Monday, November 16th, 2009

New Feature: Get this Book

This post does not discuss what I consider what may be the most innovative and promising new feature, Local Book Search. I’ll get to that in the morning. (See it in action.)

Over the night we added a small avalache of features (for a list of Talk posts, see the top of this post.) This post talks about the “Get this book” feature.

Show me the feature! Check the Get this Book feature for Romeo and Juliet. Then come discuss this here.

Why the new features? For years now we’ve had a feature called “Buy, Borrow and Swap”—involved bookstore and library links, and integration with swap sites.

Two things moved us replace this feature:

  • We wanted to make it better—to integrate with as many sources as possible, so we show people what was out there, and send people to links that existed, not a lot of blind links to pages that might or might not exist. First, as discussed here, Amazon tightened up its linking policy, forcing changes.
  • Amazon required it. As a site that uses Amazon data (although we also use some 690 other sources), we had to follow their rules, which required us to drop links to competitor sites, except on secondary pages. We didn’t want this to be a net loss for the site, so we decided to make the best secondary pages we could imagine. (Three programmers kept imagining for two months straight, and this is what came out.)

The new pages are accessible from any work page, and are pictured at the right.

Ebooks. Another book site integrated with a single attractive, but not comprehensive ebook supplier. So we decided to integrate with fourteen. We’ve included both pay sites (Kindle, Sony Reader) and free sites (Project Gutenberg, Hathi Trust).

Not pictured:

The integration is deep. For Hathi alone, we’ve linked 398,000 LibraryThing works, and OpenLibrary adds another 178,000 full scans. Because our catalog is so vast, and our data so “ratty” (it comes from over 690 source), LibraryThing can do a lot better than parsing ISBNs. This is how we connect to so many ISBN-less sources. My favorite is the Online Books Page, which collects links to some 30,000 books found here and there online, mostly one-off scanning projects at universities and the like.

There are, of course, more. We’re not parsing Barnes and Noble ebooks—which will become important if the “Nook” takes off. If you don’t see your favorite source, let us know. We’ll work to add it.

Audiobooks. I haven’t taken to ebooks yet. (For starters, my reader is broken.) But I listen to a lot of audiobooks. For people like me we’ve added links to three audiobook suppliers—Audible, iTunes and the wonderful, free, amateur-driven project LibriVox.

Live Price Comparison from Many of you use the price-comparison site, so, with their help, we decided to integrate a good piece of it into the site itself. BookFinder reaches out to dozens of new and used booksellers, and comes back with good deals and rare buys.

Live results are a core principle of the site, so caching is for as little time as possible. The results are also distinguished by being cross-edition—a fairly new concept in price comparison. You can change the ISBNs or titles BookFinder uses, to get price-comparison that fits you best.

Swap sites. Swap-site integration has been with LibraryThing for some time now. We’ve spiffed it up, and added a long-missing site, As a lot of members belong to more than one site, gathering them all together like this should be valuable.

All Sources. “Get this book” are just the best slices of a much larger pie. Check out All Sources (here, for Romeo and Juliet) to get all the sources. As with other parts of the site, the data is fundamentally under your control. If you don’t see your favorite bookseller or book database, go ahead and enter it. We also want help improving the data.

Your Quick Links area is editable. To edit it, check out Edit Quick Links, which looks like “All Sources,” but works a little different.

What’s missing. Here’s how we plan to improve the page, and how you can improve it too.

  • Members need to be able to add new ebooks.
  • We need more ebook sources. Seventeen is great. There are probably thirty we should have.
  • A lot of sources need improvement; they don’t have all the link types they could have.
  • We have second slate of “book database” integrations coming up, including a full conversion of all Wikipedia citations.

Come talk about the new features here.

Labels: audibooks, bookfinder, ebooks, get this book, local book search, swap site


  1. carport says:

    It looks great. Very nice work!

  2. majkia says:

    Wow. Great! Especially thanks for the ebook links.

    Good job!

  3. sabreuse says:

    I love how you just casually dropped that last thing there.

  4. Anne Kaelber says:

    Have I mentioned lately exactly how much I love LibraryThing? *grin* You (all) rock!


  5. gamoia says:

    Great! Really useful features.

  6. saltypepper says:

    This is stellar. This makes my favorite book site even better!

    You ask for people to let you know if we don't see our favorite source. You also say you're not doing B&N ebooks until you see what's up with the Nook. Is this why Fictionwise (now owned by B&N) is not one of your ebook sources? Because if not, they should be.

  7. johnbsheridan says:

    this looks fantastic and will probably result in me using librarything even more in order to properly maintain my wishlist and direct my purchases / swaps from there. If you could add the ebook UK sites from waterstones, borders & whsmith i'd be eternally grateful

  8. McBadger says:

    I clicked on the link for Google books for the "Alice in Wonderland" demo, and see the top book shown, when clicked on is something to do with famous Canadian men.
    I hope this isn't a sign of what we'll be seeing from Google book links for all the books when this gadget becomes active.
    And I realize this is probably more of a glitch on Google's end than yours and whatever tags they have associated with that book.

  9. Anna says:

    I'm floored. This is wonderful! Thanks!

  10. Brigitte Rieser says:

    I use the german librarything, and am right now preparing a collection of german language gardening books which are already or will be published this spring.
    Sadly I can’t use it, because all books are linked to, and 10 of 17 links do not work.

    Would it be possible to change the unchangeable default link to for, instead of to

    hopeful, Brigitte

    • Loranne says:

      Hi Brigitte,

      Thanks for the feedback. Would you mind emailing me at with some more details (including your LibraryThing username) so I can help you from there? I’m not sure what you mean regarding the books being linked to Are you referring to the Quick Links section on book pages?


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