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

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Congratulations to Our AllHallowsThing 2013 Winners!

Thanks to everyone who joined in on our first annual AllHallowsThing contest! Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday, and everyone at LT had a lot of fun seeing what you all came up with! The LT staff judges have spoken, and, without further ado, I am proud to present our winners:


Grand Prize

This is one of the most detail-oriented Little Free Libraries I’ve seen. From the creator’s description: “Library” was made of foam core cut and glued together. Shingles were cut from cardboard, door constructed using actual door hardware, then house was painted. The t-shirt inside is a scan of book spines printed onto 2 iron on transfers.” The door even has a magnetic latch!

2nd Place

This one has a special place in my heart, as I loved Tomie dePaola when I was a kid (I still have a signed bookmark I got from him when I was 8), and Strega Nona was one of my favorite stories. She even has the magic pot!

3rd Place

a-squared’s little sister is wearing a wand, tutu, and wings all made out of recycle Scholastic book order forms! I love the creativity. And I hope the book fairy will stop by my house soon, because, let’s face it, I clearly don’t have enough books.

3rd Place, Too – It’s a Tie!

LaurenMeigs is the spitting image of one of recent literature’s most self-possessed heroines. She describes her inspiration best: “Salander is one of the coolest, strongest, craziest chicks that I’ve ever come across between the pages of a book. I bought the temporary dragon tattoo online, but my fabulously talented artist neighbor (and fellow librarian) drew the wasp tattoo freehand on my neck.”


Grand Prize

Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s iconic monster, this pumpkin is truly the stuff of nightmares. Sylak told us that the wings were made of Savoy cabbage leaves, and there are total of 386 individual suckers on those tentacles. Yipes! Matt agrees: “A carnivore’s worst nightmare.”

2nd Place

I’d love to know what book(s) were used in the construction! The light dusting of orange paint is great—you can still read the text on the pages.

2nd Place Again

Another tie! “Daringly stacked!” Matt says, and I agree. These are all impressively detailed! While the owl’s eyes are probably my favorite part, I love that there’s even a pea green boat that the owl and pussycat are riding in. Excellent work!

3rd Place

We’ve taken to calling this one the “Econ Pumpkin” around the office, and it brought out Matt’s inner humanities major: “the best use of an Econ textbook I’ve ever seen.” Very inventive!

Honorable Mentions

I’d also like to give a personal shout-out to flor_de_margarida’s too clever by half Invisible Man, and walkingapocrypha’s Mad Hatter. I know that kitty! As a long-time Pride & Prejudice fan, I particularly appreciated the “& Zombies” edition group costume. Well done, everyone.

To all our contestants, thanks so much for joining in! You all did a fabulous job, and I hope to see more spectacular stuff from you next year!

To our winners, look for a profile comment from me shortly with instructions for claiming your prizes!

Labels: AllHallowsThing, contests

Monday, November 4th, 2013

November Early Reviewers batch is up!

The November 2013 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 136 titles this month, with a grand total of 3,650 copies to give out. For those of you who, like me, aren’t ready to accept that Halloween is over, we’re not quite up to our brains in zombies, but Undead or Zombies Don’t Surrender might be just what you need.

If you’d like a chance to score one of these books, first, make sure to sign up for Early Reviewers! If you’re already signed up, please double check your mailing and email addresses, and make sure they’re up to date.

Then request away! The list of available books is here:

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, November 25th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, and many 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!

Taylor Trade Publishing Prufrock Press Palgrave Macmillan
Henry Holt and Company Quirk Books Bantam
JournalStone Random House Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Pants On Fire Press Seventh Rainbow Publishing Riverhead Books
Putnam Books Bluffer’s Guides Gray & Company, Publishers
Kurodahan Press February Books Gefen Publishing House
Bethany House Chosen Books Five Rivers Publishing
Pale Fire Press Leisure Time Press Multnomah Books
Cleis Press O’Reilly Media BookViewCafe
Information Today, Inc. The Permanent Press Crown Publishing
Akashic Books Marble City Publishing CarTech Books
Rippple Books The Plough Publishing House Oceanview Publishing
Minotaur Books Human Kinetics ArbeitenZeit Media
Recorded Books Medallion Press Rovira i Virgili University Press
Apex Publications WriteLife, LLC Seawall Books
HalMarx Publishing Candlewick Press Spiegel & Grau
Plume Fog Ink Obesity Resources, LLC
Welcome Books Gotham Books Hunter House
Circumspect Press William Morrow Bunker Hill Publishing
Algonquin Books Booktrope Lion Fiction
Bantam Dell EdgeRunner Publishing Galaxy Audio
Galaxy Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Special The Circle giveaway for UK members

Happy Halloween, everyone! I promise only treats, and no tricks today. As One LibraryThing, One Book continues to grow, I’m already halfway through the book, and we’ve got some great discussions going.

I have exciting news for UK members interested in joining us. Penguin UK has offered us 10 copies to give away to members located in the UK! Click here for your chance to score one. Please note, since this is a special give away, time is short, and we’ll be closing the giveaway for requests on Sunday, November 3rd at 6pm Eastern.

Labels: One LibraryThing One Book

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Free passes to Boston Book, Print & Ephemera Show

Thanks to Marvin Getman, who produces the show every year, LibraryThing members can attend the Boston Book, Print and Ephemera Show for free this year! The show is happening Saturday, November 16, from 8am-4pm at the Back Bay Events Center. That’s the same weekend as the Annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair (hosted by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America).

Passes can be downloaded and printed from a special page, just for LT members, here. So, if you’re in Boston that weekend, be sure to check it out! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it, but I’d love to hear from those of you who can!(1)

To recap

What? Boston Book, Print & Ephemera Show
When? Sat. Nov. 16, 8am-4pm
Where? Back Bay Events Center, 180 Berkeley St., Boston, MA
How do I get my tickets? Print them here.

Questions? Comments? Send them to info@librarything.com.

1. Drop me (or Matt—matt@librarything.com) a line at loranne@librarything.com

Labels: book fairs, book world, boston, events

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

One LibraryThing, One Book Update

I’m thrilled at the response we’ve gotten regarding our first One LibraryThing, One Book project. We already have 101 members in our Talk group, and it’s been growing every day.

I have some great news for Canadian members interested in joining us. Knopf Canada has been kind enough to offer 10 copies for us to give away to members in Canada. Click here for your chance to score one. Please note, since this is a special give away, time is short, and we’ll be closing the giveaway for requests on Friday at 6pm Eastern.

Labels: One LibraryThing One Book

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Interview with Tom Standage

Some excerpts from our interview with Tom Standage, which appeared in October’s State of the Thing.

Tom is the digital editor of The Economist and the author of several works of popular history, including A History of the World in 6 Glasses and The Victorian Internet. Tom’s new book is Writing on the Wall, a history of social media, published this month by Bloomsbury.

Give us the nutshell version of Writing on the Wall, if you would, for those who haven’t yet had a chance to read it.

The basic idea is that social-media environments have existed for centuries, and don’t require digital technology to operate. I describe examples of the use of social media (essentially, media you get from other people) going back to Roman times. It turns out that these ancient social-media systems provoked many of the same arguments and questions that we have about social media today. So history can provide some valuable lessons.

How were the “social media environments” of earlier periods similar to those we’re familiar with today? How were they different?

They were similar in the sense that they were decentralized and created discussion or community as people passed stuff to each other, copied it, recommended it, and commented on it. This was done by distributing letters, pamphlets, poems on slips of paper, and so on. People collectively decided what was important and worth passing on, and what you passed on was also a means of self-expression. Centralized media only emerged in the 19th century with mass-circulation newspapers, followed later by radio and television. So today’s social-media environment is, in many ways, a return to the way things used to be. That said, the main difference is that digital social media is global, instant, and searchable. So the analogy is not perfect. But it is close enough to be interesting and informative.

What was the most surprising thing you learned as you researched for Writing on the Wall?

Probably the most remarkable thing I came across was the Roman wax tablet that looks exactly like an iPad—the size and proportions are the same. It was used as a notebook, to jot down thoughts before committing them to papyrus. There’s one in the Roman museum in Cologne, Germany, and I have a picture of it in my book. It’s a great example of what I try to do in my books, which is to see the past in the present, and the present in the past.

You include in the book a number of examples of criticisms of previous social media environments that bear very strong resemblances to criticisms we hear today. Do you have a couple of favorite examples of these?

My favorite example is the way coffeehouses were criticized in the late 1600s. They were the media-sharing platforms of their day, where people went to read and discuss the latest news and gossip. Critics thought this was just wasting time, and that coffeehouses were “enemies to diligence and industry”. But they turned out to be crucibles of innovation that spawned advances in science and commerce.

For more on Tom’s work, thoughts on social media, and recent favorite reads, check out our full interview.

Labels: author interview, authors

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Interview with Patrick Ness

Some excerpts from our interview with Patrick Ness, which appeared in the October State of the Thing.

Patrick is the author of several books for young adults, including The Knife of Never Letting Go and the Carnegie Medal-winning Monsters of Men and A Monster Calls. His new book, More Than This, was published by Candlewick in September.

I don’t want to ask for a nutshell version of More Than This, since so much depends on the mysteries that the reader has the chance to unpack, but will you give us a sense of how the book begins, at least?

Well, the first line is “Here is the boy, drowning” and he does, unambiguously, die. So where does he wake up on the next page then? Don’t really want to say any more than that, really!

Was there a specific idea or incident that inspired the story?

I always wanted to write a book where someone wakes up and the world is empty. So the next question is why? And that opened up a whole realm of possibilities and other questions, which is what I find exciting. I also wanted to write a book about yearning, about yearning for more than just your own life, because I think that’s such a painful and poignant universal teenage experience. Then I just sort of went from there to see where the story would take me.

What’s your favorite line (or scene) from the book?

I don’t want people to turn to it first! But I’m really proud of the last line. To me, the whole book rests on it and it’s got everything I want the book to be about in it. But read the first 480 pages first, please.

What do you think it is about dystopian writing that works so well for YA/teen audiences?

I’ve always thought it was because dystopias are about a world where society has suddenly collapsed, where the rules are arbitrary and unknowable, where people are divided into groups, and your friends are both beloved and duplicitous. In short, it’s high school. I don’t think teenagers look as dystopia as fiction; they see it as a pretty accurate description of what their current world feels like.

When and where do you do most of your writing? Are there any particular writing habits or practices you’ve found useful?

I work at home and in the London Library. And I do have a few habits—1000 words a day, working to goal rather than time, etc.—but it’s a really important thing that no one can tell you how to write; they can only tell you how they write and that’s an important difference. The things I do may be of no use to you at all, but that’s absolutely fine. As long as you get the writing in, you’re doing it right.

For more on Patrick’s work, favorite books, and what we can expect to see from him next, check out our full interview.

Labels: author interview, authors

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

One LibraryThing, One Book

In the grand tradition of The Big Read and One City, One Book projects everywhere, LibraryThing is beginning its first ever, LibraryThing-wide read. It’s a bit of an experiment, and there has been much discussion on Talk about how to make it work.

For our first One LibraryThing, One Book selection, we’ll be reading Dave Eggers‘s The Circle. This one is a bit of an ironic pick by Tim—a dystopia about social networking, ha ha. If it doesn’t strike your fancy, don’t worry—in the future, we’ll expand the selection process to allow for member voting, in some fashion.

Get involved

Discussion starts November 18
In the interest of keeping discussion lively and spoiler-free, we’re setting the start date for discussion of The Circle as Monday, November 18th, at 9pm Eastern. Prior to that time, please use the “Introduce Yourself” or “First Impressions” threads to talk about your thoughts on the book as you’re reading.

Ten free copies up for grabs!
Thanks to the nice folks at Knopf, we’ve got 10 free copies of The Circle up for grabs, as a special extra batch in Early Reviewers. Go here to request one!

Questions? Comments?
You can check out and contribute to the discussion that spawned this project on Talk.

Labels: One LibraryThing One Book

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

AllHallowsThing Contest!

To celebrate Halloween, LibraryThing is introducing a brand new competition, “All HallowsThing.” It could help you decorate for the big night, or even inspire that costume you are worrying about!

How to enter

  1. Choose one of the two competition categories, or submit to both.
    • Literary Costume: Dress as a character or object from your favorite book.
    • Pumpkin Creations: Make a literary pumpkin!
  2. Take photos of your costume/pumpkins.
  3. Upload your photos to your gallery.
  4. Be sure to tag your photos. Tag them AllHallowsThing2013.
  5. Go ahead and add a title, description or whatever, detailing how you made your costume/creation.
  6. Deadline: The deadline is by 6 pm, Eastern on November 8th to be considered for our fabulous prizes!

Winners get

The staff at LibraryThing will choose the winners of each category.

Grand Prize: One per category

Runners Up: Two per category

  • Your choice of a LibraryThing t-shirt, stamp, or CueCat
  • That secret, undisclosed LibraryThing gift we haven’t announced yet
  • A lifetime gift membership

Fine Print: You can enter as many times as you like, but you can only win one prize. By entering the contest you certify that your creation is your own. All decisions as to winners will be made by LibraryThing staff, and our decisions are final, damn it. LibraryThing staff and family can enter, but can only be honored as prize-less honorable mentions. We reserve the right to use your photo, but the copyright remains yours. You can release them under a copyleft license.

Questions? Post links and question on this Talk topic.

Labels: AllHallowsThing, contest, contests