Archive for June, 2012

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

June Author Interviews!

This month’s State of the Thing, LibraryThing’s monthly newsletter of features, author interviews and various forms of bookish delight, should have made its way to your inbox by now. You can also read it online. It includes author interviews with Dan Rather, Alex Grecian, Catherine Fletcher, Kathy Hepinstall, and Joy Kiser.

I talked to Dan Rather about his new memoir, Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News, recently published by Grand Central. Some excerpts:

If you could interview (or re-interview) one person today, and you only got to ask one question, who would you interview and what would you ask?

I would love to know what the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. would think of the fact that the United States elected an African American president. I would also want to know what parts of his vision for our country remain yet to be fulfilled.

What are your thoughts on the 2012 presidential campaign? Have you been surprised by any of the twists and turns so far, and do you have any predictions about how things will progress over the next few months?

I often say that those who live by the crystal ball learn to eat broken glass. I don’t really know where this election will end up, other than it will almost certainly be close. As for twists and turns, I think that the only people really focusing on that now are an insular press corps and political activists. We’re still in the early innings, but the game has definitely begun. The real question is what will all this money pouring into the process mean for whoever is elected.

Where do you get your news these days? What are the sources you feel most comfortable trusting?

I get my news from many sources. I go online, but I also still love the feel of an old-fashioned newspaper in my hand. I find myself less distracted, and I process what I read more. I have also heard this from many people I talk to, even those raised in the digital age.

Read the rest of our interview with Dan Rather.

I had the chance to talk with Alex Grecian about The Yard, published by Putnam and a very popular March Early Reviewers selection.

For those who might not have yet had the chance to read The Yard, give us just a short introduction to the book, if you would.

Jack the Ripper has done his nasty work and disappeared. The citizens of London are terrified and they don’t trust their police anymore. The homicide rate is at an all-time high and police morale is at an all-time low, when Walter Day, the newest detective at Scotland Yard, is assigned to catch a cop-killer. Overwhelmed, Day turns for help to an eccentric doctor named Kingsley who is well on his way to becoming the first forensics scientist in England.

What first interested you about the post-Jack the Ripper period in London police

The actual Ripper murders have been talked about to death (so to speak). Jack the Ripper’s fascinating, of course, but I don’t feel like there’s much left to say on the subject. At least, not by me. But the impact he left on the people around him had to have been enormous. Something that devastating and that frightening doesn’t happen in a vacuum. He didn’t kill those five women, and then disappear and life went back to normal for everyone. He permanently changed London—and the world—and that is fertile ground for an entire series of stories.

This is your first prose novel. What was your favorite part of the writing process?
And which part did you like the least?

I had originally intended to write this as a graphic novel and already had some interest from comic book publishers. I’m more comfortable writing prose than I am writing comic books, but it was still a huge gamble to write it as a novel. In the end, I’m very glad I did, but I didn’t know what would happen as I was working my way through the book. It was a little scary.

Read the rest of our interview with Alex Grecian.

I also talked with Catherine Fletcher about her first book, The Divorce of Henry VIII (published in the UK as Our Man in Rome), released last month by Palgrave Macmillan

Tell us about “our man in Rome.” In a nutshell, who was Gregorio Casali, and what did he do?

Gregorio Casali was Henry VIII’s resident ambassador at the papal court in Rome throughout the six years of negotiations over Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon. He came from an upwardly-mobile Italian family whose sons made their way in life through military and diplomatic service to foreign princes. He was the man who did the ‘fixing’ for Henry in Rome: from entertaining cardinals to bribing secretaries, from intercepting letters to kidnapping enemy agents.

Do you recall what first interested you in Tudor diplomacy generally, and in Gregorio Casali specifically?

I had been on holiday to Florence and had got interested in Renaissance Italy. Shortly afterwards I was reading the classic biography of Henry VIII by J. J. Scarisbrick. He mentioned the role of the Casali family in Henry’s divorce negotiations, and I was intrigued by how an Italian family could have got involved in something we in England often think of as a very English bit of history.

I also asked Catherine what books she’s read and enjoyed recently.

I’m reading Thomas Penn’s Winter King at the moment—it’s a marvelous take on Henry VII, a Tudor monarch we often don’t hear much about. And I recently finished Iain Pears’ historical novel Stone’s Fall—an absolutely brilliant murder mystery.

Read the rest of our interview with Catherine Fletcher.

I chatted with Kathy Hepinstall about her fourth novel, Blue Asylum, just out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I asked about some of her fairly unorthodox outreach efforts:

I read through your author blog to prepare for this interview (and I have to say it’s one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time). Did you really bury a copy of your novel for Oprah and then provide directions to the buried novel in the local paper? … also, has Oprah retrieved her book yet?

Ah, thank you. And, yes I actually did bury a copy of my novel for her and then took out an ad with a map in her local paper, The Montecito Journal. Oprah did not retrieve the book, although someone did steal her shovel. So I took out another ad, this time hiding the book in a safe by the side of the road with a sign pointing to it that said “Oprah’s Book.” Non-Oprahs of Montecito were instructed, on their honor, not the memorize the combination to the safe included in the ad. Someone heisted the book, the safe and the sign. What can I say? Montecito apparently is swarming with thieves.

You’ve done some other, shall we say, unconventional things to promote Blue Asylum. Describe a few of those, if you would, and tell us about any responses you’ve gotten.

Let’s see, some ad students in Eugene came up with the great idea themselves to write letters from the characters and include them with the galleys that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sent to the independent bookstores.

I commissioned someone to bake a box of delectables and send it to Books-a-Million with the idea that this was a bribe from the inmates of Sanibel Island to get them out of the asylum. They are getting that soon. Also, we have a web site called You can put any celebrity you want in there, virtually, and hear an audiotape in their own voice that demonstrates why they should be in an insane asylum. And, of course, the Oprah ads. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been very open to my ideas, and have some very imaginative ones of their own. Who knows what will work in what way, but I inscribed the latest book (in the safe) to Oprah with the words: “If you never get this book, I still believe in magic.”

Read the rest of our interview with Kathy Hepinstall.

Finally, I the chance to interview Joy Kiser about America’s Other Audubon, published by Princeton Architectural Press. The book is an an introduction and partial reprint of a rare book of ornithological artwork. A few snippets:

What first got you interested in Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio? What attracted you to the book, and what surprised you the most as you researched its history?

When I walked into the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio to begin my new position as assistant librarian, volume one of Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio was exhibited in a Plexiglas display case at the foot of the stairway that led to the library on the second floor. A label, about three inches high by five inches wide, succinctly explained that the book was the accomplishment of the Jones family of Ohio: the daughter, Genevieve, had conceived of the idea and had begun drawing and painting the illustrations with the assistance of a childhood friend; the son, Howard, had collected the nests and eggs; the father, Nelson, had paid the publishing costs; and after Genevieve died, the mother, Virginia, and the rest of the family spent eight years completing the work as a memorial to Genevieve.

Do you have a couple favorite plates that you’d like to mention?

Plate 2, the Wood Thrush; and Plate 17, the Catbird. I am partial to the American Robin and its stunning blue eggs. That was one of the first birds I learned to identify and interact with in my father’s orchard. It was much more exciting to find blue eggs (like a piece of the summer sky) in a nest than the white eggs with brown spots that the House Sparrows laid.

The first image I saw from Gennie’s book was the Wood Thrush nest with blue eggs reminiscent to the Robin’s but from a bird I have never seen or heard in person. And I am especially fond of Virginia’s composition for the Catbird nest.

America’s Other Audubon is a beautiful book itself: can you tell us a bit about the design and editing process?

Several years ago (2004), The Smithsonian Institution Libraries created a web exhibit that featured an essay about Gennie’s book and included scans of 30 of the color plates and for the very first time people searching the internet from any place in the world had access to some of the book’s illustrations. It was on that website that Acquisitions Editor, Sara Bader, from Princeton Architectural Press discovered Gennie’s art work and realized what a wonderful book it would make. Fortunately, her publisher had faith in her vision and agreed to publish the Jones family’s story and all of the art work from the original book. And the Smithsonian Institution contributed high resolution scans from one of their copies of Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of the Birds of Ohio.

The difficult part for me was to have to see the field notes reduced to so few words.

Read the rest of our interview with Joy Kiser.

Catch up on previous State of the Thing newsletters.

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Labels: author interview, state of the thing

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

The Top Books on Wikipedia

We just re-analyzed all of English Wikipedia, looking for citations to LibraryThing works (using ISBNs, OCLC numbers, title and authors, etc.) We found over 1.1 million citations to 412,000 LibraryThing works(1).

Work pages have a “References” section, showing all the links. These have been improved. Links now go to a lightbox, showing all the other pages that link to the page, and of course linking to Wikipedia. I’ve also added a Zeitgeist: Wikipedia page, showing the most frequently cited works and entries.

Here are the top 100 works, by Wikipedia citations, a catalog of pop-songs, decorated German soldiers, politicians, and… fungi!

25 Top-Cited books on Wikipedia

  1. Guinness World Records: British Hit Singles and Albums by David Roberts (3,889 citations)
  2. Ritterkreuzträger 1939-1945 by Veit Scherzer (2,317 citations)
  3. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits by Joel Whitburn (1,908 citations)
  4. British parliamentary election results 1832-1885 by Fred W. S. Craig (1,747 citations)
  5. Air Force Combat Units of World War II by Maurer Maurer (1,548 citations)
  6. Dictionary of the Fungi by Paul M Kirk (1,464 citations)
  7. The Text of the New Testament an Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual by Kurt Aland (1,276 citations)
  8. Andrews’ Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology (James, Andrew’s Disease of the Skin) by William D. James MD (1,247 citations)
  9. Jane’s Encyclopedia of Aviation: Revised Edition (Jane’s Encyclopedia of Aviation) by Studio Editions Ltd. (1,186 citations)
  10. Elections in Europe : a data handbook by Dieter Nohlen (1,174 citations)
  11. New Zealand mollusca: Marine, land, and freshwater shells by A. W. B. Powell (1,135 citations)
  12. A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (2 volumes) by Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener (1,129 citations)
  13. Joel Whitburn Presents Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008 by Joel Whitburn (1,114 citations)
  14. Handbook of British Chronology (Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks) by E. B. Pryde (1,040 citations)
  15. The Directory of Railway Stations: Details Every Public and Private Passenger Station, Halt, Platform and Stopping Place by R. V. J. Butt (1,020 citations)
  16. Port Vale Personalities: A Biographical Dictionary of Players, Officials and Supporters by Jeff Kent (949 citations)
  17. Wrestling Title Histories by Royal Duncan (944 citations)
  18. Dermatology (2 Volume Set) by Jean L. Bolognia (938 citations)
  19. British Parliamentary Election Results by F. W. S. Craig (911 citations)
  20. Civil War High Commands by John Eicher (879 citations)
  21. The encyclopedia of AFL footballers by Russell Holmesby (877 citations)
  22. The Dinosauria by David B. Weishampel (860 citations)
  23. Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships: 1906-1921 (Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, Vol 2) by Randal Gray (817 citations)
  24. Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments by Kurt Aland (803 citations)
  25. The Ship of the Line: The Development of the Battlefleet, 1650-1850 (The Ship of the line) by Brian Lavery (778 citations)
  26. Australian Chart Book 1970-1992 by David Kent (760 citations)
  27. Football League Players’ Records 1888 to 1939 by Michael A Joyce (747 citations)
  28. Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, 1860-1905 by Robert Gardiner (738 citations)
  29. Japan Encyclopedia (Harvard University Press Reference Library) by Louis Frédéric (736 citations)
  30. The Profile Method for Classifying and Evaluating Manuscript Evidence by Frederik Wisse (730 citations)
  31. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1 by Roy W. McDiarmid (711 citations)
  32. British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates by Rif Winfield (647 citations)
  33. The Great Rock Discography by Martin C. Strong (644 citations)
  34. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (20 Volume Set) by Stanley Sadie (636 citations)
  35. The Book of Golden Discs by Joseph Murrells (633 citations)
  36. The science-fantasy publishers: A critical and bibliographic history by Jack L. Chalker (571 citations)
  37. Air Force combat wings : lineage and honors histories, 1947-1977 by Charles A. Ravenstein (570 citations)
  38. The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature by Michael Cox (559 citations)
  39. Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball: The Official Record of Minor League Baseball by Lloyd Johnson (548 citations)
  40. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (3-Volume Set) by Alexander P. Kazhdan (541 citations)
  41. The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem by Benny Morris (530 citations)
  42. CRC Handbook: Chemistry & Physics by David R. Lide (525 citations)
  43. Birmingham City by Tony Matthews (519 citations)
  44. All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 by Walid Khalidi (517 citations)
  45. The PFA Premier & Football League players’ records, 1946-2005 by Barry J. Hugman (512 citations)
  46. The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson (491 citations)
  47. Mammal species of the world : a taxonomic and geographic reference by Don E. Wilson (478 citations)
  48. DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle by Daniel Wallace (478 citations)
  49. The DC Comics Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded Edition by Michael Teitelbaum (477 citations)
  50. The New Grove Dictionary of Opera : A-D by Stanley Sadie (476 citations)
  51. Fields of Praise by David B. Smith (474 citations)
  52. The Great Indie Discography by Martin C. Strong (467 citations)
  53. Irish Kings & High Kings: Irish Kings and High Kings (Four Courts History Classics) by F. J. Byrne (460 citations)
  54. The Canadian directory of Parliament, 1867-1967 by James K. Johnson (449 citations)
  55. Oxfordshire by Jennifer Sherwood (443 citations)
  56. The Empire Ships: A Record of British-Built and Acquired Merchant Ships During the Second World War by W. H. Mitchell (437 citations)
  57. Chronology of British History by Alan Palmer (423 citations)
  58. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Through 1968: A Bibliographic Survey of the Fields of Science Fiction, F by Donald Henry Tuck (414 citations)
  59. Enzyklopädie des deutschen Ligafußballs 7. Vereinslexikon by Hardy Grüne (406 citations)
  60. Oregon Geographic Names by Lewis A. McArthur (406 citations)
  61. Michigan Place Names by Walter Romig (402 citations)
  62. Squadrons of the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth, 1918-88 by James J. Halley (395 citations)
  63. Who’s Who 2008: 160th annual edition (Who’s Who) by A&C Black (392 citations)
  64. Dictionary of Minor Planet Names by Lutz D. Schmadel (392 citations)
  65. The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music by Stanley Sadie (385 citations)
  66. World Encyclopaedia of Aero Engines by Bill Gunston (363 citations)
  67. Cheshire: The Buildings of England (Pevsner Architectural Guides) by Clare Hartwell (357 citations)
  68. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World by James F. Clements (357 citations)
  69. Collins guide to the sea fishes of New Zealand by Tony Ayling (354 citations)
  70. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals by Douglas Palmer (353 citations)
  71. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (2 Volume Set) by Irwin M. Freedberg (352 citations)
  72. Ohio Atlas & Gazetteer by DeLorme Publishing (349 citations)
  73. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft by David Donald (346 citations)
  74. NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book by National Football League (338 citations)
  75. The Men Who Made Gillingham Football Club by Roger Triggs (336 citations)
  76. The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book by Digby Smith (335 citations)
  77. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits by Joel Whitburn (334 citations)
  78. Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945 by Hansgeorg Jentschura (329 citations)
  79. The Book of Sydney Suburbs by Gerald Healy (327 citations)
  80. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946 – Present, Eighth Edition by Tim Brooks (327 citations)
  81. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition by Nathan Brackett (327 citations)
  82. Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns by Chikafusa Kitabatake (327 citations)
  83. Total Television: A Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present by Alex McNeil (322 citations)
  84. Birds of Venezuela (Princeton Paperbacks) by Steven L. Hilty (322 citations)
  85. The Complete Book of Fighters: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Every Fighter Aircraft Built and Flown by William Green (320 citations)
  86. Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role Playing Games by Lawrence Schick (317 citations)
  87. Cassell’s Chronology of World History: Dates, Events and Ideas That Made History by Hywel Williams (316 citations)
  88. The New Penguin Opera Guide (Penguin Reference Books) by Amanda Holden (314 citations)
  89. The Oxford Companion to Chess by David Hooper (307 citations)
  90. 328 Outstanding Japanese Photographers by Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (306 citations)
  91. Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1922-1946 by Roger Chesneau (303 citations)
  92. U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman (302 citations)
  93. Blackpool: A Complete Record, 1887-1992 by Roy Calley (298 citations)
  94. The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales by John Davies (296 citations)
  95. Historic Spots in California by Mildred Brooke Hoover (295 citations)
  96. The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae (Virgin Encyclopedias of Popular Music) by Colin Larkin (295 citations)
  97. Indie Hits: The Complete UK Independent Charts 1980-1989 by Barry Lazell (292 citations)
  98. Encyclopedia of Stoke City 1868-1994 by Tony Matthews (291 citations)
  99. Billboard’s Hot Dance/Disco 1974-2003 by Joel Whitburn (290 citations)
  100. The New Grove Dictionary of Opera: 4 volumes by Stanley Sadie (289 citations)

See the rest on Zeitgeist: Wikipedia page.

1. This is a 120% more than 2009.

Labels: citations, wiki, wikipedia

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

New feature: Tag translation

As many of you know, LibraryThing is available in more than a dozen languages like German (, French (, Dutch (, Finnish (, Polish ( and Slovak (

Basics: Today I introduced a new feature, called “tag translation,” to show many of LibraryThing’s 87 million tags in the language of the site. Translation has been seeded with translations drawn from one user-driven ecosystem, Wikipedia. LibraryThing users can help out by adding new translations, and voting on existing ones. Although words are rarely perfectly equivalent between languages, translation may prove useful to many of LibraryThing’s non-English members and, in time, to libraries that use LibraryThing’s data feeds and LibraryThing for Libraries.

The feature: Tags show up translated wherever tags appear(1). You can choose to see them that way, with color-coding (pink for translated) or you can opt to shut the feature off. Here’s a a version of Thucydides with current German-language tag translations.

The same can also be seen on tag pages, for example on this French page for “love.”

Tag translations can be examined, voted upon and edited at the bottom of tag pages. Here’s the expanded view of some of the tags for “Love.” This is the only part of tag translation that is seen on the English site

To turn off or to color the tag translations, use the little info button at the bottom of tag clouds (wording will vary according to language.) It pops up a little area to make the change.

Review translations: You can review recent translations, and vote on them here:

More information. For more information about how tag translation works and to comment come join us on Talk.

Labels: new feature, new features, tagging, tags

Monday, June 4th, 2012

June Early Reviewers batch is up!

The June 2012 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 93 books this month, and a grand total of 2,341 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:

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, June 25th at 6 p.m. EDT.

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

Taylor Trade Publishing Riverhead Books Mulholland Books
Henry Holt and Company Doubleday Books Ballantine Books
St. Martin’s Griffin Kensington Publishing Dafina
Demos Health South Dakota State Historical Society Press HighBridge
Dutton Orbit Books Random House Trade Paperbacks
Sunrise River Press McFarland Random House
Charlesbridge CarTech Books Aauvi House
Scribner Books Thomas Dunne Books Human Kinetics
Spiegel & Grau Gray & Company, Publishers BookViewCafe
Five Rivers Chapmanry Orca Book Publishers William Morrow
Bethany House Kirkdale Press The Permanent Press
Leafwood Publishers

Labels: early reviewers, LTER