Shelfari promotes its “virtual bookshelf” as one of its main features. The virtual bookshelf displays covers of books which the user has entered, with popups to show the user’s book information (review, rating, and tags). Sorting by author, title, date, rating, or review is available to the viewer of the shelf. Users may organize books into different shelves, including already read, currently reading, planning to read, wish list, currently owned, and favorites.
The Shelfari catalog can be edited by users, though some changes must be approved by Shelfari “librarians.” Shelfari users build virtual bookshelves of the titles they own or have read, and can rate, review, tag, and discuss their books. Users can also create groups that other members may join, create discussions, and talk about books, or other topics. Recommendations can be sent to friends on the site for what books to read.Using wiki functionality users are encouraged to contribute reviews, descriptions, lists of characters and settings, author biographies, categories, and descriptive tags.
Most books in the Shelfari catalog come from the large Amazon catalog, including Amazon Marketplace listings added by independent resellers. These books link back to Amazon and display current pricing and links to AbeBooks for used book sales.