Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Author interview: Samantha Shannon on “The Bone Season”

Some excerpts from my interview with Samantha Shannon, which appeared in the August State of the Thing newsletter. Samantha is the author of The Bone Season, the first volume in a seven-part series, released just yesterday by Bloomsbury.

Do you recall which part of The Bone Season came to you first? Was there a particular moment that inspired the novel?

I was doing an internship at a literary agency in Seven Dials—a junction in London where seven streets meet—when I had the idea. I imagined a girl having the exact same day at work that I was, but she happened to be clairvoyant.

The Bone Season is set in 2059, but in an alternate world which diverged from our own in 1859. I’d love to hear how you set about developing the universe in which the novel takes place, and the sorts of things you had to consider as you did so.

I wanted my clairvoyant society to be a cross-section of historical types of divination, so I did quite a lot of reading about classical and Renaissance impressions of augury, soothsaying and so on. Scion evolved in my mind as a response to the criminal underworld (whereas in the story itself it’s vice versa), and I did a lot of thinking about how to create a believable world in which clairvoyance is persecuted, and about what the people of Scion might hear, see, feel and think in their everyday lives.

Much of The Bone Season is set in what was once Oxford (where you have, I should note, recently finished your undergraduate career). What was it about Oxford that made it work well as the setting?

Oxford was perfect for The Bone Season. Although it’s a modern place in many respects, there are still vestiges of archaism and tradition, and its spectrum of old buildings, from various centuries, give it an eerie sense of being frozen in time.

Who are some of the authors you particularly admire or who’ve had some influence on your own writing?

Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale was what first got me interested in dystopian and speculative fiction, alongside Orwell and Wyndham. I specialised in Emily Dickinson at university; her poetry inspired many of the themes I want to explore in later Bone Season books.

What books have you read and enjoyed recently?

I just finished The Gamal, the debut of Irish novelist Ciarán Collins, which I thoroughly enjoyed. At the moment I’m reading the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire.

Samantha also talked to me about working with Imaginarium Studios on the film version of The Bone Season, and told me what she’s liked most about the publishing process. Read the rest of our interview.


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Labels: author interview, state of the thing

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

LibraryThing is Hiring: Bookish and Social-Media Savvy?

This could be you! (clockwise: ChrisC, Kate, Abby, Tim, Mike, ChrisH; unpictured Seth, KJ, Jeremy.)

This could be you too, and wouldn’t that be great?
(photo by member Bluesky1963)

LibraryThing is hiring(1) a full-time, bookish, social-media savvy employee. We want someone who lives and breathes books, and would jump at the chance to talk to book lovers, authors, publishers and librarians.(2)

This is an anywhere position, but we will favor Portland, Maine people. If you live elsewhere, you’ll be expected to spend time in Portland at the start of the job, and return on a regular basis.

You must:

  • Love books
  • Love people, or at least not hate them
  • Be in tune with What Makes LibraryThing LibraryThing
  • Be deeply familiar with social media and bookish social media
  • Write well and quickly
  • Be hard-working, optimistic, and detail-oriented
  • Able to work and set goals independently

We’d like:

  • A book-world background (librarian, bookseller, publishing, etc.)
  • Professional social-media experience
  • Technical skills (HTML, CSS, SQL, PHP, etc.)
  • LibraryThing membership, familiarity
  • Some useless expertise and passion, to fit in with the rest of the staff.

Duties:

  • Write our newsletters, blog posts, tweets, and Facebook posts
  • Coordinate our Early Reviewers program
  • Assist members with problems
  • Be an active presence on the site, well-known to members and participating in important LibraryThing discussions
  • Suggest and help develop new features and projects
  • Learn, analyze and look for new opportunities

Compensation: Salary plus gold-plated health and dental insurance. We require hard work, but we are flexible about hours.

How to apply: Resume [as a PDF file] is good. Don’t send one of those overboiled cover letters, sent as another damn Microsoft Word document titled “Cover Letter,” but a brief introduction would be good, recapitulating the bullets above and how they do or don’t fit you. Send emails to tim@librarything.com.(3)


1. Jeremy (member JBD1) is moving on and up; he’ll be the new Director of Communications and Outreach at Rare Book School in Charlottesville, VA. It’s a great move for Jeremy–he’s been going down there to help them run the summer sessions for four years now. He’ll continue as unofficial-but-unquestioned leader of the Legacy Libraries project. We’ll bid him a proper good-bye in a later blog post.
2. In another company this might be called a “social media manager” job, but we don’t “manage” our members, we talk to them. We don’t want fake, we want nice but genuine.
3. Please title the email “LTSOCMED [your name].” Also, follow directions–even the ones at the end of a blog post.

Labels: employees, employment, hiring, jeremy dibbell, jobs

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Seven newly-completed personal libraries: Joyce, Pym, Truman, Thackeray, Eisenhower, Marshall and Carroll

It’s been a busy few weeks for the Legacy Libraries, with a whole bunch of projects recently completed plus a number of fascinating new ones now underway (more on those later in the week). Today I’ve got a rundown of recently-finished libraries, plus a trivia question for you which I’ll answer at the end of the post: which novel is held in common between five of the seven?

James Joyce. One of the longest-running Legacy projects, James Joyce (started back in 2008 by rfb) was recently brought as near to completion as currently possible by BuiltByBooks, who added extant copies held at the Harry Ransom Center and the University of Buffalo, as well as a number of additional books identified through catalogs and other sources. The Joyce library now includes some 1,175 titles: see the author cloud or the tag mirror to get a quick sense of Joyce’s books.

More titles will be added to this library as they are identified (there are certainly lots more out there: we know that Joyce parted with some 2,000 books in Paris in 1939, and most of those have not yet been identified specifically). There’s a great deal of information about Joyce and his books on his profile page; the story makes for fascinating reading! If you have information about Joyce books not included in the LT catalog yet, please let us know in the discussion thread.

Barbara Pym. Thanks to alison_felstead, LibraryThing now includes the library catalog of British novelist Barbara Pym (author page). Pym, known for her novels Excellent Women and Quartet in Autumn (among others) was described in a 1977 article by Philip Larkin and Sir David Cecil as the most underrated writer of the twentieth century.

Pym’s 590-title library was cataloged by her sister Hilary Walton after Pym’s death in 1980, and the records are held at Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Those have been augmented in the LT catalog with information from Blackwell’s Rare Books catalogs (through which much of Pym’s library was sold in 2005).

Alison, who works at the Bodleian Library, will be speaking about the Pym Legacy Library project at the Barbara Pym Society’s annual conference at the end of this month (see the program here), so if you’re in or around Oxford, be sure and go see her presentation!

Harry Truman. Another long-running project recently completed is the library of Harry Truman, begun back in 2008 with a section of books from his home study. This summer I cleaned up the existing records and completed the cataloging of the home study collection (now numbering 833 titles), and then a number of volunteers jumped in to help out in adding books from Truman’s post-presidential working office (795 titles).

Thanks to mrmapcase, cbl_tn, Michael.Rimmer, pussreboots, Kaczencja, WillowOne and waitingtoderail for their good work on this library. If you have information about other Truman books we should add, let us know here.

Note that certain books in the Truman library (mostly in the home study collection) post-date Truman’s death, and were likely added by Bess Truman. To what extent the books listed there belonged to her is somewhat unclear, and we’re seeking additional information from the National Park Service to help us try and clarify that.

William Makepeace Thackeray. The library of author William Thackeray (known for Vanity Fair) originally intrigued BuiltByBooks during his work on the Leonard & Virginia Woolf library, which contains a volume from Thackeray’s collection. He tracked down an 1864 auction catalog of Thackeray’s books and added to LibraryThing 391 titles that were identified in the catalog. A whole bunch more listed there cannot be identified specifically, as is often the case with such sales … but Thackeray’s books were marked with a small oval stamp containing his initials, so we’re hopeful that perhaps other books will turn up.

If you have information about any additional Thackeray titles, please let us know here.

Dwight D. Eisenhower. Back in May we started a flash-mob project to catalog the library of Dwight D. Eisenhower (or, at least, those portions of Eisenhower’s library located at his farm in Gettysburg, PA). We zipped right through it, and the LT catalog now includes some 904 titles covering all sorts of different subjects, from humor to mysteries to biographies (check out the tag cloud). There are more Eisenhower books to be added from other locations, and we will add those later on as the source material becomes available.

Thanks to all those who helped out with this library: KCGordon (who also sussed out the source list for us), cpirmann, tortoise, Esquiress, mrmapcase, jcbrunner, buk1968, and waitingtoderail.

George C. Marshall. Nearly 900 titles from the library of American military commander and cabinet secretary George C. Marshall were recently added to LibraryThing by KCGordon, who obtained a list of the books in the collections of the Marshall House (previously known as Dodona Manor) in Leesburg, VA. Lots and lots of history, military, and government books on Marshall’s shelves, as you might expect, but he also had a fair number of humor books, French literature, and poetry titles as well.

With whom does Marshall share the most books in common? Why Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sandburg, of course.

Lewis Carroll. Last but certainly not least, BarkingMatt has finished work on the library of Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known to us as Lewis Carroll), amounting to some 2,600 titles from auction and bookseller catalogs. Some of the catalog descriptions are quite useful, giving information on the presentation signatures or marginal notations in the books: Carroll’s copy of Idylls of the King, for example, was presented to Carroll by Tennyson himself, while a copy of a play derived from Alice in Wonderland contains “notes in pencil by [Carroll] criticising the performance.”

A huge thanks to all the volunteers who have worked on these libraries! As I mentioned at the top, there are a number of new, exciting Legacy projects being worked on now, but I’m going to save those for another post since this one’s gotten fairly extensive already (I’ll be posting about completions more frequently in future, so we don’t run up quite such a backlog—my apologies). But I did promise an answer to the trivia question: which novel is held in common by five of the seven newest Legacy Libraries?

Drum roll please … the answer is Jane Eyre, copies of which are to be found in the libraries of Pym, Eisenhower, Joyce, Carroll, and Thackeray. See other books these libraries share, or take a look at the books you have in common with them here.


How can I help? We’re always looking for volunteers to help catalog Legacy Libraries. Come join the Legacy Libraries group: introduce yourself, tell us some authors or other historical figures you’re interested in, and we’ll come up with a good Legacy project that would benefit from your help. If you know of somebody important we’re missing, let us know: if we can add their library, we will!

Labels: legacy libraries

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Author interview: Paul Collins on “Duel with the Devil”

Some excerpts from my interview with Paul Collins, which appeared in the July State of the Thing newsletter. Paul teaches in the MFA program at Portland State University, and is the author of many books, including Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books, The Book of William, and more. He’s also NPR’s “literary detective,” and writes for a wide variety of publications. His new book, Duel with the Devil was published in June by Crown.

In Duel with the Devil you tell the story of a gruesome 1799 New York City murder case in which a young woman’s suitor is accused of causing her death. The young man puts together something of a “dream team” of defense lawyers: who were his attorneys, and how did he manage to obtain such impressive counsel?

The defendant, Levi Weeks, managed to get the three best lawyers in NYC: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and Brockholst Livingston. Weeks was a construction foreman, but his brother Ezra Weeks happened to be the most successful developers in the city—and Hamilton and Burr were both clients of his! Hamilton in particular was running up an impressive tab (which he couldn’t pay) having Weeks build him a mansion, so he certainly owed a favor.

I might add that while Livingston’s the least known of the trio, he was no slacker himself: the guy was later appointed to the Supreme Court.

This wasn’t the only time Hamilton and Burr found themselves on the same side of a courtroom, right? What others sorts of cases did they cooperate on?

They usually worked on commercial cases—property disputes, insurance cases over lost ships, that sort of thing. They were often on opposite sides, but not always—in fact, right before this case, they’d wrapped up a monster settlement for a client named Louis Le Guen. Since Aaron Burr was even worse with money than Hamilton, he promptly asked Le Guen for a loan!

You’ve got one of the best titles out there, as NPR’s “literary detective.” I’d love to hear a bit about how you seek out the sorts of fascinating historical stories you like to tell: do you go in search of them, or do they tend to be just things you’ve stumbled across in the course of other research and then decide to follow up on?

Often I’ll just grab random old newspapers and magazines (in libraries or online) and start snooping, but a surprising amount of the time it’s weird, random stuff I find while looking up something else. Chance favors the prepared mind and all that.

On this book in particular, though, a lot of the small and odd details came pretty systematically—namely, I read through nearly every available Manhattan newspaper from 1799 and 1800. That’s not quite as insane as it sounds, because newspapers back then were 4 pages long! Still, it was thousands of pages, but that’s always my favorite part of writing—wandering through those lost-dog notices and molasses shipments and yellow fever quack cures. Probably a whole bunch of other stories will now spin off from that experience.

What books have you read and enjoyed recently?

The British Library recently reissued Andrew Forrester’s Victorian pulper The Female Detective (1864), which I’d never read before and was fascinated by. As a writer, I really love the premise of Alexandra Horowitz’s new book On Looking—basically, walking around the same NYC neighborhood eleven times with different kinds of experts observing it each time. And as someone fascinated by disastrously bad movies, I’m excited to see Tom Bissell’s upcoming The Disaster Artist, about the making of “The Room.” I was actually with Tom the first time either of us saw it, and…wow. Just…wow.

Also, I’ve just come off a Wodehouse reading jag. After eight or nine of his books in row I felt like I’d consumed an entire sheet cake, but it’s a testament to him that, well, I’m seriously thinking of reading a tenth.

But wait, there’s more! Find out what Paul’s working on now, and about some surprising tidbits he’s found during his researches. Read the rest of our interview.


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Labels: author interview, state of the thing

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

August Early Reviewers batch is up!

The August 2013 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 106 books this month, and a grand total of 3,225 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, August 26th 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!

The Permanent Press Taylor Trade Publishing Tundra Books
Putnam Books Riverhead Books Random House
Quirk Books Henry Holt and Company Del Rey
Minotaur Books Nilgiri Press Candlewick Press
Crown Publishing Dundurn Cleis Press
Viva Editions Apex Publications Akashic Books
EgmontUSA Maiden Lane Press WaterBrook Press
Thomas Dunne Books Pants On Fire Press O’Reilly Media
Kregel Academic & Ministry Chronicle Books Palgrave Macmillan
Milkweed Editions Algonquin Books Demos Health
Greenleaf Book Group Pale Fire Press Hunter House
Alaskan Gothic Press HarperCollins Human Kinetics
CarTech Books Recorded Books McBooks Press
Bridgeross Communications BookViewCafe Last Light Studio
JournalStone Orca Book Publishers Thunder Lake Press
Booktrope Open Books John Ott
Upper Rubber Boot Books MSI Press Elephant Rock Books
Small Beer Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Author interview: Travis McDade on “Thieves of Book Row”

For the July State of the Thing newsletter, I interviewed Travis McDade about his second book, Thieves of Book Row, published in June by Oxford University Press. Travis is curator of rare books at the University of Illinois College of Law, where he teaches a class called “Rare Books, Crime & Punishment.”

Set the scene for us, if you would, by providing a brief description of what Book Row was like during its heyday. Is there anyplace even comparable today?

Book Row was six blocks of Manhattan’s Fourth Avenue packed with bookstores and personalities. Most of these shops were run by men who had learned the trade at the elbow of other booksellers, so there was a well-earned knowledge of the book business, of lower Manhattan and of other booksellers’ aptitudes. These guys were well-read and hard-nosed. There is a tendency now to look back with the sort of nostalgic, moonlight-and-magnolia gloss we often do with the recent past—and some of that is deserved—but Book Row wasn’t Disneyland. It was a labor of love for many of these guys, but it was definitely a labor. And life in Manhattan in the early 20th century was no picnic.

There are places now that have clusters of bookshops—Hay-on-Wye in the west of England springs to mind—but nothing like Book Row. What made it unique was a combination of these personalities, certain historical economic forces, and the nature of New York City at the time. It couldn’t have existed anywhere else, and it can’t exist now.

The theft ring you write about in Thieves of Book Row was no fly-by-night operation: these guys were organized! Give us a sense of how the operation worked, who was involved, and the impact these thefts had on the book and library world of the time.

Like most cottage industries, it developed organically. It started out as just some guys stealing books and selling them to shops—the classic American story!—and it grew from there. A confluence of events made this theft ring, like Book Row itself, possible. By the second half of the 1920s, there was reliable transportation, a decent economy and a rise in the value of a certain type of books. These books, as it happened, were sitting on the open stacks of libraries all over the American northeast, most librarians not even imagining they were worth the effort to steal. Once, at least, they had been right about that. But by the 1920s, it made good business sense to send men from Manhattan to Worcester, Massachusetts, to steal half a dozen books, if the men could then easily move on and hit Lancaster, Leominster, Gardner, etc. The thieves would get paid a standard rate of $2 per book and the bookstores would sell them for anything from $25 to $1,000.

Just to give an indication of how large the theft ring was, by the time it came to an end, the major problem was not getting the books out of libraries but finding places to store the surplus.

One of the key thefts you focus on in the book is the snatching of a copy of Poe’s Al Araaf from the New York Public Library. What made this particular book such a desirable commodity at the time? And how did that theft turn out for the thieves in the end?

Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems was Poe’s second publication, but the first to use his name. Like much of his early work, because it had not been popular, few copies were saved. This, coupled with the fact that the value of Poe works had been party to an inexorable upward climb for three decades, made it a hot commodity.

I’ve tried to get my head around the “why” of the theft. The question “what were they thinking” is often hard to understand in retrospect, and I confess I can’t be sure what the answer is. The theft from the New York Public Library seems to me a great deal like awaking a slumbering giant. The NYPL employed a man whose sole job was to keep its books safe—a unique position at the time—and had powerful allies in the city. When there were so many other compliant victims out there, why would anyone want to give the NYPL a reason to get involved? Recklessness? Spite? Because it was there? I don’t know, but it spelled doom for the theft ring.

Tell us about the research for this book. What sorts of sources did you find that allowed you to reconstruct this theft ring and its deeds so thoroughly?

This book started out as a small part of a chapter in a larger book, when my only sources were a few newspaper articles and a New York appellate court case. Then I stumbled across a memoir that had a few pages on the theft and, very quickly after that, an article in a book collecting magazine from 1933. Each of these offered their own bits of information, each was written in an entirely different voice and each at different removes from the scene of the crime. Most of my previous research was based on court and law enforcement records—dry, fact-based, close-in-time material. The writing of this book, typified by those first sources, required me to draw on a range of much different sources to create a narrative.

Booksellers’ memoirs—even if they did not mention this crime, or Book Row—were great, adding a certain life to the book. But there were also other types of first-person reporting that was extremely helpful: correspondence, court testimony, depositions, etc. These are more raw than memoir, because they aren’t meant for public consumption, and so offer up little facts that a person would not ordinarily think to include in a more formal record.

I also read a lot of fiction from the time. Most of this was not helpful, except for providing context, but some bits and pieces made it into the story. There is even a little humor in the book, if you look hard enough. For example, I rely on a 1920s article from The New Yorker, at one point, to add levity to a passage; so you can probably guess that what humor exists is bone dry.

For more on Thieves of Book Row, what Travis is reading now, and a bit about what he’s working on next, read the rest of our interview.


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Labels: author interview, state of the thing

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

LibraryThing’s Chocolate Redesign

Before and after, band-aid to chocolate.
An anonymous member sent us a box of dark chocolate-covered cherries. Very appropriate, and very much appreciated!(2)

We’re rolling out lots of changes. See also The New Home Page »

You may have noticed a few changes around the site … last week we pushed live the first major redesign of the LibraryThing site in… ever!(1) The final concept and design were something of a group effort, but the vast majority of the work was done by Christopher Holland (conceptdawg). Note that the new design is separate from the new Home page, blogged about here.

New colors. The top nav bar has turned chocolate brown with red highlights. Goodbye, band-aid/dead salmon color! You’ll see other new accent colors around the site as well.

Smaller, “fixed” top nav. The top nav is 25% smaller than the old version. This means you see more content on each page without scrolling. Like many sites today, the top nav is now “fixed,” remaining at the top when you scroll down the page. This feature is disabled on mobile devices, which handle “scrolling” differently, and, by request, we’ve also made this optional. To turn it off, click this at the bottom of the page.

Profile tab. We’ve removed the “Profile” tab. But you can still get to your profile with one click from anywhere on the site: just click your member name in the upper right corner! You can also get to your profile from the “subnav” on the home page.

New comments indicator. You’ll see a small yellow box appear in the upper right corner of the site when you have a profile comment. It will now even tell you how many new comments you’ve received.

A work in progress.

We’ve begun the process of standardizing the entire site to make all of the hundreds of LT pages look nice with the new color scheme, etc. We’re not quite there yet. There’s lots of work left to do, mostly little things where the old design is still poking through. We’re hacking away at those now.

Members who joined prior to the launch of the redesign can revert to the old design for the moment. This will not be available permanently (it’s simply too much work to try and maintain two different systems), but it’s there for now.

We want your thoughts. What do you think? What do you particularly like, or dislike? Come tell us in the New design – Comments #3 Talk thread.

Found a bug? Come report it in the New design – Bugs #2 thread.

Previous threads of interest (we’re well past 1,700 posts about the design alone…)


1. For a few months LibraryThing’s color was an even more terrible greige.
2. Truth be told, 72?!? That’s over 3,800 calories!

Labels: christopher holland, design, features

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

The New Home Page

This blog post is the “coming-out” party of the new home page, introduced last week. After extensive discussion—over 1,000 messages—with many changes and improvements suggested and implemented, “home” is effectively done.

What’s the point? The new page is designed as a simple but rich “home” for how you use LibraryThing. It is a “central place” that puts everything in front of you and keeps you up-to-date. But since members use LibraryThing in so many different ways—cataloging, keeping track of current reads, getting new recommendations, socializing, etc.—it had to be a menu of options, and extensively customizable.

The new home page replaces the old, introduced five year ago, which had grown cluttered, long and slow. It was customizable, but limited and buggy, and many members skipped it.

Pages and Modules. The new home page is divided into pages like “About you” and “Recommendations,” plus a main “Dashboard” area.

The pages sport 47 modules—more than twice as many as before. Modules do things like list your most recent activity, recommend books, update you on what your friends are reading, and track your contributions to the site.

Customize it. The home page was designed to start off useful, but many users will want to customize it.

  • You can reorder the modules on every page.
  • You can put the modules in one column or two, and set where the column break is.
  • You can move modules on and off your dashboard, and other home pages.
  • Every module can be customized, often extensively (see the example below).

Most members will want to focus on their dashboard—adding, deleting and reorganizing the modules until they’ve got the perfect jumping-off page for the rest of their LibraryThing.

What’s new? New modules include:

  • Member Gallery. See pictures in your gallery and add new ones from the home page.
  • Recent Member-uploaded Covers for Your Books. Keeps you up-to-date on the newest covers other members have uploaded for your books.
  • Your Notepad. Create a handy list of shortcuts or notes.
  • Your Library over Time. A cool chart showing how your LT library has grown.
  • Lists. Modules for Your Lists, Active Lists, Recent Lists, Lists You Might Like bring LibraryThing’s Lists feature in the mainstream.
  • Your Recent Reviews. Reminds you what you’ve reviewed recently.
  • Reviews for Your Books. Find out what other members are saying about your books.
  • LibraryThing Roulette. Click for a random book, author, series, etc. Weirdly addictive, and helpful for helpers.
  • Helper modules. A page with statistics and links to venue linking, work combining and the dozens of other ways LibraryThing members help each other.
  • Recent Haiku. See book summaries / by members cleverly put / in five-seven-five.
  • Thingaversaries. Members have been celebrating the anniverary of their joining LibraryThing for years; the home-page module makes that easier.

What’s improved? Along with all the new features Tim also thoroughly redesigned and streamlined many of the existing Home page modules:

  • Tag watch is back! The much-missed Tag watch feature has returned, much simpler and easier to use.
  • Recommendations now includes subsets. You can choose between top automatic recommendations, recent automatic recommendations, and recent member recommendations.
  • Dates. Recently-added books and recent recommendations now include dates, so you can see when you added a new book or when a recommendation was made for you.
  • On This Day now factors in the popularity of the authors, so it gives you the most relevant author birth- and death-days. By default it also prefers to show authors you have. There’s also a new “On this day” Common Knowledge page.
  • We redesigned the Featured Authors section (in the Books section under Discover), to show more LibraryThing authors.

Background: We also recently released a new design—out with the “band aid” or “salmon” and in with the chocolate. Staff, especially Chris (ConceptDawg) is still working on that design, tweaking color choices and making sure it works right on all the browsers and devices out there. See the design blog post for more.

The changes to the Home page are largely based on discussions in the Wide open: What to do with your home page? thread, and Tim (timspalding) had great fun coming up with the new layout and all the brand-new, nifty features that are part of this.

What do you think? Come tell us in the New home – Comments #3 Talk thread.

Find a bug? Report it in the New home – Bugs continued again thread.

Additional threads of interest:

Labels: design, features, home

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Happy Thingaversaries

For a while now members have been celebrating “Thingaversaries,” anniversaries of the day they joined LibraryThing. As LibraryThing is now almost eight years old, a lot of our earliest, most active members have been celebrating 5-, 6- or 7-year Thingaversaries. The tradition is to use the occasion to buy as many books as your year.

Yesterday, norabelle414 (Nora), celebrated her six-year Thingaversary, and posted this to the “75 Books Challenge for 2013″ group:

“Today is my SIXTH Thingaversary! Six whole years and I still can’t believe that I found this wonderful website that has changed my life, and that I get to talk to you lovely, like-minded people almost every day! It is Thingaversary tradition to buy oneself one book per year on LT, plus one to grow on. However, I’m trying to curtail my book buying this year. So instead, I’m going to buy myself one brand-new, sorely needed BOOKSHELF!”

In Nora’s honor, we’ve done two things:

1. We bought a cake in honor of Nora’s Thingaversary. Unfortunately, Nora lives hundreds of miles away, so LibraryThing staff in Maine—Tim, KJ, our 15-year-old intern Eddy and his two younger brothers(1)—are going to have to eat it for her! Sorry Nora, and thanks.

2. We’ve added a new Selected Thingaversaries module in the (new) “Folly” section on the home page. It highlights your connections who are having Thingaversaries and a semi-random set of members having their Thingaversary today—weighted by how active they are the site now.

So, congratulations Nora, and thanks to her and all the other members who joined years ago, and still love LibraryThing!

Feature-discussion here.


1. LibraryThing is turning into a summer camp. Alas, Jeremy is in Virginia this month for Rare Book School.

UPDATE: I added a notice of your next Thingaversary.

Labels: features, holiday, humor

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

July Early Reviewers batch is up!

The July 2013 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 157 books this month, and a grand total of 4,445 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, July 29th 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!

The Permanent Press Taylor Trade Publishing Tundra Books
Lion Fiction Putnam Books Palgrave Macmillan
Random House Akashic Books Blacksmith Books
Quirk Books Henry Holt and Company Minotaur Books
Del Rey Penguin Young Readers Group Gefen Publishing House
Coffeetown Press CarTech Books Monico
Open Lens Delacorte Press Spiegel & Grau
Crown Publishing Candlewick Press Kayelle Press
Bethany House Chosen Books Gray & Company, Publishers
Libertine Press Mythos Press Enigma Press
Enigma Press Grimoire Press Sentient Publications
GMTA Publishing, LLC Celestial Press Ballantine Books
Petra Books BookViewCafe Riverhead Books
Bantam Dell PublicAffairs Gotham Books
JournalStone Seventh Rainbow Publishing William Morrow
Plume Orca Book Publishers Booktrope
W.W. Norton Elate Press Apex Publications
Galaxy Audio MSI Press Viva Editions
Cleis Press Oxford University Press Marble City Publishing
McFarland February Books Humanist Press
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Sheridan House Georgetown University Press
Wayman Publishing Demos Health Five Rivers Publishing

Labels: early reviewers, LTER