Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Join the June ReadaThing!

Mark your calendars! Coming up soon is a weeklong, start-of-summer June ReadaThing. All are welcome, and you don’t have to read for the full week: the goal is to have a few people from around the world reading at any given time during the ReadaThing.

The official start time will be at midnight on Tuesday, June 11 UTC/GMT: that’s 8 p.m. Monday in the Eastern US/Canada/LT time zone. This ReadaThing will run for a full week. See the time chart here.

For more information, see the announcement thread; to sign up, head right to the ReadaThing wiki. As we get closer to the date, watch the ReadaThing group for the “What will you be reading?” thread, and during the ReadaThing you can use the “Log Book” thread to document your ReadaThing experience.

If you haven’t participated in a ReadaThing before, give it a go if you can!

For more on ReadaThings, and to participate in planning future events, join the ReadaThing group.


* Summer reading spot photo submitted by LTer connie53.

Labels: readathon

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Better Twitter sharing for LT reviews

Mike has just pushed some new enhancements to review-sharing on Twitter. When you share a review, Twitter will now recognize the link as a LibraryThing review and you’ll see a “View summary” link below the text of your tweet. The summary view includes a headline, a cover image, and a short snippet from your review.

Here’s what one looks like:

If you haven’t already, connect your LibraryThing account to Twitter on the Sites/apps page (and be sure to say “yes” when Twitter asks if you want to grant us permission). Please note: LibraryThing never shares to Twitter without your explicit consent.

There are various places you can share, usually marked with the “share” icon (). Sharing is always available at the top right of the site. We also enable members to share to Facebook (for more on recent upgrades to Facebook sharing, see the Better Facebook sharing post.

Come discuss on Talk.

Labels: twitter

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Flash-mob: Help catalog Eisenhower’s Library!

Thanks to LibraryThing member kcgordon, we have a list of the books at the Eisenhower National Historic Site in Gettysburg, PA, so we thought it would be fun to do a quick flash-mob of these (there aren’t a huge number of books, so this probably won’t take too long).

We’ve kicked things off already (see Eisenhower’s profile page) but there are quite a few books still to be added, and we’d love to have your help!

See the Talk thread or jump right to the project wiki page to get started and claim your section of the library list. No worries if you haven’t worked on a Legacy Libraries project before – this is definitely a good introduction to them! I’ll be helping out too, and will answer any questions you have on the Talk thread.

NB: Another LTer is working on obtaining a list of additional Eisenhower books from his home in Kansas, so with any luck at all we’ll be able to add those soon as well. We’ll keep you posted!

Labels: flash-mob cataloging, fun, legacy libraries

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Sync your Goodreads to LibraryThing

Wait … what?

Did you know that you can now sync between Goodreads and LibraryThing? You don’t have to choose. Use both sites!

Getting started

To sync, go to Import books from Goodreads.

If you’re signed into Goodreads an export file should download for you automatically; if it doesn’t, there are some fallback instructions on that page. Select the downloaded file using the “Choose File” button and click “Upload” to import it into LibraryThing.

Import options

Once you’ve uploaded your file, you’ll see a breakdown of the books in the file, displaying the total number of books, books already in your library, books without ISBNs, and the number of valid ISBNs.

  • Choose sources: Source your data from Amazon or top libraries around the world.
  • Collections: Drop books into a specific LibraryThing collection.
  • Mass tagging: Add tags to everything.
  • Handle books without ISBNs: Choose whether to import non-ISBN books.

Sync options

Under “Handle duplicates,” you’ll see options to import duplicates again (i.e., create a whole bunch of duplicates), omit duplicates, or sync duplicates.

If you sync, you’ll see options depending on the differences between your Goodreads books and your LibraryThing catalog.

  • Replace “date read” with imported info: “Date read” goes into LibraryThing’s “date finished.”
  • Add shelves to existing tags: This adds your Goodreads “shelves” to LibraryThing as tags.
  • For reviews, you can replace existing reviews or add new reviews if you haven’t yet posted a review on LibraryThing for those books.
  • Replace ratings.
  • Replace pages with imported data: This changes the “number of pages” in LibraryThing.

After this, click “Import books.” Old books sync immediately. New books are added to the import queue.

Labels: import

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Better Facebook sharing

LibraryThing’s Mike Topper has just pushed a big change in how members share their LibraryThing news on Facebook. The change—integrating into Facebook’s Open Graph structure—makes the things you share more visible to your friends and integrates them more cleanly into your Facebook timeline.

If you haven’t already, connect your LibraryThing account to Facebook on the Sites/apps page (and be sure to say “yes” when Facebook asks if you want to grant us permission). Please note: LibraryThing never shares with Facebook without your explicit consent.

There are various places you can share, usually marked with the “share” icon (). Sharing is always available at the top right of the site. We also enable members to share to Twitter.

Here’s what the new sharing action for reviews looks like from within Facebook.

Facebook will also aggregate multiple instances of an action together and display that to your friends.

Adding a book

Adding a book to a collection

Adding a book to your wishlist

Rating a book

We’ll be rolling out more of these types of actions moving forward, so stay tuned.

Come talk about this and Facebook sharing generally on Talk: New Features


Many thanks to the members of the Board for Extreme Thing Advances who helped us out with testing these changes.

Labels: facebook

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

May Early Reviewers batch is up!

The May 2013 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 134 books this month, and a grand total of 4,345 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, May 27th 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 Putnam Books
Monarch Books Riverhead Books The Permanent Press
Safkhet Select Prufrock Press Random House
Crown Publishing Charlesbridge Plume
Quirk Books Five Rivers Publishing Palgrave Macmillan
Kregel Publications Camel Press Coffeetown Press
December House Akashic Books Apex Publications
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Viva Editions Cleis Press
Random House Trade Paperbacks Beaufort Books ArbeitenZeit Media
Coral Press Gotham Books Avery
Crossed Genres Publications Indigo Ink Press Mulholland Books
Human Kinetics Bellevue Literary Press Algonquin Books
Iridescent Publishing Whitepoint Press Hudson Whitman/ Excelsior College Press
Cosmic Casserole Press William Morrow United Arts Media
White Wave BookViewCafe Fog Ink
MSI Press Grey Gecko Press Improvisation Publishers
CarTech Books EgmontUSA McFarland
JournalStone Ambergris Publishing Marble City Publishing
Penguin Young Readers Group Candlewick Press Wayman Publishing
Galaxy Audio Galaxy Press Istoria Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

April SOTT & Author interviews

The April 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 Tatiana Holway and Marie Brennan.

I talked to Tatiana Holway about her book The Flower of Empire: An Amazonian Water Lily, the Quest to Make it Bloom, and the World it Created, published by Oxford University Press this month. Some excerpts:

What a story! It’s hard to imagine a country getting excited about a flowering plant today, but in early Victorian England, just that happened, as you tell us in your book. What was the plant, and why did so many find it so fascinating?

You’re right: most of us these days do tend to think of gardening as just a hobby and flowers as mere decor. For Victorians, though, gardening and flowers were intertwined with almost every aspect of daily life. Add to that the sheer numbers of new flowers that were turning up as Britons explored (and absorbed) more and more parts of the world, and the deluge of information about them that was surging through the ever more widely circulating popular press, and you can see how news of the discovery of a colossal tropical water lily could cause quite a stir. Then add the further fact that the plant was discovered in Britain’s only South American colony—the one where it so happened that Sir Walter Raleigh had gone looking for El Dorado and so much of Britain’s imperial ambition had been formed—and the fact that it was identified as a new genus just when the 18-year-old Princess Victoria happened to become queen—you could say all the forces were in place for a perfect storm. The naming of the flower Victoria regia set it off.

Are you a gardener yourself? If so, what are some of your favorite plants to grow?

Absolutely! After growing up in New York City—”gardenless,” as Victorians might have said—I found myself living in a house with a yard, stuck a trowel in the dirt, and fell head over heels with growing flowers: lilies of the valley, violas, forget-me-nots, daisies, delphiniums, sweet peas, morning glories, poppies, veronicas, daylilies, plantain lilies, lavender, roses, clematis, bell flowers, cone flowers, black-eyed susans, hollyhocks, phlox …

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

Loads of books on natural history, plus loads on British history, plus loads of Victorian literature and literary criticism. I have a soft spot for 17th-century poetry, so there’s quite a bit of that, and then there’s plenty of contemporary fiction, and pockets of all sorts of other books, too. I can’t live without the OED. That and about a dozen other well-thumbed reference works are on my desk. Naturally, companions to gardens and flowers are there, too.

What have you read and enjoyed recently?

Issues of Punch from the 1850s and ’60s and of The New Yorker from the last few months. Richard Russo’s Straight Man was great fun on a short trip recently. The other day, I started Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace by Kate Summerscale. It’s a nonfiction work, based on a Victorian woman’s diary, and very well written. Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending is definitely on my list. I’m also looking forward to giving the novels of Jeffrey Eugenides a try.

Read the rest of our interview with Tatiana Holway.

I also had the chance to talk with Marie Brennan (LibraryThing member castlen) about her recent book A Natural History of Dragons (Tor).

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?

Tell us about Lady Trent, the narrator/memoirist of A Natural History of Dragons. What’s she like, how does she get interested in dragons, and what can readers expect from her memoir?

She’s a deeply geeky woman who became obsessed with dragons at a young age, when she began collecting sparklings (tiny insect-like draconic creatures) and decided that anything with wings was awesome. Her memoirs chronicle the process by which that enthusiastic girl became first an amateur naturalist, then a professional one, then a rather famous (not to say notorious) one. As she is writing her memoirs in her old age, she doesn’t much care what people think of her anymore, and often has trenchant comments to make both on society and her own youthful errors.

What gave you the idea to pen a novel in this particular narrative form?

It really just fell into place, when I first started chasing the idea. The first-person point of view drifted right away into a retrospective voice, Isabella looking back on her life, and then it seemed obvious to write it as an actual memoir—which is, after all, a very Victorian thing to do. (The book is set in a secondary world, but it’s very much modeled on the real nineteenth century.)

You and your husband have been LibraryThing members since 2006 (http://www.librarything.com/profile/castlen). Tell us about your library: how is it organized? Do you and your husband integrate your books or keep them separate?

We integrated them when we moved in together—and yes, both parts of that were considered Big Steps in our relationship! Back then we marked our books with initials in case of separation, but the books we’ve gotten since then are unmarked. God help us if we ever get a divorce; that could get ugly real fast …

As for organization, fiction is downstairs, with mass-market paperbacks in one bookcase (with very closely-spaced shelves) and hardcovers and trade paperbacks on another. Those, of course, are all alphabetized by author. There are two bookcases with comic books and roleplaying games, and then in my husband’s office, various science and technical books. My office contains the nonfiction part of our library, arranged by subject, along with odds and ends like the travel books, foreign language dictionaries, manga, and so on.

It sounds a bit obsessive, but with more than two thousand books, we’d never find anything if it weren’t organized.

You’ve written about the importance of buying books from physical bookstores: what are some of your favorite bookstores, and why?

I love Borderlands Books in San Francisco. It’s a specialty bookstore, with science fiction and fantasy and horror, and its selection is fabulous. They host a large number of readings and signings and other events, and the staff are very knowledgeable and friendly—basically, it has all the classic virtues of the independent specialty store.

Read the rest of our interview with Marie Brennan.


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

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Books for Ghana: LibraryThing teams up with Books Matter!

Between November and April, LibraryThing members raised nearly $2,600 for needy readers by adding events to LibraryThing Local!

When we announced this initiative we asked for your help in coming up with the best way to use this money to put books directly into the hands of readers who would benefit the most from them. We wanted to find a project where our contributions can really make an immediate, tangible difference, and one with which LibraryThing and its members can build an active and ongoing relationship.

We’re very pleased to announce that we’ve found just such a project!

Books to Ghana

In February we donated donated $600 of the funds raised to Keith Goddard’s Books4Ghana campaign on IndieGogo, enough to put that effort over the top. Keith, who’s been a public school teacher in Toronto for the past fifteen years and has family connections in Ghana, began collecting books last summer for the Bright Future School in Keta, Ghana, a K-9 school with 600 students and thirty faculty members.

The first batch of 200 math textbooks and 500 children’s books were sent in August 2012, and arrived in October. Another 3,100 books Keith collected from schools around Toronto (and stored in his house!) were shipped this February after the successful IndieGoGo campaign, and arrived just a couple weeks ago. They will be delivered to the school later this month. You can browse the catalog of these books at http://www.librarything.com/profile/booksmatter. As the project expands and books arrive at additional libraries, we’ll be separating these out into separate LT catalogs for each library, so that they can be optimized to fit the specific needs of each school (and so that they can be updated as needed, of course).

Keith has now launched a new website for the Books Matter project at http://www.booksmatter.org, and is in the process of registering as an official charity. He’s currently rounding up the next batch of books to ship over to Ghana, and identifying the schools there that will benefit most from books we send.

Phase One: How to help now

Right now the major need is funding for shipping already-donated books to Ghana: payment for a shipping container, sea transport to Accra, Ghana, and then transportation from Accra to the schools in the Volta region). It costs approximately $1 per book to pay for shipping (as Keith says, “$10 sends 10 books, $50 sends 50 books: the math is simple, but the effect is profound”).

We’re going to be giving more of the money members raised by adding events to LT Local for this, and we invite you, should you feel so inclined, to head over to Books Matter and donate directly to the cause as well. If you donate, make sure to mention you’re a LibraryThing member!

Phase Two: Collection Development

This is about more than money. Books Matter is cataloging everything they send to Ghana.

Having everything cataloged allows us to do more than send random books. We can get involved in collection development—sending the right books to the right schools to fill gaps or to focus on areas of interest. We can do this site-wide or in groups. So, for example, wouldn’t it be cool if the “Green Dragon” and “Science!” groups could collaborate to make sure they’ve got a good collection in their area? And teachers and children at the schools can also participate, telling us what they need and how we can help!

That’s our idea. We’ll support it with some money and with features. But members will have to drive it. Let’s see what we can all do for readers in another country.

Come talk about phase two here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/153515

Why we’re doing this.

We’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time. We feel it’s important to give back when we can, and we want to give our members an easy way to contribute to a worthy project that puts books in the hands of readers who need them. By working with Keith and Books Matter, we’re in on the ground floor of a new, exciting project with lots of growth potential, and will be able to work with him to make sure that our contributions get where they need to go.

We’re really delighted about this, and we hope you all will be too!

Labels: events, fun, gifts, librarything local

Friday, April 26th, 2013

A raft of LibraryThing improvements

Our developers have made a whole slew of improvements recently. If you’re not following New Features, you may have missed them. Here’s a roundup.

The person who normally draws our yellow arrows died.

Share buttons on Add Books

We’ve added “share” buttons to the add books page, so you can share your new books on Facebook and Twitter easily. Come discuss.

Date formats and date-read changes

Change your default date format. You can now edit the way you’d like dates to appear in your catalog for the date-read, date-acquired, and entry date fields. 2013-04-26, or “YYYY-MM-DD,” is still the default, but you can change it to M/D/YYYY, or “January 1, 2012,” or several other display options. Change this setting on any book’s edit page, from Edit your profile > Account settings, or in the lightbox which appears when you edit the reading-date fields in your catalog.

“Imprecise” or “fuzzy” dates. Rather than having to enter a full year-month-day (2012-12-23) date, you can now just enter a year and a month (2012-12) or a year (2012).

Non dates and bad dates. You can even enter non-dates (“Banuary 2012″ or “Sometime in college”) and the text will save and stick. It will, however, be displayed as red text. Dates from before 1970 now save correctly too.

New lightbox for editing dates. Editing reading dates from within the catalog now works slightly differently: if you double-click one of the reading date columns you’ll now see a lightbox appear, and you’ll be able to edit any reading dates for that particular book.

“Reading dates” catalog field added. We’ve added a new “Reading dates” field to Your books: this uses two columns and includes both the “Date Started” and “Date Finished” reading date fields. It sorts by the latest date in either “Date Started” or “Date Finished,” which is usually what you want. Add this to one of your display styles at http://www.librarything.com/editprofile/styles.

Back-end changes. These improvements required various important back-end changes, basically completely revising how and where the date-read data is stored. These were important not only for the improvements mentioned here, but also as we move into more changes to the “currently reading” structure (coming soon). This is step one of a multi-step process.

Questions, comments, bugs to report? Come discuss on Talk.

View, sort by work’s average rating

By popular request, we’ve adding a way for you to view or sort by a work’s average rating in your catalog. The column is called “Work: Average Rating.” Add it to one of your display styles at http://www.librarything.com/editprofile/styles. The column shows the work’s rating graphically (with stars, making it easy to compare your ratings with the average) as well as numerically, to allow more precision. The total number of ratings is also displayed.

For more on this, see the Talk thread. Over 250 members voted on how to style it, and we ended up coming up with a compromise.

Import/sync improvements galore.

With the recent influx of imports from Goodreads members and others, we took the opportunity to spend some time with our import code, and it is now much improved. There are still some major improvements to be made, but it’s running much more smoothly than before. Key changes:

Importing is much faster. You should see a marked increase in speed when it comes to processing imported files: we’ve dedicated some more processing power to handling imports, and made some speed improvements in the queue-processing code as well.

Syncing. You can now sync between Goodreads and LibraryThing accounts, allowing you to periodically update your LibraryThing library from your Goodreads account. Synced fields include reviews, ratings, date read and shelves/tags.

Bug fixes. We fixed a number of bugs in the import code. Here’s a sampling:

  • There were a number of issues with imports from Shelfari, Anobii, and Calibre that were causing all sorts of strange things to happen. Imports from those sites should now be much more successful (author names should come in completely, for example, rather than partially as they were in many cases).
  • A bug which caused collection assignments to go awry was eliminated.
  • Books which only include an ISBN-13 are now imported using the ISBN, rather than as ISBN-less books.
  • We’re now blocking any records without any data in the title field, as well as any blank rows in the imported file, from adding as blank LibraryThing book records.

Better tracking. During this process we added a number of new and very useful tracking measures on the back end so that we can monitor imports in a more coherent way and help to troubleshoot bugs much more easily.

Need to import? Head over to http://www.librarything.com/more/import and add or sync your books.

“Left-nav” standardization

As a first step in the direction of a site redesign, we’re working on standardizing various elements of the site, so they all look the same across LibraryThing. We’ve begun this process with the “left nav”—what we call LibraryThing’s secondary, left-aligned navigation menus on Talk, Groups, Recommendations and lots of other pages. Basically the code for these was the same, but a whole bunch of differences cropped up depending on which page you visited.

We’ve now standardized these based on the version previously used in Talk, with the addition of a blue “call out” bar by the item you’ve selected.

Labels: design, features, import, new feature, new features

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Edible Book Contest Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered our second annual virtual Edible Books Contest! Once again your biblio-culinary talents impressed and amazed! Check out all of the entries in the gallery.

Without further ado, your winners …

The grand prize goes to new member GSCK for this sinister tableau of books by David Wong: This Book is Full of Spiders and John Dies at the End. The books are made of vanilla and chocolate cake, with fondant and white chocolate spider webs. Another view here.

Along with the honor and fame, GSCK wins a $50 gift certificate to Longfellow Books, an LT t-shirt, stamp, and sticker, plus a CueCat and three lifetime gift memberships to LibraryThing!

We picked two runners-up: both will win their choice of an LT t-shirt, stamp, or CueCat, plus two lifetime gift memberships. First we have mellu for an anagrammatic and delicious-sounding take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, made from “layered sponge cake filled with raspberry mousse + bilberry jam, decorated with red marzipan and white sugar paste.”

Our second runner-up this year is v4758, for a birthday cake of “desert island books,” made from “innumerable batches of Victoria sponge and enough fondant icing to satisfy even the sweetest tooth.” v7458 even provided a cross-section. The books are Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, as well as Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary.

We also chose a couple of Honorable Mention winners; each will receive a lifetime gift membership. These are jorkar for an axolotl cake to celebrate the release of Susan Hood’s Spike, the Mixed-up Monster and debwalsh51 for her take on Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.

And just because it made me laugh, I have to mention “Maybe Tomorrow” by GSCK: It’s captioned “Homage to The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing made out of frosting. I haven’t gotten around to making the cake yet.”

I’ll be contacting the winners to claim their prizes.

Congratulations to our winners, and thanks again to all the entrants!

Labels: contest, contests, fun