Thursday, March 26th, 2015

LibraryThing’s 4th Annual Edible Books Contest

Spring has finally sprung, which means it’s time for our FOURTH annual Edible Books Contest! Members cooked up a delicious batch of literary confections and concoctions last year, and we’re expecting another strong showing for 2015.

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. Document your masterpiece. At right is the grand-prize winner from last year’s contest, inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You can see other submissions from last year in the EdibleBooks2014 gallery (and here’s 2013 and 2012). 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 “EdibleBooks2015.” Yes, those capital letters are important. 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 just over three weeks. Add your photos by 6pm Eastern on Sunday, April 19th.

The Prizes

From all entries in the EdibleBooks2015 gallery, LibraryThing staff will choose the following winners:

Grand Prize (1)

  • $50 worth of books from Sherman’s Bookstore*
  • Your choice of LT t-shirt OR tote bag
  • An LT library stamp (your choice of classic, mini, or “clean” stamp)
  • A CueCat
  • An LT sticker
  • Two lifetime gift memberships
  • Great honor and prestige

Runners Up (2)

  • Your choice of one LT t-shirt, tote bag, 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, too.

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 indie bookstore, Sherman’s! We’ll make our selections based on the winner’s library/wishlist.

Labels: contest, contests, fun

Friday, March 20th, 2015

New Drag and Drop Catalog Style Editing

We’ve updated how you can arrange the fields in your catalog. What was formerly a collection of drop-down menus has been converted to a drag and drop method. Questions or comments? Tell us all about it on Talk.

Test it out and update your catalog styles here!

Here’s what it looks like now:

Details

You’ll still have up to five customizable display styles, A-E as pictured, with a maximum of 14 fields in each style. Now, instead of having to adjust five or six drop-down menus in order to add a field to the middle of a style, or completely rearrange the order in which the fields appear, all you have to do is drag and drop!

You can drag fields over to a style from the collapsible menu on the right side of the page. This menu categorizes various fields according to type/function: “Physical” contains all the options for dimensions of the book, “Classification” features call numbers, Lexile measures, and so on. You can even drag fields from one display style into another, although doing so will remove that field from the original style.

You can reach your Display Style Settings from either the handy little “Settings” button at the top of Your Books, or by clicking the “Settings” that appears in the upper-right corner, just below the site search bar, when you’re signed in and on the LibraryThing home page, or your profile.

Go see it in action and come tell us what you think on Talk!

Labels: new feature, new features, Uncategorized

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

March Early Reviewers batch is live!

The March 2015 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 131 titles this month, and a grand total of 3,545 copies to give out. It’s a big batch, and a great month for non-fiction, in particular. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk!

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, March 30th 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 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!

MSI Press Henry Holt and Company Crown Publishing
Taylor Trade Publishing CarTech Books Tundra Books
Lion Fiction Beacon Press Apex Publications
Booktrope Ashland Creek Press Wave Books
Open Books Prospect Park Books Five Rivers Publishing
Cool Gus Publishing Information Today, Inc. EsKape Press
Sunrise River Press William Morrow Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Candlewick Press Post Mortem Press Chronicle Books
Bookkus Publishing Ballantine Books Akashic Books
Medallion Press Harper 360 NewCon Press
Blacksmith Books PublicAffairs Bantam Dell
Bellevue Literary Press Human Kinetics Books to Go Now
Plume BookViewCafe Rippple Books
Recorded Books HighBridge Audio McFarland
Avery Random House Gotham Books
JournalStone Symmetry Press LLC Plough Publishing House
Applegate Valley Publishing Telemachus Press, LLC Oculus Print

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Your Call Number System

I’ve added a feature so members and small libraries can record your own primary call-number system–the one that you actually use, if you use one.

callnumber-2

You can then add a new field, “Call number” to your display styles:

callnumber-3

You do this here, at Settings > Other settings.

Why do this? Well, a few reasons.

  1. Your styles can include a “Call number” field, which visitors will find easier to understand.
  2. If you set it to Library of Congress (LCC) or Dewey (DDC/MDS), then you can change the “Call number” column and it will change your LCC or DDC.
  3. If you see it to “Personal or custom system” you can add, edit and show your own private call numbers, without bothering to edit another system.
  4. If you set it to one of the many others (Bliss, Cutter Expansive, etc.) you can add your own numbers, and at some point in the future we may be able to improve on that with additional data from library records. If not data, we can at least code the rules for sorting other classifications.

Here are the options. Feel free to suggest others. Note that nothing has been taken away here. You can continue to use DDC, LCC and now a new private call-number system without obstacles.

callnumber-1

Come talk about this on Talk.

Labels: new feature, new features, Uncategorized

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Two new LibraryThing Stamps

stamps2

When we introduced the LibraryThing Stamp for our sixth birthday in 2011, you gave us lots of great ideas for making them better.

After some deliberation, we are proud to introduce two new stamps to the LibraryThing “line.”

The first is a “clean” or “empty” stamp, with space for members to add their initials, date, member name or whatever else they want to add. The design removes the “LT” in the middle and adds a cute “L” banner. It’s 1×1 inch, with a handle, like our “classic” stamp.

The second is a smaller half-inch “mini” stamp, with the classic “LT” look. It’s good for inside, as well as spines and edges. And it’s so darn cute!

The new stamps are $15 and $10, respectively. Check out all of our stamps and other LibraryThing merch in the Store, and tell us what you think about the new designs on Talk.

Happy Stamping!

Labels: fun, LT swag

Friday, February 20th, 2015

New Feature: Lending (a.k.a. “Circulation”)

circulation-lendingboxWe’ve just released a major new feature: lending tracking, or, as libraries call it, “circulation.”

Why are we doing this?

Regular members have long called for a simple way to track lending. But the strongest calls have come from the many small libraries that use LibraryThing–community centers, classrooms, museums, churches, synagogues, ashrams, health centers, masonic temples, etc. We’ve got a list of some our favorites.

Simple but Strong

Although simple to use, “Lending” was designed to be powerful enough for small libraries. Rather than just a field for a name, it’s a full system, with:

  • Who checked something out and when
  • Due dates and “overdue” status
  • “On hold,” “missing” an custom statuses
  • Summary information by transaction, status and patron
  • Control over what status information visitors see

Here’s a video I made explaining it:

If you don’t want to watch the video, or want more information, here it is in text.

Come talk to us about it here on Talk.

Where can I find it?

Members who haven’t changed their catalog display styles will find the “Lending” column on style “B.” To add it to a style, go to “Settings.” (This used to be just a “cog” graphic next to the styles.)

circ_bar_1and2

You can find Lending summary information as a mode, together with tags, authors, etc.

circ_bar_1

Here’s how it looks in the catalog. Double-click to add or change a book’s lending status. Although there are a lot of fields, everything is optional. If you just want to track in/out, with no names or dates or due-dates, that’s fine:
circulation-catalog

Here’s what lending looks like on book pages–a little “book-pocket” icon () to edit lending status, and, if the book has a status, an area for showing it.
circulation_bookpage

Here’s what it looks to add a status:
circulation-newstatus

Selecting the “Lending” menu within the catalog () shows you summary and transaction information.
circulation-transactions

There are a lot of options here:
circulation-patronscirculation-statuscirculation-dewey

There’s also a “Lending Summary” section for your home page, available under Home > Books:
Homepage

Thanks. Come talk to us about it here on Talk.

PS: This was a joint effort between myself and Ammar, who did great work, with some help from Chris Holland and others.

Labels: libraries, new feature, new features

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Better recommendations: Display

Over the next week or so we’ll be talking a lot about recommendations on LibraryThing and LibraryThing for Libraries. We’ve been doing a lot of work on this part of the site, and will be rolling out a number of improvements.

Today we’re debuting a new system for showing recommendations on works.

Check it out:

  1. Recommendations page for The Fault in Our Stars
  2. Recommendations page for Archaeology and Language
  3. Work page for Code Name Verity

And come talk about it on Talk.

Details. The first change is to the “brief” display on work pages. We have a new way of showing a “shelf,” with both cover and title. We think this is more appealing—to more users—than the previous text-only system.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.51.09

You can expand to “see more,” to get two more rows, then “see all” to get ten or more. The deeper you go the less confident we are that the recommendation is a good one. But our recommendations are often quite good deep.

If it’s not more appealing to you, you can see the recommendations as text, with series “tucked under.”

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.51.48

If you want to keep it that way, click the “edit” pencil. To keep the number of icons down, you’ll only get this if you click to change views. (Not everyone will like this. I do.)

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.54.27

Besides “covers” and “text” you can also choose to vote on recommendations, as before.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.55.46

The new way of seeing recommendations has transformed the “All recommendations” subpage. (Here’s the ugly, list-y thing it looked like before.) To the various recommendation types we’ve added “More by this author,” which sorts the authors books by their algorithmic similarity to the book in quesiton, and “‘Old’ Combined Recommendations” for members seeking to compare the old algorithms with the new.

As before, this page shows all the different elements that make up LibraryThing’s “main” (or “combined”) recommendations.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.58.44

And come talk about it on Talk.

A note on authors and repetition. Algorithmic recommendations are something between a science and an art. There’s a lot of math involved, some of it very complex indeed. But the mathematically “right” answer isn’t much good if it’s boring. So, mathematically, one James Patterson book is statistically most similar to two dozen other James Patterson books before and other author can contribute a book. But who wants to see row after row of that?

Turning math into something stimulating and diverse, yet credible, is complex process. In this case, the same-author problem is addressed not in the initial data, but “at display,” by limiting how many times an author may appear on a given line. You can see this, for example, in the recommendations for The Fault in Our Stars, which restrains John Green from taking over, or Horns, which restrains Joe Hill, but also Steven King, Justin Cronin and others.

Because of differences in screen size, members will now sometimes be presented with slightly different recommendations lists, as books get pushed between rows. We think the drawbacks there are outweighed by the visual benefits of not overloading members wih repetitive recommendations.

Labels: design, new feature, new features, recommendations, Uncategorized

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

February Early Reviewers batch is live!

The February 2015 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 88 books this month, and a grand total of 2,545 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk!

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, February 23rd 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 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 Ballantine Books Candlewick Press
MSI Press Apex Publications Beacon Press
Crown Publishing Gefen Publishing House Quirk Books
Sakura Publishing Henry Holt and Company CarTech Books
Gotham Books Tundra Books Human Kinetics
Greenleaf Book Group Recorded Books HighBridge Audio
Post Mortem Press EnemyOne BookViewCafe
Akashic Books The Dial Press University Press of New England
ForeEdge EsKape Press Fantastic Books
Prospect Park Books JournalStone Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

January Early Reviewers batch is live!

The January 2015 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 86 titles this month, with a grand total of 2,225 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, January 26th 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 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!

Kregel Publications Lion Fiction Bethany House
Random House Taylor Trade Publishing St. Martin’s Press
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Greenleaf Book Group Beacon Press
Queen’s Ferry Press Spiegel & Grau EsKape Press
Candlewick Press MSI Press Apex Publications
Cool Gus Publishing Akashic Books Crown Publishing
Vinspire Publishing, LLC Ballantine Books CarTech Books
Recorded Books HighBridge Audio ForeEdge
Booktrope JournalStone Plume
Harper 360 McFarland BookViewCafe
Gefen Publishing House

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Top Five Books of 2014

It’s become a LibraryThing tradition: as the year draws to a close, LT staff members list of their top five reads (you can see 2013’s list here)—this is our fourth year running!

We also want all members to get in on the fun, so we compiled a list that all of LibraryThing can add to. We’d like to see not just the most read books of 2014, but the best of the best. What were your five favorite reads of 2014? Note: books on this list weren’t necessarily released in 2014. These are just the best we’ve read this year, regardless of publication date.

» List: Top Five Books of 2014 — Add your own.


Without further ado, here’s the wordier breakdown of the staff’s favorites, including some honorable (and dishonorable) mentions:

Abby

The Quick by Lauren Owen

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Abby’s honorable mentions:


Loranne

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
This space opera won lots of awards in the last year, and with good reason. It’s not only good sci-fi, but it poses interesting questions about AI, the self, and identity. Well worth a read.

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
A sci-fi/fantasy mish-mosh that revolves around an interplanetary civil war, this one finally convinced me to start reading comics regularly.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
I first picked this up a couple years ago, but couldn’t get into it until this year. It’s a bit slow to start, and is as obtuse as any Murakami novel, but I really enjoyed it. If the intersection of “melancholy” and “bizarre” sounds appealing, you should check it out.

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
Imagined text conversations between characters and authors of the classics. I still find myself quoting Ortberg’s version of Achilles sometimes.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
It was an interesting look into the mind of a woman whose career I greatly admire, and that made it worthwhile for me. I laughed, I cried.

Loranne’s dishonorable mentions:

  • The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty: This skewed a little more YA than my tastes typically lean, so perhaps I should have known better. But, I picked it up for book club and was just kind of disappointed. It left a bad taste in my mouth.
  • The Dog Stars by Peter Heller: Another selection for book club. If I have to read one more book by a male author in which the curves of an inanimate object are likened to those of a woman’s body (either specific or general), I will light something on fire. Aside from that, it wasn’t a bad book, per se, just very much not my thing.

Kirsten

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


Tim

The books that really stand out, however, read to or with my eight year-old son, Liam. Reading is always a big part of our life, but it was especially so during the two periods when my wife was away at a writing colony. We had a lot of lengthy drives listening to audiobooks, and sometimes even listened to audiobooks during dinner. We’re running out of stuff to read!

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Read it with my son. I had never read it before. It’s a ripping yarn, and it’s main character, Long John Silver, remains a cultural touchstone.

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
Audiobooked with my son. It’s a classic that appears to have slipped off the classics shelf. That’s too bad. Despite having virtually no action, my son adored it.

Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
Audiobooked with my son. I have a soft spot for this imperfect juvenile, and we were on a Robinsonade kick. The “let down” (with strong messages about adolescence) were his first exposure to such an ending—and not well received. Tor.com has a good post about it, “Beware of stobor!”.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Hadn’t read it since I was a teenager. It’s better than I remember.

The Martian by Andy Weir
Hugely enjoyable account of an astronaut stranded on Mars. (I’ve audiobooked it three times.) I interviewed the author for our newsletter.

Tim’s dishonorable mentions:

  • The Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka: Not three but sixteen books about three travelleing friends. They’re fine—many steps up from that execrable Magic Tree House series—and I’m glad my son got what amounts to a tour of history. But I hope to never read another sentence by Jon Scieszka.
  • The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt: Why do I bother reading science fiction?
  • The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham*: See above. Boringly sexist too.
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky: It’s pure gold, and doing it by audiobook left me swimming in Dostoyevsky-prose for weeks. But I left off reading in the middle and have to start again; I can’t read something unless I’m fully “up” on it—unless I feel like I’m holding the whole thing in my mind. Maybe next year…

*Perhaps a better question is “Why do I bother reading John Wyndham?” considering The Midwich Cuckoos made Tim’s “dishonorable mentions” last year…


Kate

The Secret Place by Tana French
Tana French is always worth the wait. This book did not disappoint.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
More Cormoran Strike, please. Vying with French’s Dublin Murder Squad as my favorite series.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I love an unreliable narrator and already regret giving my copy of this book away.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Biggest surprise of the year for me, especially considering how much I was looking forward to Amy Poehler’s debut, which I’m finally brave enough to say I straight-up hated.

The Quick by Lauren Owen
Thanks to Abby Blachly for the recommendation.


Chris H.

The Last Lion, Vol. 1: Winston Churchill, Visions of Glory by William Manchester

Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of K-129 by Norman Polmar

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie


KJ

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
This is both really long and really sad. I loved it, but it’s hard to recommend to people.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
NOT over-hyped. In a sea of post-apocalyptic throwaway books, this literary novel brought art back to humanity, even after the “end of the world.”

The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner
As a Mainer who loves Shakespeare, I was the perfect audience for this take on King Lear. I shoved it on anyone in my tiny fishing town who would stand still long enough.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
Everyone loves lady pirates, blowing up the unethical opium trade, and lavish descriptions of food preparation. Everyone.

The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet by Myrlin A. Hermes
Always here for queering Shakespeare texts.

KJ’s honorable mentions:


Mike

Faithful Place by Tana French

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

While You’re Here, Doc by Bradford B. Brown

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

Organic Chemistry I As a Second Language by David R. Klein


Seth

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

The Walking Dead: Compendium One by Robert Kirkman

The Life of Corgnelius and Stumphrey by Susie Brooks


Chris C.

Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

Doing Data Science by Rachel Schutt

Statistical Inference for Everyone by Brian S. Blais

Machine Learning with R by Brett Lantz

Unity 4.x Game Development by Example by Ryan Henson Creighton


Kristi

No Death, No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh is such a great writer for those who practice the philosophies of Buddhism. His writing is simple, reflective, and he repeats a lot of the same lessons over so you can internalize those lessons much easier.

Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England by Tom Wessels
This one was a re-read; the illustrations are beautiful! You’ll never look at a New England landscape the same again after reading this book.

Edible Perennial Gardening: Growing Successful Polycultures in Small Spaces by Anni Kelsey
I read this book after buying my first home and taking a permaculture course online. This is a great guide for designing your perennial/permaculture garden! I can’t wait to build my garden at home!

The Elements of Style (Illustrated) by William Strunk
I was recommended this book from a colleague when I asked for good books to improve my writing skills! A great book for the foundations of the English language and writing.

The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young
I have continued to read this book over the last year or two, as a way to improve my health and reduce/eliminate my digestive issues. Following the pH diet principles has saved my health!


Ammar

JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

Code Complete by Steve McConnell

Practical Vim: Edit Text at the Speed of Thought by Drew Neil

Rework by Jason Fried

The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt

More?

Tell us about your favorites for 2014 on Talk, or add your own Top Five to our list!

Labels: holiday, lists, reading, recommendations