Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

LibraryThing Is Now Free to All


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,, 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:

Some links:

Labels: LibraryThing


  1. Samantha says:

    That’s the coolest news I’ve heard for some time!
    Right now when we all urgently need good news! :)
    Thanks a lot, Tim!

  2. Renee Kimball says:

    Thank you can’t wait to try it!

    • Jean-Louis says:

      I absolutely agree with Alexa. I never regreeted my 25 dollars and would pay again if necessary. Thank you anyway

  3. Alexa says:

    I am happy about the new users potentially attracted by this change, but I also hope that should LT ever find itself in the position of needing more revenue and considering an ad-based model and/or being sold to or “invested in” by entities that would inevitably push changes that would fundamentally change LT, that you’ll give us the opportunity to pay you again first. I paid $25 over a decade ago with no regrets and I would do it again if you needed it!

  4. Samantha says:

    Yep, I second that, of course. I also paid (some months ago) without any regrets.
    I’m just happy for some positive news and some potential new users.

  5. Cheli Derry says:

    Still glad I bought my lifetime membership.
    This site saved my life on many occasions!

    Great job, Tim to you and your staff!

  6. Agnes says:

    You go LibraryThing!

  7. Kristine Woods says:

    Wonderful news!

  8. Steve says:

    Wow, Tim (if I may), what incredibly inspiring and wonderful news! I wish more companies were in a position to be as generous and supportive during this time of uncertainty. And just like Alexa noted earlier, my $25 investment in LibraryThing in May 2009 has been worth every penny. Thanks for all that you do.

  9. RobtCM says:

    Great move! I am glad that LibraryThing has opened itself up to a world of potential Members.
    I am currently a Life Member at 10 years and I love LT! Keep doing the great work that you do.


  10. CarltonC says:

    Completely agree with and second Alexa’s comments.
    Must be one of the best $25 I have ever spent.

  11. jjmcgaffey says:

    A) what Alexa said – there’s still a Donate button in the store, right?

    B) Yay LibraryThing, just about what I expect from you guys (that is, that you’ll exceed my expectations).

    C) You’re going to have to come up with a new top prize for treasure hunts…

  12. Will says:

    I have been a member for a long time, and I am very proud of you all that you’ve reached this point! Great work, and kind of you to move up your date for going zero-cost.

    Keep up the good work.

  13. Michele says:

    Fabulous! The more free access to bibliographic metadata the better. I signed up for life back in 2005 I think and I am so glad to hear this!! I don’t actually catalog my books. I just list them because I don’t keep that many. They flow through to others or to my favorite library if they want them. I worked 29 years in academic library cataloging and believe in the flow of books! Of course there are some I keep. :) So great to hear good news! Stay safe!

  14. Hiensch says:

    Thank you very much!

  15. Doug says:

    Very nice!

    This news makes me consider using LT as my primary resource for cataloging my home library.

  16. Kit Keller says:

    Awesome decision! Way to step up LT!

  17. Dave Graham says:

    Please, please become a trust or maybe a benign dictatorship – anything which will prevent your wonderful service being taken away by “monetisers” or becoming the same dribblingly stupid entity that most things seem to migrate towards in the lust for money. My original subscription has probably given me access to more information per unit money than anything else I’ve ever purchased. Dave

  18. Acdtrux says:

    This is good news, I’ve had a great experience so far!

  19. Donaldo Mitsunori Dagnone says:

    Outstanding! I’m from Brasil, has been using LT for less than a year, it’s helping a lot to connect books and ideas. You will always have my support!

  20. Jill Ball says:

    Thanks Tim for your generosity. As a Librarything member since 2006 I am happy that my investment of $25 has enabled you to get to this stage where this amazing product which encourages discussion of books and reading is now free and available to all.

  21. Scott Wright says:

    Thank you! Although I did a lifetime membership over 1 years ago, this is, by far, the best online catalog I have run across. I cannot recommend this enough to my fellow pastors.

  22. Thanks so much for doing this for your readers. As someone from Maine I love that you’re doing the right thing over the more profitable thing.

  23. Frank Daniels says:

    A very timely and welcome decision : no regrets about subscribing here in the past.

  24. Sue B says:

    Bravo. It makes me almost giddy to think of home libraries being made official with a catalog. Well done Library Thing!

  25. Anyone who knows you or LT trusts you do the right thing, Tim. You never let us down. And may your business grow and prosper.

  26. Loretta says:

    Well done! Thanks for all those who otherwise wouldn’t get to join in the fun!

  27. Edwin says:

    A great website and tool. I have recommended to every book lover I know.
    This website has been blessing to me in many ways


  28. Jared Runck says:

    Thanks for making this move; it shows your commitment to this community. I never regretted paying for this service; very well-done product!!!

  29. Thank you! Is the software open-source yet? If not, this would be a good time to do it, so that it can continue to be maintained as a public good at lower cost.

    Also, in the reverse of what Alexa said above, should you need money again to support LibraryThing, I hope you’ll consider an optional ad-supported tier. I’m always willing to view ads if I know they’re subsidizing my use of a site I care about.

  30. Gene Rhea Tucker says:

    How about a nice little badge for the ol’ paid lifetime members?

  31. Jordi says:

    Great job! Stay safe, stay healthy

  32. Ann says:

    Funny. I dont even remember paying! But then again, I joined 13 years ago!

    That is a beautiful thing to do! :)

    Thank you for this site and all your work!

  33. julie rheault says:

    Hooray for all of us!
    I’m just a drop in your ocean.
    A lifetime member, and amazed at what you do.
    I’ll look forward to more exploration.

  34. Carol Porter says:

    Wonderful decision! Thanks for setting a generous example during this time.

  35. James Wood says:

    Terrific! I’m a paid lifetime member but I was happy to do it and to help get the site off the ground. I’m always happy to see that people can get some return for their hard work and so I also have no regrets about my subscribing.

  36. Jim Campbell (justjim) says:

    As someone who stumped up their USD25 the very day I discovered the place way back in the early eighties,* and has purchased and gifted many further lifetime memberships, and even won a few at various times, I am so happy to see that LT is no longer dependent on mere cataloguers’ cash to keep the wolf from the door.

    Congratulations and thank you for a wonderful website that I really do not use as much as I should any more.

    *wait, checks notes, it was actually in 2007? It seems a lifetime ago.

  37. briteness says:

    This is one of a small handful of sites that I keep coming back to regularly, year after year. Most books in my library are catalogued here, and I love looking at what people with similar libraries have in their collection. More than a few times I have found books here that I have gone on to buy and read.

    I am glad that you are able to make a living with this, even to the extent that you can make LibraryThing itself free to all. This is a real service to the world, even more so than many people seem to realize. Books and libraries matter. Thank you for what you have added to my life, and the lives of so many others. For what you have given us, this site was already a bargain, but ya can’t beat free!

  38. hilge says:

    Absolutely great. Really nice decision, time to spread the word. There is pleasure in organizing. Hallelujah

  39. Ann Beirne says:

    I’ve gotten my $25 worth and then some over the twenty years or so since I paid (happily). Would pay again if it comes to that, and I’m so happy that you are doing this to stave off your members’ insanity. Many thanks.

  40. Jim Roberts says:

    The €17 or so that LT cost me were the best value for money I ever got.

  41. Jonas says:

    It’s been well worth the money.

  42. T. Byron K. says:

    Well done LT Staff.
    I have been a lifetime member since 2006
    and appreciate the service very much.

  43. Jjean7 says:

    Thank you, great site….

Leave a Reply to Acdtrux