Archive for July, 2007

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Mugglefest in Portland

Last night my wife and I learned that Mugglefest, Portland, ME’s Harry Potter celebration—complete with a recreation of Diagon Alley and the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad pressed into service as the Hogwarts Express—was completely sold out. It was the end of the world.

This morning I showed up at the door of the organizers with my wife’s fourth novel in hand, LibraryThing’s NYT piece, and a memorized list of every local author, library or bookstore person we know. I hate begging, but my marriage was at stake!

Fortunately, they wouldn’t listen to my spiel, but they were willing to let me work my way into some tickets. So, for four hours today I made (very rickety) windows for the wand and the Turkish delight shop, and drove errands for the Minister of Magic, Kirsten Cappy. Tonight I’ll swing by with donuts. And tomorrow from 7am on I’m on parking duty. My marriage is safe. My 16 month-old will get to be the littlest Weasley.

Meanwhile, tickets are selling for $150 on Ebay and someone on Craigslist is offering $500. It might not be in the spirit of the event, but I smell an excellent arbitrage opporunity…

Labels: harry potter

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

AbeBooks book review contest

Just passing along a link to a Summer Reading contest that is running. Write a book review, win $200 cash!

The contest (and rules – note, it closes August 31, 2007, at 9:59am PST).

(And remember our own Harry Potter bookpile contest!)

Labels: abebooks, contest

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Spamming ourselves: $1,000 for a Sysadmin/DBA

We’ve said it before. But it’s absurdly important. And it’s good for you too.

See the main blog post.

Labels: jobs

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

More Early Reviewers books from Random House

Our second batch of books for LibraryThing Early Reviewers is available. Like last time, Random House has given us some advance copies of books that are soon to be published. We’ll distribute them to LibraryThing members to read and review. Note: The current batch ends July 16 at noon Eastern time—this Monday

This batch of books includes:

Some notes:

  • The number of actual copies have SOARED. Random House gave us 420 copies this time, up from 95 last round. That’s thanks to you all; if they hadn’t liked how this was received, they would not have been so generous!
  • Canadian residents are now eligible to join in the fun.
  • There’s some non-fiction in the mix this time—I know that was a request before, so I hope this goes over well enough to get even more next time.
  • One of the offerings (Not that You Asked) is a sampler—not the full book. We aren’t sure about whether to include them, but we thought we’d give it a try. Notably, asking for and/or getting the sampler will in no way affect whether you get other books.

So, what do you have to do to get a book?

  1. Sign up for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
  2. Check out the list of available books and indicate which one(s) you’re interested in reading and reviewing. You can apply for as many books as you’d like, but you can only apply for each book once.
  3. Wait and see if you’ve won a book!

Read the complete Rules and Conditions. By the way, if you got a book last time, and didn’t review it, while it may hurt your chances a bit, it’s not instant death. We have a LOT of books to give out, and we don’t hold a grudge.

We’ve got an Early Reviewers discussion group going on as well.

Labels: early reviewers

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Harry Potter book pile contest

You probably already know that the seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling will be released at 12:01 a.m. on July 21. (I love that so many bookstores have midnight parties).

Of course, we’re going to celebrate LibraryThing style, with a book pile contest.

So gather all your wizard and wizardry books (head to Diagon Alley for any supplies you’re missing), pile on the creativity, and take a photo.

The rules.
1. Take a photo of your books.
2. Post the photo to Flickr. You’ll need a Flickr account to do this (it’s easy and free).
3. Tag your photo on Flickr with “LibraryThingHarryPotter
4. If your photo doesn’t show up right away on Flickr’s tag page (a problem if you have a new account), then post a link in the comments of this blog post. We’ll make sure to find it.

The prizes
First prize—$50 to use on Amazon or
Second prize—Free lifetime membership on LibraryThing

The deadline
July 31, 2007 (so you’ll have plenty of time to actually read the book too.)

And once your photo is submitted, don’t worry, the fun isn’t over. There’s plenty of Harry Potter games, discussion, and speculation happening in the Groups.

Join the Hogwarts Express group to discuss all things Potter. Or check out the Watching Harry Potter 7 topic to weigh in on the following:

1. How long will it take to break 10000 copies on LT?
2. How long will it take to become number 1?
3. How many copies are going to be listed in LT the day BEFORE the book is released?

Enjoy! (And remember, if you’re sharing your copy, read fast so the second person doesn’t have to wait too long…)

Labels: book pile, contest, harry potter

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Readers United, Swap Club / International tweaks

Everyone give a warm welcome to two new swap sites, Readers United, a UK site, and Swap Club, a New Zealand one.

All told, we now integrate with nine swap sites around the world. (We could had eleven, but one died and we nixed another after we discovered them listing books they didn’t really have available.) The continued appearance of swap sites, is a good sign for book swapping. Clearly the idea is here to stay!

Swap sites that aren’t yet integrated with LibraryThing should check out our directions.The more the merrier.

The swap sites are now also integrated with LibraryThing’s new “geolocation” feature. Basically, LibraryThing looks at your IP and/or domain (eg.,,, etc.), and reorders the swap sites accordingly.

We’re doing the same on the home page as well. Here’s how it looks if you enter the site from a French IP address:

Geolocation is an inexact science. We won’t want to overdo it. (“Wait, are you suuuure you don’t want to be on the French site?”) But we’re open to suggestions.

Labels: swap

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

More books than Harvard

LibraryThing has passed Harvard University, the second-largest library in the United States. LibraryThing members have cataloged some 15,731,298 books, putting us 175,000 above Harvard’s count (as reported by the American Library Association).

There are, of course, many similarities between Harvard and LibraryThing. For example, neither institution was founded by a Harvard graduate. Also Harvard has a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. If members can be believed—and why not?—LibraryThing has one too. But there are also differences. Where Harvard has 53 books by J. K. Rowling; LibraryThing has 117,866!

Anyway, it’s a great excuse for a party—in Cambridge. We propose a big, open cookout for Saturday, July 28, possibly ending with Scorpion Bowls at the Hong Kong. Abby and I will plan and discuss it on the Bostonians Group.

It will be fun to drive down from Portland, ME. We’ve got a lot of Cambridge connections at LibraryThing. I grew up and spent much of my life there (over by Fresh Pond). Abby currently lives in Cambridgeport. And Altay graduated from Harvard. It certainly my favorite place; I’m positively itching to get back to the Harvard Bookstore!

We’d love to hang out with local LibraryThing-ers. Pencil us in?

PS: We also hit 20 million tags. Yipes!
PPS: No, we’re not comparing LibraryThing’s virtual “collection” to Harvard’s real one in any way except size—if you gathered all of LibraryThing members’ books together, and put them on shelves, they’ve fill about the same space (give or take).

We find these numbers a good way to get people to understand that LibraryThing isn’t somy tiny, geeky hobby project (“Catalog your books? Who would want to do that?). Anyway, if you’re tired of the milestone, we don’t have another one until 20 million books, which won’t be until the Fall.

Labels: cambridge, harvard, harvard university, librarything size, party, widener

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

“Also on” and Second Life

We’ve been working on some major improvements to our “also on” feature. In short, “also on” allows you to link your LibraryThing profile to your profile elsewhere, such as Facebook, AOL Instant Messenger, MySpace, LiveJournal, and now Second Life.

If you’ve never seen “also on,” check it out. Go to your profile and click “edit profile.” We’ve got almost 100 sites listed so far. We’re going to be some interesting things with a number of them, but Facebook and Second Life will get most of our attention.

We’ve just added Second Life to “also on.” They don’t have a URL for every member, but we have other plans there!

The Second Life push was inspired by meeting John Lester (SL: Pathfinder Linden) at ALA recently. (Basically, I hailed a guy in a Second Life t-shirt and he turned out to be the operations director of the Boston office of Linden Labs—what luck!) Also, member JPB (SL: Joel CiscoSystems), an amazing Second-Life programmer, has offered to do the “front end” work on Second Life/LibraryThing integration. The “back end” won’t be that hard.

First up will be some sort of program to detect when other LT-ers are near you. When you get near one, LibraryThing and Second Life team up to tell you, and mention a book you share in common.

But that’s just a first step. JPB has head-spinning plans, and we’re happy to help. Come talk about ideas on the Second Life group.

Labels: also on, facebook, second life

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Book pile winner

Sorry for the delay in posting this, I was trying to give the job posting as much time as possible on top. So go read it again. Forward to your friends and get $1,000 worth of books. Come work with us, we’re fun.

Now that that’s out of the way, onto business.

Once upon a time, LibraryThing had a bad couple of days. Bad for everything, it seems, except book piles. We got a *huge* response to our impromptu contest to find a new book pile to grace what we call “the down page”—what becomes the homepage when the site is down, for whatever reason.

The sheer number of entries was astounding. Clearly the lesson to be learned here is that you all have a lot of free time on your hands when you can’t be on LT. Logically, we should bring the site down everytime we do a book pile contest in the future. Right? :)

Without further ado, the winning pile, which will now live on our down page—here’s hoping we rarely see it!

The Paradox of LibraryThing by adamallen

A few other favorites, ranging from philosophy to dispair…

The poignant Wish You Were Here by Lilithcat
Oh so subtle
From Blue Screen to Death Notes…
Fix-it by Staffordcastle (let’s just hope that home plumbing never comes into it).
A Series of Unfortunate Events
And if there was ever doubt that a picture is worth a thousand words…

You can see the rest of the incredible photos here:, and a colorful selection of them in this blog post.

Make sure to check out past winners in the book pile archive. We’ll announce the next contest soon..

Labels: book pile