Friday, August 1st, 2008

Abebooks news: The scoop for LibraryThing

Today Abebooks, the Canadian bookseller, announced that it was being acquired by Amazon, a company that needs little introduction. (See Amazon press release.)

Abebooks owns a minority stake in LibraryThing. This means that, after regulatory approval and finalization, Amazon will become, through Abebooks, a minority investor in LibraryThing.

I congratulate Amazon on a shrewd acquisition. Abebooks is a great company, full of wonderful people. They have accomplished great things (link). I have no inside info, but I can foresee Amazon’s extraordinary technical infrastructure giving Abe a big lift.
Here’s the scoop:

  • LibraryThing did not have any knowledge of or influence over this deal.
  • The majority of LibraryThing is in my hands. Abebooks holds a minority of the shares, with certain notable but limited rights. This situation does not change when Amazon acquires Abebooks.
  • Amazon will not get access to your data. The LibraryThing/Abebooks terms are specific. Abe gets only anonymized and aggregate data, like recommendations, and they can only use it on Abebooks sites (eg., Abebooks.com, Abebooks.de). Nothing has changed here.
  • Abebooks customers won’t see much a difference. The name will survive and the Abebooks.com site will continue. Both employees and management will remain in Canada.
  • LibraryThing remains LibraryThing. We will continue to uphold and advance LibraryThing values, including open data, strict privacy rules and support for libraries and independent bookstores.

As always, I want your feedback on how to make LibraryThing the best book site on the web. I’ve started a Talk post to talk about all of this, or you can comment here.

Stay tuned for two more blog posts, both major. We have rushed two projects forward that demonstrate LibraryThing’s commitment to open data and support for libraries and other book lovers.

Tim Spalding

Updates:

  • Check out the blog post of Boris Wertz, long-time COO of Abe and co-founder of JustBooks.
  • Local Victoria TV has a story with a good photo of Hannes, the CEO.
  • It’s funny to watch the news fly by. 90% of the news stories rehash the press release without pointing to it, as if they are engaging in reporting. Odd

Labels: abebooks, amazon, canada

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Twilight Review Contest

In mere hours (at midnight on Friday night), the fourth book in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn will be released. And I’m sure I won’t be the only person up reading all weekend, and then waiting to talk about it as soon as I’m finished.

We figured it was a good time to have another review contest! We did this before when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, and it was great fun.

The prizes:

That’s right, that’s FIFTY winners.

How the winners will be chosen:

  • The top three reviews–with the most thumbs-up–will get the big prize. The next seven will get the next prize.
  • The remaining forty winners will be randomly picked from all members who both wrote a review and voted for others’ reviews.

So, when you finish reading, get writing! When you’re done writing, take some time to read other reviews, and give the thumbs-up to the ones you think deserve it.

The contest ends on Friday, August 15th.

And then? Well, there are a ton of Twilight groups where you can stop by and join a discussion on Breaking Dawn, Bella, Edward, Jacob, and more. Here are a few:

Labels: Breaking Dawn, contest, reviews, Twilight

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

LibraryThing for Libraries now found in FictionDB

LibraryThing for Libraries, our library catalog enhancer, can now be found bulking up knowledge at the website FictionDB.

FictionDB, which has been around since 1999 (which is about 49 Internet years), started out as a romance fiction database, and has grown to include the suspense, western, and speculative genres.

LibraryThing for Libraries is a set of enhancements that can be added to an existing database to show tag clouds and recommended titles. (FictionDB calls it “Read These Yet?”, which I love.)

Check out how the whole thing mashes up with the novel Dead Until Dark, and read more about our partnership at the FictionDB blog.

Labels: FictionDB, librarything for libraries, LTFL

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Legacy Libraries: Call for Volunteers

As LT’s Legacy Libraries project continues to expand in scope (21 libraries have now been completed, with 27 more underway) and visibility (see Tim’s blog-post from Wednesday and this Talk thread), we’re always looking for a few good volunteers to assist in the various cataloging efforts. One of the most impressive things about these projects is the way people have come together to bring these fascinating collections into LT, creating a vibrant bibliosphere by making connections between books and their readers across time and space in new and really exciting ways.

There are a wide variety of open projects that could use some assistance, which I’ve listed below with contact info for the applicable ‘project managers.’ If you’d like to help out with any project, drop them (or me) a profile-message and we’ll provide you with all the necessary background and info. You can be as active as you like, there’s no need for a major time commitment (unless you’re so inclined, of course!).

Benjamin Franklin – See the LT group; contact Katya0133 or pdxwoman.
Carl Sandburg – Contact KCGordon.
Sir Walter Scott – Contact thorold.
B.H. Liddell-Hart – Contact jmnlman or donogh.
W.B. Yeats – See this Talk thread.
Theodore Dreiser – Contact brandonw.
John Dee – Contact jbd1.
Willa Cather – See the LT group.
William Congreve – See this Talk thread; contact prosfilaes.

Even beyond these, there are a small number of projects which are currently quiet; if you’re interested in picking up where others left off, contact me and we’ll get that set up.

Anyone should also feel free to add to the list of proposed libraries on the project wiki, and if you’re interested in starting a project, just follow the steps outlined in the Cataloging Guide or contact me for additional info on getting underway.

Back in May, in preparation for writing an article about the Legacies projects, I asked the members of the ISDPB group “What’s your motivation?” All of the responses were great, but my favorite came from jjlong, who said in part “I do feel like I’m contributing to something lasting…. sometime, somewhere, someone will want to know – out of scholarly, or personal, interest – what poets John Muir read, which Spanish Civil War books Hemingway owned, what Adams read in French. Used to be you’d have to trek to a library in Boston or Washington or London, or try to run down a copy of, say, Millicent Sowerby’s book; we’re making this information available to anyone, anywhere – and, more importantly, in an easily searchable and browsable form, filled with links, statistics, covers, author info (thanks to LT).”

Couldn’t say it better myself. But don’t take our word for it – jump in and see for yourself!

Labels: legacy libraries

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Book pile contest, redux

Chris and I managed to bury the lead, too quickly. Check it out, there is a Book Pile Contest going on.

Labels: 1

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Recently tagged gets sexier

Chris did some very elegant work, redoing the “recently tagged” section of tag pages.

The new version brings back the RSS feed, disabled for a time for performance reasons. But it also looks much better, and is more informative, using the code from the home page “Tag Watch.”

Some examples: European history, Star Wars, chick lit, steampunk.

Discuss.

Labels: new features, rss

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Who has a book?

I’ve added a small section to work pages. The “Members” section shows who of your friends, interesting libraries and other connections have the work.

It also surveys the Legacy Libraries, a member project to catalog the libraries of famous dead people. So you can find out if Hemingway and Marie Antoinette owned, say, the Lusiads (Yes, they did). I think it gives this project—now growing quite impressive—a deserved boost

Discuss here.

Labels: connection news, new feature, new features

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Book pile contest

It’s been a while since we’ve had a bookpile contest, so we figure it’s time to bring back that LibraryThing tradition. We’re also nearing the 30 million books milestone as well as coming up on our third anniversary—time to start celebrating!

As you know, we’ve been doing a lot of work on the home page lately. As we announced last month, every member now has a personalized, customizable home page. Next up is redesigning the home page that everyone sees when they first visit LibraryThing (the signed out home page). We’re considering a new book pile (see the current one to the right)—that’s where you come in. We’re not guaranteeing we’ll use it, but we figured we’d see what LibraryThing members can come up with!

So, the contest! We want book piles. Remember, your pile should represent LibraryThing itself, however you choose to interpret it (is it all about the cataloging for you? The talking about books? Connecting with other members?). Given the international flavor of LibraryThing, extra points if you include non-English books in the pile as well.

The rules

  • Post your photos to Flickr and tag them “LTbookpile” (also tag them “LibraryThing“). If you make a new account it can take a few days for your photos to be publicly accessible, so post a URL to them in the comments here.
  • Or, post your photos on WikiThing here.
  • Or, if all else fails, just email them to abby@librarything.com and I’ll post them for you.

The deadline
Get your photos in by Friday, August 15th at noon EDT.

The prizes

Labels: book pile, contest

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Bonus batch of Early Reviewer books

We’ve got three books in July’s bonus batch of Early Reviewer books this month, and a total of 200 copies! Two books are from Random House (thanks as always), and one is being given away by Miramax Films (see the blog post).

So, visit the Early Reviewer page to request your copy—the deadline for requests is this Friday, July 25th at 6pm EST.

Remember, bonus batches are treated as entirely separate from the regular batch of Early Reviewer books. That means it’s possible to win a book from both the regular batch *and* the bonus batch. Good luck!

Labels: early reviewers, LTER, random house

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Brideshead Revisted giveaway

Miramax Films is giving us 25 copies of Brideshead Revisted to give out as Early Reviewer books! The movie adaptation comes out in theaters July 25th, and I for one plan on going.*

Check out the Early Reviewers page to request a copy.

So, what’s your stance – read the book before seeing them movie, or after? Ok, I realize the book was popular long before the movie ever was in the making, but for those who haven’t read it yet, what’s the plan? (Weigh in here, in “What’s better: reading the book first before watching the movie, or vice versa?“)

For more discussion on movies adapted from books, try the Made into a Movie group.

*The site for the movie has a link for advance screenings, which is always fun!

Labels: early reviewers, movies