Archive for the ‘local books’ Category

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Little Free Libraries, BookCrossing Zones and more in LibraryThing Local

Short Version:

LibraryThing members have banded together to add all known “Little Libraries,” including Little Free Libraries®, BookCrossing Zones™, the Dutch project “Minibieb” and others to LibraryThing Local, LibraryThing’s index and map of over 87,000 bookstores, libraries and other bookish places. Members have already added 749 of them. A slew of new features supports the project.

Check it out:

SqueakyChu‘s library, The Little Free Library of Twinbrook, in Rockville, MD

Long Version:

A long-time member, SqueakyChu, recently requested that we add Little Free Libraries (LFLs) to LibraryThing Local. Apparently the LFL people have been unable to keep up with all the new libraries, and have fallen months behind. Their own map is also limited compared to LibraryThing’s robust feature set. And having LFLs in LibraryThing Local would allow LibraryThing members to discover them, as well as users of our Readar iPhone app.

If you don’t know, Little Free Libraries is a grassroots movement sweeping the country and the world. “Stewards” build or buy them, set them up somewhere, often in their front yards, and fill them with books. Visitors take and leave books as they wish. BookCrossing, around since 2001(!), is a similar concept, encouraging and tracking the free exchange of books from reader to reader. Books can be released “into the wild” anywhere, but “BookCrossing Zones” (BCZs) are special spaces set up to facilitate this exchange.

We’ve discussed similar efforts before, and approached both organizations for a feed, without success. We’d love to work with either or both, and will (of course) share our data. But we’re not going to wait. We want people to know about these great projects, and all the other informal sharing libraries out there. So we jumped in. Before releasing it, we had our “Board for Extreme Thing Advances” group to work on it, and they added almost 700 venues, and worked out all the conventions we needed.

Little Free Libraries in Connecticut

New features

How do I add venues?

If you’re interested in adding Little Libraries, here are some resources:

Little Free Libraries

  • Members have set up a Wiki Page, recording what states and countries have already been entered, and which haven’t
  • Check out the discussion topic, where members hash out conventions and trade tips

BookCrossing Zones

We’re still figuring out how to find and add all official and unofficial zones. If you’re interested, join the conversation.

Other libraries

“Little Libraries” is for small collections of every type, not just book exchanges. The Dutch projects MiniBieb and Boekspots are closely analogous to Little Free Libraries, so they fit. But, as I’ve written before, cities and towns throughout the world are filled with such collections, from coffee shops to churches, from community centers to advocacy groups. At present we’re focusing on fully “public” venues, but the many types available to choose from means it can all go in, with suitable filters for what you want and what you don’t want.

Come Talk about this project.

Labels: librarything local, local books, member projects, new feature, new features

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Apple highlights Local Books

Apple’s iTunes store has LibraryThing’s Local Books app. (see blog post, direct link) given us a rare honor—a spot among their featured apps.(1)

The exposure has shot us up in the books category, such that we are now—unbelievably—running third in the free section.(2) No matter how long it lasts—and we have no idea of that—it’s great news. The more people grab it, the more become invested in its success. We’re already seeing a pick up in entries to LibraryThing Local. And it puts pressure on us to improve Local and the app too.

Most of all, we hope the success of Local Books can inspire physical bookstores and libraries to embrace the digital world more fully—to put their basic information, events and holdings data out there for us and others to use. Their customers and patrons are eager for it. Only by embracing what the digital world can do for the physical can they compete against the continual advance of ecommerce and ebooks.

So, thanks to Apple for highlighting us, to Chris and John for making the app.(3), and thanks to all the members who entered the data to make it possible.


1. To see it, go to iTunes and click “App Store.” We’re in the third row of apps., next to “Puppy Park” and “Roadside America.” We only appear if the screen is wide enough to hold six icons. We go away if you’re only showing five or fewer apps.
2. The only downside has been that wider exposure has put the app in the hands of people who were, I think, expecting something different. Our ratings have shot down. Fortunately, they’re very much on par with other top apps. It seems iTunes reviewers are a finicky bunch!
3. They will be getting every dime the free app makes us!

PS: If you have an Android phone, check out our Layar app.

Labels: iphone, itunes, local book search, local books

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Local books, virality and Twitter

Virality is an awesome thing. LibraryThing grew virally, and we’re seeing the same patterns with our new Local Books iPhone application (blog post, iTunes), released last Wednesday.

Some highlights:

Most noticeable, though, has been the shift away from blogs, which were once the main way people found out about LibraryThing and its new features, toward Twitter and other services (see Twitter’s list of tweets with my original URL). I think that, for smaller topics like this, Twitter has simply taken over.

Maybe I’ll change my mind if someone at the New York Times notices the New Yorker or L.A. Times pieces, and decides to write their own!

Labels: local books

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Local Books iPhone application!

» Take me right to iTunes

Short version. We’ve just released our first foray into iPhone development, a free application called “Local Books.”

Local Books resembles popular dining apps like LocalEats or UrbanSpoon—but for book lovers. It shows you local bookstores, libraries and bookish events wherever you are or plan to be.

I’ve been using beta versions on my trips for months already; it’s the ideal travel companion. Even if you know your area well, you’re almost certain to find new places. We hope it will be a shot in the arm for physical bookstores and libraries—a new way to see how much bookishness there is around you.

At present Local Books does not show inventory from local bookstores and libraries. But, well, isn’t that a good idea?

Check it out on iTunes.

Features. Features include:

  • Search for venues (bookstores and libraries) as well as events near your current location using the iPhone’s built-in location features.
  • Search for venues and events at any location or by name.
  • Venues can be sorted by distance, name, or type.
  • Venues are color coded, following the maps on LibraryThing Local (colors correspond to the colors used on maps in LibraryThing Local).
  • Each venue has a detail page with a map. Tap it to jump to the iPhone Maps application.
  • Venues often sport a description, clickable website and phone number links, events, and a photo.
  • You can favorite locations and events, and there’s a “Favorites” list where you can find them.(1)

Powered by LibraryThing Local. Local Books is powered by LibraryThing Local, the LibraryThing member-created database of 51,000 bookstores and libraries around the world. Events too are drawn from LibraryThing Local. Notably, since last night we’ve had a four-fold increase in events, as we started pulling in events from Barnes and Noble, Borders, Waterstones and Indigo/Chapters, as well as IndieBound.

Why We Did It. Creating Local Books wasn’t free. We hired an outside house to help us. (Well, semi-outside; half of ConceptHouse is our in-house programmer Chris/ConceptDawg.) There’s no “monetization” at all.

We did it because, despite the dozens of dining, clubbing and other location applications, nobody had done a good book one before. True, IndieBound recently came out with an elegant iPhone app.(2) But indies are not the only bookstores. And libraries, which far exceed bookstores and are almost everywhere, are absolutely critical. We’ve always thought of the book world in the largest possible terms, and we wanted an iPhone application that did that too.

Most of all, Local Books is our contribution to keeping the book world interesting. Amazon and other online retailers are great. LibraryThing is great too. But book lovers can’t be happy in a world with fewer and fewer physical bookstores, and a rising threat to libraries. The more we know about this physical book world, the better we can foster it, and the better we can use websites like LibraryThing and Amazon to improve our world, not replace it.

How You Can Help. Even with 51,000 venues, not every bookstore and library is in LibraryThing. If you know of one that’s not in there, go ahead and add it. If you represent the bookstore or library in question, you can “claim” your venue page, and start using LibraryThing to connect to your customers or patrons.

Even if they’re all there, most are still missing something—a photograph, a phone number, a good description, a Twitter handle. Events—especially indie bookstores and libraries—are a particular need.

It’s a virtuous cycle. The better we can make the data, the more people will find the application useful, and the more people who will make it better

Oh, and vote up the application, will ya? :)

Links.


1. The favorites feature in the app is not tied to your favorites list on LibraryThing.com. We didn’t want to require sign-in and so forth.
2. The IndieBound application does allow you to search for books, but only off their online catalog. There’s no tie-in to local holdings. Even if it had that, most Indie bookstores do not upload their inventory to IndieBound, and, again, neither bookstores or independent bookstores should be the only option for book lovers.

Special thanks to the “Board for Extreme Thing Advances,” our beta group, who put the application through it’s paces before release. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Labels: iphone, librarything local, local book search, local books