Archive for the ‘early reviewers’ Category

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Free books! November Early Reviewers

LibraryThing Early Reviewers
The November batch of Early Reviewers books is now up. It’s a nice varied list this time. 13 different publishers provided 24 different books, adding up to 600 copies in total.

See all the books and request the ones you’d like to review here:

Open to UK residents The big news this round is that we’ve got a publisher from the UK participating, so one book is available only to residents of the UK! We’re still working on opening this up to more countries, so if you don’t live in the US, Canada, or the UK, don’t give up hope yet!

The deadline to request books this round is Monday, November 12th at noon EST. Check out the rules and Frequently Asked Questions, or talk about the program in the Early Reviewers group.

A big thanks to the following publishers for participating:

LibraryThing Early ReviewersTim also made up a bunch of new graphics for Early Reviewers—feel free to take them, love them, use them on your blog, proudly proclaim that you’re an Early Reviewer. You can find them here:

We also made the news last week—the Early Reviewer program was mentioned in November’s issue of Publishing Trends (“We Won! Publishers Learn That Everyone Loves (to Talk About) a Free Book“), which was also picked up by GalleyCat. Hopefully this will bring more publishers (and thus more free books) our way.

Labels: early reviewers

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Early Reviewer books on NPR

Two LibraryThing Early Reviewer books have been mentioned recently on NPR, so we figured that deserved some notice here.

The story ‘Identical Strangers’ Explore Nature Vs. Nurture is about Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein’s* Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited.

And Disease, Politics Permeate ‘The Air We Breathe’ is on Andrea Barrett’s The Air We Breathe.

We’re still/perpetually looking for more publishers to join our Early Reviewer program—more information here:

And for aspiring readers/reviewers, we’ll announce the November batch of available books soon!

Oh, and Tim wants me to remind everyone about the latest book pile contest (below): Twenty-million books and/or Halloween…

*Paula Bernstein is, incidently, also an official LibraryThing Author.

Labels: early reviewers, LT author, NPR

Monday, October 1st, 2007

Free books: October Early Reviewer books

I’m thrilled to announce our October batch of books for LibraryThing Early Reviewers. This is by far our largest batch yet—12 publishing houses, 31 different titles, for a grand total of 578 copies to give out!

Thanks to the following 12 publishers, who contributed fiction, non-fiction, poetry and even children’s books:

See all the books and request the ones you’d like to review here:

And here’s a mash of all the covers:

The deadline to request one of these books is Wednesday, October 10th at noon EST.

What is Early Reviewers? How do I sign up? Where do I post my review? These questions and more are answered here, in the Early Reviewers FAQ.

There’s been some talk lately on how to score a book—so for the record, the basic algorithm is randomness, but other factors come into play. For one thing, LibraryThing’s matching algorithm will try to match up books with readers, based on the rest of your LibraryThing catalog. And if you complete a review—good or bad!—you’re more likely to get another. Finally, getting a free advanced readers copy comes with NO obligation. Under no circumstances will a bad review change your chance of getting another. More on this in the Rules and Conditions.

Labels: early reviewers, LTER, publishers

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Early Reviewers now free to publishers

The short version: We’ve made LibraryThing Early Reviewers—our program to hook publishers up with LibraryThing members willing to review upcoming books—entirely free for publishers. The response has been huge. We’ll have seven publishers and twenty-four titles this October!

The long version: We planned on charging publishers to participate in the program. Publishers were eager to do it even so. Certainly its closest analogue, the Amazon Vine program is charging. (Our sources say “an arm and a leg.”). Also, it takes work on our side.

Then we decided: What the heck? Pricing discussions took time and limited the reach somewhat. And we figured out how to automate the process better. When in doubt, we err on the side of openness. More publishers means more books, more books means more happy members, more reviews, and more fun.

We’re looking forward to announcing the October batch. So far, we have 7 publishers signed up, with a total of 24 different titles and 420 copies in total. It’s a mix of fiction, and non-fiction, with reference and even poetry books on offer. That’s a lot of books, and we think it can get even better.

I like to think of Early Reviewers as playing matchmaker between publishers and readers. The idea is a simple one—give free pre-publication books to people in exchange for reviews. But it’s surprisingly hard to find the *right* people to review the books. That’s where LibraryThing and the whole matchmaker scheme comes in. We match members to the books based on the other books in the library, so the books end up in the right hands.

For members: I’ve added a section to WikiThing with an FAQ on Early Reviewers for members—what it is, how to sign up for a book, where to post your review, and more.

For publishers: Introduction to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for publishers

We’re going to do monthly batches of Early Reviewers, so I’m always working on gathering more publishers and books. If you know of any interested publishing houses, send them my way!

Labels: early reviewers, publishers

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Early Reviewer books shipping; Second Life announcement

The September batch of Early Reviewer books is now closed, and books are about to start arriving on the doorsteps of 75 lucky winners.

Once again, we were oversubscribed this batch—1,550 people requested those 75 copies, giving us a good test for the algorithm matching books to people! Thanks to Unbridled Books and Nimble Books for the books, and we’re all looking forward to reading those reviews! To everyone who didn’t get a book this time around, don’t give up hope! We have a LOT of books coming in the October batch.

We also have a big announcement about LTER coming early next week, so stay tuned…

Second Life. A quick note about Second Life—LibraryThing members gather there every Saturday at noon (Second Life Time). This week there’s an animal themed Bookstacks quiz. Want more info? Check out LibraryThing’s Second Life group.

Labels: early reviewers, second life

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

September batch of books for Early Reviewers

The September batch of books for LibraryThing Early Reviewers has arrived! This month, we’ve got titles from two publishers: Unbridled Books and Nimble Books.

What is this? LibraryThing is teaming with publishers to provide advance copies of books to you, in exchange for reviews. The publishers are supplying the books, you get to read and review them, and we play matchmaker!

How it works:

  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!

Deadline: The deadline to request a book is Saturday, September 15th (at noon EST).

This month’s books:

Check out the Early Reviewers group to learn more about the program and discuss the books.

Read the complete Rules and Conditions.

Even more books from more publishers coming in October, so stay tuned!

Labels: early reviewers

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Amazon Vine and Early Reviewers

Amazon has just announced Amazon Vine. Basically, it’s our LibraryThing Early Reviewers idea—a way to get publishers’ pre-release books to interested and vocal reviewers. As they put it:

“Vine helps our vendors generate awareness for new and pre-release products by connecting them with the voice of the Amazon community: our reviewers. Vine members, called Voices, may request free copies of items enrolled in the program and have the ability to share their opinions before these products become generally available.”

Apparently Amazon had experimented with sending-out ARCs before. But we suspect they were not unaware of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program, which made Publishers Weekly, Pub Lunch and top publishing blogs. It makes a lot of sense for them to be doing.

So far the program is email invite only. They’re apparently basing invitations on being among their top reviewers. By contrast, Early Reviewers program is based around similar libraries, although we favor “vocal” members too. Ultimately, we think LibraryThing is in a better position to give books to the best readers, but there’s no denying Amazon’s scale and, if they put their mind to it, they’ve done remarkable things with recommendations algorithms before.

Lastly, Amazon is to be congratulated for stating unequivocally that will not be editing negative reviews:

“As with all Amazon reviews, we want your honest opinion of the product. Amazon will not edit or modify any reviews beyond small tweaks to fit within existing guidelines…”

This is in line with how Amazon has always worked. As James Marcus writes in Amazonia, their decision to show bad reviews was a gutsy decision at the time—a reminder of the “bad old days” of marketing! I hope they follow this up with what we promise: that negative reviews will not impact whether you continue to get Amazon Vine books.

Labels: amazon, ARCs, AREs, early reviewers

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

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

LibraryThing/Random House Early Reviewers

This is a done-up re-announcement of Early Reviewers. We blogged it last week, but tentatively. Since then we’ve refined it a bit, particularly on “our end” (ie., the stuff you don’t see). I also want to explain what’s nifty about it—for members and particularly for publishers.

The idea is simple. Basically, LibraryThing and Random House will be giving out free pre-publication books in exchange for reviews.

The first batch includes:

What’s cool here? Many publishers distribute “Advance Readers Editions” (AREs) to booksellers, journalists and—increasingly—bloggers. A few have formalized programs, like HarperCollinsFirst Look program–register and from time to time you’ll get a book. LibraryThing builds on these, but it takes it a whole new step.

AREs are a tricky business. It’s hard to get them into the hands of the right people, and harder to make those hands open them. Most are simple wasted. And they’re not cheap. Although usually pretty flimsy, they’re made in small batches, so they generally cost more to produce than the final hardcover.

LibraryThing Early Reviews solves this problem. Books aren’t distributed randomly, but to the right people. The algorithm we’re using has a bunch of factors, including plain luck. The core, however, is what LibraryThing knows that nobody else knows—the books in people’s libraries.

If you saw this list clearly, we’d have to kill you.

To kick things off, Random House gave us a list of “similar books” for each title. We then washed these through a new recommendations algorithm, “sorting” the LibraryThing library according to their statistical proximity to these titles. We ended up with a 200 “similars” for each book. All things being equal, the more of these you have—and the higher on the list—the better your chances of getting a book.*

It turns out, this is a pretty powerful thing to do. Some reviewers pop right out—the ones reading lots of similar books. They’re not guaranteed to like the book—nothing ever could—but they’re the right people to review it. At the other end, it found members with hundreds or thousands of books, none of which are in the 1,000 similar titles. I’m not actually worried about bad reviews—bad reviews are fun!—but nobody is happy when books go to the wrong people. For starters, unlike professional reviewers, “regular” people don’t usually finish and review books they aren’t enjoying.

We thought hard about “exposing” the similarity information to users. But we decided against it. The lists are uncanily good, but they’re ultimately subjective. I don’t want to argue that X is more like Y than Z. And I don’t want users to despair that they’re never going to get books. If this thing works, they will. We’ll get more books. Every book its reader, as they say.

I did, however, calculate every members “affinity” to the books on offer, and send invitations to the most eligible .5% who aren’t already signed up for Early Reviewers.

Anyway, we think we’ve added a new twist to ARC distribution. We think this going to become something really big—big and “not evil” (in the Google pre-Chinese censorship sense).

Early Reviews does some other new things:

  • We promise not the let the *content* of a review affect your chances of getting subsequent books. I suspect this isn’t always true when publishers send bloggers books–why keep sending someone books when they keep trashing them? LibraryThing is different here. First, we hope to match books and reviewers better in the first place. Second, our reviewers are our members, and LibraryThing stands or falls based on them, not on anyone else. If we started blacklisting members, we’d fall apart.**
  • We’re starting with two batches of books from Random House. Starting in October, the program will be open to other publishers.

Anyway, check it out here: .

*By the way, we only consider books added before Early Reviewers was announced. So, you can’t spam this.
**Indeed, my greatest fear is that pure randomness makes a few people feel blacklisted, and they raise hell about it. Anyway, you have our word on this. Anyway, I’ve always felt that the best reviews were negative ones. It is, after all, much harder to be creative in “I love yous” than in “your mothers” and other put-downs.

Update: As explained before we have to stick with US members for now. But I’ve opened up registration to everyone. When we get a batch that can be distributed more widely, we’ll let you know.

Second update: My friend, author Kevin Shay linked to a great blog post of his, The ARC of the Covenant.

Third update: Jessica Mulley shot me this link to an article she wrote about collecting galleys, proofs and advance copies. Actually, I’d already seen it; it ranks high in Google, but a read-through convinced me of it’s value. I’m glad, however, that I’m not a book collector per se. It would get exhausting.

Labels: early reviewers

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

New Feature Tip-Toe: “Early Reviewers”

We’re introducing something new, called LibraryThing Early Reviewers. It’s coming out officially on Tuesday, but assiduous blog readers get to start early.

The text at the top of the page sums it up:

“Random House has given us some advance copies of books soon to be published. We’re sharing these with you to read and review. You get free books, and share your opinions with a wide audience. LibraryThing makes everyone happy and keeps everything free and fair.”

So far, like much of what we do around here, this is something of a test. Kudos to Random House for being up to that.

Random has signed up for two batches of book. The first batch includes:

Eventually, Early Reviewers will be open to other publishers.

Members should understand what this is, and what it isn’t. We’re going to talk about LibraryThing Early Reviewers, but won’t be pushing Random House’s or anyone else’s books at you. Similarly, getting a free advanced readers copy comes with NO obligation. Under no circumstances will a bad review change your chance of getting another.

If more people want the books than we have copies, we’ll have to ration them. The basic algorithm is randomness, but other factors come into play. We’re going to try to spread the wealth around. And if you complete a review—good or bad!—you’re more likely to get another. Finally, LibraryThing’s matching algorithm will try to match up books with readers, based on the rest of your LibraryThing catalog. For publishers, that’s the interesting part; we’re anxious to see how it turns out.

I’ve set up a Early Reviewers group, to talk about Early Reviewers and Early Reviewer books. Let us know what you think!

Labels: early reviewers, features, new feature, new features, random house