Archive for the ‘covers’ Category

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

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Cover page changes

I’ve revamped each work’s “covers” page—a.k.a. “change cover”—to emphasize the higher-quality images among out 1,000,000 covers.

1. The images are bigger, so you can see quality, and because covers are so beautiful.
2. The algorithm now sorts larger covers higher, so that members are more likely to pick higher-quality versions of their cover. The existing sort order was reinforcing the use of low-quality images, even when LT had high-quality ones.
3. High-quality images now say “high quality” and list the original dimensions.

Here are some examples: The Odyssey, Pnin, The Kama Sutra, Pudd’nhead Wilson, Origin of Species, Life of Pi, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Labels: book covers, covers, new features

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

A million free covers from LibraryThing

A few days ago, just before hitting thirty million books, we hit one million user-uploaded covers. So, we’ve decided to give them away—to libraries, to bookstores, to everyone.

The basics. The process, patterned after the Amazon.com cover service, is simplicity itself:

  1. Take an ISBN, like 0545010225
  2. Put your Developer Key and the ISBN into a URL, like so:
    http://covers.librarything.com/devkey/KEY
    /medium/isbn/0545010225
  3. Put that in an image tag, like so:
    <img src="http://covers.librarything.com/devkey/KEY/medium/isbn/0545010225">
  4. And your website, library catalog or bookstore has a cover.

Easy details. Each cover comes in three sizes. Just replace “medium” with “small” or “large.”

As with Amazon, if we don’t have a cover for the book, we return a transparent 1×1 pixel GIF image. So you can put the cover-image on OPAC pages without knowing if we have the image. If we have it, it shows; if we don’t, it doesn’t.

The Catch? To get covers, you’ll need a LibraryThing Developer Key—any member can get one. This puts a top limit on the number of covers you can retrieve per day—currently 1,000 covers. In fact, we only count it when a cover is made from the original, o our actual limit will be much higher. We encourage you to cache the files locally.

You also agree to some very limited terms:

  • You do not make LibraryThing cover images available to others in bulk. But you may cache bulk quantities of covers.
  • Use does not involve or promote a LibraryThing competitor.
  • If covers are fetched through an automatic process (eg., not by people hitting a web page), you may not fetch more than one cover per second.

You will note that unlike the new API to our Common Knowledge data, you are not required to link back to LibraryThing. But we would certainly appreciate it.

Caveats. Some caveats:

  • At present only about 913,000 covers are accessible, the others being non-ISBN covers.
  • Accuracy isn’t guaranteed–this is user data–and coverage varies.
  • Some covers are blurrier than we’d like, particularly at the “large” size. This is sometimes about original files and sometimes about our resizing routines. We’re working on the latter.

Why are you doing this? The goal is half promotional and half humanitarian.

First, some background. This service “competes” with Amazons cover service, now part of Amazon Web Services. Amazon’s service is, quite simply, better. They have far more covers, and no limit on the number of requests. By changing the URL you can do amazing things to Amazon covers.

The catch is that Amazon’s Terms of Service require a link-back. If you’re trying to make money from Amazon Affiliates, this is a good thing. But libraries and small bookstores have been understandably wary about linking to Amazon. Recent changes in Amazon’s Terms of Service have deepened this worry.

Meanwhile, there are a number of commercial cover providers. They too are probably, on average, better. But they cost money. Not surprisingly many libraries and bookstores skip covers, or paste them in manually from publisher sites.

That’s too bad. Publishers and authors want libraries and bookstores to show their covers. Under U.S. law showing covers to show off books for sale, rental or commentary falls under Fair Use in most circumstances. (We are not lawyers and make no warrant that your use will be legal.) We’ve felt for years that selling covers was a fading business. Serving the files is cheap and getting cheaper. It was time for someone to step up.*

So we’re stepping up. We’re hoping that by encouraging caching and limiting requests, we can keep our bandwidth charges under control. (If it really spikes, we’ll limit new developer keys for a while; if you submit this to Slashdot, we will be Slashdotted for sure!) And it will be good for LibraryThing—another example of our open approach to data. Although none of our competitors do anything like this—indeed our Facebook competitors don’t even allow export although, of course, they import LibraryThing files!—we think LibraryThing has always grown, in part, because we were the good guys—more “Do occasional good” than “Do no evil.”

If we build it, they will come. If the service really pick up, we’re going to add a way for publishers, bookstores and authors to get in on it. We’d be happy to trade some bandwidth out for what publishers know—high-quality covers, author photos, release dates and so forth. We’ve already worked with some publisher data, but we’d love to do more with it.


*In the past, we had been talking to the Open Libary project about a joint effort. We even sent them all our covers and a key to the identifiers that linked them. But nothing came of it. To some extent that was our fault, and to some extent not. (I think them and us would differ on the blame here.) In any case, I was tired of the time and transactional friction, and wanted to try a different approach.

Labels: apis, book covers, covers, open data

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Help out with default covers!

LibraryThing now shows a special blank cover whenever a book lacks one.

We think we can do it better. We’d love members to be able to pick a different cover, and even different default covers for different books. For example, I’d love to have a default cover for the Loeb Classical Library’s Latin (red) and Greek (green) books.

So, let’s open it up. LibraryThing members have time and again shown they take better pictures than us. So let’s have a contest!

UPDATE: Two people sent in some very slick covers, in a rainbow of colors. I think they’re pretty cool. Check them out below. I also set up a wiki page for the contest.

What do to: Take a photo of your favorite, probably old book. Make sure you take it from directly above and the image is clear.

The image. Quality is key. The image need to be large and clear. You don’t need to Photoshop it yourself—slicing it out of background and removing the title, if there is one—but it has to be doable. Shadows are killer.

The rules. We’ll give out three-to-five free accounts, but we reserve the right to use any image submitted. All images will be credited on the page where you choose them, if you want it.

Sent today!:
Image:book-cover-violet.jpg Image:book-cover-black.jpg Image:book-cover-brown.jpg Image:book-cover-blue.jpg Image:book-cover-green.jpg Image:book-cover-red.jpg

Current page:

Google’s default covers:

Labels: book covers, contest, covers