We recently hit another big milestone—20,000,000 books and 300,000 registered members!*
The exact twenty-millionth book was All Day Every Day by David Armstrong (2002), added by BernardYenelouis last Wednesday night. BernardYenelouis, who gets a gift-account for his good luck, has a library filled with interesting photography books. In this case, he was actually the first to add the book.
It’s an interesting light on the books members have. I usually stress how books bind people together. I once almost broke the system proving that while, as the idea goes, everyone may be six-acquaintances away from everyone, if you consider books as the connection, they’re more like three books away. But people’s reading tastes are also amazingly diverse. Over 1.7 million books are singletons on LibraryThing, and five million books belong to a work in ten or fewer members’ libraries. Sure we have a hundred-thousand Harry Potters, but the “long tail” of books is very long.** Chris Anderson has shown this in book sales, but the long tail of ownership is much longer.***
Twenty million feels pretty big to us, but we’re not quite sure where it puts us on our—admittedly asterisked—climb up the global libraries list. We’re in the top five, it seems. The largest, however, the Library of Congress has 30 million books. That’s going to be a fun one!
We’re also announcing the winners of the 20-million/Halloween photo contest. The Halloween winner is Bluesky1963‘s wonderful Oz-inspired photo (right).
The Halloween runners-up was micketymoc‘s wonderful “Scary Stories.” (What sort of stories do books tell around the camp fire? Termite stories, of course!) Micketymoc‘s profile’s also great. As for the 20-million photos it was a tie between erelsi183‘s candles and the cake-and-numbers photo by white_Dandelion.
I enjoyed all the others, but thought I’d post a few, including AnotherJennifer‘s “Annabel Lee, Shakespeare, and the devil celebrate Halloween together,” mekela05‘s Steven-King/spiders pile and Mojosmom‘s horror pop-up.
Four more pictures deserve a mention. Abby and Sara invited Lisa, Liam and I over for dinner in Cambridge, and I brought along the bottle of champagne that my brother had given me in commemoration of LibraryThing’s one-millionth book. It was time to drink it, and it was good.
The other two are the only costume photos we received. One Thingamabrarian who wants to be known as Christine submitted her MySpace profile costume. She gets ten points for originality and loses them for not going around as her LibraryThing profile! The other photo is just nepotism.
*Of course, not all 300,000 are active, and a small number of our books are really DVDs or CDs—which are harder, but not impossible to enter. Against that, however, many records combine multiple volumes in a single entry, so the number of uncounted volumes may well balance out the non-book stuff.
Around the same time we hit 26,000,000 tags and 600,000 user-contributed covers. Still, I spent half an hour trying to find the cover for my copy of the Complete War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle, the one with him very tiny in a big white Cross of Lorraine, a cover I feel like I’ve seen in a thousand used bookstores! No dice, on LT or elsewhere. I don’t usually understand the desire for the right cover, but this one got me. Unfortunately, my scanner is non-functional. In related news, we’re going to announce something really exciting about covers sometime this month.
**It seems to me that LibraryThing really comes into its own in the sweet-spot between very obscure and very common, perhaps 25 to 500 members. After all, there are ample real-world opportunities for discussing Harry Potter or the latest hot novel, and when only a few LT members have a book you can’t be sure any will be actively engaged with the social-networking side of the site. About eight million books belong to works between 25 and 500 members.
***And of library collections. I found a good quote in the short essay “The Long Tail and Libraries” by Tom Storey (in Developing Cyber Libraries, 2006, not yet in LT!). “If Anderson’s theory is correct, and all media are in the throes of radical change, libraries may be well-positioned for this new. The Long Tail is something they understand and have practiced for years.” (p. 238)