Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Pictures get a lot better

I’ve just released phase one of the new picture system—much better profile pictures:

The new system allows members to post multiple profile pictures, see pictures at large sizes, describe pictures, leave comments on them, and share them with other members. There’s also a tagging feature, so members can organize their pictures and swarm around common tags, like my library.

The new system was designed to be used across the site. I am particularly anxious to get it working on books—so members can show multiple images, and separate out covers, title pages, spine images and so forth.

Read and talk more about it here.

Labels: new features, pictures

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Connections lists and other profile-page upgrades

Mike has revamped LibraryThing’s “connections” feature, changing the UI somewhat and allowing members to specify new types of contacts, like “best friends,” “employees,” “librarian peeps,” etc. These categories show up everywhere connections do, such as work pages.

There were also significant changes under the surface, preparing us for better contact handling generally—both inside-LibraryThing contacts and reaching out to other social networks.

We’ve also added an area for “Groups you share.”

Members are divided over this addition. There’s a poll being held about it right now.

There were a host of smaller changes. Read more about it on Talk.

Labels: new features

Monday, February 8th, 2010

February Early Reviewer books up!

The February 2010 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 107 books this month, and a grand total of… wait for it—3,495 copies to give out! That’s a new high for us.

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:

The deadline to request a copy is Friday, February 26th at 6PM EST.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to too many countries to list. 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!

Penguin B&H Publishing Group Delacorte Press
Hunter House Henry Holt and Company Hyperion Books
New York Review Books Spiegel & Grau Bell Bridge Books
O’Reilly WaterBrook Press Savvy Press
Ballantine Books Peirene Press Tundra Books
Bloomsbury Little, Brown and Company HCI Books
Avon Books Bromera BelleBooks
Hachette Book Group The Overlook Press Villard
Bantam Random House Trade Paperbacks W.W. Norton
Chosen Books Bethany House Doubleday Books
Kregel Publications Sovereign Picador
Perseverance Press St. Martin’s Press St. Martin’s Griffin
Tor Books Random House Bantam Dell
MIRA Unbridled Books International Publishers Marketing
Grand Central Publishing PublicAffairs Rovira i Virgili University Press
Harlequin Teen Harlequin Canongate Books

Labels: early reviewers

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Our First New Zealand Legacy Library!

We’re very pleased to announce the first New Zealand-based Legacy Library, that of Pei te Hurinui Jones (1898-1976). Jones joins Alfred Deakin (the second Prime Minister of Australia) in our Antipodean Legacies collection. Mr. Jones was a leading Māori scholar and translator (he’s known for translating three volumes of Māori chants and song-poetry into English, and three Shakespeare plays into Māori). You can read a more complete biographical sketch on his profile page.

This catalog is thanks to the efforts of David Friggens, Systems Librarian at the University of Waikato, which holds the book collection. Thanks to David for making it happen, and we hope you’ll all find it useful.

On other Legacy fronts, user jcbrunner reports that work on Thomas Mann’s library proceeds, with 2,000 records now in place (about 60% of the total). Almost 350 titles have been entered for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert Graves’ LT library now contains nearly 500 titles. Don’t forget, you can check out all the libraries-in-progress and volunteer your services here.

The Libraries of Early America subset continues to expand, with recent work focusing on the completion of the collection of Landon Carter (by staff at the Rockefeller Library, Colonial Williamsburg) and ongoing work on the libraries of the Thomas Shepards of early Massachusetts, balloonist-doctor John Jeffries, and continued additions to earlier collections. For any leads on those, as always, please drop me a note.

Labels: antipodes, legacies, legacy libraries, new zealand

Monday, January 25th, 2010

January State of the Thing

Ring-a-ding-ding. I’ve just sent out the first State of the Thing (our monthly newsletter) of 2010. Sign up to get it, or you can read a copy online.

This month’s State of the Thing features our iPhone app, site improvements and as always, free books.

We also have two exclusive author interviews:

Colum McCann won the 2009 National Book Award in fiction for Let the Great World Spin. The plot of the book follows a handful of characters who are witness to the 1974 tight-rope walk across the Twin Towers of New York, but this book is more than the sum of its plots. McCann lives in New York, with his family. His previous work includes Dancer and Zoli.

Joshua Ferris’ new, just-released novel is The Unnamed. Like a wind-up toy, the main character’s unknown medical condition will suddenly whisk him from wherever he is on a forced walk that ends only from exhaustion, miles from home. His family adjusts, as well as a family can, to an unexplainable disease. Joshua’s previous novel, Then We Came to the End, was a 2007 National Book Award finalist. At the moment, Ferris is writing an essay on the work of the Norwegian painter Lars Elling, and according to Ferris “contemplating about six ways to kill myself on account of it. I want to do both the painter & his work justice but fear I simply lack the lexicon.”

Next month, we’ll be interviewing Elizabeth Kostova and Holly Black. Have a question for them? Post it here and we might use it in the upcoming interview.

Labels: state of the thing

Monday, January 25th, 2010

24-hour Readathon wrap-up

We may not have a logo yet, but the first LibraryThing Readathon was a success. A lot of the fun is reading the thread on Book Talk where participants described their hour of reading. It was interesting to find out where other people chose to read for their designated hour, and absolutely wonderful to hear about the books everyone’s reading right now. You can read the whole thread here, which includes touchstones to the books read. Participants could also tag the book(s) they read. People also started including an excerpt from what they had read, which added a sense of nowness.

It was really fun helping in the creation of a new kind of event, which felt very community-oriented yet very easy to participate in. I myself woke up, grabbed my book, and started reading in bed. Sure, there wasn’t any brie provided (unlike the Boston meetup), but it also didn’t require getting out of bed.

We called it a beta test, because we weren’t sure what would need changing during the event, or for future events. We’ll talk about what to change, so know we’re planning on another event sometime in the spring. If you’d like to join in the organizing conversation, jump in.

Labels: event, LibraryThing event, ltreadathonbeta, readathon, reading

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

LibraryThing 24-hour Readathon (beta)

Inspired by LibraryThingers participating in Do Nothing But Read Day, member squeakychu suggested we have our own event which doesn’t limit a day’s activity to just reading. (It was discovered that it’s really hard to do nothing but read, when the doorbell rings, or pets/children need tending.)

Thus was born the LibraryThing 24-hour Readathon*. The idea is to have LibraryThing members from across the world reading continuously for 24 hours. Each member is committing to reading for one hour, at a designated time. We’ve built in a redundancy system, in case someone is trapped in their car in a snowstorm … without a book. Some people will start on the hour, others on the half hour.

Date: Saturday, January 23rd
Time: You choose

If you’re interested, sign up here. You can read the development and ongoing rules of the Readathon on the Site Talk thread. You can direct any questions to that Talk thread as well. Once you’ve read for your hour, come describe it on the Book Talk thread.

This is an event for any LibraryThing member (and anyone you want to convince to read along with you), and the only requirement is that for the hour you sign up for, you read something (or listen to an audiobook).

This is the first of what we’re hoping to be many readathons. Future events may include reading a specific genre, reading for different increments of time (15 minutes, out loud?) or reading for longer amounts of time than 24 hours (how long can LibraryThing members keep reading? Years?)

*Beta. We’re using this first event as a kind of trial to figure it out.

Labels: readathon

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Boston brie party

Last Saturday, we threw a party in Boston. Since the American Library Association midwinter meeting was already drawing many librarians and publishers to the city, we jumped on the chance to bring together bookish sorts for an evening of talking books, eating cheese and tipping a pint.

If I had to guess, I’d say there were around 75 people over the 2.5 hours we were holding court at the Green Dragon.

The LibraryThing for Libraries crew announced two new features at the conference, so the booth was busy. Abby’s recap is forthcoming on Thingology.

See all the pictures of the party and the LTFL booth here.

Labels: 1

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Apple highlights Local Books

Apple’s iTunes store has LibraryThing’s Local Books app. (see blog post, direct link) given us a rare honor—a spot among their featured apps.(1)

The exposure has shot us up in the books category, such that we are now—unbelievably—running third in the free section.(2) No matter how long it lasts—and we have no idea of that—it’s great news. The more people grab it, the more become invested in its success. We’re already seeing a pick up in entries to LibraryThing Local. And it puts pressure on us to improve Local and the app too.

Most of all, we hope the success of Local Books can inspire physical bookstores and libraries to embrace the digital world more fully—to put their basic information, events and holdings data out there for us and others to use. Their customers and patrons are eager for it. Only by embracing what the digital world can do for the physical can they compete against the continual advance of ecommerce and ebooks.

So, thanks to Apple for highlighting us, to Chris and John for making the app.(3), and thanks to all the members who entered the data to make it possible.

1. To see it, go to iTunes and click “App Store.” We’re in the third row of apps., next to “Puppy Park” and “Roadside America.” We only appear if the screen is wide enough to hold six icons. We go away if you’re only showing five or fewer apps.
2. The only downside has been that wider exposure has put the app in the hands of people who were, I think, expecting something different. Our ratings have shot down. Fortunately, they’re very much on par with other top apps. It seems iTunes reviewers are a finicky bunch!
3. They will be getting every dime the free app makes us!

PS: If you have an Android phone, check out our Layar app.

Labels: iphone, itunes, local book search, local books

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

LibraryThing party in Boston

If you’ll be in Boston this Saturday, January 16th , come to our LibraryThing Meetup!

We’re taking advantage of the American Library Assocation conference in Boston to pull together all our favorite bibliophiles, eat food, drink drinks, and talk about the state of books, the future of the book, and what you just finished reading.
We’re having it at The Green Dragon Tavern—a nice fit, as “The Green Dragon” is one of the most active groups on LibraryThing.
In true LibraryThing tradition we’ll be providing ALL THE BAKED BRIE YOU CAN HANDLE, along with other light fare, perhaps including some that don’t revolve around cheese. Since we’re not doing ConferenceThing,* we’ve got some money to burn, and can offer a snack-y dinner instead. You buy the beer.
Date: January 16th, 2010
Time: 5:30-8:00 pm
Location: The Green Dragon (see Local event) – 11 Marshall St Boston, MA 02108
Updates: Follow @conferencething or @librarythingtim on Twitter

Directly after our event there’s a tweetup for ALA conference-goers at the same location. We like to keep our 2.0 events convenient!

*Our original plan was to have ConferenceThing, a mini-conference giving librarians and bibliophiles a chance to talk about books in all their forms, and the book world. That didn’t work out, as we couldn’t find speakers and in a choice between hearing Tim speak in front of a projector and watching Tim and Abby shovel brie…

Thanks to merelymel for the photo.

Labels: ALA, conference, Conferencething, event, LibraryThing event, Midwinter