Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Member Giveaways: Early Reviewers for everyone

We’ve just introduced a major new feature: Member Giveaway, a simple but flexible way for authors to get review copies into readers’ hands, and other members to clean out their attics!

Member Giveaway is built on top of our Early Reviewers program, which invites publishers to send LibraryThing members pre-publication copies of upcoming books. It has been a huge success, often giving out more than 1,500 books per month. But Early Reviewers has strict rules on participating, quantity and release dates, to keep up quality and encourage publishers to send out as many copies as they could spare.

Member Giveaway differs from Early Reviewers in a couple of ways:

  • Any LibraryThing member can participate.
  • There are no quantity restrictions. You can post a single book or a hundred.
  • Books do not need to be pre-release or even new.
  • Members are encouraged to review Giveaway books, but not reviewing them cannot hurt you.
  • Giveaway selection is random, not based on a similar-books algorithm. To discourage sockpuppetry, requesting members must have cataloged at least fifty books or be a premium (ie., paid) member.
  • Early Reviewers has a bird, but Member Giveaways uses squirrels. As you know, squirrels are lovely, sociable animals who share books readily.

Some other fun details:

  • If you’ve signed up for Early Reviewers, you are ready for Member Giveaways. The two programs have the same sign-up.
  • When you post a book you have a lot of options, including length of time it will last and where you’re willing to send it.
  • The sending member is responsible for all shipping. If you request and receive a book, the sending member will get your shipping address.

We made Member Giveaway for authors who couldn’t get their publisher to sign on to Early Reviewers, couldn’t get enough copies together or whose book was already out. (Early Reviewers also does not allow most self-published works, which has angered a few members, but both publishers and members reacted strongly when we included self-published books before.)

Publishers and authors aside we wanted to give regular members a chance to send good books to good homes. We have long pondered whether LibraryThing should enable book-swaps. But our friends at BookMooch do that so well already, and swapping is very hard to get right. But many members still wanted a simple way to get their old books to new homes. So, we set up a system to do that too.

We’ve started Member Giveaways off with seven great books.

Cancer is a Bitch and Beef were offered by my friend Larry Weissman, literary agent to both authors.

Released this Fall, both have already drawn great reviews from LibraryThing members and others. LibraryThing member skrishna wrote of Cancer Is a Bitch: “It’s funny, witty, sarcastic and will have you laughing out loud. Read this book. That’s all I really have left to say.” Of Beef, a microhistory in the tradition of Salt, the Boston Globe praised its “bovine evolution is riveting stuff.” Eats.com called it an “eloquent, poignant and influential account of man’s historical relationship with the cow.”

The other five books all come from a single member, keigu, Robin D. Gill, of Paraverse Press, which promises bilingual books “at a monolingual price.”

The books consist of Japanese text and English translations of hundreds or thousands of short Japanese poems—haiku and senryu on various topics. The publisher, who is also the author, sent LibraryThing a huge box some time ago, in anticipation of such a program. Abby and I, custodians of the books for so long never got around to reading them, but we will sorely miss people’s reactions at finding tall stacks of The Woman Without a Hole and Rise Ye, Sea Slugs!.

Three cheers for Mike! Memeber Giveaways was developed by Mike Bannister (LTMike) after I rather blithly tossed out the idea of opening Early Reviewers to everyone on a separate page. It took a while, but i is a beautiful, and solid piece of code.

Its completion frees Mike up to concentrate on Facebook full time, while Chris and me (but my programming time is somewhat hobbled by everythin else I do) continue work on collections.

Come talk about it here.

Labels: early reviewers, new feature, new features


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