Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Mark the bookstores and libraries you’ve visited

UPDATE: See below for some new privacy controls we’ve added.

LibraryThing has long had a way to mark your favorite bookstores and libraries from LibraryThing Local, LibraryThing’s database of more than 80,000 bookish venues and 60,000 upcoming events.

Today we’ve added a way to mark places you’ve visited—in general or, by a simple “check in” button, the day you visit somewhere. You also get new lists of where you’ve been, and maps.

Here’s what the new visited options look like on a venue page.

By default everything you mark as favorite is also marked “visited.” But you can un-click “visited,” if a place is a favorite but you haven’t visited it.

Update: I’ve changed it so that the default is that favorites do NOT show up “venues visited.” To make them show up there, either mark them as visited or edit your local settings. By popular request on Talk, I’ve also added new settings to allow members to make both venue favorites and venue visited private—visible to themselves only. Here’s what the options look like, with the default state. Understand, venue favorites have ALWAYS been public. So this is an increase in user privacy. (Note that author favorites are still public. We will work to make them optionally private.)

Here’s the “Your visited” page, listing all the venues you’ve visited and the ones you’ve checked into. At present, all check-ins are public. (There will be preference options soon.)

Here’s what the large map of venues you’ve visited looks like:

You can see my list of visited venues and my large map. They’re a work in progress, but it’s liberating to be able to record all venues, not just those I want to mark out as special favorites.

Whether on a venue page, your visited page or in your News Feed page, you can share your status on Facebook and Twitter. When you click “share” it looks like it usually does:

Let us know what you think, report bugs or suggest improvements on Talk at New Features: Mark the bookstores and libraries you’ve visited.

Labels: bookstores, librarything local, new feature, new features

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Edible Books Contest deadline extended!

It’s been just a little bit busy around here these past few days, so we’re going to extend the deadline for entering this year’s Edible Books Contest.

The new deadline for entry is 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 18. The original post is below, with all the contest info, how to enter, all the prizes, and more. Check out all the entries submitted so far at the EdibleBooks2013 gallery.


We had so much fun with last year’s virtual Edible Books Contest, we’ve decided to make it an annual event!

How to participate:

1. Create an “edible book.” We’re defining this broadly, so entries can include dishes:

  • referencing a book’s title or characters (puns are entirely welcome)
  • inspired by a book’s plot
  • in the shape of an actual book (or eBook, or scroll, etc.)
  • takeoffs on the LibraryThing logo

2. Take some photos of what you made. The photo at right is the grand-prize winner from last year’s contest. See more of the winners here or all of the entries in the gallery.

3. Upload the photo to your LT member gallery. Sign in, then go here and click the “Add another picture” link to add the image.

4. When adding the image, tag it “EdibleBooks2013″. This will add your image to the contest gallery, and counts as your entry into the contest. If your photo doesn’t have the tag, we won’t know that you’ve entered. You’ll be able to see all the entries here.

5. Tell us about it in the “Title/description” box.

Deadline: Add your photos by 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 18.

What we’ll do:

Based on all the images in the “EdibleBooks2013″ photo gallery, LibraryThing staff will choose the following winners:

Grand Prize (1)

  • A $50 gift certificate to Longfellow Books
  • An LT t-shirt (size/color of your choice)
  • An LT library stamp
  • A CueCat
  • An LT sticker
  • Three lifetime gift memberships
  • Great honor

Runners Up (2)

  • Your choice of one LT t-shirt, stamp, or CueCat
  • Two lifetime gift memberships

We may also pick a few Honorable Mentions—final number will depend on the number of entries received—and they’ll receive a lifetime gift membership.

Have fun!

Fine Print: You can enter as many times as you like, but you can only win one prize. Your dish must be made of edible ingredients (no hats, lost-wax sculptures, performance art), and by entering the contest you certify that it is your own creation. Entries submitted to previous LibraryThing Edible Books contests will not be considered. All decisions as to winners will be made by LibraryThing staff, and our decisions are final. LibraryThing staff and family can enter, but can only be honored as prize-less runners-up. Any images you load stay yours, or you can release them under a copyleft license, but we get a standard “non-exclusive, perpetual” right to use them.

Questions? Feel free to post questions/discussion/etc. here.

Labels: contest, contests, fun

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Welcome Goodreads Members!

Goodreads members will find many familiar features, but not this.

Since Amazon bought Goodreads, we’re seeing a lot of Goodreads users checking out LibraryThing. Here’s a quick guide for them.

Getting Started with LibraryThing:

1. Sign up. Go to the homepage and join.

2. Find your friends. Visit the Friend Finder page to connect your LibraryThing account to Facebook and Twitter. Invite your friends to join LibraryThing, or connect with those already on the site. LibraryThing isn’t as forward as Goodreads—we never post anything without your explicit consent, never send messages to others without your consent, and never make someone your friend on LibraryThing just because you know them on Facebook or Twitter. But you can reach out to the people you want to.

3. Import your books. You can import/sync your books directly from Goodreads at http://www.librarything.com/import/goodreads.

In the last week we’ve upgraded the Goodreads import, so everything you care about should come through. (If you imported before all the improvements were pushed, try again and “sync.”)

Lots of members use both sites. Our import also works as a “sync” between the two sites. You can re-sync at any time, bringing in new Goodreads reviews and other data.

4. Share what you’re reading. Click the “share” link at the upper right corner of the site to get your News Feed page:
http://www.librarything.com/yourfeed.php. Click “Share this” under any item to post to Twitter or Facebook.

5. Have questions? Visit the Welcome to LibraryThing group to ask any questions you have. Our members and staff are happy to help! You can post in the Welcome Goodreads refugees thread, or start a new thread for your specific question. Some of our awesome LibraryThing members have already started a handy Goodreads to LibraryThing guide, too, to help answer some frequently-asked questions.

Things to check out

Trying hard to meld the best of LibraryThing and Goodreads.
  • Find out what makes LibraryThing tick. Tim, the staff, and thirty-eight members recently got together to hammer out what we’re proud of. See What Makes LibraryThing LibraryThing?
  • Groups. LibraryThing has more than 9,000 discussion groups, covering just about every imaginable topic. Check them out at http://www.librarything.com/groups.
  • Early Reviewers Giveaways. Each month we work with publishers to give out thousands of books to interested readers, by matching the books on offer up with the books in your library. You can see last month’s list; the April list will be up soon. Sign up to be notified when new books arrive you can ask for. These aren’t just random giveaways, though: we use a complex algorithm to find the best possible readers for the books on offer.
  • LibraryThing Local. If you visit the “Local” tab at the top of the site, you’ll see http://www.librarything.com/local, our gateway to more than 80,000 bookstores, libraries and other bookish venues around the world. Set your location to see venues and events near you, or mark your favorite venues so you can see just their events quickly and easily.
  • Help and FAQ. LibraryThing is a huge site, and can be fairly intimidating at first. We’ve got an extensive help wiki, with brief overviews of many of the major features.
  • Are you an author or a publisher? We welcome authors and publishers to LibraryThing! See our How Authors Can Use LibraryThing or How Publishers Can Use LibraryThing for some hints and tips on how best to get involved on the site.

Above all, welcome, and enjoy!


Salmon photo courtesy James Bowe on Flickr. (NB, the salmon is a joke referencing the frequently-discussed LibraryThing color scheme.)

Labels: LibraryThing

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

What makes LibraryThing LibraryThing?

On Tuesday afternoon, LibraryThing staff and members got together on the collaborative editing site PiratenPad to hash out “What makes LibraryThing LibraryThing?” for newly-arrived Goodreads members and others. This is the result. Tim took the lead, but 38 members contributed.

What we are

LibraryThing is a community brought together by the love of books.

What defines us

Kraken cake by member TheCriticalTimes.
The name “LibraryThing” was originally a take-off on Lovecraftian lines.

LibraryThing is not one thing. LibraryThing means different things to different people. Some use it to record what they’re reading now; some catalog every book they own. Some talk on our groups all day long, others never interact with anyone. Some share everything to Facebook, others keep their library private. Some use it for book discovery and recommendations, some to help out other book lovers with their knowledge of authors, books and series. There are members for whom this blog post would be totally unfamiliar. We value what all members do with the site.

LibraryThing is about quality cataloging. LibraryThing started seven years ago as a way for regular people to have a professional-quality library catalog, and this is still the center for many members. We show this in our sources—searching over 700 libraries around the world. And we show it in how you can edit everything in your catalog. This isn’t just authors and titles, but every bit of data you could think of about a book, from the Dewey Decimal number and publication information to the book’s height and weight.

LibraryThing is book-geekery. We love the stuff of books—the details, the trivia, the connections among books and between books and other parts of life. We’ll tell you what percentage of your authors are dead, how much your books weigh, and whether a pile of them would be taller than Niagara Falls (see yours).

LibraryThing is about readers, not marketing. Our members like to read and talk about books, and of course we love to buy them too. But we think that reading and talking works best apart from commercial interests.

  • Our book recommendations are never influenced by commercial considerations.
  • Author and publisher spam has alienated a lot of people at other sites. We take a hard line. Authors have various official ways to promote their books, including LibraryThing Early Reviewers, Member Giveaways, and a Hobnob with Authors group. And they benefit from making sure their author page is tricked out with photos, links to their site and so forth. But other than that authors participate as readers first of all.
Book love by member madinkbeard.

LibraryThing is communities. LibraryThing is a community, and LibraryThing includes many communities, especially groups like 75 Books Challenge , The Green Dragon and Folio Society Devotees. Members get together offline from time to time. And every year many members participate in SantaThing, Secret Santa for book lovers.

We have no “users.” If you’re not the customer, you’re the product. If a social website can’t support itself on customers and straightforward products, it’ll eventually sell out what you gave it—your data, your friends, and the community itself.

“No users” includes charging members. We say $10 for a yearly membership, $25 for a lifetime. In fact, you can pay as little as $1, and we often give free memberships if people ask nicely. (Until Friday ALL new members get a free membership.) But we want what paying creates—customers, with loyalty and rights—not “users”.

Members contribute. LibraryThing members have spent years of their time improving the data, helping themselves and other book lovers. They disambiguate authors and editions, add author photos, enter awards and events, organize series, police for spam and ratty data, and translate the site into more than a dozen languages. (See our helpers page.) Unlike some other sites, here all members are equal, with the power to make (or reverse) changes. And nobody can change your catalog.

LibraryThing is libraries. Public and academic libraries account for about 40% of reading, but get lost in other, commercially motivated venues. Not at LibraryThing. We love libraries—five of LibraryThing’s ten employees have library degrees and six have worked in one. Libraries give us our best data, and give us access to books no online bookseller knows about.

As part of its core mission, LibraryThing sells software and data to libraries, such as LibraryThing for Libraries. Bibliographic data is always free to libraries, including Common Knowledge and our editions data.

We’re advertising-free. Members see no ads on LibraryThing. If you’re not signed in, we show some Google ads, but they’ll vanish as soon as you create an account (free or paid).

LibraryThing is smart. LibraryThing has some of the most passionate, articulate members in the book world.

Members run rampant. LibraryThing is a company, but we tend to run it like a club, or maybe a collective. Employees listen to members and work with them. We’re going to listen and be straight with you. We’re not going to sell you out. If we do, members should take their data, take our free and copyleft data, and find a better site. Doubt us? Tell us how to earn your trust.

LibraryThing doesn’t push. We are about the books and the cataloging. If you want to share what you’re reading, great. But we’re not going to spam all your friends every time you add a book or join a group. We don’t make sharing the default just because it’s free advertising. We also don’t send out any automatic emails with updates or change our privacy policies to suit commercial interests. And we never make you automatically friends with someone on LibraryThing just because you know them on Twitter or Facebook.

LibraryThing is independent. LibraryThing has owners, including Tim, the founder and majority owner, and minority partners in Bowker and Abebooks. But we make our own decisions. And we’re a real company with real revenue, not a venture-capital-funded company waiting to “flip” to some dreadful new master.

LibraryThing supports the whole book world. Being independent allows us to work with everyone. We have pages and programs for authors and publishers, bookstores and libraries. “LibraryThing Local” promotes venues and upcoming bookish events around the world. Our “Get this book” includes libraries and indie bookstores at the same level as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. We also have an API for indie bookstores to include information about their current holdings.

No fine print. Our Terms of Use are written in real English, and protect members as much as anything. There are no weird trap doors—we don’t claim we own your copyright, we don’t tell you how to link to us, etc. They also include a quote from Shelley.

LibraryThing supports free speech. We provide a space for readers to say what’s on their minds, without fear of being ejected for an unpopular view. We make an exception for personal attacks: you can say what you want, but stick to ideas, not people.

LibraryThing was the original social book site. We invented the idea. We know that this and $2.50 will get us a cup of coffee, but we still feel responsible for the idea, and making it fun and rewarding, not commercial, exploitative, invasive and creepy.

LibraryThing is a work in progress. Since starting as nothing more than a basic catalog, members have guided our development to an unusual degree. Our current development priorities include:

  • Better cataloging, especially Goodreads imports, ebooks and adding books, from “Add books” and elsewhere.
  • Better sharing. We’ve lagged behind on sharing to social networks. We’re catching up fast.
  • Better design. Members like a stripped-down, information-dense aesthetic, but, well, we really need a cleanup and refresh.
  • Mobile version.

A few unique things about the site

Nobody has ever done anything like our Legacy Libraries.
We didn’t even mention cataloging flash mobs.

International sites. LibraryThing is also available in more than a dozen other languages, such as German (LibraryThing.de), French (LibraryThing.fr) and even Esperanto (epo.librarything.com) and Pirate (pir.librarything.com). We also catalog from hundreds of non-English libraries, so you can add all your Italian books as easily as those in English.

Common Knowledge. Common Knowledge is our vast fielded wiki system of member-added data about books and authors, capturing everything from characters to series and awards information to related movies, dedications, author information, and much, much more. The data are available via an API, for free.

LibraryThing Local. A gateway to more than 80,000 bookstores, libraries and other bookish venues, every single one added by LibraryThing members. Mark your favorites, scope out where to visit, and browse over 65,000 upcoming events. See it at http://www.librarything.com/local. LibraryThing Local is also available on-the-go via our Readar iPhone app, or via an API for free.

Legacy Libraries. LibraryThing members have cataloged the libraries of more than 200 famous dead people, from Thomas Jefferson and C.S. Lewis to Marilyn Monroe and Tupac Shakur.

CoverGuess. We show you a cover image, you use tags to describe what you see. If your tags match up with those used by others, you get points.

Book Haiku. Summarize any book in the form of a haiku.

Dead salmon color. Need we say more?

Join us

So that’s what LibraryThing is. Does this sound fun? Join us!


You can see how we came up with this document on PiratenPad: http://librarything.piratenpad.de/ep/pad/view/449/rKERKCJPlZ (drag the slider to the beginning and press the play button to see the edits “as they happened”).

Labels: LibraryThing

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Extended: Free accounts for new members

Since the Amazon news broke, we’ve been seeing an influx of Goodreads members checking out the site and adding their books—more than 500,000 so far. So we’ve extended our free accounts offer through Friday midnight. Sign up for a new account and we’ll give you a year’s free membership.

Here’s from the original blog post, describing why—in this “free” world—LibraryThing asks for money, even as little as $1/year.


In the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads, we’ve had some blow-back on the fact that LibraryThing charges for a membership to add more than 200 books. In fact, when you go to pay, it’s pay-what-you-want. The money helps pay for the site, and keeps us advertisement-free for members. Also, we believe customers should be customers, with the loyalty and rights of customers, not the thing we sell to our real customers.

However, some people don’t like it. And we want everyone. So, as a test and a welcome, we’re giving out free year’s accounts to everyone who signs up through the end of Sunday Now Friday midnight Eastern. We’ve also upgraded everyone who signed up since 4pm yesterday.

Here’s what the profile comment looks like. You should get it pretty quickly:


Photo by flickr member chamisa flower.

Labels: amazon, members

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Free accounts through Sunday

In the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads, we’ve had some blow-back on the fact that LibraryThing charges for a membership to add more than 200 books. In fact, when you go to pay, it’s pay-what-you-want. The money helps pay for the site, and keeps us advertisement-free for members. Also, we believe customers should be customers, with the loyalty and rights of customers, not the thing we sell to our real customers.

However, some people don’t like it. And we want everyone. So, as a test and a welcome, we’re giving out free year’s accounts to everyone who signs up through the end of Sunday. We’ve also upgraded everyone who signed up since 4pm yesterday.

Here’s what the profile comment looks like. You should get it pretty quickly:


Photo by flickr member chamisa flower.

Labels: amazon, fun, gifts

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Amazon buys Goodreads: what does that mean for LibraryThing?

Amazon announced yesterday that they’re buying Goodreads, LibraryThing’s younger brother and competitor. This has the potential to change things for LibraryThing. We’re interested in hearing your thoughts on how we can survive and thrive in a Amazon-Goodreads world.

See the open thread about this: LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Labels: amazon

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Common Knowledge at 5 million!

Earlier in March, LibraryThing Common Knowledge hit five million edits (and flew right on by: another 53,000 have already been added since then!).

The five-millionth CK fact was … drum roll please … the term “American Revolution” added in the “Important events” field on Barbara Tuchman’s book The First Salute by member berry25. Hey berry25, want an LT t-shirt or a CueCat?

Common Knowledge? What’s that?

Common Knowledge, a part of LibraryThing since 2007, is our vast fielded wiki system of bookish data, capturing everything from characters (Frodo Baggins, C-3PO) to series and awards information to related movies, dedications, author information, and much, much more. See the wiki page for a full rundown.

Some of these pages are ridiculously, awesomely complex: check out the Star Wars series page, for example (872 works, with something like 70 sub-series!). To get a sense of the depth and breadth of everything included in Common Knowledge, check out the clouds page.

Who’s added all this info?

CK would not be the amazing resource that it is without the hard work of the many LibraryThing members responsible for those 5 million+ edits. (Back in 2007 Tim predicted it would prove “insanely addictive”, and that seems to have been spot-on). More than 1,000 LTers have contributed at least 600 edits, and some of the totals are extremely impressive. Here are the top five all-time CK contributors:

Can I contribute?

Please do! It’s super easy to add Common Knowledge data – you’ll see the fields at the bottom of every work or author page on LibraryThing. And if you have questions, thoughts, or suggestions, chime in over at the Common Knowledge, WikiThing, HelpThing group.

Here’s to you all, and here’s to five million more Common Knowledge contributions!

Labels: common knowledge, milestones

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

March Early Reviewers batch is up!

The March 2013 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 143 books this month, and a grand total of 3,658 copies to give out.

First, make sure to sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing address and make sure it’s correct.

Then request away! The list of available books is here:
http://www.librarything.com/er/list

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, March 25th at 6 p.m. EDT.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, and more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Henry Holt and Company Taylor Trade Publishing Sakura Publishing
Lion Fiction Putnam Books Ballantine Books
Safkhet Fantasy Apex Publications Riverhead Books
The Permanent Press Plume Two Lines Press
WaterBrook Press Prufrock Press Palgrave Macmillan
Portfolio Random House Hunter House
Crown Publishing Pants On Fire Press Spiegel & Grau
Ashland Creek Press Greenleaf Book Group Pneuma Springs Publishing
Akashic Books Bethany House HarperCollins
In Fact Books Pubslush Press Dundurn
EgmontUSA CarTech Books Top Five Books
MSI Press Random House Trade Paperbacks Safe Harbor Publishing
Dimensions of Wellness Press Camel Press William Morrow
Coffeetown Press Camel Press McFarland
February Partners Hay House Skyhorse Publishing
Istoria Books BookViewCafe JournalStone
Gray & Company, Publishers Algonquin Books Galaxy Audio
Galaxy Press Wayman Publishing Human Kinetics
Cleis Press Career Upshift Productions Bridgeross Communications
Crossed Genres Publications Arundel Publishing Leafwood Publishers
University Press of New England Northeastern University Press Booktrope
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Penguin Young Readers Group Orca Book Publishers
Viva Editions Charlesbridge

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Monday, March 4th, 2013

The 2nd annual LibraryThing Edible Books contest!

We had so much fun with last year’s virtual Edible Books Contest, we’ve decided to make it an annual event!

How to participate:

1. Create an “edible book.” We’re defining this broadly, so entries can include dishes:

  • referencing a book’s title or characters (puns are entirely welcome)
  • inspired by a book’s plot
  • in the shape of an actual book (or eBook, or scroll, etc.)
  • takeoffs on the LibraryThing logo

2. Take some photos of what you made. The photo at right is the grand-prize winner from last year’s contest. See more of the winners here or all of the entries in the gallery.

3. Upload the photo to your LT member gallery. Sign in, then go here and click the “Add another picture” link to add the image.

4. When adding the image, tag it “EdibleBooks2013″. This will add your image to the contest gallery, and counts as your entry into the contest. If your photo doesn’t have the tag, we won’t know that you’ve entered. You’ll be able to see all the entries here.

5. Tell us about it in the “Title/description” box.

Deadline: Add your photos by 4 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 4.

What we’ll do:

Based on all the images in the “EdibleBooks2013″ photo gallery, LibraryThing staff will choose the following winners:

Grand Prize (1)

  • A $50 gift certificate to Longfellow Books
  • An LT t-shirt (size/color of your choice)
  • An LT library stamp
  • A CueCat
  • An LT sticker
  • Three lifetime gift memberships
  • Great honor

Runners Up (2)

  • Your choice of one LT t-shirt, stamp, or CueCat
  • Two lifetime gift memberships

We may also pick a few Honorable Mentions—final number will depend on the number of entries received—and they’ll receive a lifetime gift membership.

Have fun!

Fine Print: You can enter as many times as you like, but you can only win one prize. Your dish must be made of edible ingredients (no hats, lost-wax sculptures, performance art), and by entering the contest you certify that it is your own creation. Entries submitted to previous LibraryThing Edible Books contests will not be considered. All decisions as to winners will be made by LibraryThing staff, and our decisions are final. LibraryThing staff and family can enter, but can only be honored as prize-less runners-up. Any images you load stay yours, or you can release them under a copyleft license, but we get a standard “non-exclusive, perpetual” right to use them.

Questions? Feel free to post questions/discussion/etc. here.

Labels: contest, contests, fun