Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

SantaThing and Giving

In this year of a down economy, two developments with SantaThing, our “secret Santa for booklovers”:

First, there was the Talk thread started by a member who got help last year to participate, when she needed it and, now that she doesn’t, wanted to pay-it-forward and help someone else. This started a chain reaction, with more and more members offering to pay for someone. Other members have been asking for help, for themselves or sometimes for relatives, either in Talk or privately. The whole thing is pretty awesome.*

Today I was contacted by a member (who would like to remain anonymous) offering to pay for 20 SantaThings ($500), again for members who were planning to skip it because money was too tight. The money came out of the blue, and, despite the crescendo of giving, was quite a shock to us.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about either giving or receiving SantaThing, read here.

Second, with all this giving, we’re changing our mind. The SantaThing deal was $25 for $20 of books. The $5 was for shipping, and a little to cover staff time. But most of our shipping is now free. (We get it from from Amazon and the Book Depository, and Powell’s is doing us a favor.**) And we’re starting to feel seriously privileged to be involved in this!

So—to heck with it—we’re getting rid of the margin. SantaThing is now $25 for $25. We’ll make a little money when people can’t quite fill the $25, and we’ll spend it on the countries and bookstores that don’t have free shipping. It’s the least we can do.

You have until December 1 to sign up for SantaThing.


Sonya and Tim

Links: SantaThing; Talk thread.

*I think “community” is an overused word online. Most “online communities” aren’t. All those sites with employees known as “community managers” tick me off particularly. We like to think we’re better than those sites, but, despite tons of friends, a marriage, occasional flash-mob cataloging, Legacy Libraries and even a group of members who now vacation together, I wouldn’t even say LibraryThing is a real “community.” It’s more of a large, long-running cocktail party with a lot of rooms and some good friendships. But I can’t help feeling cheered again by Clay Shirky’s Love, Internet Style. Shirky writes that, looking forward, “You will make more accurate predictions about software… if you ask yourself not ‘What’s the business model?’ but ‘Do the people who like it take care of each other?'” Well, you do. And it’s a pleasure to be part of it. — Tim
**We have Amazon Prime, and the Book Depository has free shipping. We’re grateful to Powells for giving us free shipping for this effort. (Thanks to Darin for making it happen.)

Labels: altruism, santathing, secret santa


  1. Devans00 says:

    I'm lost.

    How do we sign up for the 2009 Secret Santa?

  2. jjmcgaffey says:

    Click on the word SantaThing in the first paragraph of the blog – that takes you to the page that describes SantaThing and lists current Santas. In between those two is a header that says something like Your SantaThing, which has a link under it saying Sign Up To Be a Secret Santa!

  3. Sean191 says:

    Yet another thing I look forward to around the holidays! It's fun to see what people think you would like . . . although I hope my last year's recipient got around to reading the books I sent!

  4. Betty says:

    That is awesome! And I'm delighted to hear the news about the $25 limit. I was kind of frustrated the last couple of years by the fact that all the books I wanted to send were a little over $10, meaning that sending one seemed kind of stingy, but sending two was out of the question.

  5. Ronnie says:

    Hi there — I'm pretty new to Library Thing, so I hope this isn't a silly question —

    If we use our Wish List, is this a good way to let people know what books we're interested in?

    Thanks, Ronnie

  6. jgoto says:

    Wish I could sign up, but pay pal won't accept by FPO address. i did it last year, but don't remember how I got around that.

  7. Sonya says:

    Ronnie (and all)

    There's a specific text box for you to note anything about what kind of books you'd want, but you can also add a link to your wishlist, if you want.

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