Archive for September, 2008

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

More Dewey

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter is one of our most requested Early Reviewer books this month. Unfortunately, there were only 15 copies available—and with a few hours left now, there are a whopping 1,637 members requesting a copy to read and review. So our friends at Grand Central Publishing decided to double the number of books they’re giving out, and now 30 lucky members will get a chance to read and review Dewey. Thanks to them.

To everyone who requested an Early Reviewer book in this September batch, you’ll find out soon if you won one!

Labels: early reviewers, grand central publishing

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Design a Logo, Win Some Goodies!

Another day, another contest.

We’re looking for a logo to use with our new Legacy Library spin-off project, Libraries of Early America. Very ambitiously, we intend to LT-catalog all known American libraries from before c. 1825 (you’d be amazed at how many there are). We’re focusing on individual and family libraries for the time being, but may look to expand that in the future.

Wanted: Basic but elegant Libraries of Early America logo design for use on LibraryThing pages, an eventual LEA portal site (to feature essays, digitized book catalogs, &c.) and elsewhere. I’ll leave it open-ended from there – let your imaginations run wild!

Reward: Tim’s offered up a lifetime membership to LT, an LT t-shirt, and a Cue-Cat, and we’ll also send along one of Monticello’s great Thomas Jefferson library mugs to the winning entrant.

How to Enter: Send your entry (as URL or image file) to me at jbdibbell at gmail dot com by, oh, let’s say 15 October. I’ll circulate them to other interested parties and we’ll pick a winner shortly thereafter. Tim’s standard fine print (“Our decision is final, incontestable, irreversible and completely dictatorial”) applies. Any questions or clarifications, just ask.

Labels: legacies

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Find LibraryThing a Maine employee, get $1,000 in books

That’s right. Find us a Maine—or anyway within an hour of Portland, ME—employee and we’ll give you $1,000 in books.

We did this once before. It’s how we found John, our Systems Adminitrator. (John found himself, so he got his own $1,000.)

Jobs. We have three potential jobs to fill.

  • Hacker. We’re looking for PHP hacker. JavaScript genius and library-data experience. We hope we get two of those.
  • Graphic designer/user-experience guru. Experience designing for data-rich sites like LibraryThing a must.
  • Brainy, overworked assistant. Smart, flexible, organized, relentless—willing to do both high-level (strategic analysis) and low-level (send-out-these-CueCats) work. The job is non-technical, but you need to be super-comfortable around computers.

Rules! You get a $1,000 gift certificate to Abebooks, Amazon, Booksense or the independent bookseller of your choice. (Longfellow Books? Books Etc.?) You can split it between them. You don’t need to buy books with it (but why do that?).

To qualify, you need to connect us to someone. Either you introduce them to us—and they follow up with a resume and etc.—or they mention your name in their email (“So-and-so told me about LibraryThing”). You can recommend yourself, but if you found out about it on someone’s blog, we hope you’ll do the right thing and make them the beneficiary.

Contact Tim Spalding ( for more information, or to send a resume.

Small print: Our decision is final, incontestable, irreversible and completely dictatorial. It only applies when an employee is hired full-time, not part-time, contract or for a trial period. If we don’t hire someone for the job, we don’t pay. The contact must happen in the next month. Void where prohibited. You pay taxes, and the insidious hidden tax of shelving.

Needless to say, we’ll throw in a free lifetime membership, so you can catalog your loot. And you’ll get the satisfaction you helped LibraryThing become everything it could be.

Kudos. This blog post samples CreativeCommons Attribution-Share-Alike images from Flickr users boredcollegekid, GoCardUSA, SundayKofax, DBKing (Longfellow statue in DC, not Portland, alas), Man_Pikin and RyanInc.

Labels: employees

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Author chats…

LibraryThing has a number of ways authors and publishers can get into the LibraryThing thing, including LibraryThing Authors, Early Reviewers and pimping out author pages.

We are now cranking up the volume on another way: Author Chats.

Basically, Author Chats are a special group set aside for scheduled chats with authors. Chats are scheduled and time-limited, taking one or two weeks max. An author with a new book, or who just wants to connect with some fans, can sign up for a chat without feeling obligated to keep talking on LibraryThing month after month.

Abby and I recently reviewed what we’re doing with authors and publishers, and have decided to pump up Author Chats as much as we can. We’re going to be adding some minor features around them, like putting notices on work pages for the author. And I’ve just started a basic letter for members to adapt and send to authors and their publicists. I’ve also started a talk thread about this, so we can figure out the best way to get the message out and, frankly, to apply some pressure to publishers to cough up the goods!

Upcoming author chats. The two author chats starting this week aren’t household names, but might be worth a look.

Gene Healy. You want topical? We got topical! There’s a presidential election coming up, and Gene Healy‘s new book is title The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power.

The book is detailed critique of growing executive power under both parties. Healy is currently a vice president* at Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank in Washington, DC. Is was also–and much more importantly–a friend of mine at Georgetown. I lost touch with him after graduation, so it was a wonderful surprise to turn over a book at Book Expo America and see a familiar face!

You can check out Gene’s book on LibaryThing, at Amazon (not, apparently on Booksense). Gene also has a blog.

If you want him now, or don’t like reading, there’s an excellent interview with Gene on C-Span’s Washington Journal, posted here. There’s another eloquent and very amusing C-Span appearance, in which he calls Teddy Rosevelt “one of the more ridiculous and obnoxious figures ever to occupy the Oval Office.”

On that note, the games begin! Here’s Gene’s author chat.

Dave Donelson. Dave Donelson is around to discuss his new novel, Heart of Diamonds: A Novel of Scandal, Love and Death in the Congo.

It’s an exciting romantic thriller about scandal, love, and death in the Congo. As the book cover copy reads, “Amid the bloody violence of the Congo’s civil war, TV reporter Valerie Grey uncovers a deadly diamond-smuggling scheme that reaches from Africa to the White House.”

More about the book on LibraryThing, Amazon. And check out the Heart of Diamonds webpage, where you can read the first two chapters of the book.

Dave, a library trustee, says that he’ll be happy to discuss the book, writing, or current events in Africa with the LibraryThing community.

Here’s Dave’s author chat.

And, of course, they’re just the new additions. There are five other chats going on right now:


*I think this means he takes over if the president dies.

Labels: author chat

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Laptop Stickers!

Admit it. You’re sitting in a coffee shop with your computer and you wish everyone around you knew of your love for LibraryThing.

Problem solved!

We now have stickers for sale that you can use for anything—but they’re perfect for laptops. They’re made on a premium “pressable” stock, making them removable and repositionable. So you can stick it on your laptop, then decide to rearrange or take it away completely without leaving sticker mess.

You can, of course, use them for non-laptop purposes as well. Warning: they’ve got a laminated front, but they’re paper-based—so they might not make a good bumper sticker.

They’re for sale for only $2 each—and free First Class shipping in the US (you can upgrade to priority mail, or pay to have it shipped internationally).

Read more and buy ’em here: LibraryThing laptop stickers

Labels: laptop, stickers

Friday, September 5th, 2008

September Early Reviewer Books

The September batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 1,020 copies of 50 books available this month.

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 Sunday, September 30th at 6pm EDT.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to tons of new countires around the world. 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:

Algonquin Books AMACOM Books Andrews McMeel Publishing
Ballantine Books Bantam Bloomberg Press
Canon Press Cheops Books Clark-Nova Books
Delacorte Press DiaMedica Doubleday Canada
Down in the Country Press F+W Publications Grand Central Publishing
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Hunter House Loving Healing Press
Marshmallow Press McBooks Press McClelland & Stewart
Modern History Press Open Letter Orbit Books
Raven Tree Press Sourcebooks South Dakota State Historical Society Press
Springboard Press Spunky Books Tarcher
Unbridled Books University of Chicago Press W.S. Beetle & Company
WaterBrook Press Welcome Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

The Legacies, One Year Out

One year ago today, after a few days of discussion on Talk about the potential of adding Thomas Jefferson’s major library to LT, the I See Dead People’s Books group was formed, marking the beginning of what we now know as the Legacy Libraries project (here’s our very first Talk thread, wherein I make some very silly suggestions, just going to show how vitally important the collaborative process has been to this project).

We’ve come a long way since last 3 September. More than 100 LT members working together have completed twenty-seven libraries; thirty-two more are currently in the process of being entered. That amounts, as of this morning, to 47,773 books – a pretty impressive year’s work by any standard.

Since my last blog-update, some very interesting Legacy Libraries have been completed, including those of Mormon church founder Joseph Smith; Thomas Jefferson’s childhood friend Dabney Carr; authors Theodore Dreiser (left), Robert E. Howard, and Charles Lamb (below right); and English scientist/theologian/historian/educator Joseph Priestley (above right).

The Legacy projects have also begun to attract some publicity and media attention, which is always welcome in that it draws more focus not only to the importance of these libraries but also to the value of LT in making these collections possible. I and several other members were interviewed for a piece in this month’s Fine Books & Collections magazine (on newsstands now) and on Monday morning I spoke with Clare Graves of the BBC Scotland program “Book Talk” about the projects (you can listen here for the next few days; we’re in the first fifteen-minute segment).

Here’s to many more years and many more libraries – onward and upward! As always, if you’re interested in helping out on a library or would like to start one for your favorite historical reader, stop by and jump in.

Labels: legacies

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Quotations, Epigraphs and Blurbers

I’ve added three fields to Common Knowledge, fun fields that should keep the more obsessive of us busy for a while, and which move us somewhat closer to being the “IMDB of books”—quotations, epigraphs and blurbers.

Quotations. Members have been wanting a place to stick interesting or important quotations for some time, often keeping them in their quotations field.

There are, of course, sites devoted to literary quotes. But none can match their quotes against the books in your own library, giving you more incentive to add them. Together with first and last words, added recently, I foresee all manner of fun applications—guessing games blog widgets that cycle through quotes from your library, etc.

Example: The Stars my Destination (Tiger! Tiger!) by Alfred Bester

Epigraphs. Users asked for this to be separated from quotations.

Example: I am in an epigraph free-room. Help!

Blurbers. If you’re not in publishing, you may be unfamiliar with this term. A blurber is someone who blurbs your book, writing up a very short review for your publisher, who selects a sentence or two and puts it on the back cover. If/when your book goes into paperback or gets reprinted, the blurbs may be replaced by quotes from professional reviewers, or they may not.

Often labeled “Advanced Praise for” or something like that, blurbs are an essential part of the authorial economy, and not always a pretty part, as Rebecca Johnson wrote in Slate:

“So much of blurbing process is a corrupt quid pro quo. You praise my book; I’ll praise yours. In the ’80s, Spy magazine ran a monthly column on the very topic called ‘Log Rolling in Our Time.'”

I’m looking forward to seeing this information develop. It’s well known that blurb relationships are reciprocal, and that some people write blurbs for more books than–it seems–they could ever read.

Example: Hidden Iran by Ray Takeyh, with the ubiquitous Fareed Zakaria and Zbibniew Brzeznski.

Labels: blurbers, blurbs, new features, quotes