Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Recommending books—and series

It’s frequent for recommendations to include multiple books from the same series. So I’ve changed how recommendations display, to show these and get out of the way for other recommendations.

I also added recommendations to all Common Knowledge pages, so you can see aggregate recommendations for every series, award, place, character and so forth. For series, the results can be very good. Others can be strange, but are often quite cool.

This is another example of our continual effort to “unlearn” ecommerce, especially Amazon, conventions. Real people recommend series to each other—not to mention authors, genres, etc. Stores recommend discrete objects, because that’s what they sell. LibraryThing, which strives be interesting and useful, not to sell things, can transcend these store limitations. We just need to realize they’re there.

Come talk about it here:

Labels: now with series, recommendations

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

A new holiday for December: Do Nothing but Read Day

Do Nothing but Read Day is this Sunday, December 20th.

It all started by a library science student wishing out loud that she could spend a day doing nothing but reading. She then started a blog to make it happen.

Here are the requirements:

  • you must read more than one book (they can be short, also short stories and audiobooks count!)
  • comfy clothing (jammies preferable)
  • no shoes (slippers are ok)
  • mugs of beverages and snacks


  • sleepy cat(s)
  • blankies

Add the tag DNBRD2009 to whatever books you’re going to read, and check out the tag page to see what others are going to be reading on Sunday!

The catch is that if you’re reading all day, you can’t post in the Talk thread about it on Sunday. So, go and discuss it now (and afterwards).

Labels: DNBRD, DNBRD2009, Do Nothing but Read Day, event, reading

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Augmented reality for LibraryThing Local

See more screenshots. Yes, that’s Portland new The Green Hand Bookshop!

LibraryThing programmer Mike has put together a LibraryThing “overlay” for the mobile phone app Layar. It draws on LibraryThing Local to show you the closest bookstores and libraries.

Layar turns your mobile device into an “augmented reality” window on the world. In our case, the app. shows you dots for local bookstores and libraries, so you can head in the right direction, as well as information about it.

Visit Apple’s app store or the Android market to get it. Unfortunately, because it relies on the “compass,” you’ll need an iPhone 3GS (the new ones) or Android phone.

I’m somewhat skeptical of the augmented reality idea, at least until we have heads-up displays inside our eyeglasses. It doesn’t help that Mike’s Android phone has a misaligned compass. But Layar has map and list functions that are extremely useful. Travelers will be particularly impressed by the ability to land somewhere, and instantly know where the local bookstores are.

We have our own “Local Books” application coming out soon. We think it’s going to be a big hit. Until then—and for the added kick of augmented reality—this is some pretty cool stuff.

Come let us know what you think.

Labels: augmented reality, layar, librarything local

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Be a good Santa: pick books for SantaThing

SantaThing is about to close! You have until 10pm EST to pick books for your Santa (or Santee, since you are the Santar).

You can see who your Santee is here. Look under the section “You choose the gift for:

Click on the member’s name to leave a comment with the title, author, ISBN and link to the choices. Be sure to note if your Santee has listed a bookseller preference.

In both of the past years, there were people who didn’t pick for their Santa*. This year, we have a mobilized force of volunteers who will help pick books for those who have been abandoned. Join the group here. We’ll start at 10pm when we close picking, and everyone will work until everyone has books!

*One thing to note: if you sign up someone else, as a gift recipient, the responsibility for your recipient’s Santee is on you. You’ll see one or more Santees in your You choose the gift for: section.

Labels: santathing, secret santa

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Give the gift of LibraryThing: Teeshirt sale and more!

Don’t know what gift to give your favorite bibliophile? Support reading habits, show readers in your life how much you care about their happiness, and give the gift of organization with the LibraryThing store.

We have LibraryThing teeshirts, on SALE! Normally, they’re $15, but we’re selling them for $9 until December 31st.

We also have cuecat barcode scanners ($15), stickers ($2) and gift accounts (yearly:$10, lifetime: $25)*. Who wouldn’t like to receive a package with a cuecat cozily wrapped in a teeshirt? Another great pairing is a gift membership and a cuecat, for the post-holiday cataloging frenzy.

Shipping dates for delivery before December 25th:
December 21st: USPS First Class and Priority Mail shipping
December 11th: International shipping

We accept PayPal, credit cards, and even checks or money orders.

*Shipping is not included in the prices I quoted, but if you click on the links, you can figure out how much shipping costs based on your location and desired expediency.

Labels: cuecats, gifts, holiday, sale, teeshirts, tshirts

Friday, December 4th, 2009

December Early Reviewer books

The December 2009 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 73 books this month, and a grand total of 1679 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:

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, December 21st at 6PM EST. It’s earlier than usual, to account for all the end-of-the-year holidays.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to many many countries—too many to list here! 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 Baby Ice Dog Press Weiser Books
Conari Press Bloomsbury Canongate Books
The University of Akron Press The Permanent Press Beacon Press
Henry Holt and Company Faber and Faber Hunter House
Bantam Doubleday Books Delacorte Press
Random House Langdon Street Press Bascom Hill Books
Random House Trade Paperbacks St. Martin’s Press Putnam Books
W.W. Norton Center Street Cemetery Dance
Ballantine Books North Atlantic Books Faith Words
Hachette Book Group HarperCollins Riverhead Books
Rovira i Virgili University Press Kregel Publications Bethany House
Hesperus Press Hyperion Books Harper Paperbacks
HighBridge Harper Picador
Knopf Canada

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Related Movies in Common Knowledge

Chris has added a feature for related movies in Common Knowledge. Here’s an example, from Romeo and Juliet.

The edit box “autocompletes” with suggestions by polling the IMDB API. Here’s an example from Room with a View.

Come talk about it. We’re still hashing out the best way to do it.

Labels: common knowledge, movies

Monday, November 30th, 2009

SantaThing sign-up closes in 24 hours

SantaThing (LibraryThing’s version of Secret Santa) is open for sign-ups until December 1, 4 pm EST (about 24 hours from now).

We already have over 400 members signed up to participate, and tons of helpful suggestions posted! If you don’t want to be a Santa yourself, you can always help out by looking at the list of Santas and posting book suggestions.

To sign up, just go here and click “become a Secret Santa”.

Tuesday afternoon, we’ll match up Santas. We’ll let you know via profile comments who your Secret Santa is, and you’ll be able to pick books for them. Remember, if you signed up a gift recipient, you’re responsible for picking their Santa’s books. You’ll get a profile comment for each Santa you signed up.

Picking will be open until Saturday, December 12 at 10 pm EST.

We’re also planning a virtual soiree Saturday night and Sunday when the picking officially closes, to pick books for anyone whose Santa hadn’t picked for them. I imagine it will involve LibraryThing members cozied up with eggnog by a toasty fire with a kitten* at their feet, making sure there are books picked for everyone. If you’re interested, look for more information on the Talk thread for it.

* or whatever your preferred seasonal beverage, ambiance device and power animal may be

Labels: santathing, secret santa

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

SantaThing and Giving

In this year of a down economy, two developments with SantaThing, our “secret Santa for booklovers”:

First, there was the Talk thread started by a member who got help last year to participate, when she needed it and, now that she doesn’t, wanted to pay-it-forward and help someone else. This started a chain reaction, with more and more members offering to pay for someone. Other members have been asking for help, for themselves or sometimes for relatives, either in Talk or privately. The whole thing is pretty awesome.*

Today I was contacted by a member (who would like to remain anonymous) offering to pay for 20 SantaThings ($500), again for members who were planning to skip it because money was too tight. The money came out of the blue, and, despite the crescendo of giving, was quite a shock to us.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about either giving or receiving SantaThing, read here.

Second, with all this giving, we’re changing our mind. The SantaThing deal was $25 for $20 of books. The $5 was for shipping, and a little to cover staff time. But most of our shipping is now free. (We get it from from Amazon and the Book Depository, and Powell’s is doing us a favor.**) And we’re starting to feel seriously privileged to be involved in this!

So—to heck with it—we’re getting rid of the margin. SantaThing is now $25 for $25. We’ll make a little money when people can’t quite fill the $25, and we’ll spend it on the countries and bookstores that don’t have free shipping. It’s the least we can do.

You have until December 1 to sign up for SantaThing.


Sonya and Tim

Links: SantaThing; Talk thread.

*I think “community” is an overused word online. Most “online communities” aren’t. All those sites with employees known as “community managers” tick me off particularly. We like to think we’re better than those sites, but, despite tons of friends, a marriage, occasional flash-mob cataloging, Legacy Libraries and even a group of members who now vacation together, I wouldn’t even say LibraryThing is a real “community.” It’s more of a large, long-running cocktail party with a lot of rooms and some good friendships. But I can’t help feeling cheered again by Clay Shirky’s Love, Internet Style. Shirky writes that, looking forward, “You will make more accurate predictions about software… if you ask yourself not ‘What’s the business model?’ but ‘Do the people who like it take care of each other?'” Well, you do. And it’s a pleasure to be part of it. — Tim
**We have Amazon Prime, and the Book Depository has free shipping. We’re grateful to Powells for giving us free shipping for this effort. (Thanks to Darin for making it happen.)

Labels: altruism, santathing, secret santa

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

November State of the Thing

On Monday I sent out November’s State of the Thing, our monthly newsletter. Sign up to get it, or you can read a copy online.

This month’s State of the Thing features a synopsis of our newest features, opening SantaThing, free books and the announcement that Abby is moving over to head LibraryThing for Libraries, and I’m taking over Early Reviewers and Member Giveaways, author chats, site questions and State of the Thing.

We also have three exclusive author interviews:

Gregory Maguire, is the author of the popular Wicked and many other novels for both children and adults. Maguire published The Next Queen of Heaven with the Concord Free Press, a revolutionary “generosity-based” publisher.

Charles Cumming’s new novel, Typhoon, is getting a lot of attention (he’s touted as a successor of John le Carré). Cumming’s intelligent thriller starts with the 1997 British handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese, and moves through to the lead-up to the Beijing Olympic Games.

Eugenia Kim is the author of The Calligrapher’s Daughter, a story that encompasses a enthralling personal story, the roles of gender and class, and Korea’s fight for independence and struggle with modernity.

Eugenia is also participating in an author chat (as well as giving away a signed copy of her book) with LibraryThing members from now until December 6th.

Next month, we’ll be interviewing Julie Powell and Masha Hamilton. Have a question for them? Post it here and we might use it in the upcoming interview.

Labels: author chat, author interview, state of the thing