that via a different search entirely. What moron at Google thought THAT was a good idea? What would also be useful would be an option to search the Google Book Search and exclude books that I already had in my library. Not hard really you'd think. Apparently it is for Google's engineers - can't do it.
Where's all the nice Web 2.0 functionality of something like LibraryThing? It's not there, that's what. Sure, I have an RSS version, but that's about it. Wasted opportunity again. At this point I really gave up on the product, though to be fair, thinking this review through while I was writing it did give rise to a phrase that I think I'm going to be using a lot in the future - 'If it's Google, it's crap'.
My advice - give this a miss entirely and don't waste any of your time on it. Use something like LibraryThing or Shelfari instead.