Archive for the ‘authors’ Category

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

London Book Fair

A few weeks ago I flew across the pond to speak at the London Book Fair. The panel* I was on focused on books and marketing in an online world. I talked about how traditional marketing is seen as just spam when it comes onto social networking sites (the “hi, want to be my friend? buy my book!” posts endear no one), and how authors need to genuinely participate and become part of the community online.

On LibraryThing, there are a number of ways for authors and publishers to become involved. I talked about Early Reviewers, of course, but also Author Chats, LibraryThing Local (add upcoming readings!), and our (upcoming) author interviews.

I spent the rest of the fair walking around to publisher booths, inviting them to join Early Reviewers. We have a majority of the big publishers in the US participating, but only a handful in the rest of the world. Part of this trip was to attempt to remedy that, one country at a time (if LibraryThing wants to fund an Abby world tour, that’s fine by me)! I talked to many UK publishers, and hopefully we’ll see some books available to more countries on the Early Reviewers lists soon!

And, of course, London was great fun. I’d only ever been to England on layovers before (meaning, I’d been to Heathrow, but not beyond the airport walls!). In the evenings I played tourist and walked all over the city. I only went inside a few places, but the highlight was definitely the underground The Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms.

*See Lance Fensterman’s (my fellow panelist and director of BookExpo America) post about the panel here, and the moderator, Chad Post’s here.

Labels: author chat, authors, early reviewers, London Book Fair, publishers

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Authors: Free barcode scanner or tshirt for all!

I love authors. I love them so much I married one! LibraryThing has a whole host of special features to encourage authors to join, and make the most of the site.

So it comes as a surprise to hear LibraryThing called anti-author. (What we are, is against pay-for-review schemes, and authors who think LibraryThing is for posting advertisements and not engaging with anyone.)

So, we’re going to prove it. Until May 1, authors willing to join up, become LibraryThing authors and add some books, get a free CueCat barcode scanner, shipped for free. If you’d rather get a t-shirt, we’ll send one of those instead.

The rules:

  • This applies to new members, or members with less than fifty books added today.
  • Your LibraryThing author page has to show at least 10 members with one of your books.
  • You have to add fifty books to qualify for the scanner.
  • Or: If you have 100 members with one of your books or have had a book on LibraryThing Early Reviewers, we’ll send you the scanner before you catalog fifty books.

How to do it:

  1. Sign up for an account.
  2. Send an email to Abby at info@librarything.com to become listed as an official LibraryThing author.
  3. When you meet the rules, send Abby your address and we’ll send you the CueCat and/or t-shirt.

More for authors on LibraryThing. There are a number of other ways authors can use LibraryThing:

  • If you’re interested in providing copies of your new books for LibraryThing members to review, check out Member Giveaways or have your publisher participate in Early Reviewers.
  • If you’d like to give your fans a chance to chat with you, sign up for an Author Chat.
  • If you have upcoming readings or events, you can add them to LibraryThing Local.

UPDATE: Let us catalog your library! If you are a really “big” author, a LibraryThing Flash Mob Cataloging mob will come to your house and catalog all your books for you! We won’t tell anyone where you live, bother the cat or steal the silverware. You get a high-quality catalog entered by librarians and book nerds. We get the fun of cataloging an interesting library. (Yes, we think this stuff is fun.)

We tried to get this offer to Jon Updike, after doing his church, but he died soon after. (Jeremy and the Legacy Library crew REALLY hopes his library is not broken up and unrecorded, like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr’s!) We’ve also offered to do Neil Gaiman’s, so far without success. I now extend our invitation to Steven King, a fellow Mainer, and indeed close neighbor to Katya, librarian and flash-mob cataloging’s “original cataloging” maven. Anyone got King’s email? (Rhetorical question.)

Labels: author chat, authors, cuecat, cuecats, early reviewers, LTER

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Male or Female?

I’ve added a new meme page for “Male of Female?” (see yours or mine).

The page is similar to Dead or Alive?. It’s based on our Common Knowledge, an editable, fielded wiki for author and work information. So if someone shows up under “Uncertain” you can edit in the right gender.

This feature is, of course, frosting. The cake was released Saturday: Introducing Distinct Authors. Check that out.

Labels: authors, new feature, new features

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Common Knowledge: Names, Relationships and Events

Chris and I have introduced four new Common Knowledge fields, for authors and works.

Author Names. LibraryThing’s author system is personally libertarian and globally democratic. You can change your own author names to your heart’s delight. On the global level author names are combined and separated by members, with the most common name ending up on top.

That system has two main problems. First, Library has no good method for separatin out homonymous authors. (It’s a big problem; it’s on our list.) And most-common logic has its limitations, particularly in picking the best name for an author and in laying out what the many variants mean.

To improve things we’ve added a number of optional name fields. “Canonical name” was already there, as a foolproof way to set the “most common” form. To this we’ve added “Legal name” and “Other names.”

“Legal Name” is provided for users who want to record the most accurate, most fiddly form of a name, eg., “George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron.” It can hold multiple names, to capture given names, and so forth.* “Other names” is for pen names, aliases, stage names, etc.

Two examples should illustrate the differences nicely:

Canonical Name: Twain, Mark
Legal Name: Clemens, Samuel Langhorne
Other Names: Snodgrass, Quintus Curtius
Canonical Name: Rice, Anne
Legal Name: Rice, Howard Allan Frances O’Brien
O’Brien, Howard Allen (given)
Other Names: Rampling, Anne
Roquelaure, A. N.

Relationships. We’ve also added a “Relationships” field, intended to capture when an author’s spouse, son or other relative is also an author (eg., Martin Amis). So far at least, it’s only intended to capture author-to-author relations, creating author-page links. LibraryThing can’t be a all-out genealogy site!*

The result can be rather fun. Starting from Isabel Fonseca, author of Attachment you can now go to well-known British novelist Martin Amis, to his well-known father Kingsley Amis, to his second wife, the British novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, to her first huband Peter Scott, a popular naturalist whose father was Robert Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic) and godfather Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie, great grandfather of Kevin Bacon (not true).

Events. We’ve also added an “Important Events” field to works. “Important Events” now follows “Persons” and “Important Places.” It was designed for events like the Great Fire of London, World War II or the 2000 Election.

As with Important Places, it is useful to agree on terms. CK’s autocomplete function helps there. When in doubt, however, I’d go with the Wikipedia form for both fields.


*Porn names not allowed.
**I’m not so sure about “friend” relationships, although that’s currently allowed. I found it difficult enough to reach an end from Isabel Fonseca. With friends, I don’t think I could have ever stopped.

Labels: authors, common knowledge, new features

Friday, May 9th, 2008

BookSense Events!

We just added over six-hundred and fifty events to LibraryThing Local, LibraryThing’s portal for local bookstores, libraries and events.

The events come direct from our friends at BookSense, the nationwide organization of over 1,200 independent bookstores. They made their complete events calendar available to us, and we were only to happy to add all the events we didn’t already know about.

BookSense is the best; if you have a favorite local bookstore, chances are they’re a BookSense store.* BookSense also gets the best authors. Upcoming events include David Sedaris at Vroman’s in Pasadena and Salman Rushdie at Vroman’s and at Caucer’s in Santa Barbara. Of course, as happens with distributed data collection, not every BookSense store has their events in the feed. And some events had already been added by members. Be the total gain is some 660 upcoming events—a big leap. We’ll be updating from th BookSense feed periodically from now on, which should take some of the data-entry load off of dedicated LibraryThing members.

So, thanks to the people at BookSense for working with us on this, and happy event-attending to the rest of us.

PS: There’s a short article about this in the ABA’s Bookselling this Week by David Grogan.


*My favorites—Books, Etc., Longfellow Books and the Harvard Coop—are all BookSense stores. My wife spent much of her 20s working at another, Bookline Booksmith, together with her best friend, who went on to work at Booksense. So, I’ve wanted LibraryThing to do something BookSense since we started.

Labels: authors, booksense, librarything local, new feature, new features

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Introducing LibraryThing Local

Today we* unveil a major new section of the site, LibraryThing Local.

What is it? LibraryThing Local is a gateway to thousands of local bookstores, libraries and book festivals—and to all the author readings, signings, discussions and other events they host. It is our attempt to accomplish what hasn’t happened yet—the effective linking of the online and offline book worlds. Books still don’t fully “work” online; this is a step toward mending them.

LibraryThing Local is a handy reference, but it’s also interactive. You can show off your favorite bookstores and libraries (eg., mine include the Harvard Bookstore, Shakespeare and Company and the Boston Athenaeum) and keep track of interesting events. Then you can find out who else loves the places you do, and who else is going to events. You can also find local members, write comments about the places you love and more.

LibraryThing members rock. LibraryThing Local just opened, but for the past week we’ve let a few members in to check it out and add venues.** They went crazy!

Together, about two-dozen members added over 2,600 venues. The coverage is spotty, covering the members personal interests. So, Paris is a literary desert, but Chicago and Antwerp are a mess of little green and blue dots, and even frosty Juneau (pictured right) is done.*** LibraryThing Local would be boring without content, so everone owes a debt of gratitude to members like SilentInAWay (400), alibrarian (351), christiguc (302), Talbin (242), SqueakyChu (240), boekerij (217) and others for kicking things off so well.

This kind of passion give us hope that LibraryThing Local will swiftly become the web’s best, most complete source for finding bookstores and library—and for the events they throw. Unfortunately, we only got events working yesterday, so there are only 200 so far. Something to work on?

Authors! Publishers! Libraries! Bookstores! Right now, everyone can add events. But they won’t necessarily get to you, so go ahead and add your venues and events. We are experimenting with the concept of “claiming” a venue, so that a bookstore of library can assert control over its basic factual information. (You don’t control the comment wall, of course.) For now, you need to email us. Go to a venue for more details.

Beta, Forevah. LibraryThing Local is not “done.” It’s missing key features, like RSS. And it has a few bugs. For good or ill, that’s how we work around here.

The main planned improvements are:

  • RSS Feeds
  • Fine-grained privacy settings
  • Author and work integration
  • Enhanced features for bookstores and libraries that take part
  • More stats, like the most interesting events

I’ve started two discussion threads:

Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what members think of it. We’ll do our best to make it as good as we can.

Use BookTour! (We do not.) LibraryThing Local was something I’ve wanted to do since visiting Ireland a year ago and not knowing where the bookstores were. But I didn’t get serious about the idea until approached by BookTour.

BookTour is a startup founded by Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail and the upcoming Free. Chris’ idea was to make a central site to collect information about authors on tour.

LibraryThing agreed to be BookTour’s first partnership. But along the way we ran into difficulties. We wanted strong venue information, so members could show off their favorite bookstores and libraries. BookTour is focused on the events more than venues, which include many duplicates. Eventually it became clear to me we were after different things, so we parted ways.

Although LibraryThing Local is now doing some of the same things, I hope blog readers will check out BookTour. I expect them to be adopted by other book-related sites and, at present, their data is more copious than ours. Certainly, no author should tour without first adding all their events there, and they have a very handy Excel-based upload option that will appeal to publicists with large numbers of events.


* Chris (conceptDawg), whose favorite bookstores include Bienvielle Books, built much of LibraryThing Local. Send praise his way!
**We released LibrayThing Local to a private but non-exclusive beta group two weeks ago. Later, after deciding not to use others site’s data (see above), we let members add their own venues, and later events.
***Best of all the Alaskan-adder, alibrarian, has no connection to Alaska whatsoever. He just got tired adding every library in New York City.

Labels: authors, book world, bookstores, librarything local, new feature, new features, publicists, publishers

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Which of your authors are on LibraryThing?

I’d added a feature to show you which of your authors—the authors of the books in your library—are also LibraryThing members. We call them LibraryThing Authors.

The impetus was an unfortunate event. Two LibraryThing Authors went hog-wild “friending” members. Some members were annoyed, and I stepped into create an upper limit of requests and comments per day (it’s 70). But it did raise the fact that there was no adequate way for LibraryThing authors to connect with their readers.

LibraryThing Authors? If you don’t know, LibraryThing Authors are authors who are members of LibraryThing and have put some or all of their personal books onto the site.

Wouldn’t it be great to see what your favorite authors were reading? Well, that’s the idea, and, so far, it’s been quite a draw. We have 667 authors so far. We hope this makes it even more attractive for all concerned.

Labels: authors, LT author, new feature, new features

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

National Book Festival

Anyone in or around DC this weekend should head to the National Mall for the National Book Festival.* The festival will be held, rain or shine, on the National Mall between 7th and 14th Streets from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, September 29.

Seventy authors will be on the Washington Mall, giving readings, signing books, meeting with festival goers. We’ve highlighted each of these authors here on LibraryThing, with a special NBF button (see, for example, Jodi Picoult). You can see the entire list of authors here, on The National Book Festival’s authors page.

They just added interviews with some of the authors; podcasts can be found under National Book Festival Podcasts. I’ve also gone through and added links to each of these on the respective author pages. Enjoy!

LT Group
There’s even a group on LibraryThing dedicated to the event (National Book Festival group). Join in to talk about the authors, RSVP for the meet-up, and more.

Meet-up
LT members have organized a meet-up (thanks SqueakyChu!): The National Museum of Natural History, base of the front stairs, far right hand side when facing the building. 2pm. Be there or be square. (Details in this talk post).

*The festival is sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by Laura Bush.

Labels: authors, National Book Festival, NBF

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Favorite authors, public contacts, other tweaks

Favorite authors. You can now “favorite” an author, and peek at other member’s favorites. You favorite on author pages, and the results show up on your profile. This has been available for a couple of weeks, but I never announced it. I’ve also brought the feature to more of the site, including your author gallery, author cloud and the Author Zeitgeist (pictured to the right).

I think it adds a fun new dimension to the site, and one we should have had from the beginning. It’s a good example of “unlearning the lessons of Amazon.” Amazon is a great site, but it conditions everyone’s thinking about what a book site should be and do. Marking books makes a lot of sense on a commercial site, but marking authors could distract people from the products. LibraryThing is about distraction, not commerce.

Jane Austen and J. R. R. Tolkien are currently in a no-holds-barred fight for first place. Not a pretty sight.

Public contacts. LibraryThing’s original “watch list” was private. Members—with me at the head—found “friends” lists a little creepy, and too susceptible to—as BlueSalamander put it—”drama.” (Worth quoting: “The drama [on LiveJournal] by “friends lists” borders on the ludicrous.”)

But public lists have their uses. Sometimes you want people to know who your friends are, or whose libraries you find most interesting. And many people just don’t feel the way I do. After a protracted—and not necessarily final—public discussion of terms, I’ve settled on “Contacts” (public) and “Watch list” (private). I think it’s pretty clear in context.

So far, only a few people have public contacts. By default, all watch list entries stayed private. You can flip them to private on your profile.

I’ve tried to keep the drama low. “Contacts” is purposefully vague, and there is no automatic way to see who has added you on your “contacts” list. I wanted to make it possible to give someone’s library a nod, without igniting a full-scale popularity contest. And you can be damn sure I’m not going to start automatically adding me or other LT people to everyone’s “contacts” list when they sign up. (I’ve been thinking that my wife, Lisa Carey, might be added to everyone’s favorite author list, however.)

Other features. I’ve finalized a couple of other small features and feature tweaks:

  • Author and book Zeitgeists are now updating more frequently. It’s all section-by-section, but everything should turn over roughly once per day.
  • The Author Zeitgeist now has a “show more” link for all the categories. Go nuts.
  • Talk topics have been partially de-Javascripted, for people who like to use tab browsing. Basically, if you click on the topic itself, it works. If you rely on clicking anywhere in the row, it’s still using Javascript and tabbed-browsing unfriendly.
  • Recently-tagged books now refresh more frequently. A security problem was also solved.
  • Users with your books takes up less space on the screen. A full list—in twice the list—is available if you click “more.”

Labels: authors, contacts, features, new feature, new features, watch list