Archive for March, 2010

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Welcome Max and William!

Congratulations to John, LibraryThing’s systems administrator, and his wife Lou on their new twins, Max and William!

More photos here.

That both were boys is a surprise—the doctors had believed only one was a boy. (William was going to be Willow.) Together with Baz (5) and Ollie (3), John and Lou now have a four-boy family, and more opportunities for John to perfect his Spiderman cake!

There’s a best-wishes thread going here.

John’s twins are the first of four LibraryThing births coming up in the months ahead—Mike, Sonya and Chris Catalfo are next! They will join three, now five, other LibraryThing babies. There is clearly something in the water.

Labels: LibraryThing babies

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

March State o’ the Thing

I’ve just sent out State of the Thing, our monthly newsletter. Sign up to get it, or you can read a copy online.

This month’s State of the Thing features a round-up of new features, book recommendations from Dexter Palmer and Susan Wilson, and two exclusive author interviews:

Jonathan Maberry is the author of the techno-thriller Patient Zero. His new book, The Dragon Factory, is the sequel. Jonathan is a multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator, writing teacher/lecturer and LibraryThing author.

Seth Grahame-Smith broke onto the classics scene with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now he’s taking on the biography genre with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. As we all know, Lincoln rises to political power to become one of the most famous presidents of all time for his fight against the injustice of slavery (and vampirism).

Next month our interviews are with Anne Lamott and Alan Bradley.

Labels: state of the thing

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Hobnob with Authors

After much discussion, we’ve introduced the Hobnob with Authors group, a special place for authors and readers to mingle.

Of course, authors are welcome everywhere on LibraryThing. Authors can become LibraryThing Authors, which links their author and member pages and promotes them on their books and on the home page. Many authors participate in Early Reviewers and Member Giveaways. And authors also participate in our existing groups. We even have a special Author Chat group for organized author events.

But, encouraged as they are, we’ve also found a certain amount of static between some authors’ desire to promote their work, and the tendency for that to seem one-way, non-conversational advertising or even spam, both of which are against the site’s Terms of Service. Confronted with the request to avoid promotion, many authors expressed surprise that a book site would hinder their efforts to reach potential readers. Members were in turn divided on just how serious the problem was, the line between acceptable and unacceptable author posts, etc. The situation was sticky all around!

So, Hobnob with Authors was born, a “safe place” for authors to chat with readers, without fear of being accused of spamming. While some standards will be enforced, no reasonable author need worry. As a “Community Project” the group is prominent, and its posts will appear in Talk alongside other groups. But sensitive members will also be able to “ignore” the “Hobnob” group.

So, authors, you’re now free to shout to the rooftops all about the book you write. Excited readers will be waiting to hear about it. Join, watch or just read Hobnob with Authors, and support authors who help make LibraryThing what it is.

Labels: author chat, authors, librarything authors

Monday, March 8th, 2010

March batch of Early Reviewer books is up!

The March 2010 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 82 books this month, and a grand total of 2,477 copies to give out.

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:

Update: You can now opt to win more than one book per batch. Read the details, and how to opt in.

The deadline to request a copy is Friday, March 26th at 6PM EST.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to too many countries to list. Make sure to check each book to see if you’re eligible.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

B&H Publishing Group North Atlantic Books Hunter House
Ballantine Books W.W. Norton Doubleday Canada
St. Martin’s Griffin Tundra Books Kregel Publications
Penguin Bell Bridge Books Putnam Books
Riverhead Books Human Kinetics BelleBooks
Bantam Dell Cemetery Dance John Wiley & Sons
Random House Henry Holt and Company Taylor Trade Publishing
Seven Stories Press New Village Press South Dakota State Historical Society Press
Gefen Publishing House Dalkey Archive Press QWERTY Publishers
HighBridge McBooks Press Rovira i Virgili University Press
McClelland & Stewart Orca Book Publishers Candlewick
Picador The Permanent Press HarperCollins
Doubleday Books HarperStudio Gotham Books
Quirk Books Avon Books Harper
Crossway MIRA HQN
100 Watt Press LUNA WaterBrook Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

March Legacy Mob: U.S.S. California

After the success of cataloging the 1963 White House Library, we’ve made it into a monthly thing.

This month, starting at 12:00 EST Wednesday, March 2, and continuing for 24 hours, we’re going to be cataloging the on-board library of the U.S.S. California, as it was in 1905.

This California‘s library catalog were written up and published by the Government Printing Office, and has been scanned by the Internet Archive. Designed to serve the California’s 830-odd officers and men—the libraries were separate—it offers a unique view of the navy of the time, and of the country. The ship, then rechristened the San Diego, its library, and six sailors, went to the bottom of the ocean in 1918, the victim of a German U-boat.

The “Legacy Mob” is an amalgam—a mashup?—of two LibraryThing inventions:

Labels: Uncategorized

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

CoverGuess: The game that helps people find books…

I just released an amusing diversion called CoverGuess.

Check it out here, and talk about it here.

What is CoverGuess?

CoverGuess is a sort of game. We give you covers, and you describe them in words. If you guess the same things as other players, you get points.

Why are you doing this?

The goal is to have fun, but also to build up a database of cover descriptions, to answer questions like “Do you have that book with bride on the bicycle?”

What’s the best way to do it?

Think about it how you’d describe the cover to someone—pick out the most significant elements. Does it have a car or a pair of shoes? Color terms are good, and so are terms like “blurry” or “sepia.” Above all, pick terms other players will be using.

How do points work?

You get one point for every matched term, for each other member who had it. So, if you say “car” and “dog” and two other members said “car” and one said “dog,” you get three points. Obviously, it’s better if you’re not the first member to tag the image, but the system randomizes that aspect. When you’re the first to tag an item, you get 0.25 points for your effort.

Aren’t you trying to use members’ free labor to make money?

Yes and no. All the data here is released under a Creative-Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License, and will be available in feed form. That means any non-profit entity, like a library, can use it without charge. We also commit to license it on the same terms to any bookstore with less than $10 million in sales. That leaves huge companies. If any want it, we’ll charge them!

Anything else?

It was partially inspired by Google’s ImageLabeler. Our anti-spam engine does something similar too.

The whole thing was perhaps summed up best in a tweet to me:

Labels: book covers, new feature, new features

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Beta: “Read Alike” recommendations

I’ve pushed through a beta version of a new recommendation engine.

The “Read Alikes” recommendations supplement our existing automatic and member recommendations. “Read Alikes” are based directly on the members who have your books—the people who “read alike” you, or whatever.

So far, opinion is divided. Some members love it, and are getting great recommendations. Others report a parade of things they already know about. Is it quite consciously, however, a beta feature. It may be improved, or it may go away. Most likely, it will go away and be replaced by a better overall algorithm, with better tools for managing your recommendations.

Labels: new features, recommendations