Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

State of the Thing: August edition

State of the Thing logoI’ve just sent out the State of the Thing, LibraryThing’s monthly newsletter of features, author interviews and various forms of bookish delight.

We have 1,779 free books, new publisher pages, a photo contest, news on our foray into the Dewey system, a few site improvements, and a list of the popular books this month.

Check your inbox or read it online.

This month’s edition has an interview with David Mitchell, about his new book The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Abby asks him about the challenges of writing about Dutch and Japanese in English, as well as about how a monkey led to a “cute meet”.

We also have a podcast interview with Dr. Larry Rosen, about his new book Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn. Dr. Rosen and I talk about how children (and all of us) are able to learn while multitasking, and what technologies may be able to do for education. Is it a big deal that your teen wants to listen to music and chat online while doing homework? Dr. Rosen says not as much as you’d think. You can hear the podcast here.

Lisa Grunwald, author of The Irresistible Henry House, shares with us her summer reads, including The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe and The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter. Her own book Henry House has been touted as one of this summers must-reads, and is a New York Times Editor’s Choice as well as an Oprah Magazine “Book to Watch For.” Amazon and Audible each name Henry one of the “Best Books of 2010 — So Far.”

Read previous State of the Thing newsletters:
http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/State_of_the_Thing

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: state of the thing

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Photo contest: win a Hunger Games box set

In anticipation for Mockingjay, the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy which comes out on tomorrow, Scholastic has provided two box sets of the complete trilogy to give away.

Any LibraryThing member can win one of box sets by submitting a photo that re-creates a moment from the series. The idea is to take a picture that reproduces a scene from one of the first two books, Hunger Games or Catching Fire.

The deadline is 10 pm EST this Sunday, August 29th.

Find a fence and pretend to sneak out of District 12. Get some crepe paper and create one of the costumes Katniss wore in the parades*. Find whatever moment you want to replicate, and capture it with your camera.

Email your photo to sonyalibrarything.com. Include your LibraryThing username and a short (50 word max) description of the scene. The deadline is Sunday, August 29th at 10 pm EST.

Abby and I will be the judges of the contest. Two winners will each receive one box set of all three Hunger Games books, including the highly anticipated** final book Mockingjay. Winners will be announced via blog post, on Monday, August 30th.

About Mockingjay
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

*Please, no flaming costumes. We’re not responsible for your immolation.
**Not just by me–over 500 people have already added it to the catalogs, and it’s not out yet!

Labels: contest

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

ReadaThing in Public, right now!

As we speak, someone from LibraryThing is reading. That may seem like an obvious statement, but I can prove it’s true: the August “Reading in Public” ReadaThing is happening, and as I post this, leennnadine and norabelle414 are out and about, reading in the name of all things public, literary and LibraryThing.

Earlier today, Squeex and her daughter had a sip’n’read at a coffee shop, pictured here. You can see more pictures of their reading/coloring adventure on her blog.

It’s not too late to participate! If you have an hour of free time, and like the heady idea of reading where people can see you, sign up! We’re reading for 24 hours, and the day’s only half over (or night, if you’re in a different time zone). If you want to read more about the project, check here.

Labels: readathon

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Introducing the “Melvil Decimal System”

I’ve just pushed a nifty feature for browsing the “Melvil Decimal System” (MDS).

What is MDS? MDS is the Dewey Decimal System, Melvil Dewey’s innovative classification system, as it has been applied to books in LibraryThing members’ books. The wording comes from out-of-copyright sources.

The browse system is nifty. It was to some degree inspired by the elegant user interface to Tom Hickey’s OCLC DeweyBrowser. It is also interesting to see how the classification stacks up against LibraryThing tags. Here are some examples:

As usual, the system is not complete. It does not yet show you how your books stack up against the system. That is coming.

Why MDS? Although he invented his system in 1876, and has been dead for 79 years, Dewey lives on. The library conglomerate OCLC continues to produce new editions, which are copyrighted. And the terms “Dewey,” “Dewey Decimal,” “DDC” and so forth are registered trademarks of OCLC. In the past OCLC has been touchy about Dewey. They once sued the Library Hotel for putting books in rooms according to the rooms’ Dewey number. So we aren’t taking any chances.

Although OCLC updates the Dewey Decimal System, they cannot own the numbers themselves, which are assigned by librarians around the world. Nor can they own the system as it existed in 1922—for that edition is out of copyright.

Make it stop!

Help us out! Knowing the numbers is one thing, but the words bring them alive. Every number has a space for wording, both original (1922) and modern. Members are invited to help fill it out, at least for the top tiers. The original wording should come from Dewey’s 1922 edition, with one difference. Dewey was a spelling-reform nut, and all the later editions of his work are in his semi-phonetic spelling system. This spelling is unbearable, so convert it to standard spelling.

For the “modern” wording, you may modernize both terminology and sentiment. Dewey used “sociology” in the sense of “Social science” and his religion section refers to “Mohammedanism” and “Minor Christian sects.” Those can all be improved. But improvements should reflect only modernity, not the wording of in-copyright editions of the Dewey Decimal System.*

As with other Common Knowledge sections, MDS can also be translated. Indeed, one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while was a user translating the system into Swedish just a few minutes after launch. There is no current Swedish translation of the Dewey Decimal System.

Lastly, I got into this to help Fleela, Zoe and the other members of the Dewey Decimal Challenge group, “Read a book from every Dewey Decimal category.” Fun idea. You should try it.

What’s missing The feature is, as usual, intentionally half-done. Here are some contemplated features.

  • Connection to YOUR library
  • Links from your catalog, other pages
  • The Library of Congress System

Come talk about it on LibraryThing Talk.


* In many cases, OCLC’s changes haven’t trickled down to the libraries that use the system. DDC 288, formerly for Unitarianism**, is now blank. But both OCLC’s DeweyBrowser and LibraryThing’s MDS browser show books there—a Channing fest to be sure.
** That Unitarianism gets as much space as Catholicism, Judaism and Islam speaks to Dewey’s western Massachusetts world-view.

Dewey, Dewey Decimal, Dewey Decimal Classification, DDC and OCLC are registered trademarks of OCLC. Read more about OCLC and the DDC on their website. LibraryThing is not affiliated with OCLC, but we have the same hatter.

Labels: cataloging, classification, new feature, new features

Monday, August 16th, 2010

LibraryThing for Publishers: 21 new publishers

LibraryThing for Publishers, our new program to bring publishers into LibraryThing—and link out to them—has been growing rapidly, and we’ve added a number of new features for both publishers and members.

New Publishers. Since Monday we’ve added 21 new publishers, amounting to an 800% increase in books covered.

The largest new publisher is Penguin Australia, covering 650,000 member books. Their titles include books from Penguin USA, UK, India, New Zealand and DK (Dorling Kindersley) available through the Penguin Australia website. (Their wonderful profile image—an unofficial logo?—appear to the right.)

Others include (in copies order):

And eight more independents. A half-dozen substantial publishers are waiting in the wings, as we work out URLs and other details.

New Features. I introduced a new page for you to compare your books against LibraryThing Publishers.

Check out the blog post.

New ways to upload. Publishers have complained about the limitations of ISBN-based URLs, so we’re expanding the formats we accept, starting with a new “LibraryThing Simple Format.” Basically, we can now read any spreadsheet that contains both ISBNs and URLs. We’ll figure out the rest. This proved necessary in getting RAND’s titles into the system, and was helpful for Mercer UP as well.

I’ve written more about this format on Thingology.

Labels: LibraryThing for Publishers, new feature, new features

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Your publishers

I’ve pushed a Stats/Memes page that shows how your books stack up against the publishers in LibraryThing for Publishers.

It shows all your publishers, with the collections they’re in, and the number.

See Yours: http://www.librarything.com/profile/MEMBERNAME/stats/publishers
Mine: http://www.librarything.com/profile/timspalding/stats/publishers

The main publisher page also has a “all” vs. “yours” toggle, so you can see the information there instead.

More coming on Monday!

Talk about this here.

Labels: 1

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Operation (LibraryThing) Paperback

The gist is this: donate your gently used books directly to troops stationed overseas, with inexpensive shipping thanks to media rate postage and the fact that overseas APO/FPO addresses are charged the same rates as the US.

The 75 Books Challenge for 2010 group came up with a fantastic idea: they are challenging themselves to collectively donate 75 books through Operation Paperback before the end of 2010. Then they decided it would be more fun to open the challenge up to everyone at LibraryThing, to see if we can collect ten times their initial challenge–750 books.

Operation Paperback is a non-profit that organizes the collection of books to send to American troops* deployed overseas. Considering we’re a site devoted to the love of reading and books, I think it’s only fair we share!  It’s a win-win, giving books to troops who otherwise don’t have access to leisure reading, and making space on your shelves for more books! Sign up on the Operation Paperback site to send some books (they’ll tell you how and where to send them), then list them here, so we can work towards the goal if 750 books. Check the LibraryThing Operation Paperback page to see what books we’ve sent.

You can read about which genres are most popular**,  how the shipping works and what else you can do to brighten the day of folks who are far from home, on the Operation Paperback FAQ page. They say that a box of 20 paperbacks cost about $5 to ship to any military address.

Operation Paperback needs help spreading the word among troops that this program is available to them.  If you’re stationed outside the US, or have a friend or family member who is, sign up to get books.

*If you’re aware of programs like this for the troops of other countries, please leave a comment, and we’ll add the information.
**I talked to the good folks at Operation Paperback, who said that since 95% of troops are male, so there’s no need to send chick-lit or romance novels. Apparently, they end up with plenty anyway. There’s more information about this on their FAQ.

Thanks to Jayel Aheram for the photo.

Labels: event

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

LibraryThing for Publishers!

We’ve just finished a new feature for publishers called “LibraryThing for Publishers. Like LibraryThing Local, Local Book Search, LibraryThing for Libraries and LibraryThing Authors, LibraryThing for Publishers is about linking arms with another important player in the book world, for everyone’s benefit.

Publishers: LibraryThing for Publishers is free and open to any legitimate publisher. It’s dead-simple to upload your titles.

UPDATE: Here’s the video about how to join.

What You Get. LibraryThing for Publishers gives publishers three key things:

  • A box on the work page of all their titles.
  • Publisher pages.
  • Hundreds of links from LibraryThing. LibraryThing has a high PageRank.*

Members get:

  • A new way to connect with the publishers they love
  • A way to browse publishers’ titles
  • As we move this forward publishers can help on the data end, with better, less restricted book data from the people who actually create the books.

Show me. We’ve launched with five publishers, covering eight imprints. We thank them for their willingness to try something new!

You can see the the new publisher pages, and publisher boxes on work pages in these examples.

Some details. LibraryThing for Publishers includes a few nifty features, including:

  • LibraryThing’s first “shelves” interface (see the earlier blog post). Shelves are doing a lot more on publisher pages than on tag pages.
  • Faceted tagging, where one set of books (a publishers’) is sliced and diced by a tag. For example, here are Orbit Books’ Urban Fantasy books, and here are Zondervan’s
    <href=”http://www.librarything.com/publisher/636/tag/youth+ministry”>Youth Ministry books.
  • Reviews by publisher (eg., Zondervan)
  • An enhanced members page, with mini-shelves for top members.

*LibraryThing has a Google PageRank of 8, on par with the Boston Globe, and higher than any of our competitors or any publisher we’ve found. Why publishers do so poorly in the link game is the topic for another post, but we aim to do what we can do help publishers out.

Labels: LibraryThing for Publishers, new feature, new features

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

A Shelves Toggle in LibraryThing

I’ve released a new “widget” or “toggle,” that showcases a list of book in either list or “shelf” mode. (It also has a “covers” mode, like a shelf without the shelf.)

Some examples: graphic novel, British literature, paranormal romance, french art, wwii.

The goal is to add some graphic appeal, but keep things “light” and integrated with the page. We didn’t want the box-shaped shelves employed by some other websites, and in LibraryThing for Libraries. The feature is also optional. It’s a toggle. (See below.)

Right now, I’ve put it only one place: tag pages. Once changes have settled down, I’ll extend it to other places you now see only a list of works–authors, series, awards, subjects, tagmashes, etc.

You can change pages, and from “shelf” to “titles” or “covers” by mousing over the book area to reveal a gray region on the right. (IE users will find the gray area always shown.) Whatever you pick for shelves/titles/covers will stick for subsequent views of the element on that page type. So if you don’t like this feature, you only have to see it once.

Other notes:

  • The covers are based on the most popular ISBNs for each work. They are recalculated daily.
  • Shelves show the “checkmarks” seen elsewhere in lists.
  • Tags go to 200 now, as before. in fact, I’ve extended them to go to 1,000 but it will take a few days for the old data to expire and new data to be generated.
  • I am not currently painting the title on non-cover covers. This is, I think, the only undone feature here.

Come talk about it here.

Labels: new feature, new features

Monday, August 9th, 2010

August Early Reviewer books are available

The August 2010 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 75 books this month, and a grand total of 1779 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 Friday, August 27th at 6PM EST.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. 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!

Ballantine Books W.W. Norton Penguin
Goose Lane Kregel Publications Hachette Book Group
The Permanent Press Bethany House Fernwood Publishing
Tundra Books Canongate Books Eirini Press
Palgrave Macmillan WaterBrook Press Avon Books
New American Library Sourcebooks Demos Medical Publishing
BookViewCafe St. Martin’s Press Bantam Dell
Hyperion Books Doubleday Books New York Review Books
Orca Book Publishers Picador Oxford University Press
The Overlook Press Riverhead Books Putnam Books
St. Martin’s Griffin Santa Fe Writer’s Project Nimbus Publishing
Henry Holt and Company Aro Books worldwide Taylor Trade Publishing
Intellect Publishing Aquila Polonica Publishing Blue Steel Press

Labels: early reviewers