Author Archive

Thursday, December 21st, 2023

Top Syndetics Unbound Titles of 2023

We’ve compiled the most popular books in public libraries around the world, drawing on the thousands of libraries that use Syndetics Unbound to add covers, recommendations, summaries, series information and other information and features to their library catalogs.

This post covers the United States. Tomorrow we’ll be releasing the data for Australia, Canada and the UK.

First, here’s a “bar chart race” showing the top books changing over the year. You can also see and share the visualization over on Flourish.

To share this on social media, share this: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/16219720/

And here is a complete list of the top 100 books in US public librariees.

  1. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  2. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
  3. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
  4. Happy Place by Emily Henry
  5. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
  6. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
  7. Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
  8. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
  9. The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
  10. It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover
  11. Verity by Colleen Hoover
  12. Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
  13. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  14. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  15. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
  16. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
  17. Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult
  18. The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
  19. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
  20. Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  21. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  22. The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder by David Grann
  23. The Housemaid by Freida McFadden
  24. The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand
  25. The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes
  26. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
  27. Simply Lies by David Baldacci
  28. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  29. None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell
  30. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  31. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  32. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
  33. The Exchange: After The Firm by John Grisham
  34. Horse by Geraldine Brooks
  35. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  36. Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes
  37. I Will Find You by Harlan Coben
  38. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  39. Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson
  40. Identity by Nora Roberts
  41. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
  42. Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls
  43. The Maid by Nita Prose
  44. Storm Watch by C. J. Box
  45. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
  46. Holly by Stephen King
  47. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  48. Book Lovers by Emily Henry
  49. The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham
  50. Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  51. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
  52. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  53. The 23rd Midnight by James Patterson
  54. Homecoming by Kate Morton
  55. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  56. I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai
  57. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  58. The Only One Left by Riley Sager
  59. Never Never: Part One by Colleen Hoover
  60. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  61. Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
  62. Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover
  63. Trust by Hernan Diaz
  64. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
  65. Dark Angel by John Sandford
  66. Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
  67. Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover
  68. Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia
  69. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
  70. The Woman In Me by Britney Spears
  71. November 9 by Colleen Hoover
  72. The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger
  73. Fairy Tale by Stephen King
  74. Resurrection Walk by Michael Connelly
  75. Zero Days by Ruth Ware
  76. The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel A. van der Kolk
  77. The Secret by Lee Child
  78. Dirty Thirty by Janet Evanovich
  79. The House of Wolves by James Patterson
  80. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict
  81. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  82. Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir by Matthew Perry
  83. West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge
  84. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  85. Just the Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica
  86. A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny
  87. Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
  88. Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
  89. Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See
  90. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
  91. Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
  92. How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
  93. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  94. The Measure by Nikki Erlick
  95. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
  96. A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
  97. Countdown by James Patterson
  98. The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  99. Beach Read by Emily Henry
  100. Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister

How Do We Know?

This data was collected by Syndetics Unbound. The search data is fully
anonymized the day it is collected.

Labels: Uncategorized

Wednesday, July 12th, 2023

Job: Systems for LibraryThing (full/part-time, remote)

Update: LibraryThing has filled this position. Thanks to everyone who shared and/or applied!

LibraryThing is looking for a systems administrator / reliability engineer.

Job: Systems for LibraryThing (full/part-time, remote)

$1,000 in Books! As with our Developer Job, we’re offering $1,000 in books to anyone who finds us a person—or finds themselves.

Specifics

About Us: LibraryThing is a small team of developers and librarians. We need a systems administrator/reliability engineer to power our products, including LibraryThing.com, Syndetics Unbound, and Talpa.ai.

Qualifications: We’re looking for someone with broad systems administration experience, who can quickly pick up unfamiliar technologies, diagnose problems, and keep everything running smoothly. You need to be calm under pressure, cautious, and an excellent communicator.

Experience: Applicants need considerable experience running websites on Linux hosts. Experience with MySQL is also important. You will need to be able to demonstrate experience with remote server administration including lights-out management techniques and equipment.

Technologies: We use the following technologies:

  • Puppet/Chef
  • Terraform
  • Prometheus/Grafana
  • Nginx
  • Docker
  • PHP
  • MySQL, with replication
  • Memcached/Redis
  • Elasticsearch
  • Rabbitmq
  • Git
  • Python
  • Logstash (ELK)
  • Managed Kubernetes
  • KVM virtualization on physical hardware
  • AWS

Work Anywhere. LibraryThing is “headquartered” in Portland, Maine, but the servers are in Massachusetts and most employees are in neither. We would need daily overlap between your location and Eastern US time.

Hours: We are open to both full-time and part-time applicants, as well as contract workers, depending on skills and experience. A full-time employee may wish to contribute to our product as a developer. See our recent Developer Job for more information on our development.

Compensations: We will consider both contract and salaried positions. If salary, we offer great health insurance.

How to Apply: Email sysadminjob@librarything.com. Send an email with your resume. In your email, review the blog post above, and indicate how you match up with the job. Be specific.(1) Please do not send a separate cover letter.

The Fine Print

LibraryThing is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of religion, race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy status, parental status, marital status, veteran status, or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law.

Did you read this far? This job is going to be posted in a lot of places, and that means we’ll get a lot of people “rolling the dice.” If you don’t seem like you’re applying for this job, we’ll ignore your email. If you want us to know you read the job post–and are therefore a detail-oriented person–please title your email Systems Job: [Your name] (Mango). Really.

Labels: jobs

Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

LibraryThing Needs a Great Developer (Work from Home)

Update: LibraryThing has filled this position. Thanks to everyone who shared and/or applied!

LibraryThing is looking for a great remote developer to work on our library projects.

LibraryThing DeveloperWin $1,000 in Books!

If you find us one—or you find yourself—you get $1,000 in books from the independent bookstore of your choice! (See details at bottom.)

The Job

This job is focused on what LibraryThing does for libraries. This includes Syndetics Unbound, co-developed with ProQuest, TinyCat, and our new AI-based library product Talpa.ai. You will probably also be involved in projects for LibraryThing.com.

Depending on interest and experience, your job may involve working with Large Language Models, machine learning, systems administration/operation, or mobile programming. You will at least be trained in the basics of LLMs.

We Use

  • PHP. LibraryThing runs on PHP, in mostly non-OO code. PHP isn’t rocket science, so other, flexible programmers are welcome to apply.
  • JavaScript. We try to do as much as possible on the back end, but JavaScript is a must.
  • English. Remote work requires skill and a commitment to communicate clearly and effectively.

Good to Have

  • Library Experience. This job will primarily be working with library facing products; library technology experience is a plus but is not required.
  • Library Degree. An MLS or equivalent degree is a plus.
  • Book Experience. Understanding books from work as a bookseller, a publisher, an author, or just as a reader would be helpful.
  • UX/UI Experience. We will use any design, UX, or UI experience you have.
  • Python. We also use Python, both for working with library data and machine-learning.
  • MySQL. Again, not rocket science, but true expertise in MySQL takes time and is valuable.

Non-Technical

  • LibraryThing is an informal, high-energy, small-team environment. Programming is rapid, creative, and unencumbered by process. We put a premium on speed, reliability, communication, and responsibility. If this sounds attractive, we want you.
  • LibraryThing has been proudly remote for 18 years, so we put a premium on communication skills, discipline, and internal motivation.
  • All LibraryThing employees come up with ideas and solutions to problems on their own. We also develop and refine ideas together. We need your ideas and your criticism as much as your labor.
  • All LibraryThing employees interact with LibraryThing members directly, and library developers work with library customers. We believe that “the user is not broken.”
  • Interesting, passionate people make interesting, passionate products and are fun to work with. This is also the rare job for which a degree in Arabic, or an interest in watercolor painting, are a plus. We all love books, libraries and bookstores.

Location and Compensation ($65–130k)

This is a remote job open to anyone eligible to work in the US. We’d love to employ people outside the US, but the legal hassles are generally too much for us as a small company.

We are looking to work with the right person, not filling a spot with a clearly-delineated set of responsibilities and a predetermined salary. We will consider everything from junior to senior candidates. The salary range reflects that.

LibraryThing offers excellent health and dental insurance. Employees pay no premiums. We require hard work but are unusually flexible about hours and family commitments.

How to Apply

Before you apply, you should make sure you can do the LibraryThing Programming Quiz, which is something like Jeff Atwood’s “Fizz Buzz.” Our interviews include a simple programming quiz not unlike that. If you object to such things, please do not apply.

Send a cover-letter email and PDF resume to info@librarything.com. Your cover letter should go through the key parts of this job advertisement, responding to it, briefly.

The Fine Print

LibraryThing is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of religion, race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy status, parental status, marital status, veteran status, or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law.

Did you read this far? Prove that you did by making your email subject line “Camembert Job: [Your name].” Really.

$1,000 Rules

Rules! You get a $1,000 gift certificate to the indie bookstore of your choice. To qualify, you need to connect us to someone. Either you introduce them to us—and they follow up by applying themselves—or they mention your name in their email (“So-and-so told me about this”). You can recommend yourself, but if you found out about it from someone else, we hope you’ll do the right thing and make them the beneficiary.

Small print: Our decision is final, incontestable, irreversible, and completely dictatorial. It only applies when an employee is hired. If we don’t hire someone for the job, we don’t pay. If we’ve already been in touch with the candidate, it doesn’t count. Void where prohibited. You pay taxes, and the insidious hidden tax of shelving. Employees and their families are not eligible to win.

Labels: jobs

Monday, December 6th, 2021

LibraryThing Needs a Great Library Developer

LibraryThing is looking for a great developer to work on our library projects.

Win $1,000 in Books!

If you find us one—or you find yourself—you get $1,000 in books from the independent bookstore of your choice!

The Job

This job is focused on what LibraryThing does for libraries. These include Syndetics Unbound, co-developed with ProQuest, and TinyCat. You will also be involved in parsing library data for LibraryThing.com and other company projects, as needed.

Depending on interest and experience, you may also be involved in machine learning, systems architecture, or mobile programming.

Need to Have

  • PHP. LibraryThing runs on PHP, in mostly non-OO code. We love PHP people, but it’s not rocket science, so other, flexible programmers are welcome to apply.
  • JavaScript. We try to do as much as possible on the back end, but JavaScript is a must.
  • HTML/CSS. This is not a design job, but you should understand both well.

Good to Have

  • Library Degree. An MLS or equivalent degree is a plus.
  • Library Experience. This job is geared to library and library-industry developers. Other programmers are welcome to apply if you are excited about working with library and book-world data.
  • UX/UI Experience. We will use any design, UX, or UI experience you have.
  • Python. We also use Python, both for working with library data and machine-learning.
  • MySQL. Again, not rocket science, but true expertise in MySQL takes time and is valuable.

Non-Technical

  • LibraryThing is an informal, high-energy, small-team environment. Programming is rapid, creative, and unencumbered by process. We put a premium on speed, reliability, communication, and responsibility. If this sounds attractive, we want you.
  • LibraryThing has been proudly remote for 15 years. Working remotely puts a premium on communication skills, discipline, and internal motivation.
  • All LibraryThing employees come up with ideas and solutions to problems on their own. We also develop and refine ideas together. We need your ideas and your criticism as much as your labor.
  • All LibraryThing employees interact with users directly. We believe that “the user is not broken.”
  • Interesting, passionate people make interesting, passionate products and are fun to work with. This is also the rare job for which a masters in Medieval Irish or a side gig as a jazz bassist is a plus. Of course, we all love books, libraries and bookstores.

Location and Compensation ($60–120k)

This is a remote job open to anyone eligible to work in the US. We’d love to employ people outside the US, but the legal hassles are generally too much for us as a small company.

We are looking to work with the right person, not filling a spot with a clearly-delineated set of responsibilities and a predetermined salary. We will consider everything from junior to senior candidates. The salary range reflects that.

LibraryThing offers excellent health and dental insurance. Employees pay no premiums. We require hard work but are unusually flexible about hours and family commitments.

How to Apply

Before you apply, you should make sure you can do the LibraryThing Programming Quiz, which is something like Jeff Atwood’s “Fizz Buzz.” Our interviews include a simple programming quiz not unlike that. If you object to such things, please do not apply.

Send a cover-letter email and PDF resume to info@librarything.com. Your cover letter should go through this job advertisement, responding to it, briefly. 

The Fine Print

LibraryThing is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of religion, race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy status, parental status, marital status, veteran status, or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Did you read this far? Prove that you did by making your email subject line “Gouda Cheese: [Your name].”

 


“Help LibraryThing…” image uses a CC BY 2.0 photo by Jorge Láscar (source).

Labels: employment, jobs

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Win $1,000 in books: LibraryThing Needs a Great Developer

HireDeveloper_3

Update:

We are no longer accepting applications for this position.

LibraryThing runs on PHP, in almost entirely non-OO code. We will strongly prefer people with PHP experience, but other, flexible programmers are welcome to apply.

Good to Have

  • PHP. Most of our code is PHP-based, but we also use Objective-C, Python and Java.
  • MySQL. LibraryThing is relational-database intensive. We work directly with the database.
  • JavaScript. We try to do as much as possible on the back end, but JavaScript is a must.

Plusses

  • Library Experience. LibraryThing does a lot of work in the library world and many applicants will likely have that background. An MLS is a definite plus, as is library work and knowledge of library standards and technologies.
  • Book-World Experience. Experience in bookstore or publishing would be a plus.
  • Mobile Programming. This is not a mobile programming job, but if you have mobile experience you could help on one of our apps.
  • Design Experience. This is not a design job, but design experience would be a plus.

Non-Technical

  • Working remotely puts a premium on communication skills, discipline, and internal motivation.
  • We want to hire people who care about books and libraries, and believe in an open and humane vision of the future for both. We live to create technologies that make readers happy and keep libraries vital.
  • LibraryThing is an informal, high-energy, small-team environment. Programming is rapid, creative, and unencumbered by process. We put a premium on speed and reliability, communication, and responsibility.
  • All LibraryThing employees interact with members and/or libraries directly. We believe that “The User is not Broken.”
  • We develop and refine ideas together. We need your ideas and your criticism as much as your labor.
  • Interesting, passionate people make interesting, passionate products. Besides loving books, this is the rare job for which a masters in Medieval Irish or a side gig as a jazz bassist would be a plus.

Location and Compensation

This is a remote job open to anyone eligible to work in the US. We’d love to employ people outside the US, but we’ve done it before, and, for a small company, the legal hassles are too great.

All we can say for salary is that we will consider applicants with a wide degree of skills and experiences, the range is as $60-100k, or more. We are looking for the right person, not the right salary.

LibraryThing offers excellent health and dental insurance. We require hard work but are unusually flexible about hours.

Read Before Applying

Before you apply, you should make sure you can do the LibraryThing Programming Quiz, which is something like Jeff Atwood’s “Fizz Buzz.” Our interviews include a simple programming quiz not unlike that. If you object to such things, please do not apply.

How to Apply

Send a cover-letter email and PDF resume to info@librarything.com. Please also include your solution to the LibraryThing Programming Quiz, so we know you took the time to do it. Your cover letter should go through this job advertisement, responding to it. If possible, send us or link us to code samples.

The Fine Print

LibraryThing is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of religion, race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy status, parental status, marital status, veteran status, or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Did you read this far? Prove you did by making your subject line “Feta Cheese: [Your name].”

Labels: employment

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

Win $1,000 in books: LibraryThing needs a Project Specialist (Remote)

shelfshot

Update:

This position has been filled. See our blog post on our newest employee for more details.

We need to find a great new employee, so we’re offering $1,000 worth of books to the person who finds us one. What would you buy? Everything.

Rules! You get a $1,000 gift certificate to the local, chain or online bookseller of your choice. To qualify, you need to connect us to someone. Either you introduce them to us—and they follow up by applying themselves—or they mention your name in their email (“So-and-so told me about this”). You can recommend yourself, but if you found out about it from someone else, we hope you’ll do the right thing and make them the beneficiary.

Small print: Our decision is final, incontestable, irreversible, and completely dictatorial. It only applies when an employee is hired. If we don’t hire someone for the job, we don’t pay. If we’ve already been in touch with the candidate, it doesn’t count. Void where prohibited. You pay taxes, and the insidious hidden tax of shelving. Employees and their families are not eligible to win.


 

Job Ad: Project Specialist for LibraryThing

LibraryThing is hiring a project specialist (full-time, remote position). Although we’d love someone in Maine, the job is open to librarians and other book lovers throughout the United States.

You Must

  • Love books, love people
  • Write, edit, and communicate clearly and quickly
  • Work well independently and under direction
  • Manage your time effectively
  • Understand What Makes LibraryThing LibraryThing
  • Be organized and detail-oriented enough to read and follow all the directions in this ad

We Want

We will pick smarts, affability, and drive over any skill. And we’ll tailor the job to fit your skills and experience.

An ideal candidates might have some or all of these:

  • Book-world experience
  • Library experience (with or without an MLS)
  • Professional social media experience
  • Familiarity with bookish social media
  • Creativity and enthusiasm to learn new things
  • Excellent computer skills. (We’re a Mac shop.)
  • Technical skills (Excel, HTML, CSS, SQL)

Your duties will probably include:

As a small company, we have few “siloes.” So other duties calling on organization, adaptability, diligence, intelligence, and creativity will pop up, and you must play an engaged and constructive role in company meetings on any topic.

Your job may include occasional travel—once that’s possible again—to meet your coworkers and perhaps to publisher or library conferences.

Compensation

Because we’re willing to consider a wide variety of applicants, we can’t set a salary. But our health insurance is gold-plated. We require hard work and are only looking for full-time applicants, but we are unusually flexible about hours.

How to Apply

Send your resume in PDF format to tim@librarything.com. Your email should be your cover letter. It should show your ability to be persuasive but succinct.

If we interview you, we will ask you to write and edit something “live.” We do this together a lot, so if that makes you uncomfortable, this might not be the job for you.

Fine Print

LibraryThing is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of religion, race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy status, parental status, marital status, veteran status or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

Remember that part about diligence? Your subject line should be “Brie Cheese: [Your name]” so we know you are diligent.


 

Bookshelves image courtesy Germán Poo-Caamaño (see Flickr), CC BY 2.0.

Labels: employment, jobs

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Author Interview: Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager on The Writer’s Library

Tim interviewed Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager, authors of The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives. Nancy Pearl is, of course, the Seattle librarian, author of numerous books, action-figure model, and regular contributor on NPR. Jeff Schwager is a writer, editor, producer, playwright—and book lover.

If there is a “LibraryThing book,” The Writer’s Library is it! LibraryThing members may or may not be interested in a given book, but we are always interested in books! The Writer’s Library is, essentially, a whole book going deep on author’s reading history, personal libraries and recommendations. I loved it. I hope you enjoy the interview!

TIM: What sorts of books did you read as children?

NANCY: I grew up in a home that we’d now call dysfunctional, but to me, back when I was a kid, it was just not an easy place to be, so I spent all my time at my local public library – the Parkman branch of the Detroit Public Library system. Miss Frances Whitehead was the children’s librarian, my librarian, and she fed my insatiable need to escape through books. I read, when she met me at about age 8 or 9, only horse and dog books, but she soon expanded my reading into books like The Hobbit, Mary Poppins, The Wind in the Willows, all the Rosemary Sutcliff books, and all of the Newbery Award titles. Of course, I continued reading all the horse and dog books too. It was because Miss Whitehead saved me from total despair that I became a children’s librarian, because, at age 10, I wanted to do for other kids exactly what she did for me: gave me the world of books.

JEFF: From an early age I remember loving mysteries. I read Two Minute Mysteries and Encyclopedia Brown, followed by all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot books.

TIM: Was there a book that made the turn for you into adult reading?

Nancy Pearl

NANCY: The first book I ever checked out from the adult section of the library was Gone with the Wind, and I loved it. Another adult novel I checked out early on was called The Headland, by Carol Ryrie Brink. I remember taking it from the bookshelf because I was familiar with the author, from having read Caddie Woodlawn and Family Grandstand, and all her other books.

JEFF: For me it was a paperback of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald called Babylon Revisited and Other Stories. I started on a rainy afternoon in high school with the story “Winter Dreams,” which is a sort-of early version of The Great Gatsby about idealized and therefore doomed first love. What hit me, other than the heroine, who was a composite of every girl I lusted after in high school, and the hero, who was almost as pathetic as I was, was the beauty of the writing, the amazing musical flow of the sentences. That’s still the thing I respond to most fervently in my reading. 

TIM: You’re both fine writers in different genres. Do you have any advice for other writers?

NANCY: Whenever I’m asked this question, I’m reminded of what Ernest Gaines once said in a talk at the Seattle Public Library when he was asked the same question: “I have eight words of advice: read read read read write write write write.” It’s hard for me to imagine how someone can be a great—or even good—writer without being a reader. And I think that comes through in the interviews in The Writer’s Library. I know when I wrote my first (and probably last) novel, George & Lizzie, I knew exactly what kind of novel it would be, because I was writing it for myself and I knew what kind of books I loved.

TIM: Can you tell me about your personal libraries? Are you collectors, hoarders, or something else?

NANCY: I am not a collector, but there are books that I keep just because I loved them at one time. I have many novels that I read as a young teen (mostly purchased at library book sales), which I will probably never re-read, but that I can’t bear not to have in my personal library. My favorite writer from those years is Mary Stolz. She wrote books for both teens and younger children, but I only love the teen ones. I have re-read some of her teen novels and they actually hold up quite well. Of course they’re long out of print, but if you can find In a Mirror or Second Nature, I’d highly recommend both of them. Other than those teen novels (other than Stolz I have books by Anne Emery, Rosamund du Jardin, and Lenora Mattingly Weber), I’ve kept a lot of my favorite novels and a few nonfiction titles.

JEFF: I am a collector and a hoarder–meaning I have some books I cherish and many, many more that I just can’t bear to part with because I might, just maybe, want to look at them someday. As a collector, I focus on specific authors I love, including Chekhov, Philip Roth, Denis Johnson, Ross Macdonald, Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, and John O’Hara (all dead white men), as well as modern signed first editions (a more diverse lot, including my favorite living writer, Alice Munro, who is a master of compression and manages to get the depth of a novel into each of her short stories), pulp paperbacks, old Random House plays, slipcased editions… the list goes on and on, as does my library, which has taken over my fairly large house like a monster from a ’50s sci-fi movie. 

TIM: I loved hearing authors talk about books as objects, such as Jonathan Lethem collecting books for their cover designers. Do you have books you treasure as objects per se?

NANCY: No, not really – for me it’s always what the books say, what that means to me, rather than as a valuable object.

Jeff Schwager

JEFF: I love books with slipcases, like Folio Society and Limited Edition Club books, as well as clean old books, which have such a wonderful smell. I love beautiful dust jackets–the best ever is the one for the first edition of John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra. I love deckle edged pages. I have some beautiful illustrated Limited Edition Club editions of Isaac Bashevis Singer books—The Magician of Lublin, Satan in Goray, and some short stories–that evoke the shtetls of my ancestors, that I love. Of modern books, I love the design of Dave Eggers‘ McSweeney’s Books–check out Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis and Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon, to name two, which are such beautiful literary artifacts. 

TIM: How did you pick the authors you wanted to interview? Did you fight over who would get to do them?

NANCY: We started out by each making a list of the authors we wanted to interview and discovered, to our relief, that there was some overlap (T.C. Boyle, Charles Johnson, Michael Chabon, Louise Erdrich, Donna Tartt). Then we each had authors who we were passionate about but that the other person wasn’t as enthusiastic about. I won’t say it actually came to fisticuffs, but I believe that voices were raised in the ensuing discussions. And we ended with, I think, a wonderfully diverse collection of writers, so, as Ma says in Little House in the Big Woods, “all’s well that ends well.”

TIM: My favorite interview was with Laila Lalami, an author I have not read but will now. You probably can’t say which was your favorite, but how about one you loved?

NANCY: For me, each interview is special in its own particularly lovely way. I think that’s because we didn’t have a list of questions that we asked each writer—we began each interview by me asking a general sort of question about reading as children, or growing up in a reading family, but after that, we let the interview basically go where the writer took it. I loved the interview with Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman because we talked so much about children’s books. I loved the interview with Luis Urrea because of the way his childhood reading was determined by the circumstances of his parents’ marriage. I loved the interview with Madeline Miller because she and I felt the same way about John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick. I loved the interview with Jenny Egan because of her story about reading Rebecca. I loved the interview with Amor Towles because he also read a series of mysteries in publication order. I loved the interview with Jane Hirschfield because I love poetry, which she talked about with such precision. I loved the interview with Laila Lalami because I learned so much about the experience of colonialism. I loved the interview with Russell Banks because of the story of his 4th grade teacher and Brazil. And so on.

JEFF: I loved them all of course, but one that stands out was T.C. Boyle, who lives in Montecito, down the street from Oprah Winfrey, in the first house Frank Lloyd Wright built in California. I was really eager to see his home, which was gorgeous, and to talk again to Tom (as he is casually known), whom I had first interviewed when I was a young journalistic pup thirty years ago. He is as funny as his funniest short stories, and also as thoughtful as his most serious novels, including my favorites, World’s End and Drop City.

TIM: In her lovely foreword, Susan Orlean recounts how the dementia and death of her mother was, in a way, the death of a library. More literally, dismantling my parents’ library, which encoded so much of their lives, was a second loss. What will happen to your library—however defined—when you die? 

NANCY: I hope my daughters will look inside all the books and find the ones that are autographed and keep or sell those (especially a book of poetry by Stephen Spender and a beat-up copy of Langston HughesMontage of a Dream Deferred both of which are signed to me personally). Other than that, I’m trying not to care too much about them.

JEFF: I’m leaving mine to Nancy—she walks 5-8 miles a day while I obsess over MSNBC 24/7, so I’m sure she will outlive me!

TIM: I could imagine a series of these books. Would you consider doing another? Anyone you wish you could interview?

NANCY: I’d love to do another collection, so we could talk to more poets, more writers at the beginning of their careers, more science fiction/fantasy writers, more nonfiction writers. But one of the things that makes The Writer’s Library special, I think, is that we’re with the authors in person, mostly in their homes. I don’t want to do a series of Zoom interviews – I don’t think it would be the same.

JEFF: There are so many writers I’d love to interview! If I could interview one living literary writer it would be Alice Munro, but we were told last time she was retired and not doing any more interviews. Otherwise, more poets definitely, and writers in genres we didn’t get to this time, like mystery and sci-fi/fantasy writers and playwrights. Also, I love literate songwriters—especially Bruce Springsteen, whose autobiography was wonderful and who is so well read, and whose songs show the influence of his reading. Call us, Bruce! And the Obamas, whose memoirs are as thoughtful as they are. I can’t wait for his new book. If you’re reading this Barack and Michelle, let us know–we will go anywhere, anytime, anyplace to talk to you!

Labels: author interview, authors, interview

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

Series Gets a Revamp

series_screenshot

Short Version

Today we roll out a new version of “Series” and “Publisher Series.” Here are some pages to check out:

We’re going to be discussing New Series starting from this Talk post.

The rest of this blog post explains the whys and wherefores in great detail.

“Old” Series

Before today, series were based on the Common Knowledge system. Common Knowledge is a simple “fielded wiki,” a system for keeping and tracking simple values.(1) To add a series to a work, you’d go to the common area of a work page and fill it out as follows:

bryson

It got complex quickly. Here’s one Star Wars book, with stuff inside parentheses for sorting and labeling.

starwars

Needless to say, an entry like “Star Wars (0.0112994350|88.5-22 BBY)” was inaccessible to many. Nor could works be added to a series on the actual series page. Series didn’t extend well to other languages—unless the names coincided, there was endless duplication of effort. A lack of any sort of grouping or subseries gummed up major series with edge-cases, like the re-segmentation of the Lord of the Rings applicable to only some Japanese editions, and made it tricky for users to look at a series and figure out what to read. And while some information came to adhere to series, the whole system was jerry-rigged. Finally, adding NEW features was truly impossible!

It is testimony to the passion and diligence of LibraryThing members over the last 13 years that they have added some 125,000 “regular” series and 30,000 “publisher” series!

“New Series”

New series starts with a more sophisticated data structure and user interface. Series exist as their own, complex entity, like works and authors are, not as series of Common Knowledge “strings.” This means:

  • Adding to series can be done on either work pages or series pages. (On work pages, series have been moved to the (renamed) “Series and work relationships” section.)
  • Sorting works within series is accomplished by dragging and dropping, or by giving the series a default sort, such as by publication or title.
  • Adding labels like “book one” can be done directly, not as part of a larger formula.

Series can now include “groups.” Every series has a “core” grouping, but can also include sections for omnibus editions, short stories, or anything else that—while useful—might be worthwhile to separate out. You can see this on the Lord of the Rings page.

The more sophisticated structure allows for other innovations:

  • A single series can serve across all of LibraryThing’s languages, with different names in different languages.(2)
  • Series can be combined and, in combining, the editor can choose which elements to bring over from one series to another.
  • Series can now be “related” to each other, much as works can be related to works. For example, the Harry Potter Movies can be listed as an adaptation of the famous novels.
  • Every series-related action is separately tracked for examination by members and staff—much like Common Knowledge but with all the extra detail available once single strings were abandoned.

“New Series” has also advanced LibraryThing’s “LT2” redesign project. In making the new pages, Chris Holland essentially worked out LT2 code and concepts, and applied them to a single page on “LT1.” He has learned a lot about how to recast LibraryThing pages without breaking everything.

Finally, series can now be touchstoned, just like authors and works! As works use single brackets, like [War and Peace], and authors use double-brackets, like [[J. K. Rowling]], series use three brackets like [[[Twilight Saga]]].

Future Plans

The near future will see:

  • Members able to follow a series, and see and receive updates when new books are released in that series.
  • “Publisher series” transformed by allowing these work-based lists to be narrowed down to the publishers and editions that pertain to them.

Can You Help?

Series needs your help! Old data needs cleaning up, and all sorts of new data needs adding.

  • We need your help finding bugs and improving existing features so they are maximally intuitive and useful.
  • We need help establishing best practices and norms for the new possibilities. For example, now that we have true series “relationships,” I favor removing adaptations from series and making them and their own series.
  • The biggest data problem is a surfeit of non-English variants. The Common Knowledge structure hid them, but members using LibraryThings other language sites, like LibraryThing.fr (French) and cat.LibraryThing.com (Catalan), created an enormous number of series too—most of them the same as the English series. They need to be combined. For example, before I combined them, the Twilight Saga also existed as “Houkutus” (Finnish), “Saga ‘Zmierzch'” (Polish), and “Crepúsculo” (Spanish).
  • The second biggest task is reviewing the “groups” within series. Omnibus editions and selections have been automatically assigned to a separate group with 95% accuracy, but other groupings have not been attempted.
  • There is a “Needs Help” / “Looks Good” control within the Edit dropdown menu. You can use this to flag the series as needing help or give approval that the series is currently in good shape.

Check It Out

Here are some links to check out!

Here are some links of interest to people who want to dig deeper:


Footnotes:

1. For more on Common Knowledge see our 2007 blog post.

2. Separate series should only be maintained if there is a difference between the series so great that combining them would mislead. This is one of those things we’ll have to hash out as a community.

Labels: common knowledge, new features, series

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

LibraryThing Is Now Free to All

LibraryThingNowFreetoAll

Starting today, LibraryThing is free to all! We’re dropping all membership fees and limits.

Since opening in 2005, LibraryThing has charged a fee to catalog more than 200 books—$10 per year, or $25 for a lifetime. We felt it was important to have customers, not an “audience” we sell to advertisers. So we focused on attracting customers who paid us by choice—and kept us alive.

Meanwhile, we created a series of products for public and academic libraries. These include Syndetics Unbound, co-developed with ProQuest, which enhances thousands of libraries around the world. We also made TinyCat, our library catalog for very small libraries. Both of these draw in various ways from LibraryThing infrastructure, software and data, but, in time these have become our primary source of revenue. That gives us the opportunity to make LibraryThing itself entirely free, so nobody has to avoid using LibraryThing because of the cost, or drop a membership for financial reasons.

Our plan was to go free when we rolled out “LT2,” our upcoming redesign. But the coronavirus has changed our plans, along with everyone else’s. A lot of people are now stranded at home, with nothing to do but read and catalog their books, movies, and music. A lot of kids are at home too—free cataloging help. And with the economy in freefall, many are worried about money. We want everyone to be able to use LibraryThing. This is the right time to go free.

So, starting today, LibraryThing.com, both on the web and using our cataloging app, are free to all, to add as many books as you want. And, no, we’re not going to add ads. (We will keep showing a few Google ads to visitors, but they vanish as soon as you become a member.)

Thank you to everyone who paid for a membership before. You kept us alive when we needed it. We’ll always be grateful for that.

Tim Spalding
LibraryThing Founder and President

Come talk about it on Talk: https://www.librarything.com/topic/317841

Some links:

Labels: LibraryThing

Monday, November 19th, 2018

SantaThing for Litsy Members

SANTATHING_2018-Litsy

Every year LibraryThing members participate in “SantaThing,” our Secret Santa for book lovers.

This year we’re inviting Littens to join in!

The idea is simple: You sign up and pay $15–50 and choose your favorite bookstore. We match you with someone to pick books for, and someone else will pick books for you. We try to match people with similar reading tastes, and members help each other out with suggestions. LibraryThing staff does all the ordering and everyone gets surprise books for the holidays!

LibraryThing/Litsy takes no cut: this is a community project, not a money-maker. And it’s a lot of fun.

The first 20 Littens to sign up for SantaThing will get a free Litsy mug!(1) Mugs will be coming to the LibraryThing store soon. But you’ll get them first of anyone.

To participate:

Wait, what? Link your account? Yes. You can now link a Litsy and LibraryThing account. At present, it does almost nothing but enable SantaThing and give you a web page that summarizes some of your Litsy reading. It will do more soon!

Questions about SantaThing? You might find this post about SantaThing helpful.

Hoping to see you in SantaThing this year,
Tim, Loranne and the Litsy/LibraryThing Team


1. We’re defining Litsy members as members who posted to Litsy at least once in the last 14 days—this to favor regular Litsy members, not LibraryThing members who signed up for Litsy once upon a time. If there aren’t enough of these, we’ll open it to any Litsy member.

Labels: events, fun, holiday, Litsy, santathing

Monday, March 19th, 2018

LibraryThing and Litsy Q&A

litsy_screen_fullAs we wrote in the last blog post, LibraryThing has acquired the mobile platform Litsy. Here is a sort of Q&A about Litsy, and how Litsy and LibraryThing can help each other. Other resources:

Q: What is Litsy?

Litsy is both like and unlike LibraryThing. First, everything happens within a smartphone app—there’s no website. Second, although Litsy members can “catalog” their books in a simple (works-only) way, the main activity is sharing posts with words and photos of books you’re reading, of passages you find interesting, or even where you’re reading a book. (Posts are marked “review”, “blurb”, or “quote.”) Litsy has friends, comments, hashtags and so forth, but lacks a central “Groups” or “Talk” like on LibraryThing.

Here’s some past press coverage of Litsy.

Q: How can I try it out?

The Litsy app is available for iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android systems. Check it out at http://litsy.com.

Q: Why did LibraryThing acquire Litsy?

Litsy is an amazing community, similar to LibraryThing in its passion for books, but different in its feel, focus, technology, and demographic. We admired what Jeff and Todd had built so when Jeff approached us recently, we jumped at the opportunity. Litsy is a cool thing, and we think it has a great future ahead of it.

Q: How big a deal is this for LibraryThing?

The terms of the deal are not disclosed, but we can tell you it did not involve company-limiting amounts of money.

To be frank, we see no major changes for the LibraryThing site or community, at least in the near- or medium-term. We may offer syncing or single sign-ons between services. And we will definitely be leveraging LibraryThing’s superior book data within Litsy. We also see a lot of potential in getting Litsy members into LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program and attracting more publisher interest with the larger community this offers. But we aren’t going to try to combine the services or communities. If you choose not to join Litsy, you won’t likely see or read much about it on LT.

Q: How much membership overlap is there?

Very little. They are different communities that have spread in different ways. We hope to drive some cross-service exploration, but LibraryThing and Litsy are different places.

This difference is a strength. LibraryThing is now working across the book-loving spectrum. It gives us greater profile in the book world, and helps us to serve all kinds of passionate readers.

Q: What can LibraryThing offer Litsy, and visa versa?

In the press release, we speculated about some ways that LibraryThing can help Litsy. They include:

  • Better book data.
  • Syncing between the services.
  • Moving LibraryThing’s excellent barcode scanning into the Litsy app.
  • Get more libraries involved in Litsy.
  • Bringing Litsy members into LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.

Litsy can help LibraryThing in similar ways. The Litsy apps have some nice features we’re liable to steal for LibraryThing. And we hope that if we provide syncing between services, some Litsy members will also become LibraryThing members.

Come to Talk to discuss other ways of making Litsy useful to LibraryThing.

Q: What’s this about Early Reviewers?

The idea of bringing Litsy members into Early Reviewers may stir some concerns. If more people can get books, won’t there be fewer books?

We don’t think so. Publishers love Early Reviewers for its unique picking system, which connects their books to readers likely to actually enjoy their book. And they love that we’re free for publishers, whereas our larger competitor now charges publishers.

But we remain small, and our membership demographics don’t fit every publisher’s offerings. Adding Litsy will increase Early Reviewer’s reach, with notices going out to another, substantial set of passionate readers who buy a lot of books. And Litsy members have a somewhat different demographic profile than LibraryThing members, which should draw some new publishers.

Q: How does Litsy fit into LibraryThing’s business model? (short)

Litsy is cheap to run. We’re happy to be its new owners. And we’re in for the long haul.

Q: How does Litsy fit into LibraryThing’s business model? (long)

The usual pattern for social companies is to “get big fast or die.” You get funded. You spend all your money quickly to get as many users as you can. Then you sell yourself to a larger company who want your community size. In reality, however, the most common path is that the company flames out and dies, everyone loses their data, the community is blown apart, and the founders move onto the next idea.

LibraryThing never followed that approach. From the start, we conserved our resources, and made money by charging members small fees. We didn’t look for a buyout from Amazon or Google. Eventually we found another path to making money—turning some of LibraryThing’s technology and data toward making libraries better. We earn every dollar we make, and we don’t annoy or exploit members to do it.

As things stand, Litsy is large enough to matter to a lot of people, but it’s too small to be significantly “monetized.” Fortunately, it’s also cheap to run—even cheaper now that Litsy can live within the existing LibraryThing infrastructure.

After twelve years of making LibraryThing work, we believe the race is long, and good things with great communities will find their business. We plan to take the same approach with Litsy.

Q: What else?

Come talk about Litsy on Talk. We also started a group, Onward Litsy! for Litsy members to talk to each other and LibraryThing staff, on Facebook. (We started it on Facebook, as a neutral place.) You are more than welcome to join, but we hope to get the Litsy people talking. LibraryThing’s been doing big, burly staff-community conversations for years; it’s a new thing for Litsy.

Labels: LibraryThing, Litsy

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Litsy Newsletter: Big news

Note: This went out today in the Litsy newsletter. Litsy doesn’t have a blog, so we thought we’d also post it here, for Littens to share.

We have big news! LibraryThing, the team behind the long-running social cataloging and book discussion site LibraryThing.com, has acquired Litsy.

litsyandlibrarything

The Short Version

Don’t panic. Litsy is not going away or getting folded into another site. On the contrary, we at LibraryThing will be working hard to support and grow Litsy in new ways!

We have some immediate plans in mind, starting with better book data from LibraryThing and LibraryThing’s partner, Bowker. But most of all we want to know what YOU want.

We’ve set up a Facebook Group “Onward Litsy!” to begin a two-way conversation with Litsy members. Please join the discussion here.

Thank you for reading this; we can’t wait to get to know you better. Thank you to Jeff and Todd for creating such a great service, and trusting us to keep it safe and build it up! Please be sure to check out their note below.

The Long Version

LibraryThing is the new owner and manager of the Litsy app and service. We took over from Jeff and Todd, the founders of Out of Print Clothing, a few weeks ago. (Read their note, below.) We’ve been working on moving the technical side to LibraryThing services, and are now turning our attention to the Litsy community, and how we can bring Litsy to the next level.

If you’ve never heard of LibraryThing, we’re both like and unlike Litsy. Like Litsy, LibraryThing is a unique, passionate, and often tight-knit community of book lovers. LibraryThing and Litsy are each others’ kind of people.

LibraryThing was started in 2005 by Tim Spalding (Litsy: TimSpalding) as a pet project to catalog his own library and for bibliophile friends. Since then we’ve racked up 2.2 million users, who’ve cataloged over 123 million books. Although members have created 11,000 groups, and started over 200,000 discussions, LibraryThing is relatively focused on cataloging—on recording everything you own or read. While we have an app for searching for and scanning books into your library, all our social engagement happens on the website.

Tim is new to Litsy, but others of us aren’t. One of our library team, Kirsten (kgriffith, formerly glitterfemme), has been on Litsy since just after its launch, contributing early user experience feedback and feature testing in addition to being active on the platform ever since. Our social media expert Loranne (lorannen) followed soon after. Both have been critical in bringing Litsy into the LibraryThing world.

We want you to know that we love Litsy and have no plans to make drastic changes. Litsy is here to stay, and we’re here to make it even better for you.

We still have a lot of technical work to get up to speed and bring Litsy onto LibraryThing servers. But here are some of the ideas we’ve had to bring Litsy to the next level:

  • Give Litsy better book data, from LibraryThing itself and from its data partner, Bowker.
  • Provide an easy way to link accounts and sync between the two services.
  • LibraryThing works with thousands of libraries. Get more of them involved in Litsy.
  • Add barcode scanning to the Litsy app, so you don’t need to do as much searching.
  • Bring Litsy members into LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, which offers free pre-release books to interested readers. We think a larger and more diverse community will draw more publishers, and more books.

What do you think? Do you have any questions? We want to get to know you better, and for you to get to know us. We want to hear what you love about Litsy, and talk through ideas about how to make it better. To that end, we’ve started a Facebook group to open dialogue between the LibraryThing team and Littens everywhere.

» Onward Litsy!

If you don’t do Facebook, you can find us on Twitter at @getlitsy and @LibraryThing. Or just email us at litsy@librarything.com.

Thank you for your time! Thank you too to Jeff and Todd for building such a great service, and trusting us with it now. They deserve a standing ovation for everything they’ve done. Please be sure to check out their note, below.

Thanks!
Tim and the LibraryThing Team

A Note from Jeff and Todd

Fellow Littens,

From day one, we wanted Litsy to be a place where readers could share their love of books and expand their TBR lists. Over 14 million app visits later, we’re simply blown away by the awesomeness of the Litsy community!

Working with LibraryThing is the next natural step in fulfilling our original mission. With their vast experience in books and tech, we can’t wait to see where they take Litsy next. As for us, we will continue leading the charge at Out of Print, which is now a subsidiary of Penguin Random House.

Thanks for helping to make Litsy so special. We will miss working with you all, but we’re just a Litsy @mention away! 🙂

Cheers,
Todd and Jeff

Labels: LibraryThing, Litsy

Monday, March 19th, 2018

LibraryThing Acquires Litsy

duallogoLibraryThing has acquired the mobile platform Litsy! What’s Litsy? Here’s some past press coverage:

Here’s a press release we wrote up about it. When you’ve read it, check out:

Press Release: LibraryThing Acquires Litsy

LibraryThing, creator of the social site LibraryThing.com and a leading provider of software for libraries, has acquired the mobile app Litsy.

Litsy, “where books make friends,” is a mobile platform known for being “Instagram for booklovers.” Litsy was launched in early 2016 by Jeff LeBlanc and Todd Lawton. The two had previously founded the book-themed clothing company Out of Print Clothing, acquired by Penguin Random House in June 2017.

“LibraryThing and Litsy are very different platforms,” said Tim Spalding, Founder of LibraryThing. “But they share a love of reading, and a respect for the passionate, unusual communities that animate them.”

“LibraryThing is the perfect home for Litsy,” said LeBlanc and Lawton. “Their technology and expertise delighting readers will help take Litsy to the next level.”

Litsy’s unique approach to social media has inspired its users to create discussion threads, community read-alongs, and book-sharing groups. Users accumulate “Litfluence,” an indication of others’ engagement with their posts, and celebrate milestones with hashtags and giveaways. Having a book profile linked to each post makes it simple for users to discover and to “stack” books they would like to read or have read in the past, which is all added to their profile.

LibraryThing’s initial plans are modest. “Our first duty is to keep what’s great about both Litsy and LibraryThing, and build from there. We aren’t going to do anything drastic, like combine them into one service,” Spalding said. “Most of all, we want to listen to Litsy members, and take it from there.”

As part of the acquisition, LibraryThing is inaugurating a two-way conversation with the Litsy community (“Littens”). A Facebook group has been set up for this, “Onward Litsy!” All Litsy members, and curious LibraryThing members, are invited to participate.

Spalding indicates that LibraryThing staff is currently focused on moving the service to take advantage of LibraryThing’s more extensive technical infrastructure. They plan to upgrade Litsy’s book data using information from LibraryThing itself, and from its library- and data-partner, Bowker/ProQuest. LibraryThing will be encouraging libraries to get involved with Litsy too.

Publishers will see one planned change, as LibraryThing intends to offer Litsy members access to LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. Early Reviewers helps publishers connect with readers and create buzz for new titles by providing pre-release books in exchange for an honest review.

More details on the LibraryThing blog: https://blog.librarything.com/2018/03/librarything-acquires-litsy/
Q&A on the LibraryThing blog: https://blog.librarything.com/2018/03/litsyquesti/
“Onward Litsy” Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OnwardLitsy/

Media inquiries:
Loranne Nasir
loranne@librarything.com

About LibraryThing
LibraryThing is a leader in social networking for readers and in software for libraries. LibraryThing.com counts over 2.2 million members who have cataloged 123 million books. LibraryThing’s library software, including Syndetics Unbound, co-developed with ProQuest, is used by thousands of libraries around the world. Learn more at LibraryThing.com and proquest.syndetics.com.

Labels: LibraryThing, Litsy

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Introducing the LibraryThing Alexa Skill

Introducing the LibraryThing Skill for the Amazon Echo, Dot and other Alexa devices. Take a look:

The LibraryThing Alexa Skill is a weird but easy way to add books to your LibraryThing account. Just stand in the foyer, with a bag of new books, or on top of a rickety bookshelf ladder in the attic, and say:

Alexa, tell LibraryThing to add [Book Title] by [author]

And Alexa will add the book. Or it will try to. It’s not perfect.

To get a higher success rate, skip the title and author and just read the barcode, or ISBN number, off the back of your book:

Alexa, tell LibraryThing to add [Barcode or ISBN number]

There are a few other commands. Try:

Alexa, ask LibraryThing how many books I have.

To dazzle your friends with your intelligent personal assistant and your impressive library.

What Else?

Have fun!


Credits:

  • The Alexa app was coded up by Chris Holland (@conceptdawg), who did a bang-up job, with an immature programming environment.
  • Thanks to Abby and Puck (pictured) for the video.

Labels: app, new features

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Your Library in Dewey

We’ve made a handy graphical way to see how your library matches up with Dewey®.

The Dewey Decimal System®, also called the Dewey Decimal Classification® (DDC)—called the “Melvil Decimal System” on LibraryThing for legal reasons—is the classification used by most public libraries, especially in the US. First developed in 1876, it divides the world into ten major categories 0-9. Each of these are further subdivided 0-9 again, twice, yielding a number between 000 and 999. Further division is accomplished by adding a decimal point (.) and adding more decimals. It’s imperfect, but it’s simple—and it’s everywhere.

Here’s what it looks like on the top level. I have a lot of history and religion. True enough.

Screenshot 2017-07-24 12.00.11

Here’s one level down. Did someone say “occult”?
Screenshot 2017-07-24 11.56.00

Here’s what it looks like posted to Facebook:
Screenshot 2017-07-24 12.04.58

“Dewey,” “Dewey Decimal,” “Dewey Decimal Classification” and “DDC” are registered trademarked of OCLC, an Ohio-based library cartel.

Labels: classification, new features

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Statement from LibraryThing’s Employees on Trump’s Recent Executive Order

LibraryThing’s eleven employees stand together alongside so many in the library, literary, publishing, and tech worlds in opposition to President Trump’s recent executive order on refugees, immigration, and travel.

We feel compelled to do so as Trump’s actions concern us deeply, and strike at the heart of our work at the intersection of libraries and technology.

From the Library of Alexandria to the present day, libraries best realize their mission when they participate in the open meeting of cultures. At the most basic level, LibraryThing draws its data from libraries around the world, whose librarians collaborate to create records and make them available freely everywhere. At a higher level, we celebrate public libraries, who do so much to welcome and support refugees and immigrants, and the love of reading, which knows no national, ethnic, or religious bounds.

The American tech industry too draws much of its strength from immigrants and diversity of all kinds. Steve Jobs, whose computers we use and whose picture hangs at headquarters in Portland, Maine, was the son of a Syrian migrant. Our own employees have included (so far) Christians, Jews, Muslims, agnostics and atheists, one US immigrant, and residents of half a dozen countries.

We believe:

  • The order is unjust and discriminatory.
  • The order conflicts with American—and democratic—ideals, including welcome to refugees and immigrants, and equal treatment for people of any religion.
  • The order harms America’s safety and standing in the world. It encourages America’s enemies and hurts its friends.
  • The order was executed cruelly and incompetently, inflicting needless additional suffering.

The people who work for LibraryThing do not all share the same politics or views. We have never made such a statement before, and hope we never have to again. But as librarians and believers in the promise of technology, we shall continue to stand for an open and accepting world, welcoming to refugees and immigrants, in which national, ethnic and religious differences are celebrated.

This statement was written by Tim, with encouragement and changes by other employees.

Update: If you’d like to join the discussion on Talk, that’s happening here.

Labels: employee statements, LibraryThing

Monday, August 15th, 2016

New Feature: True Excel Export

After years of CSV and TSV exports, we’ve added a “true” Excel export for your catalog. Find yours here: https://www.librarything.com/export.php?export_type=xls.

It’s a minimal, simple implementation. We made the headings bold, changed some column widths and defined some columns as text and some as numbers, but otherwise left the data as-is. We tested it out, but there are so many versions of Excel out there, that we’d appreciate feedback from members too.

Let us know what you think in Talk.

Screenshot 2016-08-15 15.39.59

Labels: export, new features

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Introducing Dewmoji

Introducing Dewmoji: Emoji for Dewey Decimals®. A joke on Twitter about finding Emojis for every top-level Dewey Decimal class spun out of control and I ended up implementing something half-wonderful and half-terrible!

As usual on LibraryThing, any member can edit the system, which is now the work of many hands.

Try it out: http://www.librarything.com/mds/592
Talk about it: https://www.librarything.com/topic/226515

Example:

dewmoji_large

Note: ®Dewey Decimal and related terms are trademarks of OCLC. LibraryThing’s system is, properly, called the “Melvil Decimal System,” in order not to step on their toes. Although Dewey’s system goes back to 1876, and its earlier editions are in the public domain, they own the trademark, and once went so far as to sue a hotel that used the system. We hope we don’t get sued. If we do, we’ll make sure to emphasize how silly the whole thing is.

Labels: classification

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Job: Remote Sysadmin for LibraryThing

We’ll let you out from time to time.

Work with a great team, without meeting them!

LibraryThing is looking for a full-time systems administrator, starting soon. The job can be remote or local to Portland, Maine.

Why? Seth Ryder, LibraryThing’s sysadmin is moving on to an exciting new job at HarperCollins. This is bad for us—Seth was a fantastic shepherd of the LibraryThing systems. The good news is, thanks to Seth, our systems have never been stronger, more organized or better documented!

Specifics

Hours: In the past, we’ve listed the job as full- or part-time. This time we’re listing it as full-time, expecting the new sysadmin to take on various systems projects. We remain open to considering part-time applicants who are a particularly good fit.

Qualifications: We’re looking for someone with broad systems administration experience, who can quickly pick up unfamiliar technologies, diagnose problems and keep everything running smoothly. You need to be calm under pressure, cautious and an excellent communicator. We’re a small team, so when things break at 4am, you need to be available.

Work Anywhere. LibraryThing is “headquartered” in Portland, Maine, but the servers are in Massachusetts and most employees are in neither.

Experience: Applicants need considerable experience running websites. Experience in Linux systems administration is essential; we use RHEL and CentOS, but you’ve probably got professional experience with at least half a dozen distros. Experience with MySQL is also important, including replication, monitoring and tuning. You will need to be able to demonstrate experience with remote server administration including lights-out management techniques and equipment.

Technologies: Here’s a partial list of the technologies we use.

  • Apache
  • Nginx
  • MySQL, Master-Slave replication
  • Memcached
  • Solr, Elasticsearch
  • Subversion
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Bash shell scripting
  • Munin, Graphite, Logstash (ELK)
  • Xen and KVM virtualization
  • rrdtool
  • NFS
  • LVM
  • iscsi

Compensations: Salary plus great health insurance.

How to Apply: Email sysadminjob@librarything.com. Send an email with your resume. In your email, review the blog post above, and indicate how you match up with the job. Be specific.(1) Please do not send a separate cover letter.

If you want to stand out, go ahead and take the LibraryThing Programming Test. If programming is part of your skills, we’ll ask you to take it before we interview you.

We aren’t considering head-hunters or companies.


1. This job is going to be posted lots of places, and that means we’ll get a lot of people “rolling the dice.” If you don’t seem like you’re applying for this job, we’ll ignore your email. If you want us to KNOW you read the job post–and are therefore a detail-oriented person–please put “banana” in the subject line, as in “Sysadmin Job (Banana).” Really.

Labels: employees, employment, sysadmin, systems adminitration, Uncategorized

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Music and movie cataloging (but we’re still a book site)

Short version: LibraryThing is and will remain a book site. But we never stopped people from cataloging other media, like movies and music. We’re now making it much easier to do. Check it out and add your non-book library at https://www.librarything.com/addbooks.

Medium version: LibraryThing is a book site, and will remain so. But many members, especially our small libraries, have always cataloged other media, such as movies and music. We allowed it, but didn’t support it well at all. In particular, we disabled non-book searching on Amazon, allowing it only on our library sources.

A few months ago we introduced a robust concept of media format. We’ve now opened up cataloging other media on the Amazon sources, which are far easier and better for the purpose.

Check it out at https://www.librarything.com/addbooks

trash_moviesmusic

Long version:

Why Are We Doing This? Adding other media has been planned for years. The main driver has been small libraries—churches, community centers, small museums, etc.—a major constituent of LibraryThing’s success. Although small libraries mostly collect books, they don’t limit themselves to books any more than public and academic libraries do. Our failings in the area really hurt us.

This change means that LibraryThing is now a “complete” cataloging system. This lets us reach small libraries as we never could before—something we plan to do even more strongly when TinyCat debuts.

We are also conscious that many “regular” members wanted to catalog their non-book libraries. I want to, anyway, and I know I’m not alone.

Worried? We are conscious of some members’ worries, for example that LibraryThing is “turning into” a movie site. These are valid concerns. Here’s how we responded and will respond:

Screenshot 2015-09-14 14.16.30

Movies have been on LibraryThing for a long time.
  • LibraryThing is a site for book lovers and readers. This isn’t going to change.
  • Books get me and the rest of the team up in the morning. That isn’t going to change.
  • LibraryThing has had movies and music since the beginning—hundreds of thousands are already cataloged. Directors and composers have had author pages since the beginning. The recommendations system has recommended movies and music since the beginning. If movies “pollute” LibraryThing, it’s been polluted for a long time.
  • Now, however, we know what’s a book, a movie, and so forth. Knowing means we can adapt the site’s features to deal with that. As a start, by popular request, we’ve changed our site search to “facet” by format. Other accomodations, like a way to refuse all non-book recommendations, can certainly be considered.
  • We don’t expect a crushing influx of non-book media or members. But if LibraryThing appeals to new people who want to catalog all their media, that isn’t a bad thing.

New Features. The following features have been added, or changed, in order of importance.

  • Add Books sources now include music, movies and combined sources for all the Amazon national sites (e.g., “Amazon.com books, music and movies”).
  • To build awareness, we’ve added one “Amazon books, music and movies” source to all members’ sources. If you don’t want it, the new Add Books sources system makes it easy to delete. There are also sources for just movies and just music.
  • Amazon-added movies and music have covers, based on the ASIN, not the ISBN. This change also gives LibraryThing ebook covers.
  • We’ve added media-based faceting in site search.
  • You can search both Amazon and Overcat by UPC.

Cataloging Non-Books Media. Movies and music aren’t books, but libraries catalog them with some of the same basic structure and concepts. Movies and music have titles, publication dates, subjects, Dewey classifications, etc. “Authors” is more complex. Library records generally mix directors, actors, producers and screenwriters into one set of contributors, with their roles not always marked. Amazon records are better here, clearly delineating the various roles. But they don’t have the name-control libraries have.

We’ve solved this as follows:

  • When possible, movies get director as their main author. This is always possible with Amazon records, but not with library records.
  • We’ve improved how we handle author names from Amazon, leveraging Amazon data against what we know from tens of millions of library records. So, for example, we’re handing “The Beatles” as “The Beatles” not “Beatles, The.” This change improves Amazon cataloging generally.
  • Where listed, actors, producers, musicians and so forth get secondary author status and roles. This means that actors have LibraryThing author pages. (But they had them before, as noted above. If this proves a problem, we can mark them somehow as a site-wide feature.)
  • We’ve improved media format detection of MARC records within Overcat, especially for odd MARC formats, like DANMARC (a specialized MARC format used in—you guessed it—Denmark).

Let Us Know. Let us know what you think on Talk.

Labels: cataloging, new feature, new features

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Edit and reorder sources in Add Books

Good news: We’ve improved the sources system within Add Books a lot.

Bad news: We had to transition to an entirely new sources system. Most members kept their sources, but some members and some sources couldn’t go into the new system easily. If you lost sources, you may need to choose them again. Fortunately, the new system’s a lot better at that.

You can find the new options on Add Books:
searchwhere

Everything now happens in a light box. The “Your Sources” tab allows you to reorder and delete sources.
yoursources

You can browse and choose sources, divided into “Featured” and “All Sources” on the other two tabs.
featured

As you’ll notice, a fair number of our sources are currently down. We’re working to get as many up again as possible, and add new ones. If you’d like to help and know something about Z39.50 connections, you’ll find we give our current connection details when you click the yellow warning marker.

You’ll also see other, very significant new stuff. But that’s a matter for another blog post!

Three cheers to our developer Ammar for the add-books changes!

Labels: cataloging, new features

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

New: Printed Library Barcode Labels

IMG_5312

IMG_5305

Keep track of your books like a pro.

Yesterday we released our new Barcode support feature along with our new Take Inventory feature for Your Books. Good things come in threes, so today we bring you a new product to our Store lineup—printed barcodes!

Why barcodes? Barcodes are for tiny libraries and private individuals who want to keep better track of their books. Slap a barcode on a book and you’ve got a readable, scannable, unique number forever. Once its got a number, you can do inventory and lend books the right way.

For regular users, a small barcode, on the back cover or inside, is an excellent way to know when you’ve cataloged a book and when you haven’t.(1) Users who want to do inventory can add them to all their books, or just to the ones without scannable back-cover ISBNs.

Where do I get them? You can order your own custom barcodes right here in our Store:

Price

  • We’re charging $10.00 for the first 500 labels, and $5.00 for each additional set of 500.
  • That’s 20-25% of what traditional vendors, like Follett, charge.(2)
  • No really, this is a steal!

Other details

  • Quality. Our labels are acid-free, premium stock for archival use. They have a pH-neutral, permanent, pressure-sensitive adhesive.
  • Size. The labels are 1 1/4 x 5/8 inches. That’s small enough to be visually inconspicuous, but it fits numbers up to 100,000 easily. They come in sheets of 100 (102, actually, because math).
  • Symbology. We chose Code 39, perhaps the most common library barcode format. The codes also include the number, written out, in case the barcode won’t scan.
  • Customization. You can add your own text above the code, such as your name or LibraryThing ID (up to 25 characters). You can also add a tiny LibraryThing icon ( ) before your text. Or you can go for barcode-only labels.
  • CueCat Support? The LibraryThing barcodes work great with LibraryThing’s super-cheap CueCat scanners. LibraryThing search and Take Inventory features even read unmodified CueCat codes.

Go ahead and check it out.

You can read more about using barcodes in Your Books here. And of course join our discussion on Talk!

Here are some more photos:

IMG_5317IMG_5315IMG_5312IMG_5310IMG_5309IMG_5308IMG_53052015-06-15 13.15.422015-06-15 13.12.222015-06-15 13.09.372015-06-15 13.04.022015-06-15 12.53.332015-06-15 12.51.302015-06-15 12.44.42

1. Other members use our stamp or mini-stamp.
2. Comparable barcodes cost about that much. In fairness, however, if you spend even more from these companies you can get more durable barcodes, intended for high-circulation public collections.

Labels: barcodes, new feature, new features, small libraries

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

New Feature: Barcode support

scanner_photo2

Keep track of your books like a pro.

Two big features in one day? Yup. And we’ll have a big product announcement tomorrow!

Short version. We’ve just added barcode support for your books, and a barcode settings page. If your books are already barcoded, or if you want to add barcodes, this is the feature for you.

Long version. In a few short weeks, we’ll be announcing a new feature, specially designed for “tiny” libraries—those small collections found in churches, historical societies, community centers, academic departments, classrooms and so forth.

To prepare for that day, we are releasing another feature that tiny libraries will find useful: comprehensive support for inventory barcodes.

Inventory barcodes go nicely with our other new feature Take Inventory.

Why use barcodes? Besides small collections, barcode inventory may appeal to many regular users. Regular users may not want to barcode every book—scanning the ISBN barcode works great too. But barcode labels make non-ISBN books much easier to inventory.

(Now, “where do I get cheap barcode labels?” I hear you ask. Ask me again tomorrow, will ya?)

Using Barcodes.

fields

Editing Barcodes. Editing barcodes in your catalog is as simple as double-clicking. If you’ve elected for sequential numbers, you can click to get the next one. Or just add the barcode you see. There are no rules, except that every barcode must be unique among your books.

catalog

Setting the Rules. The rules for barcodes got so large that we gave it it’s own page. You can edit your Barcode settings at LibraryThing Settings > Barcodes.

In addition to settings, you can also bulk-add barcodes on this page (under “Actions”). If you don’t already have barcodes, the easiest thing to do is to add barcodes to your whole collection, then apply the labels to your books one-by-one.

settings

This feature was primarily created by me (TimSpalding). Come and Discuss this feature on Talk.

Labels: barcodes, new feature, new features, small libraries

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

New Feature: Take Inventory

UPDATE: It’s been a big day here at LibraryThing. We’ve now added barcode support for your catalog. Read below or see the blog post for more info on that.

Take Inventory, the best name we could come up with(1), is designed to help members check their physical collections against their LibraryThing catalog. It can be used to see what books have gone missing, or, because a failed search produces a link to add the book, to check that everything in your library has actually been cataloged.

Here’s where to get it:(2)

catalog_menu

Here’s Taking Inventory in action:

inventory

Note that clicking the big, colored circles changes the inventory status(3).

The feature is designed for either manual searching or scanning with a barcode scanner, like our CueCats. You can scan either the ISBN barcode or your own barcode, if you’ve turned on the new barcodes feature for your library. The “flow” is such that you can scan books one after another, without touching the keyboard. Scanning a book marks it as “present.”

If you prefer to type in your searches, it assumes that, if one only one book appears, you want that marked as “present.” (If you don’t, you can click the large inventory circle to change it.) If multiple items show up, you’ll have to mark each one manually. If nothing comes up, you can click to go to Add Books and search for it.

Our original plan was to have this feature on a separate page, but having it within the regular catalog, with the ability to change other fields and sort the data differently gives this method particular power. Note that you can add the Inventory column outside of the “Take Inventory” functionality itself.

This feature was programmed by me (TimSpalding). Chris (ConceptDawg) worked out the color-circles interface.

Come discuss the feature on Talk.


1. The choice of name was exceedingly vexing. I asked both librarians and bookstore people on Twitter, and no consensus emerged. Other options included “shelf read,” “shelf check,” “stock check,” “stock take” and even “section report”!
2. Note that we’ve gotten rid of the special and somewhat odd Tags box. Tags can now be found with all the other pages under the menu it formerly touched. We’re still mulling this over.
3. We like the functionality, but we’re not entirely sure everyone will get this. Your thoughts?

Labels: features, new features, small libraries

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

New Feature: Advanced Search

A few months ago we introduced a new search syntax, allowing you to execute complex searches like:

tag: history author: gibbon

We’ve now added a handy, “Advanced Search” feature, more like that offered by many traditional library catalogs.

You can find it in the search options in “Your Books”:

Screenshot 2015-05-14 10.48.42

It opens up a box like this:

Screenshot 2015-05-14 10.48.14

When you search it converts your advanced search options into the text syntax, so it’s also a way of showing how that works.

Let us know what you think on Talk.

Labels: new feature, new features, search, small libraries

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Your Call Number System

I’ve added a feature so members and small libraries can record your own primary call-number system–the one that you actually use, if you use one.

callnumber-2

You can then add a new field, “Call number” to your display styles:

callnumber-3

You do this here, at Settings > Other settings.

Why do this? Well, a few reasons.

  1. Your styles can include a “Call number” field, which visitors will find easier to understand.
  2. If you set it to Library of Congress (LCC) or Dewey (DDC/MDS), then you can change the “Call number” column and it will change your LCC or DDC.
  3. If you set it to “Personal or custom system” you can add, edit and show your own private call numbers, without bothering to edit another system.
  4. If you set it to one of the many others (Bliss, Cutter Expansive, etc.) you can add your own numbers, and at some point in the future we may be able to improve on that with additional data from library records. If not data, we can at least code the rules for sorting other classifications.

Here are the options. Feel free to suggest others. Note that nothing has been taken away here. You can continue to use DDC, LCC and now a new private call-number system without obstacles.

callnumber-1

Come talk about this on Talk.

Labels: new feature, new features, small libraries, Uncategorized

Friday, February 20th, 2015

New Feature: Lending (a.k.a. “Circulation”)

circulation-lendingboxWe’ve just released a major new feature: lending tracking, or, as libraries call it, “circulation.”

Why are we doing this?

Regular members have long called for a simple way to track lending. But the strongest calls have come from the many small libraries that use LibraryThing–community centers, classrooms, museums, churches, synagogues, ashrams, health centers, masonic temples, etc. We’ve got a list of some our favorites.

Simple but Strong

Although simple to use, “Lending” was designed to be powerful enough for small libraries. Rather than just a field for a name, it’s a full system, with:

  • Who checked something out and when
  • Due dates and “overdue” status
  • “On hold,” “missing” an custom statuses
  • Summary information by transaction, status and patron
  • Control over what status information visitors see

Here’s a video I made explaining it:

If you don’t want to watch the video, or want more information, here it is in text.

Come talk to us about it here on Talk.

Where can I find it?

Members who haven’t changed their catalog display styles will find the “Lending” column on style “B.” To add it to a style, go to “Settings.” (This used to be just a “cog” graphic next to the styles.)

circ_bar_1and2

You can find Lending summary information as a mode, together with tags, authors, etc.

circ_bar_1

Here’s how it looks in the catalog. Double-click to add or change a book’s lending status. Although there are a lot of fields, everything is optional. If you just want to track in/out, with no names or dates or due-dates, that’s fine:
circulation-catalog

Here’s what lending looks like on book pages–a little “book-pocket” icon () to edit lending status, and, if the book has a status, an area for showing it.
circulation_bookpage

Here’s what it looks to add a status:
circulation-newstatus

Selecting the “Lending” menu within the catalog () shows you summary and transaction information.
circulation-transactions

There are a lot of options here:
circulation-patronscirculation-statuscirculation-dewey

There’s also a “Lending Summary” section for your home page, available under Home > Books:
Homepage

Thanks. Come talk to us about it here on Talk.

PS: This was a joint effort between myself and Ammar, who did great work, with some help from Chris Holland and others.

Labels: libraries, new feature, new features, small libraries

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Better recommendations: Display

Over the next week or so we’ll be talking a lot about recommendations on LibraryThing and LibraryThing for Libraries. We’ve been doing a lot of work on this part of the site, and will be rolling out a number of improvements.

Today we’re debuting a new system for showing recommendations on works.

Check it out:

  1. Recommendations page for The Fault in Our Stars
  2. Recommendations page for Archaeology and Language
  3. Work page for Code Name Verity

And come talk about it on Talk.

Details. The first change is to the “brief” display on work pages. We have a new way of showing a “shelf,” with both cover and title. We think this is more appealing—to more users—than the previous text-only system.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.51.09

You can expand to “see more,” to get two more rows, then “see all” to get ten or more. The deeper you go the less confident we are that the recommendation is a good one. But our recommendations are often quite good deep.

If it’s not more appealing to you, you can see the recommendations as text, with series “tucked under.”

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.51.48

If you want to keep it that way, click the “edit” pencil. To keep the number of icons down, you’ll only get this if you click to change views. (Not everyone will like this. I do.)

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.54.27

Besides “covers” and “text” you can also choose to vote on recommendations, as before.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.55.46

The new way of seeing recommendations has transformed the “All recommendations” subpage. (Here’s the ugly, list-y thing it looked like before.) To the various recommendation types we’ve added “More by this author,” which sorts the authors books by their algorithmic similarity to the book in quesiton, and “‘Old’ Combined Recommendations” for members seeking to compare the old algorithms with the new.

As before, this page shows all the different elements that make up LibraryThing’s “main” (or “combined”) recommendations.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.58.44

And come talk about it on Talk.

A note on authors and repetition. Algorithmic recommendations are something between a science and an art. There’s a lot of math involved, some of it very complex indeed. But the mathematically “right” answer isn’t much good if it’s boring. So, mathematically, one James Patterson book is statistically most similar to two dozen other James Patterson books before and other author can contribute a book. But who wants to see row after row of that?

Turning math into something stimulating and diverse, yet credible, is complex process. In this case, the same-author problem is addressed not in the initial data, but “at display,” by limiting how many times an author may appear on a given line. You can see this, for example, in the recommendations for The Fault in Our Stars, which restrains John Green from taking over, or Horns, which restrains Joe Hill, but also Steven King, Justin Cronin and others.

Because of differences in screen size, members will now sometimes be presented with slightly different recommendations lists, as books get pushed between rows. We think the drawbacks there are outweighed by the visual benefits of not overloading members wih repetitive recommendations.

Labels: design, new feature, new features, recommendations, Uncategorized

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

LibraryThing Holiday Card Exchange

cardexchange-fullWe’ve just opened the first annual LibraryThing Holiday Card Exchange. Inspired by the “ALA Think Tank,” which was inspired by Reddit, we thought we’d try it out here.

The idea is simple:

  • Mail a Holiday card to a random LibraryThing member.
  • You’ll get one from another member. Only that member will see your address.
  • You can mail a hand-made or store card. Add a note to personalize it.

Sign-up closes Monday, December 15 at 1:00 PM Eastern. We’ll inform you of your matches in an hour or so. Send your cards out soon after.

» LibrayThing Holiday Card Exchange

See also the Talk post about it.

Labels: card exchange, holiday

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Holiday Store: Everything off! New shirts! Totes!

store-screen-600

We’ve just debuted a fresh new “store” and new LibraryThing swag. New items include attractive v-neck t-shirts for women and men, and tote bags. We’ve also lowered our prices dramatically until January 6.*

Rather than having me blather on about it, why don’t you just go visit our new store?

After that, come tell us what swag we’re missing on Talk.


*Epiphany, Little Christmas, the night before Orthodox Christmas or the day after the Twelfth day of Christmas—and doesn’t your loved one deserve twelve LibraryThing t-shirts?

Labels: gifts, holiday, sale, stickers, teeshirts, tshirts, Uncategorized