Archive for December, 2006

Monday, December 18th, 2006

PC Magazine bests

An early Christmas present for us—we made PC Magazine’s five best services of 2006. They say:

“Heavens! Another tag-happy social-networking site that’s actually worth using!”

Well, I’m not going to argue with that!

We’re pretty honored, particularly since one of the other winners was Skype. Not such bad company to find ourselves in.

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Monday, December 18th, 2006

Happy Hanukkah


We don’t have a picture, so we grabbed this one from Flickr (mamamusings/Liz Lawley***)

Happy Hanukkah from LibraryThing!*

Help! LibraryThing doesn’t have a Hanukkah picture! We’ve got 6 days left. Pile up your Hannukah books? Go with silver and blue? Add a dreidel? Latkes? It’s up to you.

Post it to Flickr** with the tag “LibraryThingHanukkah,” and we’ll feature our favorite on the blog (and on the home page if we can get our act together). We’ll give you a free gift subscription, for you or someone else.

Deadline: Since Flickr can take a while to post pictures the official deadline is 3pm Thursday, Dec. 21.

*Linkfest! Tags: Hanukkah, latkes, menorah (one book!?), Wikipedia: Hanukkah, Judas Maccabeus on the Web (Isidiore-of-Seville.com), and Judah Maccabee the Huggable Hanukkah Hero.
**If you really need to email it to tim[at]librarything.com. But Flickr is bett(e)r.
***In a TRULY freakish coincidence, Ms. Lawley is the RIT prof./Microsoft consultant working on a behind-the-firewall “enterprise” Del.icio.us/LibraryThing-ish thing (see her blog post on the topic, and see Stowe Boyd too, with some comments by me from when I thought she was “just” a Microsoft developer). I didn’t realize where I’d heard the name until I after I posted this, but I guess it makes sense. Social-software people use Flickr a lot, get rated highly. It seems like a big world, but really it’s small!

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Thursday, December 14th, 2006

The gift of LibraryThing

LibraryThing memberships make great gifts!

Lifetime memberships ($25)
Yearly memberships ($10)

Or what about CueCats as stocking stuffers? Nothing says holiday joy like a barcode scanner shaped like a cat, I say. Functional and decorative!

And don’t forget our store at CafePress, ThingStore. Everything at ThingStore is offered at the CafePress base price—we’re not marking it up, and not making any money on it—so buy it simply for the joy of wearing it.

I’ve been using LT as a “what not to buy” tool lately (no, I’m not just Unsuggesting). It’s good for seeing what books my niece already owns, so I don’t end up buying duplicates (plus, it’s slightly more discreet than driving to her house and bookshelf snooping). In short, proof that you should give memberships to your friends and family—it benefits you both!

Update: I’ve been informed that PopMatters included LibraryThing as part of their 2006 Holiday Gift Guide (“shopping for the best pop culture stuff”)!

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Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Porter Square Books!


Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA has become the second bookstore to integrate with LibraryThing.

As with the first bookstore, Shaman Drum of Ann Arbor, MI, we’re doing this to please local members, not to make a buck. There were no string attached, and LibraryThing does not make any money from it.

If they’re your local bookstore, just edit your profile to note that and you’ll get availability and pricing information on all work pages. If they’re not your bookstore, go ahead and find out if your bookstore can integrate. To work with Porter Square Books, we set up a simple upload form, instead of requiring an XML feed. If they’re right, there are about 30 bookstores around the country that generate similar feeds for Booksense. I’ll post about that in more detail later over on Thingology.

I grew up in Cambridge and spent most of my life there. But I moved to Maine three years ago, and I haven’t set foot in Porter Square Books, and I haven’t met the people who work there. I hear it’s great, and Dale, the director, was a pleasure to work with. Are any other Thingamabrarians Cantabrigians* or Somerville-ers**? Anyone go there?

*Hey! That’s what we’re called.
**Note that Cambridge has a nifty Latin form. Somerville does not.

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Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Eight million books

Last last night LibraryThing hit eight million (now: 8,034,234). Some facts:

  • The eight millionth book was H20: A Biography of Water by Philip Ball (2000), added by Kingfish.
  • If LibraryThing were a library, it would be the 14th larget library in the United States (ALA factsheet). At the current rate, we should be in in fifth place (10,370,78 books) by March or April, and second place sometime in the summer. But at 30 million books, topping the Library of Congress will take a few years.
  • If laid end-to-end, LibraryThing’s books would stretch 1,075 miles, from Boston to Milwaukee taking the route suggested by Google Maps. I’m not sure about the straight-line distance.
  • LibraryThing has between eight and fifty times as many books as the World’s Biggest Bookstore, in Toronto, Ontario. (The web won’t say, so I called. The person I got paused a long time—was ths a crank call?—and then replied “I keep hearing different numbers. It’s like a million or a hundred and fifty thousand or something.”)
  • LibraryThing hold 58,580 books by J. K. Rowling. If these were piled on top of one another, assuming three-inch high books, the stack would be eight times taller than the tallest skyscrapper in the world.
  • LibraryThing has 80 times as many books as you have hairs on your head.
  • If the books in LibraryThing were your intestine, and they were laid end-to-end, they would go all the way around the world one and a half times. Blech.

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Monday, December 11th, 2006

The New York Times Magazine!

Somehow we managed a small mention in today’s New York Times Magazine’s article on new ideas (the 6th annual year in ideas, nonetheless). The piece, on “Homophily“, talks about how this love of the same has played into social software. It concludes:

“To counter the seemingly universal trend toward homophily, Torkington invited his readers to figure out how to create “serendipity.” One information-technology specialist described a feature he would add to Facebook called “the Stretch,” which would help students “find a group of people a little different” from themselves. Someone else brought up the online book cataloger LibraryThing’s UnSuggester, which identifies the book least likely to share a library with the book you mention.”

Fame! (David Pogue, do you read the magazine? Do you want me to send you a copy?)

The best part – usually, Tim and I come across LibraryThing mentions from advance warning, vanity searches online, or emails from readers quick on the uptake. This one was great because we both found it on our own, and independently!*

*I make do with the online version during the week, but reading the Sunday New York Times in print is luxury. Even if it takes the whole day to read – picking up and putting it down to run errands, answer emails, make dinner, sew Christmas stockings (I’m a holiday/domestic genius today) – and if that means I don’t make it to the Magazine until 10:30pm, it’s worth it. Particularly worth it when I happen across LibraryThing on the bottom of page 52. As Tim said, “I was just reading along, and thinking ‘this would be a good place to mention Libr—OH MY GOD!’”

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Thursday, December 7th, 2006

AbeBooks.com scores, LibraryThing assists

Congratulations to AbeBooks.com, named one of the fifty top ecommerce sites by Internet Retailer magazine. Their category included iTunes, Netflix and SimplyAudioBooks.

As many of you know, I sold AbeBooks a 40% stake in LibraryThing back in May—I retain the rest—and LibraryThing and Abe have been working together since. Apparently Abe was picked for its focus on uncluttered findability and… for the investment in LibraryThing!

From the article:

“LibraryThing is a fantastic tool for avid book readers and collectors and may be even more sophisticated than the community features of “the Big Kahuna” of online bookselling, Amazon.com, says Sucharita Mulpuru, senior retail analyst at Forrester Research Inc. ‘The tags seem more relevant,’ she adds, ‘and the lists seem more germane to book lovers than the random lists that often show up on other user-generated content sites.’”

Apologies for recent (relative) silence. Chris, Abby and I met for the first time in months, and we emerged reinvigorated, well-fed, and with some clear short-term objectives: author enhancement, wish lists (dammit), search bugs and a blog-o-licious surprise.

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Monday, December 4th, 2006

Slashdotted

Wondering why the site is crushingly slow? The UnSuggester was written up in Slashdot this morning, and the traffic is unbelievable.

So – go get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate (it snowed here in Boston last night, so that’s what I’m doing) and surf something else for a bit, read some of those books, or even ponder doing some work – and give us a chance to catch up!

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Monday, December 4th, 2006

Back from Victoria

Yesterday I completed a three-day odyssey to Victoria for the Abebooks.com Christmas Party. Although Abe owns 40% of LibraryThing, they were 100% hospitable. I could tell what a fun company it was, even before the liquor started flowing.

I also enjoyed the company of Anirvan, Charlie and Giovanni* of BookFinder, and even managed to listen in on a conversation with Google. (As someone remarked before the call, it was “like calling God.”)

I didn’t have much time to work on the site (but minor tweaks to widgets, catalog), except on planes, where I lacked wifi, but managed to rack up a few blog posts like this one, pushing for a fun library catalog. Thanks to Abby and Chris sending out CueCats and fixing bugs while I was gone.

*Later they played “guess who?” with BookFinder baby pictures. As a new dad—which makes me highly sensitive to baby pictures—I have to say: Giovanni was one cute baby! (Second to Liam, of course.)

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