Archive for September, 2015

Monday, September 14th, 2015

LibraryThing’s 10th Anniversary

Happy birthday to us! LibraryThing hits the big 1-0 today, with 10 years—and 99 MILLION books—of cataloging under our belts. As you can see, we’re all having our cake (and eating it, too) to celebrate.

Thanks to each and every one of you, and here’s to the next 10 years!

Come share in the warm fuzzies over on Talk.

For more about our Ten-Year Celebration, check out our new feature to enhance music and movie cataloging, and watch for our iPhone app, coming out shortly.

Labels: 10th anniversary, birthday

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Music and movie cataloging (but we’re still a book site)

Short version: LibraryThing is and will remain a book site. But we never stopped people from cataloging other media, like movies and music. We’re now making it much easier to do. Check it out and add your non-book library at https://www.librarything.com/addbooks.

Medium version: LibraryThing is a book site, and will remain so. But many members, especially our small libraries, have always cataloged other media, such as movies and music. We allowed it, but didn’t support it well at all. In particular, we disabled non-book searching on Amazon, allowing it only on our library sources.

A few months ago we introduced a robust concept of media format. We’ve now opened up cataloging other media on the Amazon sources, which are far easier and better for the purpose.

Check it out at https://www.librarything.com/addbooks

trash_moviesmusic

Long version:

Why Are We Doing This? Adding other media has been planned for years. The main driver has been small libraries—churches, community centers, small museums, etc.—a major constituent of LibraryThing’s success. Although small libraries mostly collect books, they don’t limit themselves to books any more than public and academic libraries do. Our failings in the area really hurt us.

This change means that LibraryThing is now a “complete” cataloging system. This lets us reach small libraries as we never could before—something we plan to do even more strongly when TinyCat debuts.

We are also conscious that many “regular” members wanted to catalog their non-book libraries. I want to, anyway, and I know I’m not alone.

Worried? We are conscious of some members’ worries, for example that LibraryThing is “turning into” a movie site. These are valid concerns. Here’s how we responded and will respond:

Screenshot 2015-09-14 14.16.30
Movies have been on LibraryThing for a long time.
  • LibraryThing is a site for book lovers and readers. This isn’t going to change.
  • Books get me and the rest of the team up in the morning. That isn’t going to change.
  • LibraryThing has had movies and music since the beginning—hundreds of thousands are already cataloged. Directors and composers have had author pages since the beginning. The recommendations system has recommended movies and music since the beginning. If movies “pollute” LibraryThing, it’s been polluted for a long time.
  • Now, however, we know what’s a book, a movie, and so forth. Knowing means we can adapt the site’s features to deal with that. As a start, by popular request, we’ve changed our site search to “facet” by format. Other accomodations, like a way to refuse all non-book recommendations, can certainly be considered.
  • We don’t expect a crushing influx of non-book media or members. But if LibraryThing appeals to new people who want to catalog all their media, that isn’t a bad thing.

New Features. The following features have been added, or changed, in order of importance.

  • Add Books sources now include music, movies and combined sources for all the Amazon national sites (e.g., “Amazon.com books, music and movies”).
  • To build awareness, we’ve added one “Amazon books, music and movies” source to all members’ sources. If you don’t want it, the new Add Books sources system makes it easy to delete. There are also sources for just movies and just music.
  • Amazon-added movies and music have covers, based on the ASIN, not the ISBN. This change also gives LibraryThing ebook covers.
  • We’ve added media-based faceting in site search.
  • You can search both Amazon and Overcat by UPC.

Cataloging Non-Books Media. Movies and music aren’t books, but libraries catalog them with some of the same basic structure and concepts. Movies and music have titles, publication dates, subjects, Dewey classifications, etc. “Authors” is more complex. Library records generally mix directors, actors, producers and screenwriters into one set of contributors, with their roles not always marked. Amazon records are better here, clearly delineating the various roles. But they don’t have the name-control libraries have.

We’ve solved this as follows:

  • When possible, movies get director as their main author. This is always possible with Amazon records, but not with library records.
  • We’ve improved how we handle author names from Amazon, leveraging Amazon data against what we know from tens of millions of library records. So, for example, we’re handing “The Beatles” as “The Beatles” not “Beatles, The.” This change improves Amazon cataloging generally.
  • Where listed, actors, producers, musicians and so forth get secondary author status and roles. This means that actors have LibraryThing author pages. (But they had them before, as noted above. If this proves a problem, we can mark them somehow as a site-wide feature.)
  • We’ve improved media format detection of MARC records within Overcat, especially for odd MARC formats, like DANMARC (a specialized MARC format used in—you guessed it—Denmark).

Let Us Know. Let us know what you think on Talk.

Labels: cataloging, new feature, new features

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Edit and reorder sources in Add Books

Good news: We’ve improved the sources system within Add Books a lot.

Bad news: We had to transition to an entirely new sources system. Most members kept their sources, but some members and some sources couldn’t go into the new system easily. If you lost sources, you may need to choose them again. Fortunately, the new system’s a lot better at that.

You can find the new options on Add Books:
searchwhere

Everything now happens in a light box. The “Your Sources” tab allows you to reorder and delete sources.
yoursources

You can browse and choose sources, divided into “Featured” and “All Sources” on the other two tabs.
featured

As you’ll notice, a fair number of our sources are currently down. We’re working to get as many up again as possible, and add new ones. If you’d like to help and know something about Z39.50 connections, you’ll find we give our current connection details when you click the yellow warning marker.

You’ll also see other, very significant new stuff. But that’s a matter for another blog post!

Three cheers to our developer Ammar for the add-books changes!

Labels: cataloging, new features

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Cover Improvements!

As we’ve hinted, we’ve made some big changes to covers on LibraryThing recently. There are more covers to choose from than ever, and we’re excited to show you what’s new!

1. All of the Covers from Amazon

No, really, all of them. LibraryThing now shows all Amazon covers for your books and other media—this includes covers for books with ASINs (and no ISBNs). So many of your ebooks, CDs and DVDs now have Amazon covers available to use.

You can also see stats on your cover usage—where your covers come from, and how many of them you’re using from various sources. To see where your covers are coming from, check out the Book Covers section of Stats/Memes.

2. Change your cover, keep your ISBN

Changing the cover for one of your books to a different Amazon cover no longer forces you to change the ISBN of your book. You’ll still have the option to switch ISBNs if you like, but it’s no longer required. When switching to a new Amazon cover that’s associated with a different ISBN, you’ll see the dialog box pictured at right, with a check box to indicate whether you’d like to change your ISBN, too.

3. Cover Flagging

Members have long been able to flag cover images that are not valid covers for a given work, by voting “yes” or “no” on an individual cover. Now those flags really matter—covers with enough flags can’t be chosen as the main cover for a work. Like this picture of some seals on a beach, which is definitely not a cover.*

To try it out, select a cover image, click the “Information” magnifying glass, and then click the “Flag this cover” link in the detail box that pops up.

UPDATE: I FORGOT TO ADD!

4. Real fake covers
Screenshot 2015-09-10 16.57.20Lastly, works without covers are now showing the title on the fake cover. See example, example, example. Or see the image to the right.

The trick is, the words aren’t superimposed on the covers. We’re actually making images that include the words on the covers. This is a neat trick, allowing us to produce “fake” covers at any size we want, wherever we want–on any page, inside or outside of LibraryThing.

So far this technology is only on work pages. It’ll be spreading elsewhere soon.

Questions? Comments?

Any questions or trouble with new covers? Come join the discussion on Talk.


* Covers will be flagged down if:
  • Vote “yes” totals at least 4.
  • Vote “yes” totals at least 3x vote “no”.

Labels: covers, new features

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

September Early Reviewers batch is live

The September 2015 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 87 titles this month, and a grand total of 2,285 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, September 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, 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!

MSI Press Henry Holt and Company Kregel Publications
Tundra Books Medallion Press Apex Publications
Taylor Trade Publishing Prufrock Press Crown Publishing
John Ott Books to Go Now Open Lens
Akashic Books Beacon Press EsKape Press
Small Beer Press Human Kinetics William Morrow
Grey Sun Press Cool Gus Publishing Leap Books
Kamel Press HighBridge Audio Tantor Media
Bethany House Chronicle Books Recorded Books
CarTech Books Quirk Books BookViewCafe
Wisconsin Historical Society Press Ballantine Books JournalStone
Yugen Press Opyton Publishing Bantam Dell

Labels: early reviewers, LTER