Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Welcome Kirsten

We’re delighted to welcome Kirsten Griffith to the LibraryThing team! Kirsten will be working with Abby, Kate, and KJ in providing technical and customer support for our LibraryThing for Libraries products. She’ll be working from the LibraryThing HQ in Portland.*

Kirsten is a longtime LibraryThing member (member GlitterFem), and an avid reader and book collector. She was born in Massachusetts and lived in Virginia and Puerto Rico before landing in Maine, where she has spent most of her adult life. She lived in San Francisco from 2007–2010 and did her best to clean out the Bay Area’s many independent booksellers, requiring an upgrade from a 10′ box truck to 16′ when she moved from California to Maine.

Kirsten lives with her 16-year-old brother who is a computer and video game aficionado, and their two very spoiled cats. She studies belly dance and ballet, rides a metallic purple beach cruiser, and enjoys trying to make complicated dishes in her tiny, ill-equipped kitchen.

Her favorite authors include Roald Dahl, Brandon Mull, Mercedes Lackey, and Sarah Waters.

You can follow Kirsten on Twitter at @Glitter_Fem.


*For the longest time we were a completely virtual company. We now have enough employees in town to justify the occasional pizza or—today—donuts from The Holy Donut. Progress!

Labels: employees, LTFL

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

LibraryThing’s 3rd Annual Edible Books Contest!

April has finally arrived, and with it, LibraryThing’s THIRD annual Edible Books Contest! Members served up a tasty batch of literary delights last year, and we’re expecting another strong showing in ’14.

The Rules

1. Create an “edible book.” We’re defining this broadly, so entries can include dishes:

  • referencing a book’s title or characters (puns are entirely welcome)
  • inspired by a book’s plot
  • in the shape of an actual book (or eBook, or scroll, etc.)
  • takeoffs on the LibraryThing logo

2. Take photos of what you made. The photo on the right is the grand-prize winner from last year’s contest, inspired by David Wong’s books. You can see other submissions from last year in the EdibleBooks2013 gallery. If your creation is super realistic, take a photo cross section of your creation as you eat it!

3. Upload the photo to your LT member gallery. Sign in, then go here and click the “Add another picture” link to add the image.

4. When adding the image, be sure to tag it “EdibleBooks2014“. This will add your image to the contest gallery, and counts as your entry. If your photo doesn’t have that tag, we won’t know that you’ve entered. You can see current entries here.

5. Tell us about your literary inspiration—and how you made it—in the “Title/description” box

DEADLINE: The contest will run for three weeks. Add your photos by 6pm Eastern on Tuesday, April 29th.

The Prizes

From all entries in the EdibleBooks2014 gallery, LibraryThing staff will choose the following winners:

Grand Prize (1)

  • $50 worth of books from Sherman’s Bookstore*
  • An LT t-shirt (size/color of your choice)
  • An LT library stamp
  • A CueCat
  • An LT sticker
  • Three lifetime gift memberships
  • Great honor and prestige

Runners Up (2)

  • Your choice of one LT t-shirt, stamp, or CueCat
  • Two lifetime gift memberships

As always, we will pick a few Honorable Mentions from the batch of entries. The more entries we receive, the more Honorable Mentions we can make—and all of them will get lifetime gift memberships.

Have fun, and good luck!

Fine Print: You can enter as many times as you like, but you can only win one prize. Your dish must be made of edible ingredients (no hats, lost-wax sculptures, performance art), and by entering the contest you certify that it is your own creation. Entries submitted to previous LibraryThing Edible Books contests will not be considered. All decisions as to winners and book prize slections will be made by LibraryThing staff, and our decisions are final. LibraryThing staff and family can enter, but can only be honored as prize-less runners-up. Any images you load stay yours, or you can release them under a copyleft license, but we get a standard “non-exclusive, perpetual” right to use them.

Questions? Comments? Post them over on Talk.


*Surprise books will be chosen by LibraryThing staff from Portland, ME’s newest indie bookstore, Sherman’s! We’ll make our selections based on the winner’s library.

Labels: contest, contests, fun

Monday, April 7th, 2014

April Early Reviewers batch is live!

The April 2014 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 102 titles, and a grand total of 2,710 copies to give out. We’ve got a lot of non-fiction this month, plus the final installment in William Shakespeare’s Star Wars!

First, make sure to 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 list of available books is here:
http://www.librarything.com/er/list

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, April 28th 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, and many others. 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!

Akashic Books Riverhead Books Putnam Books
Bethany House Gefen Publishing House Chosen Books
Henry Holt and Company Lion Fiction Palgrave Macmillan
February Books Fog Ink Prospect Park Books
Prufrock Press Plume Bridgeross Communications
Random House The Permanent Press Minotaur Books
Gotham Books Medallion Press Crown Publishing
Sacred City Productions Viva Editions Dragonwell Publishing
Taylor Trade Publishing William Morrow Human Kinetics
Brine Books Publishing Elephant Rock Books Information Today, Inc.
Recorded Books Ballantine Books Thomas Dunne Books
St. Martin’s Press Createspace Del Rey
Zest Books BookViewCafe Bluffer’s Guides
Algonquin Books Galaxy Press Story Spring Publishing, LLC
Quirk Books CarTech Books Santa Fe Writers Project
Turner Publishing Eyelevel Books Meadowbrook Press
Leafwood Publishers Vinspire Publishing, LLC

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Join the April ReadaThing!

Mark your calendars, and get spring started the right way: Coming up soon is a week-long ReadaThing. All are welcome, and you don’t have to read for the full week: the goal is to have a few people from around the world reading at any given time during the ReadaThing.

This edition of ReadaThing will be kicking off at 12am (Midnight) UTC on Sunday, April 6th (that’s 8pm Eastern, Saturday April 5th), and will end at the same time on April 12am UTC the following Sunday, April 13th (8pm Eastern, Saturday, April 12th). You can see the full timeline here. April’s ReadaThing also happens to coincide with the US’s National Drop Everything and Read Day, which is celebrated every April 12th, in honor of author (and creator of Ramona Quimby) Beverly Cleary‘s birthday.

Sign up

Head directly to the April 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 April ReadaThing is underway, keep an eye out for the “April 2014 ReadaThing: Log Book” thread, where you can document your ReadaThing experiences. Take a peek at the Log Book from June 2013, for an example.

If you’ve never done ReadaThing before, you’re in good company—this is my first one. Give it a try, and stay tuned to the ReadaThing group for updates. Thanks to LT member jjmcgaffey for organizing this ReadaThing!

Labels: readathon

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Author Interview: Ian Doescher

Some excerpts from our interview with author Ian Doescher, which appeared in March’s State of the Thing.

Ian Doescher is currently the Creative Director at Pivot Group LLC in Portland, OR. He has B.A. in Music, a Master of Divinity, and a Ph.D. in Ethics. His first book was the New York Times best seller, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, released in July 2013, and its sequel, The Empire Striketh Back is out this month from Quirk Books.

We’ve got 15 copies of Ian’s latest, The Empire Striketh Back available this month through Early Reviewers! Click here to request one!

Ian was kind enough to chat with me about the Bard, the Empire, and what we can expect to see from him next!

While it’s generally safe to assume that everybody and their kid brother knows the gist of the original Star Wars trilogy at this point, some of our readers may not be so familiar. What is the original trilogy about, in your mind?

Overall, I would say it’s the tale of how a group of rebels overthrew a mighty, power-hungry Empire. Within that, it’s the story of a man who has a transformation from innocence to pain to evil to redemption (Darth Vader), and other young people who are learning what destiny has in store for them (Luke, Leia, Han). Along the way we get to meet some interesting and hilarious characters. There’s my elevator pitch for the series!

You said in an earlier interview at Giant Freakin Robot that you’ve seen Star Wars 40–50 times at this point. How many times did you watch Episode V while writing this book?

It wasn’t so much a matter of watching it over and over as it was a matter of watching little bits at a time. I would watch a little snippet of the movie—a few seconds—to remind myself of the dialogue, then look at the script online if needed. After that, I would translate the lines into iambic pentameter, see if I could add any references or give a character an aside or soliloquy, and then move on. So I watched the movie once, very, very slowly.

After the success of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope, was it easier or harder to write The Empire Striketh Back? What was the hardest part of writing it?

It definitely was easier to write The Empire Striketh Back, if only because at this point iambic pentameter is much easier to write since I’ve had so much practice. I now have this strange (and useless) ability to recognize iambic pentameter when I hear it in normal everyday conversation, in a movie, and so on. The hardest part about writing Empire was that I had roughly half the time to write it than I did for Verily, A New Hope.

As you were writing the book, did you envision what it would be like for your work to be performed on the stage?

Yes, much more with Empire than with Verily, A New Hope. With the first book, I wasn’t really imagining it as something that would ever be performed or something people would want to perform. But after hearing from theater groups around the world who want to perform the first book, staging was very much on my mind the second time around. Consequently, I think I made better use of what you would actually find in an Elizabethan stage — a balcony, the overall breadth of the stage, etc.

You hinted in the afterword that Han and Leia’s dynamic turned toward being similar to that of Benedick and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. Did you model Darth Vader off of any particular Shakespearean character(s)? You did a great job of giving him more depth than we see on the screen in the original movie.

I don’t know that Darth Vader is necessarily modeled after a particular character, but he’s definitely a sweeping tragic figure along the lines of King Lear or Othello—someone who is driven by external forces to push away those he loves, only to find out at the end of his life how wrong he was. I think the six-movie Star Wars story could easily be called The Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker.

In this book, we finally meet Yoda, and you had a very interesting way of dealing with his idiosyncratic speech patterns (Yoda speaks strictly in haiku). How did you come up with this idea, and was it harder to write Yoda’s lines than any of the other characters?

After the first book, many people said to me, “They all sound like Yoda now!” I knew I had my work cut out for the second book in terms of what to do with Yoda. None of my three original ideas—using modern speech, using his lines verbatim, or using even more antiquated speech (something like Chaucer)—really moved me. I was jogging one morning—always a good time to think—when the idea of haiku came to mind, and instantly felt right. Luckily, Quirk Books and Lucasfilm agreed! I don’t know that it was harder to write Yoda’s lines, just a different way of checking my work (5-7-5 syllable pattern instead of iambic pentameter).

Read our full interview here.

Labels: author interview

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Interview with Keith Goddard at Books Matter

LT members who’ve been around for a year or so may remember our partnership with Books Matter, an organization dedicated to providing books to needy schools in Ghana. I caught up with Keith Goddard—founder of Books Matter—this week, who was kind enough to update me on their latest projects!

Interested in donating to Books Matter? Drop me a line at loranne@librarything.com to donate books, or visit their website for monetary donations.

Can you tell us a bit about how Books Matter got started?

Basically, three things happened. First, my wife was sending some items to Ghana (that’s where she’s from) and she suggested we send some books and other things that my kids no longer used. The second thing is that she had always told me that many school in Ghana have no books. That really shocked and amazed me. The third thing is that I am a teacher in the Toronto public school system and I noticed that a lot of books are lying around in schools and not being used. So, I gathered up about 800 books and that was the start.

What is the process involved in getting a shipment of books sent? How many books can you send to Ghana at once?

We don’t have a lot of room at our house, which is where we store the books. Once we get to about 2,000 books our sunroom becomes unusable, so we are encourged to clear them out. Then we have to scan them, pack them, and raise enough money to send them. There’s no limit on how many we can send at a time, but due to the storage issue, we think around 2,000 is a good number.

In its first year, Books Matter sent 6,000 books to Ghana. That’s great! Did you anticipate that you’d have this much success?

I didn’t really know what to expect. Sometimes I think 6,000 is great and other days I feel that it’s nothing. I wish we could help meore people, but that being said, I know that the people we have helped are appreciative.

How many schools/libraries have received books from Books Matter now, and where are they? (Click map to enlarge)

So far, five institutions have received books from us: Bright Future School, in Keta; a library in Keta; a college in Ho; an elementary/junior high near Ho; and, an orphanage near Kumasi.

You recently ran an Indiegogo campaign, and set out to get another 2,000 books sent. Have those reached their destination(s)? Will you be running another Indiegogo campaign any time soon?

We ran an Indiegogo campaign just before the New Year, and with that money we shipped 1,700 books to five schools, two of which have separate buildings for the junior high and elementary schools, but on the same land. So, those books were cataloged into separate libraries. So, it’s five schools, but seven libraries. I hope that makes sense. Those books should arrive in late April. Since then we’ve received more books and would like to send about 1,500 in April. We’ve packed about 1,000 and scanned about 700. We scan the books we send to most of our recipients, but not all. Probably over 80%.

What are some of your and/or the students’ favorite books that Books Matter has sent?

We’ve sent some great books so far, but I hope we can get more book donations, from publishers, once we are an official charity. One thing that is difficult to do, but that I want to do, is get more feedback from the students about the books and their reading
habits, and how those habits are (hopefully) changing. I’d probably have to check some of the catalogs on LT to remember what we’ve sent! Good thing I cataloged them. We’ve sent a lot of great science and non-fiction picture books, fact books, and there are very few books like that in most Ghana schools. I think those will have a big impact on a lot of younger kids, even if they are reluctant readers, because the topics are so diverse and often relevant. We also sent a first edition And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street… lots of Dr. Seuss. It would be wonderful if any LT members thought there were certain must-have books for youngsters, that they wanted to donate, and maybe write a litte note in the front; they would just have to ship it to us in Toronto.(1)

What’s your personal library like? What sorts of books can be found on your shelves?

My personal library is really nothing to talk about… a fair number of biographies/memoirs about people in developing countries overcoming extreme adversity. Lots of non-fiction.

What have you read and enjoyed lately?

I like having about five books on the go at once, partly because I have trouble sticking with things sometimes! Also, because I enjoy such a wide variety and that’s the big reason I think kids should have a lot of books at their disposal to check out and become interested by. Having an e-reader is great, but that’s different than browsing through shelves of books, and touching them and flipping through them. That’s how kids catch the reading spark. That, and being read to. I just finished 12 Years a Slave and am now reading a modern day slavery account, called Slave by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis. I’m also reading a book on how to use YouTube for marketing.

What’s next for Books Matter? Do you have the next milestone, upcoming projects/shipments, etc. in mind?

We’ve always got shipments in mind. We’d like to hear from some of the schools where we’ve donated and make subsequent donations based on their likes and needs. I would love to go back to Ghana sometime in the future and oberve the kids, talk to them about reading, read with them, and talk to the teachers about reading/teaching strategies. It would be great to give more support than just putting the books in front of people. That’s not always enough, especially if they haven’t already developed the reading bug. That’s why sending the picture books and easy readers for the very young children is so important.

I’d like to thank Keith for taking the time to chat with me! Books Matter is doing excellent work, and it’s a joy to work with them!

—interview by Loranne Nasir


1. As mentioned above, if you have books you’d like to send to Books Matter, be sure to send Loranne an email (loranne@librarything.com).

Labels: books for ghana, gifts, member projects

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Welcome Jon

Back in January, we announced that the search was on for a new programmer—one who’d be devoted entirely to LibraryThing.com, and there’s been much excitement. Today, I’m pleased to say that the search has ended!

Everyone, meet Jon Kiparsky (long-time LT member kiparsky), our new developer! Say hi on his profile, or on the “Welcome Jon” talk topic.

Jon was born in Boston and has never lived more than a hundred miles from an ocean. He has a degree in Linguistics from Reed College, and his career has been varied, with past positions including tech writer, music label bigwig, radio personality, and sound tech.

Jon spends his non-programming time playing music (largely Irish session tunes), brewing beer and mead, and studying math, and he’s working very hard on controlling his nearly Tourette-like tendency to spout atrocious puns with little provocation or warning. He also translates fiction from German, Spanish, and Portuguese into English—having learned Portuguese in order to read Jose Saramago stories that hadn’t been released in his native tongue.

Favorite authors include: Iain M. Banks, Douglas Hofstadter, Raymond Smullyan, Steven Brust, and Theodore Sturgeon (but no guarantees that asking again will produce the same list)

Jon’s job at LibraryThing is a big one. He’ll be working with Tim on LibraryThing.com, developing features, fixing bugs and improving performance. We expect great things from him. But it’s going to take him a few weeks to ease into how we do things, so don’t expect everything to get better immediately!

So, who gets $1,000 in books?

Many of you may remember that we offered a bounty of $1,000 worth of books to whoever managed to connect us with our new developer. That lucky individual is Jon’s girlfriend, Nadia, an archivist who saw Tim mention the job on Twitter! Many thanks to you, Nadia, and enjoy your books!

Labels: employees

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

March Early Reviewers batch is live!

The March 2014 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 109 titles this month, and a grand total of 2,996 copies to give out.

First, make sure to 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 list of available books is here:
http://www.librarything.com/er/list

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, March 31st 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 others! 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!

Kregel Publications Tundra Books Bethany House
Taylor Trade Publishing Akashic Books Chronicle Books
Henry Holt and Company Quirk Books Riverhead Books
Putnam Books Kaylie Jones Books Gefen Publishing House
William Morrow JournalStone John Ott
CarTech Books Random House Five Rivers Publishing
De Angelo Moody Development Group, LLC Greyhart Press Conscious World Press
Whimsical Books ZonaBooks Palgrave Macmillan
ArbeitenZeit Media Apex Publications ENVISION BUSINESS & Computer School Publishing
Human Kinetics Crux Publishing Recorded Books
Algonquin Books BookViewCafe Santa Fe Writers Project
McFarland Lion Fiction Thomas Dunne Books
Crown Publishing Viva Editions Bellevue Literary Press
Chin Music Press Berlinica Small Beer Press
Ballantine Books Phaeton Publishing

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Staff Favorites: Literary Love Stories

In honor of this most love-ly of holidays, I asked the rest of the staff to help me with a roundup of our favorite love stories in literature.

» Go add your favorites to our list here!

And whatever you’re doing for Valentine’s Day, take some advice from Powell’s and Treat Your Shelf(1) to something nice.

Our Favorites

Benedick & Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing
KJ says: It’s the Ur-Romantic Comedy for a reason. Two grumps who detest the concept of Romance are manipulated into showing their feelings by their conspiring friends over a weekend wedding.

Bendrix & Sarah from The End of the Affair
Kate says: Is it in bad taste to pinpoint an affair as a prime example of love? Sorry not sorry.

Jamie & Claire from The Outlander Series
Abby says: It’s the story of an English woman in the 1940s who travels through time to 1740s Scotland—the books are historical fiction mixed with time travel, and of course, a great love story.

Daphnis & Chloe, the eponymous duo from the novel by Longus
Tim says: Sweet and unexpected. If you haven’t read an ancient novel, this is the one to start with.

Everyone from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Matt says: Well, they all end up together at one point or another, really.

Marco & Celia from The Night Circus
Loranne says: A bit of a fairy tale, but very much an affair of the mind between the two characters. The addition of magic (no joke) makes the settings spectacular, too.

Jim & Doyle from At Swim, Two Boys
KJ says: The story of a romance between two boys living in Ireland in 1916, against the background of increasing political strife and the Easter Rebellion. The book is written in a stream-of-consciouness style, and interweaves a beautiful romance with grand tragedy.

Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
Abby says: You just can’t make this kind of list and leave off Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.

Florentino & Fermina from Love in the Time of Cholera
Loranne says: This one is right up there with Elizabeth and Darcy for me. The story spans decades, and every time I read it, I feel like I’ve spent that much time with them. In a good way.

Eleanor & Park from Eleanor and Park
Kate says: Duh.

Florizel & Perdita from The Winter’s Tale
Matt says: Such a funny and lovely exchange:
P: O, these I lack,
To make you garlands of, and my sweet friend,
To strew him o’er and o’er!
F: What, like a corpse?
P: No, like a bank for love to lie and play on;
Not like a corpse; or if, not to be buried,
But quick and in mine arms.

Polyphemus & Galatea from Metamorphoses
Tim says: Funny and poignant, and, since it’s Ovid, cleverer than you think.

Gen & Irene from The Queen’s Thief Series
KJ says: The romance in this series triumphs over a lot of politics and personal history which would have otherwise meant they shouldn’t be together. Also, the two of them banter sarcastically for most of the series with moments of simple companionship amid the political chaos around them.

Cecilia & Robbie from Atonement
Abby says: Oh, I weep.

Venus & Adonis from all over the place (but especially this one)
Matt says: In its many variations, particularly Shakespeare’s, and some lesser known Italian poets.

Laurie & Jo from Little Women
Kate says: THAT’S RIGHT. I SAID IT.



Honorable Mentions

Including, but not limited to, Holden Caulfield’s infatuation with himself.


1. For the uninitiated: Treat Yo’ Self from Parks & Recreation

Labels: holiday, lists, love, reading, recommendations

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

LibraryThing adds SSL

https

LibraryThing has added SSL encryption to all pages that ask for private data.

That means the data you submit for signing in—signing up, changing your password, changing your email, etc.—is securely encrypted between you and LibraryThing. Depending on your browser, this will show up as a “lock” symbol, or just a change in the LibraryThing URL from http:// to https://.

Is LibraryThing going all-SSL?

We have decided on this as a first step, with the intention of going to all-SSL, or all-SSL for signed-in members only, as soon as practicable.

Going all-SSL is going to require considerable work, sifting through all the non-http URLs to avoid “mixed content” messages. Although these vary in their obtrusiveness browser-by-browser, going all-SSL without extensive testing is likely to lead to a lot more in confusion that it solves in potential problems.

As a result of this change, if you previously chose to browse LibraryThing using SSL, ignoring the warnings, you will no longer be able to do so. Rather, if you’re on one of the selected, user-data pages, it now forces you to use https. If you’re not on one of these pages, it forces you to use http.

At present, the solution covers LibraryThing.com and all its subdomains, like dk.LibraryThing.com (Danish), br.LibraryThing.com (Brazilian Portuguese). It is not installed on separate domains, like LibraryThing.de (Germany) and LibraryThing.nl (Holland). We will be weighing our options there, as SSL certificates are expensive.

Come discuss this on Talk, if you like.

Labels: new features, security, servers