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

108 Comments:

  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. Clamato says:

    Hi!
    Wow-wonderful news! Sharing LT is such a good thing, especially right now with as you said, so many of us being home bound. There is so much a person can get out of their LT membership! I haven’t even begun to log my music.. I have been a member since April 2007 and have loved it always! Cheers to you Tim Spalding and all your great staff :) Take care and stay well!
    Clamato
    Ontario, Canada

  8. Kristine Woods says:

    Wonderful news!

  9. 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.

  10. Patrick says:

    Alexa, maybe you got your wish. There are issues for those that didn’t pay. It let me add beyond 200 as long as it was continuous on the search page, but moment I left that page, logged out, back in, and went back there, once I search, it says you have to be a paying member to go over 200, despite the fact that I’m at 247 now (probably because I went from 182 to 247 in one go).

  11. 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.

    Rob

  12. ScribblyPrimate says:

    This site has been a place where I can express my love of books, music and movies since I enrolled as a lifetime member in 2005.

    I was happy to kick in my fee back then with my fingers crossed that y’all would stick around. No regrets! I’d do it again.

    Welcome, new members!

  13. Paul says:

    I completely agree with Alexa. I supported LT a decade ago and am still using it weekly. I love to see that you have a sustainable business model, but hate it when my data, that can be traced to my email, are sold to unknown commercial parties. I’d rather pay an annual fee

  14. CarltonC says:

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

  15. dvdwlkn says:

    Kudos. This change is admirable, laudable, and timely—keeping LT possible for people who might find it difficult to do so in these already stressful times. I second Alexa’s comment about reinstating fee-based service in the future if necessary before turning to an option that would fundamentally change LT.

  16. Tim D says:

    Yes! Please don’t turn this into Goodreads! (shudder)

  17. Carla says:

    I am not able to register for your service because I’m being asked for a credit card. Yet you’re tweeting out that your service is free during the coronavirus. Which is it?

  18. 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…

  19. 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.

  20. Virago says:

    Well done! I think this is a wonderful thing you are doing. If a donate button/page pops up at any time, I would be happy to do so. I paid for a lifetime membership ages ago and was happy to do so. I would do it again!

  21. 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!

  22. Hiensch says:

    Thank you very much!

  23. I too paid $25 for a lifetime membership a long time ago. I’ve loved it ever since! I agree with Alexa, if it ever comes up, I’d rather pay again than have a bunch of ads. Keep up the good work!

  24. rdai says:

    As a life member since August of 2006, I applaud you for making LibraryThing free for all. It was in 2005-2006 that I found myself stripped of almost everything except for a roof over my head, and my books. I was isolated, much like many of us find ourselves today. In the midst of that, I found a website created by book lovers, for book lovers. I sat at the kitchen table one night, created an account, and began entering books. I probably had 2-300 at the time.

    It was a centering activity for me at the time. Seeing that database build before my eyes, and seeing the commonalities my library had with the collections of others gave me the feeling that I was with a community of friends with shared attributes. It was about something more than the books.

    Today, 14 years later, my life is much different. Well the library now consists of over 1800 titles (probably 100 or so I neglected to catalog), I’m no longer isolated, and my love of books and reading is stronger than ever (my books about books collection will attest to that). I now have five grandchildren who are all book lovers. As soon as they are able, I will lovingly direct them to a wonderful site called librarything.

    Thanks for all the effort put forth by all of you over the years. It’s been fun to see us both grow. My hope is that many more fight the isolation they find themselves in by discovering books, and by discovering Librarything.

    Rich (rdai)

  25. Doug says:

    Very nice!

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

  26. Mary Bischoff says:

    I totally agree with Alexa. I am a paid lifetime member but would gladly pay an annual fee because this site is such an important resource. Thanks for all your good work! I hope all of you stay safe and healthy!

  27. Ian Campbell says:

    The best investment I ever made and one that keeps on giving.

    With my tongue firmly in my cheek I merely enquire when we original lifetime supporters will start to receive a dividend on our investment? My pension fund is always in need of some top up.

    Seriously though I congratulate Tim on sticking to his guns and not letting corporate greed get in the way of enjoying business.

    Whenever the travel ban is lifted I shall make a pilgrimage to Portland to pay homage.

  28. Kit Keller says:

    Awesome decision! Way to step up LT!

  29. 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

  30. Acdtrux says:

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

  31. 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!

  32. Lapsus Calami says:

    Great ethical move LT!!! Must be unique on the net!

    As Alexa said – happy to pay again if needed to keep LT independent of the ‘monetisers’ in the future!

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. avaland says:

    LT has been worth every penny and more of that first $25 back in 2006! However, I am glad that others will be lured here by now by “free” but also what Alexa said above.

  36. 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.

  37. Frank Daniels says:

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

  38. Sue B says:

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

  39. jhheart says:

    I agree with Alexa. LibraryThing has been a source of enjoyment for many years. I love that I can catalogue my books or chat or browse in a low-key, chill space. This is a bold and welcome move, but let us know if you need to revisit the subscription thing. I would happily buy another lifetime membership for the continued pleasure of LibraryThing.

  40. 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.

  41. Loretta says:

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

  42. 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

    Thanks

  43. 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!!!

  44. 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.

  45. Gene Rhea Tucker says:

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

    • Justin C Honaker says:

      I really like that idea.

      Maybe like a nice gold medal with a number on it to show how many years you were a paid lifetime member.

      Then a silver medal for paid yearly members (PYMs), with an optional number for consecutive years if currently (at time of going totally free) a PYM. and blank no number if a PYM in the past.

      Finally, a bronze medal for all other “pre-free era” free account members. They did deal with account restrictions (200 books max, etc.) after all.

      Let’s show us Legacy Members a bit o’ love, eh?

  46. VidKid says:

    This decision fills me with dread. I’m a life member and was happy to pay. The next logical announcement is ads or some other dreary way to raise revenue. I would have been happier if LibraryThing announced they were raising their rates.

    • This is good news, please don’t dread! We are dead set against ads. As we explain, we have other revenue-generating parts of the company so are happy to release LibraryThing as free to all members now.

  47. Jessica Milstead says:

    Making LibraryThing free doesn’t matter to me, since I cheerfully paid the $25 for a permanent membership some time ago. Please, please don’t ever include ads. I wouldn’t mind a higher tier with more features (e.g., more possibilities in report generation or displays), but I would rather pay for it with money than with aggravation.

  48. Jordi says:

    Great job! Stay safe, stay healthy

  49. 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!

  50. 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.
    Thanks!

  51. Carol Porter says:

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

  52. 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.

  53. Raj says:

    Great news! Especially in difficult times such as these. Also, idea of badge for ol’ paid members sounds great!

  54. thomas g petri says:

    The badge would make me feel better about paying for something that is (now) free. Really, I have always felt good about being a small part this great project. It was money well spent. Thom

  55. 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.

  56. 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!

  57. sunny says:

    Gah. Now I don’t feel special anymore :(

  58. hilge says:

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

  59. 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.

  60. Miriam Segall says:

    I paid for a LibraryThing lifetime membership I don’t remember how many years ago. At the time I thought it was cheap at the price, and it’s paid for itself many times over, not least by stopping me from buying another copy of a book that I had forgotten I had among my 2000-odd books. So I don’t feel at all cheated that LT is now free! And I’ll endorse what others have said — if necessary I’m happy to pay more to keep it what it is.

  61. Lynn Wagner says:

    I’m with Gene— how about a Lifetime badge. I’m proud to be an early adopter.

  62. Jim Roberts says:

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

  63. Jonas says:

    It’s been well worth the money.

  64. T. Byron K. says:

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

  65. Alessandra Tomasi says:

    Grazie molte e buona fortuna anche a voi!!
    Rinascerò, Rinascerai

  66. Cody says:

    I agree with Alexa and others have said.

    If necessary before you go to ads, or to a corporate model, or before LT gets bought out by suits who never read, give us a chance to handle it with our donations!

    And keep the donation button in the store, and if anything, make it more prominent outside the store. I realize there is a delicate balance between being in your face and hard to find.

  67. Janice M. Eisen says:

    As a longtime life member, I heartily applaud this move. I’ve even publicized it on my Sherlock Holmes group’s website

    You’ve given us so much over the years. Well done!

  68. 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!

  69. wesh says:

    I am proud to have been a lifetime member since approximately the dawn of time. This site has been useful to me countless times to keep my books straight when I’ve got them all packed away into boxes, for instance. I always enjoyed the author & tag cloud features too.

    Glad you all were able to make this pay off in some way, and to have been along for the ride. Thanks again, Wes Harman

  70. Marty Cran Brandon says:

    LibraryThing has always felt like an endeavor created from the heart for those who really like books. The $25 for lifetime membership was already an exceptional value. This makes a good (Library)thing even better.

    Marty Brandon
    member since 2008

  71. Donna Straitiff says:

    I’d pay for it all again! I’m glad you are opening it up to all, but I’ll echo what others have said…I’m happy I bought a lifetime membership, and would gladly do it again!

    Thanks for helping me help myself to remember what I’ve read and what I want to read!

  72. Paul Krause says:

    Outstanding news!
    Thanks Tim.

  73. Paz Ellis says:

    I love this website! I am fairly new here and so far I am in love! Thank you, LibraryThing!!

  74. Jjean7 says:

    Thank you, great site….

  75. Awesome decision! Way to step up LT!

  76. Lloyd Downey says:

    I don’t remember paying either….so the pain has disappeared into the past. But I have certainly gotten my money’s worth over the last few years that I’ve been using LibraryThing. I love it. Nice that it’s now free. (Just hope that I don’t get peppered with a lot of ads now…..if so, I would prefer to pay).

  77. Emily says:

    My lifetime membership definitely paid for itself. Thank you so much for making it easier for other people to access!

  78. Onyx says:

    Hi,
    I’m looking for a book.
    I need help.
    This is what I remember of the book;

    She’s a beloved daughter of her father. She gets engaged and gets raped by her future father in-law.

    Unknown to her and the father in law the rape was witnessed by her brother. But because of jealousy he refused to talk about it.

    She breaks her engagement and leaves town. Her fiancé ends up with her bestfriend and they have a son.

    The heroine is made the son godmother. The godson comes to gist her and he dies.

    The heroine is begged by her bestfriend to be a surrogate for them. Unknown to the ex fiancé that his wife can’t take in anymore.

    The heroine accepts to have the baby and gives birth to a girl. The bestfriend dies and the ex finds out that it was more than a surrogate situation.

    She tells him about being raped by his father, her brother for Rabor Ate’s her story. They confront his father.

    Please help me find this book

  79. Good movie making it free to all. That’s a ton of value, thank you.

  80. KatyMcCoy says:

    Is anyone keeping up the state-by state mystery list? Could that be opened (subject to moderation) for us to add to it? It’s a great resource. Thanks.

  81. JOELLE says:

    It is great timing. Just Thank you. Your site gave me a focus when I didn’t have much to focus on. I have been a Lifetime member for a while. I will always be grateful for this site.

  82. Carla G says:

    Free for all with no ads. Can it get any better? I echo the sentiment of others who have posted -even though I paid a lifetime fee, I have no regrets. Thank you for all the work you have done <3

    Also want to add kudos to the LT app developers!!! The app has saved me from buying the same book twice!

  83. Sheila Andersen says:

    Librarything was a bargain at any price, and I have recommended it to many. Going to a free service, and a true service it is, represents something we rarely see in our society – a move by a company to forsake profit for the common good.

    My $25. investment has reaped another benefit – the fladness in m

  84. Sheila Andersen says:

    Well, I tried to correct fladness to gladness and hit the submit button in error.

    It should have said:
    My $25. investment has reaped another benefit – the gladness in my heart that there are still those in this world who care more about the benefit for others and less about enriching themselves.

  85. Sheila Andersen says:

    Oops – gladness! Fat fingers hit submit when I tried to correct it! To correct:

    Librarything was a bargain at any price, and I have recommended it to many. Going to a free service, and a true service it is, represents something we rarely see in our society – a move by a company to forsake profit for the common good.

    My $25. investment has reaped another benefit- the gladness in my heart that there are still those who care more about benefiting others than enriching themselves.
    In these days of “Me First” that is truly refreshing !

  86. Dannielle says:

    PLEASE don’t go out of business. My entire life is on this website. Over 1,000 books… ten years worth of reading. Please don’t ever let me lose my books. Is there a way I can download a PDF? In case you ever go out of business?

  87. Tejas Nair says:

    Been wondering if I should make the move from Goodreads to LibraryThing and I think this would be a right time. More so because I have been reading a lot more during this lockdown phase. Let’s see.

  88. JOY MARIE LUNA says:

    Thank you so much! It really helps our public library. :) God bless and more more power.You are one of the foreverr. :)

  89. Bill Jones says:

    I’d consider still accepting Patreon or an equivalent for those who can afford to support you and want to.

  90. Mike Morrell says:

    Huzzah! I’m a paying member, *and* glad it’s gonna be free.

    I have an email list of 75,000 readers – I’ll happily let them know, when the redesign happens… *especially* if you bring back the ‘Find ISBN Duplicates’ feature! That’s absolutely crucial for my use of your site, because sometimes I don’t remember if I’ve already scanned something in, ’till it’s too late…

  91. Timhuffa says:

    Thank you for much. This is cool.

  92. Kineret says:

    Thank you for demonstrating consideration for all of us. You guys are the kind that make the world just a little nicer to live in.

  93. Lensia says:

    Congratulations! This is wonderful news and good for LT.

  94. Buffy says:

    Great news. So pleased librarything is going so well. I have used it for a long time with a lifetime subscription and along with Ravelry it is my equal top website.

  95. Dick Clark says:

    I was already a life member, but I am pleased to see the change. Great news!

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