Archive for the ‘santathing’ Category

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

SantaThing 2010: Secret Santa for Booklovers!

It’s time to announce the fourth annual SantaThing!

What is SantaThing, you ask?* SantaThing is Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

The idea is simple. Pay $25. You play Santa to a LibraryThing member we pick for you**, and choose up $25 worth of books for them, based on their LibraryThing library or using their short description. Someone (secret!) else does the same for you. LibraryThing orders the books and pays the shipping, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

You can sign up for yourself, and you can also buy in for anyone else–LibraryThing member or not. If the person doesn’t have a LibraryThing account, make sure to mention what kinds of books they’d like, so their Secret Santa can choose wisely.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others.

A peppermint twist to the plot:
This year, we’re ordering all books from BookDepository.com. After three years of tinkering with how we order, we decided this is by far the easiest solution.*** BookDepository ships to the most number of countries (see the full list), and they have free shipping on orders of any size****! After years of spending hours and hours manually ordering for each Santa, their bulk upload of orders is going to leave us enough time to decorate the LibraryThing tree (otherwise known as “the stick in the corner of the office” in previous years).

Here are the important notes:

The sign-up will close Monday, November 29th at 8pm Eastern time. Once the sign-up closes, you’ll be able to use the same page to pick for your Santa.

Picking closes Wednesday, December 8th at 10pm Eastern time. Once the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can. There’s no guarantee that we’ll have books out by December 25th, but we’re going to try our darnedest.

Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

Questions? Ask them in this Talk topic.

*I feel like I should break into a holiday-sounding song to describe it. I found a Christmastime flash-mob in Cincinnati for you instead.
**We match members based on the contents of their catalog, thereby matching you with a Secret Santa you share tastes with.
*** Two years ago Amazon let us use Amazon Prime. Last year they ended up nixing it, so we had to eat all the shipping charges. As for independents—which we were an option last time—while we’d like to support them, less than 5% of members chose them last year, and the orders were spread out. Book Depository has agreed to give us free shipping, and a special spreadsheet that will cut down on all the manual labor.
****All the time! Go check them out—their prices are often as low as other online booksellers, and the free worldwide shipping with no minimum order is the absolute icing on the cake.

Labels: santathing, secret santa

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

December State of the Thing

Last night I sent out November’s State of the Thing, our monthly newsletter. Sign up to get it, or you can read a copy online.

This month’s State of the Thing features a ton of new features, the SantaThing recap and free books.

We also have two exclusive author interviews:

Julie Powell first wrote Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen as a blog, which turned into a highly successful book, and a movie. Her new memoir, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, picks up with Julie heading upstate to learn the fine art of butchering, while shuttling back to New York to confront her marriage and the end of an affair.

Masha Hamilton is the author of four novels, including The Camel Bookmobile. Her new novel, 31 Hours, starts in New York City, where a mother with the age-old intuition that something is wrong chooses possible overreaction over inaction. The story then follows several connected paths to reveal one character’s motives behind his desire to help carry out an act of terrorism in the very city he grew up.

Next month, we’ll be interviewing Colum McCann and Josh Ferris. Have a question for them? Post it here and we might use it in the upcoming interview.

Labels: author chat, author interview, santathing, state of the thing

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Be a good Santa: pick books for SantaThing

SantaThing is about to close! You have until 10pm EST to pick books for your Santa (or Santee, since you are the Santar).

You can see who your Santee is here. Look under the section “You choose the gift for:

Click on the member’s name to leave a comment with the title, author, ISBN and link to the choices. Be sure to note if your Santee has listed a bookseller preference.

In both of the past years, there were people who didn’t pick for their Santa*. This year, we have a mobilized force of volunteers who will help pick books for those who have been abandoned. Join the group here. We’ll start at 10pm when we close picking, and everyone will work until everyone has books!

*One thing to note: if you sign up someone else, as a gift recipient, the responsibility for your recipient’s Santee is on you. You’ll see one or more Santees in your You choose the gift for: section.

Labels: santathing, secret santa

Monday, November 30th, 2009

SantaThing sign-up closes in 24 hours

SantaThing (LibraryThing’s version of Secret Santa) is open for sign-ups until December 1, 4 pm EST (about 24 hours from now).

We already have over 400 members signed up to participate, and tons of helpful suggestions posted! If you don’t want to be a Santa yourself, you can always help out by looking at the list of Santas and posting book suggestions.

To sign up, just go here and click “become a Secret Santa”.

Tuesday afternoon, we’ll match up Santas. We’ll let you know via profile comments who your Secret Santa is, and you’ll be able to pick books for them. Remember, if you signed up a gift recipient, you’re responsible for picking their Santa’s books. You’ll get a profile comment for each Santa you signed up.

Picking will be open until Saturday, December 12 at 10 pm EST.

We’re also planning a virtual soiree Saturday night and Sunday when the picking officially closes, to pick books for anyone whose Santa hadn’t picked for them. I imagine it will involve LibraryThing members cozied up with eggnog by a toasty fire with a kitten* at their feet, making sure there are books picked for everyone. If you’re interested, look for more information on the Talk thread for it.

* or whatever your preferred seasonal beverage, ambiance device and power animal may be

Labels: santathing, secret santa

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

SantaThing and Giving

In this year of a down economy, two developments with SantaThing, our “secret Santa for booklovers”:

First, there was the Talk thread started by a member who got help last year to participate, when she needed it and, now that she doesn’t, wanted to pay-it-forward and help someone else. This started a chain reaction, with more and more members offering to pay for someone. Other members have been asking for help, for themselves or sometimes for relatives, either in Talk or privately. The whole thing is pretty awesome.*

Today I was contacted by a member (who would like to remain anonymous) offering to pay for 20 SantaThings ($500), again for members who were planning to skip it because money was too tight. The money came out of the blue, and, despite the crescendo of giving, was quite a shock to us.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about either giving or receiving SantaThing, read here.

Second, with all this giving, we’re changing our mind. The SantaThing deal was $25 for $20 of books. The $5 was for shipping, and a little to cover staff time. But most of our shipping is now free. (We get it from from Amazon and the Book Depository, and Powell’s is doing us a favor.**) And we’re starting to feel seriously privileged to be involved in this!

So—to heck with it—we’re getting rid of the margin. SantaThing is now $25 for $25. We’ll make a little money when people can’t quite fill the $25, and we’ll spend it on the countries and bookstores that don’t have free shipping. It’s the least we can do.

You have until December 1 to sign up for SantaThing.

Sincerely,

Sonya and Tim

Links: SantaThing; Talk thread.


*I think “community” is an overused word online. Most “online communities” aren’t. All those sites with employees known as “community managers” tick me off particularly. We like to think we’re better than those sites, but, despite tons of friends, a marriage, occasional flash-mob cataloging, Legacy Libraries and even a group of members who now vacation together, I wouldn’t even say LibraryThing is a real “community.” It’s more of a large, long-running cocktail party with a lot of rooms and some good friendships. But I can’t help feeling cheered again by Clay Shirky’s Love, Internet Style. Shirky writes that, looking forward, “You will make more accurate predictions about software… if you ask yourself not ‘What’s the business model?’ but ‘Do the people who like it take care of each other?'” Well, you do. And it’s a pleasure to be part of it. — Tim
**We have Amazon Prime, and the Book Depository has free shipping. We’re grateful to Powells for giving us free shipping for this effort. (Thanks to Darin for making it happen.)

Labels: altruism, santathing, secret santa

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

SantaThing has arrived!

Now in its third year, I’d like to announce SantaThing!

What is SantaThing, you ask? SantaThing is Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

The idea is simple. Pay $25. You play Santa to a random LibraryThing member, and find them up $20 worth of books, based on their library or a short description. Someone else does the same for you. LibraryThing orders the books and pays the shipping, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving!

You can sign up for yourself, but you can also buy in for anyone else–LibraryThing member or not. If the person doesn’t have a LibraryThing account, make sure to mention what kinds of books they’d like, so their Secret Santa can choose wisely.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others.

New and exciting twists this year:
This year, we’re offering you the option of some independent (and for some people local) booksellers, and WAY more countries can participate (see the full list). For the first and second annual SantaThings, we used Amazon as our bookseller, and registration was limited to those living in the US, UK, and Canada.

This is a huge new experiment, so please be understanding. We’re trying to make SantaThing inclusive for other booksellers, with the hopes that next year we can throw the doors wide open.

In the United States, you can choose between Powell’s (Portland, OR), Harvard Book Store (Cambridge, MA), The Book Table (Oak Park, IL), and Amazon.com. In Canada, your choices are Chapters Indigo, The Book Depository and Amazon.ca. In the UK, you get The Book Depository or Amazon.co.uk. All other countries get to use The Book Depository.

Here are the important notes:

The sign-up will close Tuesday, December 1st at 4pm Eastern time. Once the sign-up closes, you’ll be able to use the same page to pick for your Santa.

Picking closes Friday, December 12th at 10pm Eastern time. Once the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can. There’s no guarantee that we’ll have books out by December 25th, but we’re going to try our darnedest.

Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

Questions? Ask them in this Talk topic.

Labels: santathing, secret santa

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Happy Holidays, from LibraryThing!

From all of us here at LibraryThing, we hope you have a wonderful set of holidays, whatever they may be.

Many thanks to all who participated in SantaThing, for bringing new books into a fellow LibraryThing member’s home. The SantaThing page is open, so each participant can see who their Secret Santa was, and any suggestions.

Underwaterguy and I have just cracked our new books (thanks, Moomin_Mama and strongstuff). We plan on having a very reading day.

Note from Tim: Many thanks to Sonya and Abby (and Sara!) for doing 95% of the SantaThing work. The ordering was a little easier this year, but there were more Santas—over 370.

Labels: santathing

Monday, December 15th, 2008

SantaThing Sign Up Extended

UPDATE: SantaThing Santas have been picked! Go to SantaThing to find out who you’re giving books to!
PLEASE NOTE: You only have until Friday (the 19th) at 10pm Eastern Standard Time (3am GMT) to pick gifts.

Although we were going to end sign-up for SantaThing at noon today (aka, now), we’ve decided to extend it for a few hours. So you now have until 4pm Eastern today to sign up for SantaThing!

We already have over 300 members signed up to participate, and tons of helpful suggestions posted! If you don’t want to be a Santa yourself, you can always help out by looking at the list of Santas and posting book suggestions.

To sign up, just go here and click “become a Secret Santa”.

Tonight we’ll match up Santas to Santa-ees(?) and we’ll let you know by the morning who you’ve been assigned to pick out books for. Stay tuned…

Labels: santathing

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

SantaThing: LibraryThing’s Secret Santa

Back by popular demand, I hereby announce LibraryThing’s second annual SantaThing!

SantaThing is Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

The idea is simple. Pay $25. You play Santa to a random LibraryThing member, and find them up $20 worth of books, based on their library or a short description. Someone else does the same to you. LibraryThing orders the books and pays the shipping, so no addresses are exchanged and no members are stalked!

Now, this doesn’t have to be just for you. You can also go in for someone you know—a relative or a friend. Describe their library a bit and someone will find them the perfect present. And you can become a Santa as many times as you like.

Lastly, even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others.

Crucial dates. This is going to end very soon.

  • Monday, December 15th at 12 Noon Eastern. Santa-signup ends. Shortly thereafter, we will tell you who you are matched up with. Then you go crazy trying to find the perfect books to give them.
  • Friday, December 19th at 10pm Eastern. Submit gifts to LibraryThing. LibraryThing buys everything.

Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

Questions? Ask them in this Talk topic. Unfortunately, for various reasons, this is only open to people with addresses in the US, Canada, or Britain.

Labels: santathing, secret santa

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Holiday book pile contest winners

Now that the holiday season is behind us, voila, the winners of LibraryThing’s holiday bookpile contest. First prize winner, Teampoush, gets a LibraryThing t-shirt for the subtly cool “Joy to the world” photo (look at closely at the books in the background if you don’t see it at first).

The two runners up are melannen with the impressive “New Year’s Day Bookpile” (what a way to start the year!) and SanityDemolisher with “Sleigh of Books”). Each will get a gift membership.

See all of the submissions here and here.

SantaThing report. I think SantaThing, while a little rushed, was a success! Almost 300 people picked out books for strangers, and had fun doing it. Next year, we’ll certainly make some changes*, but it was a good start. My sincere apologies to anyone whose books came after Christmas—we tried our hardest to get them in time, but it didn’t happen in every case. If you want to see what everyone else picked for their various Santa-ees, or if your Santa left you a personal message (most messages were transferred onto the Amazon order slip, but long ones didn’t fit in), go check it out!

UPDATE: we fixed the SantaThing page so you can peek at the suggestions on your own page.

http://www.librarything.com/santathing.php

The ordering process was actually kind of fun—I started to see themes of popular books. How many people got a copy of The Prestige by Christopher Priest? (Enough that I decided I should probably buy a copy for myself, if that many LibraryThingers recommended it).

*I think we’ll start the whole process earlier to give everyone more time to pick out books, etc. We also need figure out the shipping and billing logistics better! We ended up stuck with Amazon billing us separately each time we changed the shipping address (300 times) which hit our bank account’s daily limit on the number of transactions. Who knew? Well after Tim and I ended up using up our personal credit cards and spending over a week clicking on Amazon links, we decided – next year, yup, we’ll do it differently :)

Labels: book pile, contest, santathing