Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

LibraryThing Is Now Free to All

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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

7 Comments:

  1. 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!

  2. 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…

  3. Kit Keller says:

    Awesome decision! Way to step up LT!

  4. 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

  5. Frank Daniels says:

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

  6. 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.

  7. Gene Rhea Tucker says:

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

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