Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Cataloging improvement III: Better “Sort character” support

Short version: We’ve added more tools for specifying how titles should sort.

Background: LibraryThing has been sorting “The Road” under “R” not “T”, and allowing members to change where the sorting “starts” since 2007. Mostly, the system gets it right in the first place, especially if you use library data, whose records contain information on “non-filing characters” (within the 245 field, second indicator, of course). If it doesn’t, super-knowledeable members use the “pipe trick,” changing a title like Die Fleledermaus to Die ||Fledermaus, to mark the start of sorting explicitly.

Bringing Sort Characters into the Open. To improve understanding and use of the feature, and to help troubleshoot when LibraryThing choses poorly, we’ve decided to expose the “sort character” (a.k.a. “non-filing characters,” “sort offset,” etc.).*

You can now add the field to one of your “Your Books” views:

cataloglist

Edit and manual entry now get a tiny drop-down menu (on the right), so you can see and change the sort character number. (We aimed for inconspicuous enough not to frighten newbies, but not entirely hidden.)

bookedit

We’ve also improved the “pipe trick” by making the pipes invisible under normal circumstances. For example, here’s a book in “Your Books.”

pipe1

And here it is, with pipes, when you double-click to edit.

pipe2

In practice, pipes always disable and/or override the sort-chracter number.

Come talk about this feature on talk.


* I asked for help naming the feature. The geeky-cutest was definitely Chris Holland’s “alphabit.”

Labels: new feature, new features, Uncategorized

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Cataloging improvement II: Date selectors

Yesterday I added calendar “date selectors” to many of the places you can enter dates into LibraryThing. The selectors are optional—you can always just type instead. But they may come in handy.

Click here.
calendar_1

And get a date selector.
calendar_2

Along with this, and along with the recent export improvements, a number of important long-running date bugs have been closed. We look forward to help identifying and squashing what remains.

Come discuss on Talk.

Technical note: We used jQuery UI’s datepicker.

Labels: new feature, new features

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Cataloging improvement I: Better export

filtering options

The New Export Filtering Options

We’ve just released a new and improved export feature. Check it out here.

Major improvements include:

  • Export filtering. So you can export only books added since a certain date, books with a certain tag. You can also use the new search syntax to control your export even more precisely.
  • More fields. The new tab-delimited and JSON fields now include 41 exported fields, up from 16 or 29 in the old export formats. Essentially all book data should now be included in the export.
  • Richer fields. Flat files, such as tab-delimited text, have a problem with “multidimensional data,” such as secondary authors and their roles. The new format attempts to represent this data more completely, separating sub-values with pipe (|) characters.
  • JSON format. Export is now available in JSON format, a lightweight data format much used by programmers.
  • Better MARC options. We’ve improve the MARC options, for members interested in exporting to a library-industry system.
  • Not being partially broken. Always a good feature!

Try it out. Go ahead and try out the new export.

Discuss. Come discuss the new export features on Talk.

Thanks. Export was re-engineered by Chris, Ammar* and me (Tim). It is based on the improvements Mike made to “Your Books” searching, and indeed the JSON format is effectively the format that the search system now indexes. (This will prove useful for troubleshooting problems with members.)

Screen shots

main options
marc options

UPDATE: We’ve added an explicit Excel format.


* Who is Ammar? Stick around, we’ll tell you soon.

Labels: new feature, new features

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

SantaThing 2014: Play Secret Santa with us!

We’re pleased to announce that the eighth annual SantaThing is here at last!

What’s SantaThing? SantaThing is Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

Done this before? SantaThing sign up is now open!

How it works

You pay into the SantaThing system (choose from $15–$50). You play Santa to a LibraryThing member we pick for you, by selecting books for them. Another Santa does the same for you, in secret. LibraryThing does the ordering, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

Sign up once or thrice, for yourself or someone else. If you sign up for someone without a LibraryThing account, make sure to mention what kinds of books they like, so their Santa can choose wisely.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others.

Important dates

Sign-ups close Sunday, November 30th at 8pm Eastern. Monday morning, we’ll notify you via profile comment who your Santee is, and you can start picking books.

Picking closes Monday, December 8th at 12pm Eastern. As soon as the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can.

» Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

What’s new this year?

Every year we tweak SantaThing a little. This year we’re happy to have Portland’s own Sherman’s Books & Stationery, Powell’s, Book Depository, and Amazon (including national ones) as our booksellers. You can choose to have your books picked and sent from any of these stores at any and all price points.

We’re also please to extend the Kindle Only option to all members, regardless of location. So long as your Kindle is registered on Amazon.com (not .co.uk, .ca, etc.), you can elect to receive your SantaThing gifts as Kindle ebooks. See more information about Kindle and SantaThing here.

Shipping news

Some of our booksellers are able to offer free shipping, and some are not. Depending on your bookseller of choice, you may receive $5 less in books, to cover shipping costs. You can find details about shipping costs and holiday ordering deadlines for each of our booksellers here on the SantaThing Help page.

Go sign up now!

Questions? Comments?

See the SantaThing Help page further details and FAQ.

Feel free to ask your questions over on this Talk topic. As always, you’re welcome to email us at info@librarything.com.

Labels: santathing

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

AllHallowsThing 2014 Winners!

Thanks to everyone who joined in on our SECOND annual AllHallowsThing contest! Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love getting to see your creativity shine. If you’d like to take a look at all our submissions this year, you can find them in the AllHallowsThing2014 tag gallery. The LT staff judges have spoken, and, without further ado, I am proud to present our winners:

Costumes

Grand Prize

I love all the detail and effort that went into this Gandalf costume. It’s both adorable and impressive, complete with robes, hat, satchel, staff, and let’s not forget the beard. You can see another snapshot of it here, which shows that orb on the top of his staff glows. Amazing work!

2nd Place

This costume looks both head- and heart-warming—a-squared knitted the hat and elf ears. Those of you with good memories (or deep knowledge of Harry Potter trivia) will appreciate the S.P.E.W. button, sock, and pillow-case dyed with tea, to match Dobby’s tea-towel garb early in the series.

3rd Place

What a great family ensemble! We’ve got Willy Wonka, Charlie taking a ride in the glass elevator, a lollipop girl, and tiny Violet as a tiny blueberry. Wonka’s coat and hat are spot-on, and Charlie certainly seems to be enjoying himself. I don’t know what was used to make the elevator, but it looks great! If there’s a golden ticket in that Wonka bar, can I come tour the factory with you guys?

Pumpkins

Grand Prize

Cinderella‘s carriage by emperatrix

Starting in high school, where I—like many American teenagers—read The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway’s face has been a familiar one. And it translates well into the pumpkin medium, too! I’m particularly impressed with the way different “shades” of pumpkin were used, by carving not quite all the way through the pumpkin. Great job!

2nd Place

Painted all silver and gold, but retaining it’s pumpkin shape, this is what I always imagined Cinderella’s carriage looked like, as it whisked her off to the ball. I love the gold wreath wheels!

3rd Place

As a lover of both cats and the inspiration Kitten’s First Full Moon, this pumpkin has a special place in my heart. It’s even got a moon hanging out above the kitten!

Honorable Mentions

The Scrolls of Zndaria pumpkin by zndariasj features some truly excellent carving skills. Well done! I’d also like to commend LynnCoulter on her Audrey II piece. Little Shop of Horrors is one of my favorite musicals, and Audrey II looks great!

Thanks, everyone!

To all our contestants, thanks so much for joining in! Every one of you did excellent work (and hopefully had some fun in the process), and I look forward to seeing what bookish hauntings you come up with next year!

To our winners, congratulations! Look for a profile comment from me shortly with instructions for claiming your prizes!

Labels: AllHallowsThing, contests

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Better “Your Books” searching

Back in September, we debuted the beta version of a new “Your Books” search system, based on Elasticsearch. The new Your Books search has now replaced the old, and it’s live on the site for all members.

The new system brings with it a number of improvements, including:

  • It’s much faster.
  • No more “reindexing” process—you’ll never see that green “loading” bar when searching your books again.
  • It handles accents and other “special” characters much better; you can search for “resume” or “résumé”, etc.
  • The search syntax is much expanded (see below), allowing for explicit AND, OR and NOT searches, as well as term “nesting.”
  • Searches are echoed back with fields and operators specially marked, so you can see if the system understood the search as intended.
  • Hyphens are normalized, meaning a search for “science-fiction” will return the same results as “science fiction”.
  • The system allows for “stemming,” so a search for “automobiles” or “singing” would also return results for “automobile” and “sings”. You can see which fields are stemmed and which are not here on the wiki page.

Syntax

Along with our new Your Books search, we’ve revamped the search syntax, which now allows for searches that include operators like AND, NOT, and OR, as well as field-specific searching. You can now search all of Your Books for things like:

  • history AND NOT art (all books with “history” and not “art” somewhere in the data)
  • tag:history AND NOT art (all books tagged with “history,” and not tagged with “art”)
  • hist* (all books with words beginning with “hist” somewhere in the data)
  • (history AND (greek OR roman)) (all books with “history” and either “greek” or “roman” somewhere in the data)
  • review:“” (books with no review)

For a full rundown of the advanced syntax now at your disposal in Your Books search, see the wiki page. There, you’ll find lists of all operators you can use, fields you can search directly, etc.

You’ll notice that, once you’re done with a search, the same ‘X’ the upper-left of Your Books will clear and remove your search. Next to that ‘X’, you can now see the full details of your search, written out as it was interpreted. So, a search for tag:history AND NOT art should display Search: tag: history AND tag: NOT art.

If you’d rather not type out the names of fields you’d like to search, the drop-down menu next to “Search” is still available. The default is, as always, “All fields.”

What else is new?

We’ve also extended our new and improved search abilities to searching the books of your fellow group-members, your connections, and Legacy Libraries. Wondering who in our Legacy Libraries shares your love of The Hobbit, who else in the 75 Books Challenge is a Frankenstein fan, or who among your LibraryThing Connections has a copy of Ivanhoe you can borrow? You can find all three of these on one page, here, where you can switch between them using the tabs at the top of the page.

As mentioned above, new search is now live on the site and has fully replaced the old. Your Books search should be working much more smoothly and efficiently now, so let us know what you think! If you’re having any trouble, feel free to post your questions in this Talk topic.

We’d like to thank all the members who’ve been testing the system, but especially the clever and indefatigable bnielsen.

Labels: new feature, new features, search

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

November Early Reviewers batch is live!

The October 2014 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 94 titles this month, with a grand total of 2,840 copies to give out.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Then request away!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, November 24th at 6pm Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Taylor Trade Publishing Henry Holt and Company Tundra Books
Prufrock Press Cool Gus Publishing Bethany House
William Morrow Crown Publishing Monkfish Book Publishing Company
Lion Fiction Crux Publishing Dragonwell Publishing
Ashland Creek Press Celestial Press Author Pinterary
Riverhead Books Akashic Books Bookkus Publishing
Durango Publishing Corp.® Palgrave Macmillan Jupiter Gardens Press
Ballantine Books Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Rockridge Press
Apex Publications Recorded Books HighBridge Audio
Demos Health Vinspire Publishing, LLC North Atlantic Books
Greyhart Press Sfuzzi Publishing Bantam Dell
Pigeon Park Press BookViewCafe Horrific Tales Publishing
ForeEdge Human Kinetics Bellevue Literary Press
Plume Hudson Street Press Candlewick Press
CarTech Books Quirk Books Booktrope
Ghostwoods Books Calliope Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Friday, October 24th, 2014

October Horror-Themed ReadaThing Starts Today

It’s not too late to join in our Halloween week ReadaThing! All are welcome, and you don’t have to read for the entire week: the goal is to have a few people from around the world reading at any given time during the ReadaThing. As with all ReadaThings, you’re welcome to read whatever you like, though we’re aiming for a seasonal horror theme this time around.

This edition of ReadaThing will be kicking off at 12am (midnight) UTC on Saturday, October 25th (that’s 8pm Eastern, Friday October 24th), and will end at the same time on the following Saturday—12am UTC, November 1st (8pm Eastern, Friday, October 31st). You can see the full timeline here.

Sign up

Head directly to the October 2014 ReadaThing Wiki to sign up, or check out the announcement thread for more general information. You don’t have to pick a time slot in advance in order to participate! There’s a special place for readers who don’t want to commit to a specific schedule to sign up.

What are you reading?

Whether you’d like to check out what your fellow ReadaThing-ers are reading, or to share your own ReadaThing picks, head over to the What will you be reading? thread to see what books are slated. Remember: anything goes! You can read whatever you want, wherever you want.

Get ready to read

Once the ReadaThing is underway, keep an eye out for the “October 2014 ReadaThing: Log Book” thread, where you can document your ReadaThing experiences. Take a peek at the Log Book thread from our last ReadaThing in August/September, for examples.

ETA: The October 2014 ReadaThing Log Book can be found here!

If you’ve never done ReadaThing before, give it a try, and stay tuned to the ReadaThing group for updates. Thanks to LT member jjmcgaffey for organizing this ReadaThing!

Labels: readathon, reading

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Q&A with Mallory Ortberg

Some excerpts from our interview with Mallory Ortberg, which initially appeared in October’s State of the Thing newsletter.

Mallory Ortberg has written for Gawker, New York Magazine, The Hairpin, and The Atlantic. She is also—along with partner in crime/editing Nicole Cliffe—the co-creator of The Toast, a general-interest website geared toward women. Since its debut in July 2013, The Toast has developed quite a cult following.

Mallory’s first book, Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters (out November 4, 2014) is the next step in the popular Texts From series featured on The Toast. It is also a riot.

Loranne caught up with Mallory this month to talk about her work.

Your book is essentially what it says on the tin, but, in case anyone is unclear on the subject, could you tell the audience at home what Texts from Jane Eyre is all about, in a nutshell?

Sure. It is… it is slightly less gimmicky than it sounds, I think, because it’s really very specific jokes about very specific literary characters. The premise, you know, is pretty much “WHAT IF CELL PHONES BUT THE PAST,” but the phones aren’t really the point, the point is all the horrifically selfish behavior exhibited by some of our favorite protagonists throughout the Western canon. It’s jokes about books.

As someone who is hailed as the Queen of the Internet (or at least a very specific subset of the Internet) right now, why did you decide to turn Texts from Jane Eyre into a book? Was there a particular story or character the served as a jumping-off point?

Oh gosh, to be quite honest, I decided to turn it into a book because someone offered me money to do it. I mean, I don’t think the offer would have been made if the series didn’t seem viable, but basically someone said “I think this would make a good book and here is some money to prove it,” and I said “Thank you,” and wrote enough words to earn that money. Otherwise I’d probably just have kept on doing it for free on the internet, like a chump.

It started as just Texts From Scarlett O’Hara, but then I found myself thinking about so many other literary characters, and I didn’t want to stop. By Little Women, I think, I’d realized that this was something a lot of people were having fun with, not just me, and that it was the sort of thing that could go on for a long time.

You can see Mallory talk more about the beginnings of the Texts From series—and her inspiration for the book—here.

You seem to have a deep and abiding love for the source materials in a lot of Texts from Jane Eyre. Who were your favorite and/or least favorite characters to write text sessions for?

I DO. Oh, Lord, do I ever. I have no unfavorites in the book, any unfavorites were speedily culled from earlier drafts, but I think Jo March and Mr. Rochester have to rank pretty high. Maybe William Blake. The really creepy ones, who yell a lot, they’re quite dear to my heart.

See Mallory talk about Emily Dickinson and her other favorite characters to write about here.

Were there any planned characters or authors you wanted to include in this book that just didn’t work out?

Yes, but I don’t remember many of them. It was pretty clear, pretty quickly, what concepts weren’t going to work, and we ditched them early on. I think Faulkner fell by the wayside, as did Dante. I couldn’t always find the right hook for the characters.

In the process of writing Texts from Jane Eyre, did you go back and re-read any of the classics you used for inspiration?

I did! It was enormously fun.

I’m a huge fan of your work on The Toast, and—please don’t take this the wrong way—while Texts from Jane Eyre has its distinctly weird moments (William Blake is a personal favorite), it isn’t quite so out of nowhere as some of your other work. Where do pieces like “Erotica Written by an Alien Pretending Not to Be Horrified by the Human Body” come from?

THE ALIEN IS ME. Oh man, the alien is me. I find the entire world to be out of nowhere, and horrifying, and creepy as all hell. I mean, everything in that piece is true, you know? We use our mouths for breathing AND eating AND intimacy? Sometimes for more than one of those functions at the same time? We act like it’s normal because we’re used to it, but good Lord, that’s just bad planning. We put bits of ourselves into other people for prolonged periods of time, and that’s what sex is! It’s great, you know, and it’s perfectly normal, but if you stop to think about it for more than a few minutes, it can really throw you for a loop.

» For more from Mallory, check out our full interview here!

Labels: author interview

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

October catalog improvements

The last few days have seen three small improvements to “Your Books.”

1. Dewey Wording I’ve added a column for “Dewey Wording,” bringing the textual descriptions of your Dewey numbers (a.k.a. DDC, MDS) numbers into the catalog, if you want them. To get it, Edit your styles or click the “cog” (i.e., ) on the style control (i.e., Screenshot 2014-10-23 10.27.13) within your catalog.

Screenshot 2014-10-23 10.11.09

All the wordings are clickable, and like clicking a DDC number, they take you into the (awesome, but not often known-about) DDC mode.

Screenshot 2014-10-23 09.13.05

2. Faster LCC/Dewey Sorting. Sorting your catalog in Library of Congress Classification (LCC) or Dewey (DDC) is now faster for large libraries. Here’s a speed breakdown.

3. More sorts. You can now sort by three new fields: Private comments, LCCN and OCLC Number.

See also the Talk post about these changes.

Labels: classification, new feature, new features, Uncategorized