Thursday, December 15th, 2005

Book pile contest results

The LibraryThing book pile contest is now officially over. Users submitted a lot of great photos—128 in all. You can see them all at the Flickr tag “librarything” (

It was very hard to choose, or even to figure out how to choose. So I decided to double the number of winners. I’m sorry I can’t double it again; there were so many good shots.

I favored head-on photos of discrete piles, as I said I would. This excluded some great photos of books on shelves, books in nightmarish piles (Constance Wiebrands) and of LibraryThing members’ libraries (Geoff Coupe), however much I want those built-in bookcases. Partial photos (Chamisa Flower) and photos from strange angles were discriminated against; books with clear, legible titles were favored.

Babies and animals were in woefully short supply. I love Dovegreyreader’s cat-and-pile shot. But the image doesn’t fit in the frame and its hard to see the books. Also, I’m a dog person. CrazyMaisy gets credit for her cat bookend, looking back on Sibley’s Birds and The Art of Raising a Puppy. Intentional?

The original deal was one winner who gets two free memberships, and two runners-up who get one each. That was back when all memberships were lifetime ones. I decided to keep to that, and add three one-year memberships for “honorable mention.”

The winner: lucytartan
Lucy did an eye-popping pile, arranged by color and helpfully snipped out of its background. This idea is not new—a crazy bookstore tried organizing their whole collection that way—but it was nicely done. Extra points for Nabokov, Orwell and Aristotle.

Runner-up: Micketymoc
Micketymoc did a number of cool shots, all in focus and very helpfully snipped from their background. This fish-eye one hit the sweet spot. Indeed, if I have a complaint, it’s that it’s too professional. If I used it, people might think LibraryThing was a serious business, one that hired photographers. I’d lose my indy cred!

Runner-up: kencf
Kenneth’s ordinary book piles violate my aspect-ratio preferences. I can forgive that. But pull back a bit and you can see what the piles are sitting on. Was the the bathroom really the only white space in Kenneth’s place? Ought one to put The Origin of Christology on top of a toilet? (Kenneth replied that books in the bathroom worked for Luther; the Catholic in me has a rejoinder to that!)

Honorable mention: AuntDodi
Here’s a good, sharp mish-mash. Tales from the Clit and Yertle the Turtle? If you didn’t know what a clit was, they could be the same genre!

Honorable mention: Hanz
Capping a pile of Christian books with a Bible manages to inject a message into the very order of the pile, and the angle reinforces the message. One of the cool things about LibraryThing is how different political and religious groups use it without “bumping into each other” too much. Tales from Clit does not often meet Calvin’s Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life. This is probably for the best. But what would Calvin have thought of Yertle?

Honorable mention: Rachael (Chamisa Flower)
There were two excellent gastronomic piles. Chamisa flower won over Selkie30 for being easier to see the titles and without the shadow. But I was please to hear of the existence of the Star Trek Cookbook. I also like Chamisa Flower’s writing-themed pile.

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