Archive for March, 2009

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

March Bonus Batch of Early Reviewer Books

This month we have a bonus batch of Early Reviewer books—13 different books and a grand total of 405 copies to give out.

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 Friday, April 3rd at 6PM EST.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, Argentina, Brazil and Spain. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country. Oh, and check out the Spanish language book!

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Faber and Faber St. Martin’s Griffin Broadway Books
MSI Press HarperCollins The Permanent Press
Hachette Book Group Ballantine Books Spiegel & Grau
Random House

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Review integrity, reviewer freedom and pay-for-review marketing

The rise of book-based social networking has spawned some bottom feeders. Top of my list are companies that charge hopeful authors for positive reviews, which are then owned by the company, edited by them and posted mechanically on multiple social networks and commercial sites over the web, on Twitter and so forth.

LibraryThing was hit by one such outfit, who charge $425 for reviews posted to us, as well as Google Books, Fetchbook and (A lower payment gets you on Amazon and some of our competitors.) This organization has posted 94 reviews—$39,950 in theory—and wouldn’t you know, all of them were five-star reviews!*

At the same time, we have nothing against publishers and authors getting their books out there. LibraryThing does that, and although we don’t change anyone anything, we don’t even have a problem with that. Nor we we have a problem with requiring people to review a book—it’s requiring or otherwise producing only favorable reviews that bothers us. We want members and visitors to feel confident that reviews on LibraryThing aren’t manipulation and spam. We want to be a community for readers, not a dumping ground for spam.

Fortunately, this is still a small problem. But it’s not one we’re going to allow. And I’d like to see if I can get other sites to agree.

So I’ve added the following to our Privacy Policy/Terms of Use:

Review integrity

LibraryThing allows members to participate in “book give-away” programs designed to give readers books and foster reviews. But we forbid reviews by or in the service of “pay-for-review” schemes.

The difference is a tricky one, so we have a number of requirements:

  • Reviewers must be free to write what they think. They may not be required or rewarded to write positive reviews—or punished for writing bad ones.
  • Reviewers must own and control their reviews, granting other parties only a non-exclusive license.
  • Reviewers must act on their own volition, cross-posting their review when and where they want. Companies that sell services based on how many sites get reviews are explicitly forbidden from using LibraryThing.
  • Reviewers must not be paid for their reviews, except in free books and similar non-monetary perks.

We are going to be writing to other sites in our space, seeing if we can get anyone else to sign on with these rules, or ones like them.

Come discuss it on Talk.

*I’m going to avoid giving them publicity—all of which is “good.” They have been removed; they were already in violation of our personal and organizational-use rules.

Labels: review integrity, terms of service

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Authors: Free barcode scanner or tshirt for all!

I love authors. I love them so much I married one! LibraryThing has a whole host of special features to encourage authors to join, and make the most of the site.

So it comes as a surprise to hear LibraryThing called anti-author. (What we are, is against pay-for-review schemes, and authors who think LibraryThing is for posting advertisements and not engaging with anyone.)

So, we’re going to prove it. Until May 1, authors willing to join up, become LibraryThing authors and add some books, get a free CueCat barcode scanner, shipped for free. If you’d rather get a t-shirt, we’ll send one of those instead.

The rules:

  • This applies to new members, or members with less than fifty books added today.
  • Your LibraryThing author page has to show at least 10 members with one of your books.
  • You have to add fifty books to qualify for the scanner.
  • Or: If you have 100 members with one of your books or have had a book on LibraryThing Early Reviewers, we’ll send you the scanner before you catalog fifty books.

How to do it:

  1. Sign up for an account.
  2. Send an email to Abby at to become listed as an official LibraryThing author.
  3. When you meet the rules, send Abby your address and we’ll send you the CueCat and/or t-shirt.

More for authors on LibraryThing. There are a number of other ways authors can use LibraryThing:

  • If you’re interested in providing copies of your new books for LibraryThing members to review, check out Member Giveaways or have your publisher participate in Early Reviewers.
  • If you’d like to give your fans a chance to chat with you, sign up for an Author Chat.
  • If you have upcoming readings or events, you can add them to LibraryThing Local.

UPDATE: Let us catalog your library! If you are a really “big” author, a LibraryThing Flash Mob Cataloging mob will come to your house and catalog all your books for you! We won’t tell anyone where you live, bother the cat or steal the silverware. You get a high-quality catalog entered by librarians and book nerds. We get the fun of cataloging an interesting library. (Yes, we think this stuff is fun.)

We tried to get this offer to Jon Updike, after doing his church, but he died soon after. (Jeremy and the Legacy Library crew REALLY hopes his library is not broken up and unrecorded, like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr’s!) We’ve also offered to do Neil Gaiman’s, so far without success. I now extend our invitation to Steven King, a fellow Mainer, and indeed close neighbor to Katya, librarian and flash-mob cataloging’s “original cataloging” maven. Anyone got King’s email? (Rhetorical question.)

Labels: author chat, authors, cuecat, cuecats, early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Flash-Mob Cataloging: NCSU took on the Joel Lane House Museum

Another library cataloged in a day, thanks to the Metadata & Cataloging Department at North Carolina State University Libraries. They descended upon the Joel Lane Museum House in Raleigh, NC (museum website, LibraryThing Local page) as their community service outing, to catalog the museum’s collection (here). Not only is the museum the oldest dwelling in Raleigh, but it’s also full of rare books and historical documents. The collection also has works on museum maintenance, gardening, antiques, colonial-period America, the history of North Carolina and Raleigh, and a book entitled “Southern Honor: ethics and behavior in the old South” – which was thusly tagged ‘dueling‘.

To one-up previous LibraryThing Flash Mobs, this particular mob also scanned some covers! As this escalates, what do you think will mobbers be doing – reading every book as they go?

Read more about the day’s adventures from the libloggerazzi:
Circ and Serve
Shovers and Makers
USF Library

While none of the LibraryThing staff were in attendance, we did send a care package of cuecats and teeshirts. There are some New England flash-mobs in the works, which we will personally help rock.

If you’re interested in forming a flash mob for a library near you, check out Tim’s blog post, the How To Flash-Mob with LibraryThing wiki and the Flash Mob Cataloging Talk group.

Labels: flash mob, flash-mob cataloging, NC, NCSU, party

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

LibraryThing Mac Screensaver

At the end of our Week of Code, Chris and I put together the RSS feed and directions you need to turn the built-in Mac OS X screensaver into a LibraryThing Screen Saver.

To do it you’ll need to grab the following URL: and change “timspalding” to your user name (public users only, of course). Then watch the video.

Update: Does anyone know of an easy way to make a Windows one?

Labels: mac, new feature, new features, osx, screensavers

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

March Early Reviewer Books

The March batch of Early Reviewer books is up! This is, by far, our largest batch of Early Reviewer books yet. We’ve got 72 books this month, and a grand total of 2,140 copies to give out. There’s literary fiction, poetry, chick lit, Christian fiction, historical fiction, young adult books, cookbooks, mystery, memoirs, and non-fiction books ranging in topics from going green to wilderness survival to travel and adventure to self-help and more!

We also have a variety of formats this month, including a few ebooks and audiobooks. If the book on offer isn’t one that you can physically hold, it’s noted in the title (“audio edition”) or at the beginning of the description (“this is an ebook”).

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 Monday, March 23rd at 6PM EST.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France and Germany. 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!

Crossway Canongate Books Springboard Press
Picador W.W. Norton Santa Fe Writer’s Project
Beacon Press Penguin B&H Publishing Group
Hachette Book Group Grand Central Publishing Candlewick
Ballantine Books North Atlantic Books Menasha Ridge Press
Clerisy Press St. Martin’s Griffin Tyndale House Publishers
HarperCollins Bloomberg Press HighBridge
Bell Bridge Books Watkins & McKay Blue Steel Press
Bethany House Little, Brown and Company BookViewCafe
Howard Books Broadway Books Hyperion Books
Riverhead Books Scholastic Unbridled Books
Tor Books New York Review Books Melville House
DK Publishing St. Martin’s Press The Overlook Press
Orca Book Publishers Andrews McMeel Publishing Random House

Labels: early reviewers, LTER