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

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Let’s show our love for Longfellow Books!

width="300"During last weekend’s blizzard, our much-beloved independent bookstore here in Portland, Longfellow Books (see them on LibraryThing Local), suffered significant damage when a water line in the building’s sprinkler system froze and caused torrents of water to pour through the ceiling directly onto the books. Co-owner Chris Bowe told the local paper that as much as half of the stock was damaged by water: much of the rest was saved by the quick actions of the Portland fire department.

I’ve heard from several of you this week asking how we can help. For now, the single best thing we can do to show our love for Longfellow is to buy some books from them. They’re taking orders by phone (207-772-4045) and through their website, and they’ve printed up some limited edition Flood of 2013 Gift Certificates, which you can order online. It’s even International Book Giving Day, so what better time than the present? (Also, it’s Valentine’s Day, and books make great gifts for that special someone!).

The Longfellow staff have been working hard all week to try and get the store open in time for their Pussy Riot Valentine’s Day Benefit event tonight at 7 p.m., and once they get things back up and running they may have other/different ways we can volunteer and help out. We’ll be sure to pass those along to you all. For now, head on over to longfellowbooks.com and buy a book (or six) or a gift card. Let’s help show Longfellow how much we care!

[Update: Just after we posted this the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance also announced some other ways to help – check those out here].

Labels: bookstores, love, portland

Monday, February 11th, 2013

February SOTT & Author interviews!

The February State of the Thing, LibraryThing’s monthly newsletter of features, author interviews and various forms of bookish delight, should have made its way to your inbox by now. You can also read it online. It includes interviews with authors Robin Sloan and Christine Sneed.

I talked to Robin Sloan about his book Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore , published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in October. Some excerpts:

The title of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore came from a tweet, right? Tell us where you got the idea, and how the book developed from the original short story into a full-length novel.

That’s right: the germ of the idea was a tweet from my friend Rachel, way back in 2008, which read, “just misread ’24hr bookdrop’ as ’24hr bookshop’. the disappointment is beyond words.” I read it walking down the street in San Francisco, and it made me smile and wonder: what would a 24-hour bookstore be like, anyway? A few months later, when I sat down to start a new story, the question was still there, so I started to sketch it out. When it was finished, I published that story online, both in Amazon’s Kindle Store and on my website, and it just took off like a rocket—somehow finding an audience much bigger and more vocal than any of my other stories before or since. So, that was a sign that maybe there was something there: some deeper potential, some larger story.

What was your research process like as you wrote this book? Were there sources on the early years of printing that you found particularly useful?

I love Andrew Pettegree’s The Book in the Renaissance, a historian’s look at the publishing business circa 1400-1600. Basically the takeaway is this: it was just as competitive and chaotic as the internet industry is today. Probably more so.

What are some of your favorite libraries and/or bookstores, and why?

I have way too many favorites to list, but I’ll give a shout out to Green Apple Books in San Francisco, which was my neighborhood bookstore when I was first starting Penumbra. And actually, there’s a branch of the San Francisco Public Library around the corner that’s quite lovely, too; it has just as many books in Chinese and Russian as in English. You could do a lot worse than to have these two places as your neighborhood book-acquisition options.

Read the rest of our interview with Robin Sloan.

I also had the chance to talk with Christine Sneed about her recent book Little Known Facts (Bloomsbury).

Do you recall what first gave you the idea to write a novel about Hollywood fame and its effects on both the famous person and those around him?

I remember wondering one day what it would be like to have a famous film actor as your father, especially if you are a young man—what sort of competition and envy would you feel? This is where the idea for the book began, but I’m not sure what triggered it.

You’ve written that Little Known Facts asks of its characters ‘If you could have anything in the world, what would you choose?’ How would you answer that question yourself?

Well, it will sound a little suspect, but it’s nonetheless true: I would help friends and family pay debts, send their children to college, take fancy vacations in the sun. I’d want to be able to take fancy, sunny vacations too and spend more time in France, the country where I studied in college; it remains very close to my heart. I’d also like to see about four movies a week.

Tell us a bit about your writing process: how and when do you do much of your writing? Any particular hints or tips on writing that you’d like to share?

I usually write in the afternoons when I’m not teaching; I do sometimes write at night, but not as often. The writing advice I often give is that you can get a lot done in the interstices—even if you only have 30-45 minutes on a given day, sit down and at least make some notes. A book is written little by little, not in one marathon session.

What’s your own library like? What sorts of books would we find on your shelves?

Some poetry but mostly fiction and nonfiction by American and British writers, and currently on my desk are Dan Chaon’s Stay Awake, Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, Achy Obejas’s Ruins, along with Brad Watson’s Aliens in Their Prime, also, Outrageously Offensive Jokes III and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012.

Read the rest of our interview with Christine Sneed.


Catch up on previous State of the Thing newsletters.

If you don’t get State of the Thing, you can add it in your email preferences. You also have to have an email address listed.

Labels: author interview, state of the thing

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

New Local: LibraryThing Local Gets a Redo

We’re very excited to announce a whole series of improvements to LibraryThing Local, your gateway to tens of thousands of bookstores, libraries, book festivals, author readings and other bookish venues and events.




The major improvements are:

Speed. As the data grew, Local got slow, especially if you lived somewhere like New York. The html pages for places like that were also gigantic. (And I mean gigantic. They crashed browsers!) New Local is much faster, with page-load times of a few seconds at most, and pages under 100k.

Better, bigger maps. You can now zoom, click and drag the maps and new venues will come in dynamically. (Before they just stopped outside the sample area.) Each map also has a full page mode (see New York, NY) that fills the page.

More venues! More events! Our recent push for events produced a huge influx of new venues and events. We also wrote special scrapers for most of the major publishers, and B&N and IndieBound stores, which more-than-doubled what users entered.

We’re up to 80,500 venues, including 28,000 bookstores and 45,000 libraries, and 118,000 bookish events, including nearly 10,000 upcoming.

All-in-all, we’re confident that no other source has as much information on bookish events as LibraryThing Local.

Books for Ghana. We’re also extremely pleased that by adding events to LT Local, members raised more than $1,700 for needy readers. So far we’ve contributed $600 of that to Keith Goddard’s Books4Ghana campaign on Indiegogo, putting that effort over the top. This will fund the shipping of several thousand books to the Bright Future School in Keta, Ghana this spring. We hope to work with Keith more going forward.

New version of Readar. We’ve updated Readar (formerly Local Books) to make it compatible with the 5S.

If you haven’t used it yet, Readar is a simple app for bookstores, libraries and bookish events near you. I use it all the time at home—every time I want to call a bookstore, they’re all right there. And I use it whenever I go on a trip, so I know where to spend my free time.

Local Members. The Local members page, which shows members near you who’ve chosen to make their location public, has been thoroughly revamped and updated, with a pleasant checkerboard view. It’s on “infinite scroll,” so that it loads ahead of you, like Pinterest. The members are sorted semi-randomly, with members who are more active on LibraryThing or share something with you nearer the top.

To add a public location, or remove yours, edit your profile. As of now, only about 27% of members have public locations. You also have a “private location,” so you can find out what’s going on in your town without telling anyone where that is!

Profile page changes. Just some slight tweaking on your profile page: we’ve moved the “About me” and “About my library” sections up a bit, so they now appear before your lists of groups and favorite authors and venues. We’ve added a “Favorite venues” link directly to your LT Local Favorites page.

Event filtering. Back in November we added a way for members to filter out events they didn’t have any interest in seeing. We’ve expanded that to filter out some less “pertinent” events—mostly all the Nook demos at B&N stores—at a global level, so they won’t show unless you want them to. You can toggle to seeing absolutely everything by choosing “all” instead of “most” above event lists.

Helper stats. We’re rearranged the Stats/Memes page a bit, adding a Helper section where you can see all your Helper badges, your Common Knowledge contributions, and your additions to LibraryThing Local. The new Local page shows all the venues and events you’ve added so far. (See yours or MDGentleReader‘s.)

Better Venue Linking. Linking up the brief location info on publishers sites (eg., “Tattered Cover, Denver”) to their real-life LibraryThing venues (e.g., this) has become a crucial step in getting so many events in LT Local. We’ve improved the Help Connect Bookstores and Libraries to LibraryThing page to help helpers out more—providing a list of best matches. It speeds things up enormously. (Many thanks to MDGentleReader, rosalita, eromsted, lilithcat, SqueakyChu and many others for doing so many the old way.)

Talk about it. Come talk about the changes here! If you find a bug, tell us here.

Labels: events, librarything local, new features

Monday, February 4th, 2013

February Early Reviewers batch is up!

The February 2013 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 110 books this month, and a grand total of 3,871 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, February 25th at 6 p.m. EST.

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!

Algonquin Books Henry Holt and Company Tundra Books
Chronicle Books Random House The Permanent Press
Riverhead Books Taylor Trade Publishing Putnam Books
Ballantine Books Prospect Park Books Entangled Publishing
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books Union Books Quirk Books
Illuminated Publications, LTD Plume Petra Books
University Press of New England Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Random House Trade Paperbacks
Rovira i Virgili University Press Oxford University Press Spiegel & Grau
William Morrow Randall House Publications JournalStone
Hunter House Orbit Books WaterBrook Press
HarperCollins Greyhart Press Stone Bridge Press
BookViewCafe Palgrave Macmillan Istoria Books
Galaxy Audio Prufrock Press Gotham Books
Avery St. Martin’s Griffin Ripetta Press
Information Today, Inc. Orca Book Publishers Zest Books
CyberAge Books Crown Publishing Bellevue Literary Press
Thomas House Publishing A & N Publishing Open Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Join the 75 Books Challenge for 2013!

Looking for a fun way to get more involved with LibraryThing? Join the 75 Books Challenge for 2013, one of the site’s most active (and entertaining) groups. Members take a stab at reading 75 books over the course of the year (although, as the group description notes, “It turns out we care less about the numbers than we do about the exchange of book info and the community of readers”). Your mileage will vary.

Participants are invited to start a thread and list/discuss what they’re reading (here’s the full list so far), but the group goes way beyond that, with monthly Take It Or Leave It (TIOLI) challenges, monthly themes, group reads, meetups, and more.

This is the sixth year of the LT 75 Books Challenge, and it gets more and more interesting every time. I’ve joined the fray for the second time this year (you can see my reading thread here): I had a great deal of fun last year, and am excited to be back in the game for 2013!

The activity level is fairly high, but there’s a handy wiki to help you keep things straight, and of course the members of the group are always helpful to new members. Most importantly, it’s a fun way to meet other LibraryThing members and discuss what you’re reading (also, be warned, your wishlist is very likely to grow by leaps and bounds!).

To participate, just jump right in by visiting the group page. And have fun!

Labels: groups, reading

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

January LTER Batch is up!

The January 2013 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 84 books this month, and a grand total of 2,750 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, January 28th at 6 p.m. EST.

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!

Bethany House WaterBrook Press Quirk Books
Algonquin Books Henry Holt and Company Penguin Young Readers Group
Tundra Books Hudson Whitman/ Excelsior College Press The Permanent Press
Taylor Trade Publishing HarperCollins Ballantine Books
Human Kinetics Crown Publishing Dragonfairy Press
Scribner Books Palgrave Macmillan Greenleaf Book Group
Chronicle Books Random House Apex Publications
Leafwood Publishers Universal Technical Systems Hunter House
Sakura Publishing Orbit Books CarTech Books
Simon & Schuster Grey Gecko Press Riverhead Books
Random House Trade Paperbacks Chin Music Press BookViewCafe
Signet Lion Fiction Gotham Books
Orca Book Publishers Open Books JournalStone
Nonstop Press Prufrock Press Dragonwell Publishing
Winged Victory Press William Morrow B&H Publishing Group
Safkhet Soul

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Friday, January 4th, 2013

December SOTT & Author Interviews

December’s State of the Thing, LibraryThing’s monthly newsletter of features, author interviews and various forms of bookish delight, should have made its way to your inbox by now. You can also read it online. It includes interviews with authors Simon Garfield and Douglas Hunter.

I talked to Simon Garfileld about his new book On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks , published by Gotham Books last month. Some excerpts:

I’m going to begin by asking you the first question I asked Ken Jennings when I talked to him about his book Maphead: so what is it about maps, anyway? Why are so many people so fascinated by them?

Maps have helped define what makes us human. Maps were one of the earliest forms of communication, almost certainly existing before language and speech. I’m inclined to agree with Richard Dawkins when he suggests that our ability to draw maps—to show fellow hunters where the juicy elk were—was a key factor in expanding the size of our brains, enabling the leap from apes to homo-sapiens. Beyond all this, maps are frequently beautiful artifacts, telling the best stories in a direct way. The idea of the book was to retell the best of these stories. And occasionally, of course, maps just help us get from A to B.

What first got you interested in maps, and when?

I first got hooked as a boy travelling on the London Underground at the age of 10. The famous Harry Beck tube map—now copied all over the world—was in every carriage and platform. I didn’t realize its significance (geographically it’s incredibly inaccurate, but as a diagram it’s a great piece of information engineering), but I was entranced by the names on it and its possibilities. The prospect of travelling to the end of any of the lines—Amersham at the end of the Metropolitan line, say—seemed as exotic and far away as Antarctica. I’ve collected tube maps ever since, and now framed copies line my hallway at home.

What have you read and enjoyed recently?

Two books I’ve loved of late: Walking Home by Simon Armitage, a funny account of a soggy walk across the Pennine Way from Derbyshire to Scotland, reading poetry at some unlikely venues en route to pay his way. And an oldie but goodie: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, the classic epistolary account of a tough American lady’s relationship with a London bookshop and its staff (and its books).

Read the rest of our interview with Simon Garfield.

I also had the chance to talk with Douglas Hunter about his recent book The Race to the New World: Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and a Lost History of Discovery (Palgrave Macmillan).

Christopher Columbus is, of course, a household name, but John Cabot may not be known to many readers. Who was this man, and what did he do?

John Cabot (as he was known in England) was a Venetian citizen who persuaded England’s Henry VII in 1496 to grant him some fairly generous rights to prove a westward route across the Atlantic to Asia’s riches. His first try in 1496 was a failure, but his second voyage in 1497 made the first known landfall since the Vikings somewhere in northeastern North America, probably in southern Labrador or the coast of Newfoundland. At the time, Columbus hadn’t moved beyond Caribbean islands in his own discovery efforts.

Cabot was a bit of an odd duck. He wasn’t a seasoned mariner. He was a hide trader who dabbled in property renovation and fled creditors in Venice in the 1480s for Spain. Reinventing himself as a marine construction engineer, Cabot pitched the king, Fernando, on an artificial harbor scheme for Valencia in 1491-92. Fernando and Cabot couldn’t line up the money for that project, and Cabot next surfaced in the historical record in 1494 in Seville, the headquarters of the Columbus scheme, overseeing an important bridge project. But Cabot appears not to have done any work on it, and by December 1494 he was essentially being run out of town by displeased nobles. Reinvented himself yet again, Cabot surfaced at the court of Henry VII in England, in January 1946, with his Asia voyage scheme. And so this considerable rival to Columbus emerged from within Columbus’s own milieu.

You suggest that Cabot may have accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage, in 1493. Lay out the evidence for us, and explain what this finding might mean for our understanding of the history of exploration (or for Cabot and Columbus themselves).

What’s really puzzling about Cabot’s career is how he managed to persuade Henry VII to grant him such generous rights for an Asia voyage in 1496 when he had no apparent track record as an expert mariner, let alone as an exploration promoter.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that English mariners out of Bristol already may have reached the New World, perhaps earlier than 1470. Cabot could have tapped into this lost knowledge in proposing his voyage to Henry VII. But if that awareness was circulating, why didn’t Henry give the job and its many privileges to an Englishman? Henry was a shrewd and tight-fisted ruler. Something about Cabot’s pitch persuaded him that this Venetian deserved the rights handed over to him.

There is more to this than I can explain here, but the most compelling case Cabot could have made for the rights he secured was that he had already been to Asia, and so he knew how to get there. Cabot was a bit of a confidence man. I think either he claimed something he hadn’t done, or he had actually already had been to Asia, or the New World, rather, with Columbus. There are a couple bits of circumstantial evidence to support the distinct possibility that Cabot had been on the second Columbus voyage, which departed Spain in September 1493.

One of the bits of evidence I use is a really opaque letter written by the Spanish monarchs to their ambassador in London in early 1496. I engaged the help of an academic expert in early Spanish, and the letter seems to refer to Cabot as “the one from the Indies.” Anyone interested in the tough slogging of historical translation should visit my website, follow the link for this book, and read the essay about “lo de las yndias.”

What’s your own library like? What sorts of books would we find on your shelves?

As I’m in the middle of doctoral studies, not surprisingly my shelves are groaning with works of history. My main doctoral fields, Canadian history and Aboriginal history, account for a lot of what’s at hand. There are also a couple shelves full of works dedicated to exploration. A lot of those are reference books, from the Hakluyt Society and Repertorium Columbianum for example, with annotated transcriptions of key sources. I do read for pleasure, both fiction and nonfiction, though.

Read the rest of our interview with Douglas Hunter.


Catch up on previous State of the Thing newsletters.

If you don’t get State of the Thing, you can add it in your email preferences. You also have to have an email address listed.

Labels: author interview, state of the thing

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Welcome KJ!

We are very pleased to welcome KJ Gormley (LT member kjgormley) to the LibraryThing team. KJ will be assisting Abby and Kate by providing technical and customer support for our LibraryThing for Libraries products (see the job post).

KJ grew up on the coast of Maine and earned her BA in Cultural Anthropology from Smith College. After school, she went to work for the Skidompha Public Library in Damariscotta, Maine, where she worked in the Development department and did technology assistance. She moved to Portland in September, and enjoys watching the sun set over Back Bay from her window. KJ will be joining Tim and Jeremy in working most of the time at LibraryThing HQ in Portland.

When not reading, KJ enjoys writing fiction, making a fool of herself at dance classes, playing ukulele, and sampling the Portland food culture. She is currently reading and watching her way through the collected works of Shakespeare. Her favorite authors are Robertson Davies, Ruth Ozeki, Neil Gaiman, and John Irving.

You can follow KJ on Twitter at @kjgormley.

Labels: employees, LTFL