Archive for the ‘LibraryThing’ Category

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

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Work From Home Like LibraryThing Does

Kate's "Standing Desk"

Kate’s Microwave Standing Desk

Millions of workers are suddenly working from home (WFH) with the social distancing required to slow the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, LibraryThing staff have been 90% remote for more than a decade! So thought we’d pass on some advice on how to do it effectively—and stay sane. We don’t always agree, however.

(Come talk about your WFH experiences on Talk).

Where to Work

KJDON’T work from bed. It’s there, it’s warm and you have a laptop—ah, the siren call.

Tim: Or from your couch. Or a comfy chair. Zzzzz.

(KJ, who has successfully worked for years from many couches, contests this point.)

Abby: For years, people have thought when I say “I work from home” that it means I’m on my couch, watching TV, with my laptop just incidentally next to me. Spoiler: I am not. I have a desk, set up an external monitor and my post-it notes and all my stuff. And, now that my wife and son are also WFH, they have work spaces set up as well, albeit at the kitchen table.

Kate: Although I have a desk, if I need a break from sitting I sometimes work standing up with my laptop on top of my microwave. (See image). Luckily, it’s the perfect height. Get creative.

What to Wear

KJ: First, wear pants. Or leggings. Or a dress. Wear something. Trust us. You don’t want to be the one wearing a towel who accidentally turns your camera on when you don’t expect it. Also, change into something different from your pajamas, even if it’s “daytime pajamas.”

Kate: I’ve worked from home for nine years now and I maintain that if you wear one when leaving the house, you need to wear a bra when you work. Your brain will thank you with productivity.

Abby: Shower.

Tim: You’re at home. Wear what you want.

Set up Your Desk

Biking at the desk
Abby: Get thee a chair you can sit in for a long time. I used to have a ball chair, which yes, I fell off of many times, sometimes while on video calls. Now I have an ErgoErgo wobble stool, which is both comfortable, and I manage to stay seated on it. But I can’t imagine sitting on one of my dining room chairs for hours on end.

Kristi: Lighting is key: if your office space feels more like a dungeon in the basement or away from natural daylight, make sure you’re working for at least a few hours where you can get some natural daylight. Your future mood, and anyone sharing a living space with you, will thank you for it.

Abby: Get an external keyboard and mouse, so you’re not stuck using your laptop’s tiny mouse pad. It really does make a difference.

Chris C: I use Apple’s trackpad instead of a mouse—too many hours mousing is no fun. I find the trackpad ergonomic in the sense of not having to contort my hand into one position to make the mouse go.

Tim: External mouse, keyboard and a huge monitor. A lot of programmers use multiple monitors, but I find they fragment my concentration.

Although we all work on computers, a number of us keep paper to-do lists on the desk. There’s magic in that separation.

Liquids and Laptops!

Tim: The risk of laptop accidents goes way up when you work from home every hour of every day for weeks. LibraryThing employees have ruined several. We even had coffee go into a laptop during an employee all-call. (Abby exclaimed “No!” Then it sounded like she was tumbling down a hill. Then the line went dead.)

The key is to anticipate failure. You WILL bump your drink, and the table too. Your system needs to survive these eventualities. I have a “drink zone”—back and to the left of the laptop, where even a full tip won’t end up on the keyboard. The cup doesn’t rest anywhere else.

If you get your laptop wet, TURN IT OFF as fast as possible, before the liquid shorts everything out. You have seconds, so find out how, and practice doing it. Once it’s off and unplugged, you can Google around for advice on how to dry it out, and how long to wait.

How to Communicate

Here at LibraryThing we use Slack for text conversations, calls, screen-sharing, sending one-off files, sharing funny cat memes, etc. We used to use Skype, but it kept getting worse (and didn’t allow for GIFs).

The Office It's Happening GifKate: I think the secret to LT’s success is that we all enjoy our work and get it done, but we also have fun. For instance, I employ the Steve Carrell “IT’S HAPPENING” GIF at least once a week. Schitt’s Creek gifs also abound.

Chris C: Stay in constant contact and be prompt with replies. Be present—not incommunicado.

Abby: We have a separate channel set up for “off topic” which tries to keep the cat memes and “how is the world exploding today?” chatter contained in one place.

Tim: LibraryThing does most of its group calls without video. One of the perks of working from home should be not having to prepare visually for a call. There are all sorts of articles online about prepping the camera zone to look professional, suggest sophistication, etc. Yuck!

Also, video adds technical complexity and bandwidth. As anyone who’s done a lot of video calls knows, the moment things get choppy, turn off the video. Skip that nonsense and start without video.

Avoid Distraction

Tim: Distraction is the mind killer. I’ve found some solace in Freedom, which allows you to disable specific websites for a period of time.

Abby: You might be able to avoid checking Twitter every two minutes, but if you’ve suddenly got an “office” that also happens to contain your kids and your spouse, then distraction isn’t going to come from the laptop. Build in more breaks, be more forgiving, accept that it’s going to keep happening.

Caring for Yourself

Winnie the Pooh working out at homeYou probably had a whole routine worked out to help you maintain sanity and also so you got up and moved every so often in your office job. Now you get to rebuild that routine inside your house!

Kristi: Break for snacks and meals, walks. Just like in the office, you get a lunch break. Take breaks for yourself, walk away from your desk, couch and screen. Get outside. Pro-tip: use your breaks to prep dinner and get ahead of the game for the evening!

Abby: I always do this! Use your lunch break to chop a butternut squash and get it roasting, make pizza dough so it has time to rise, etc. You work from home now! You get to be one step ahead of yourself for dinner!

Kate: Taking a break once an hour to do a few jumping jacks (in addition to grabbing water, visiting the restroom, putting clothes in the dryer, etc.) helps me wake up a bit and have renewed energy when I return to my computer. Oh, and TAKE SHOWERS. Daily.

Abby: I also recommend doing squats while waiting for the coffee to finish brewing your 30th cup of the day. Squats are the perfect “while you wait” activity. All the squats.

Tim: I do my best programming away from the keyboard, taking a walk. But I do not attempt squats.

KJ: I’m not great at remembering to get up and move, so setting an alarm helps me get going. Also, for the duration of this period of social distancing, I’ve also set up virtual “lunch dates” with friends now working from home. Tomorrow I’ll “have lunch” with a friend from Boston, later one in Rome, next week a friend from just across town.

Working with Children

whatcha doin bbc journalistTim: Not only does it seem everyone is joining LibraryThing in going remote, they’re doing something far more difficult—remote with children! And we’re expected to homeschool too.

Having worked remote for a number of semesters while homeschooling our kid, I can offer some advice:

1. You will not get as much work done.

2. Actual homeschooling is best done in the morning. In Turkey I could homeschool in the morning and start work at 2pm. Here, we’re doing a before-work shift.

3. You can’t wall your kids off all day long. They’re going to be around. So everyone needs to chill out about children interrupting office calls.

4. My family gets a lot of mileage out of audiobooks and drawing—two activities that are great for kids, and also cut down on extraneous, concentration-killing chatter. Check your library for online audiobooks, and Librivox.

5. Properly homeschooling your kid is a big topic. But there are shortcuts. First: Reading is the best homeschooling! If your kid reads for several hours a day, the rest is cream. I also recommend daily journaling, and Khan Academy math.

Abby: My 11 year-old thrives on structure, so we made up a schedule for him, but it’s day two and he’s standing behind me while I work, chanting “I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m bored.” Here’s how we’re filling his time: Duolingo (learn a new language, any language), Ari Shaprio’s new current events school, a million different baking projects—until we run out of flour—and then reading, reading, reading. My wife is also (luckily?) home, so we can take turns being the kid-point person.

Tim: When Liam says he’s bored I reply that boredom is important for kids, and good for creativity. Go draw something. He doesn’t like it at all, but it makes me feel good to annoy him that way.

Kate: There are a lot of online resources for kids stuck at home right now. Some I’m using with my three year old and five year old (who can’t quite read or write independently yet):

Exercise: Noodle, Cosmic Kids Yoga, and take them outside for fresh air at least twice a day (if possible).

Learning: Storyline Online, Scholastic Learn at Home, Mystery Doug’s YouTube channel.

Kristi: Being a new parent myself, I can only offer some tips for surviving working quarantine with an infant. Work when they’re sleeping or (if they’re old enough) playing independently. If they’re little enough—or if you want to get a little workout in at the same time—try babywearing* at a standing desk! I ran a meeting once with my 9-week old strapped to my chest. It’s challenging, but also you can enjoy the extra time you are getting with them.

*I love my Ergobaby 360: it’s got great lumbar support and a mesh screen so you can use it for quite a while without fatiguing or overheating.

That’s it! Good luck and work hard (albeit in your pajamas). We hope these tips help. Best wishes of health, hope, and home-productivity from all the LibraryThing staff.

Labels: employees, LibraryThing

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: http://blog.librarything.com/main/2018/03/librarything-acquires-litsy/
Q&A on the LibraryThing blog: http://blog.librarything.com/main/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

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

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Welcome Goodreads Members!

Goodreads members will find many familiar features, but not this.

Since Amazon bought Goodreads, we’re seeing a lot of Goodreads users checking out LibraryThing. Here’s a quick guide for them.

Getting Started with LibraryThing:

1. Sign up. Go to the homepage and join.

2. Find your friends. Visit the Friend Finder page to connect your LibraryThing account to Facebook and Twitter. Invite your friends to join LibraryThing, or connect with those already on the site. LibraryThing isn’t as forward as Goodreads—we never post anything without your explicit consent, never send messages to others without your consent, and never make someone your friend on LibraryThing just because you know them on Facebook or Twitter. But you can reach out to the people you want to.

3. Import your books. You can import/sync your books directly from Goodreads at http://www.librarything.com/import/goodreads.

In the last week we’ve upgraded the Goodreads import, so everything you care about should come through. (If you imported before all the improvements were pushed, try again and “sync.”)

Lots of members use both sites. Our import also works as a “sync” between the two sites. You can re-sync at any time, bringing in new Goodreads reviews and other data.

4. Share what you’re reading. Click the “share” link at the upper right corner of the site to get your News Feed page:
http://www.librarything.com/yourfeed.php. Click “Share this” under any item to post to Twitter or Facebook.

5. Have questions? Visit the Welcome to LibraryThing group to ask any questions you have. Our members and staff are happy to help! You can post in the Welcome Goodreads refugees thread, or start a new thread for your specific question. Some of our awesome LibraryThing members have already started a handy Goodreads to LibraryThing guide, too, to help answer some frequently-asked questions.

Things to check out

Trying hard to meld the best of LibraryThing and Goodreads.
  • Find out what makes LibraryThing tick. Tim, the staff, and thirty-eight members recently got together to hammer out what we’re proud of. See What Makes LibraryThing LibraryThing?
  • Groups. LibraryThing has more than 9,000 discussion groups, covering just about every imaginable topic. Check them out at http://www.librarything.com/groups.
  • Early Reviewers Giveaways. Each month we work with publishers to give out thousands of books to interested readers, by matching the books on offer up with the books in your library. You can see last month’s list; the April list will be up soon. Sign up to be notified when new books arrive you can ask for. These aren’t just random giveaways, though: we use a complex algorithm to find the best possible readers for the books on offer.
  • LibraryThing Local. If you visit the “Local” tab at the top of the site, you’ll see http://www.librarything.com/local, our gateway to more than 80,000 bookstores, libraries and other bookish venues around the world. Set your location to see venues and events near you, or mark your favorite venues so you can see just their events quickly and easily.
  • Help and FAQ. LibraryThing is a huge site, and can be fairly intimidating at first. We’ve got an extensive help wiki, with brief overviews of many of the major features.
  • Are you an author or a publisher? We welcome authors and publishers to LibraryThing! See our How Authors Can Use LibraryThing or How Publishers Can Use LibraryThing for some hints and tips on how best to get involved on the site.

Above all, welcome, and enjoy!


Salmon photo courtesy James Bowe on Flickr. (NB, the salmon is a joke referencing the frequently-discussed LibraryThing color scheme.)

Labels: LibraryThing

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

What makes LibraryThing LibraryThing?

On Tuesday afternoon, LibraryThing staff and members got together on the collaborative editing site PiratenPad to hash out “What makes LibraryThing LibraryThing?” for newly-arrived Goodreads members and others. This is the result. Tim took the lead, but 38 members contributed.

What we are

LibraryThing is a community brought together by the love of books.

What defines us

Kraken cake by member TheCriticalTimes.
The name “LibraryThing” was originally a take-off on Lovecraftian lines.

LibraryThing is not one thing. LibraryThing means different things to different people. Some use it to record what they’re reading now; some catalog every book they own. Some talk on our groups all day long, others never interact with anyone. Some share everything to Facebook, others keep their library private. Some use it for book discovery and recommendations, some to help out other book lovers with their knowledge of authors, books and series. There are members for whom this blog post would be totally unfamiliar. We value what all members do with the site.

LibraryThing is about quality cataloging. LibraryThing started seven years ago as a way for regular people to have a professional-quality library catalog, and this is still the center for many members. We show this in our sources—searching over 700 libraries around the world. And we show it in how you can edit everything in your catalog. This isn’t just authors and titles, but every bit of data you could think of about a book, from the Dewey Decimal number and publication information to the book’s height and weight.

LibraryThing is book-geekery. We love the stuff of books—the details, the trivia, the connections among books and between books and other parts of life. We’ll tell you what percentage of your authors are dead, how much your books weigh, and whether a pile of them would be taller than Niagara Falls (see yours).

LibraryThing is about readers, not marketing. Our members like to read and talk about books, and of course we love to buy them too. But we think that reading and talking works best apart from commercial interests.

  • Our book recommendations are never influenced by commercial considerations.
  • Author and publisher spam has alienated a lot of people at other sites. We take a hard line. Authors have various official ways to promote their books, including LibraryThing Early Reviewers, Member Giveaways, and a Hobnob with Authors group. And they benefit from making sure their author page is tricked out with photos, links to their site and so forth. But other than that authors participate as readers first of all.
Book love by member madinkbeard.

LibraryThing is communities. LibraryThing is a community, and LibraryThing includes many communities, especially groups like 75 Books Challenge , The Green Dragon and Folio Society Devotees. Members get together offline from time to time. And every year many members participate in SantaThing, Secret Santa for book lovers.

We have no “users.” If you’re not the customer, you’re the product. If a social website can’t support itself on customers and straightforward products, it’ll eventually sell out what you gave it—your data, your friends, and the community itself.

“No users” includes charging members. We say $10 for a yearly membership, $25 for a lifetime. In fact, you can pay as little as $1, and we often give free memberships if people ask nicely. (Until Friday ALL new members get a free membership.) But we want what paying creates—customers, with loyalty and rights—not “users”.

Members contribute. LibraryThing members have spent years of their time improving the data, helping themselves and other book lovers. They disambiguate authors and editions, add author photos, enter awards and events, organize series, police for spam and ratty data, and translate the site into more than a dozen languages. (See our helpers page.) Unlike some other sites, here all members are equal, with the power to make (or reverse) changes. And nobody can change your catalog.

LibraryThing is libraries. Public and academic libraries account for about 40% of reading, but get lost in other, commercially motivated venues. Not at LibraryThing. We love libraries—five of LibraryThing’s ten employees have library degrees and six have worked in one. Libraries give us our best data, and give us access to books no online bookseller knows about.

As part of its core mission, LibraryThing sells software and data to libraries, such as LibraryThing for Libraries. Bibliographic data is always free to libraries, including Common Knowledge and our editions data.

We’re advertising-free. Members see no ads on LibraryThing. If you’re not signed in, we show some Google ads, but they’ll vanish as soon as you create an account (free or paid).

LibraryThing is smart. LibraryThing has some of the most passionate, articulate members in the book world.

Members run rampant. LibraryThing is a company, but we tend to run it like a club, or maybe a collective. Employees listen to members and work with them. We’re going to listen and be straight with you. We’re not going to sell you out. If we do, members should take their data, take our free and copyleft data, and find a better site. Doubt us? Tell us how to earn your trust.

LibraryThing doesn’t push. We are about the books and the cataloging. If you want to share what you’re reading, great. But we’re not going to spam all your friends every time you add a book or join a group. We don’t make sharing the default just because it’s free advertising. We also don’t send out any automatic emails with updates or change our privacy policies to suit commercial interests. And we never make you automatically friends with someone on LibraryThing just because you know them on Twitter or Facebook.

LibraryThing is independent. LibraryThing has owners, including Tim, the founder and majority owner, and minority partners in Bowker and Abebooks. But we make our own decisions. And we’re a real company with real revenue, not a venture-capital-funded company waiting to “flip” to some dreadful new master.

LibraryThing supports the whole book world. Being independent allows us to work with everyone. We have pages and programs for authors and publishers, bookstores and libraries. “LibraryThing Local” promotes venues and upcoming bookish events around the world. Our “Get this book” includes libraries and indie bookstores at the same level as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. We also have an API for indie bookstores to include information about their current holdings.

No fine print. Our Terms of Use are written in real English, and protect members as much as anything. There are no weird trap doors—we don’t claim we own your copyright, we don’t tell you how to link to us, etc. They also include a quote from Shelley.

LibraryThing supports free speech. We provide a space for readers to say what’s on their minds, without fear of being ejected for an unpopular view. We make an exception for personal attacks: you can say what you want, but stick to ideas, not people.

LibraryThing was the original social book site. We invented the idea. We know that this and $2.50 will get us a cup of coffee, but we still feel responsible for the idea, and making it fun and rewarding, not commercial, exploitative, invasive and creepy.

LibraryThing is a work in progress. Since starting as nothing more than a basic catalog, members have guided our development to an unusual degree. Our current development priorities include:

  • Better cataloging, especially Goodreads imports, ebooks and adding books, from “Add books” and elsewhere.
  • Better sharing. We’ve lagged behind on sharing to social networks. We’re catching up fast.
  • Better design. Members like a stripped-down, information-dense aesthetic, but, well, we really need a cleanup and refresh.
  • Mobile version.

A few unique things about the site

Nobody has ever done anything like our Legacy Libraries.
We didn’t even mention cataloging flash mobs.

International sites. LibraryThing is also available in more than a dozen other languages, such as German (LibraryThing.de), French (LibraryThing.fr) and even Esperanto (epo.librarything.com) and Pirate (pir.librarything.com). We also catalog from hundreds of non-English libraries, so you can add all your Italian books as easily as those in English.

Common Knowledge. Common Knowledge is our vast fielded wiki system of member-added data about books and authors, capturing everything from characters to series and awards information to related movies, dedications, author information, and much, much more. The data are available via an API, for free.

LibraryThing Local. A gateway to more than 80,000 bookstores, libraries and other bookish venues, every single one added by LibraryThing members. Mark your favorites, scope out where to visit, and browse over 65,000 upcoming events. See it at http://www.librarything.com/local. LibraryThing Local is also available on-the-go via our Readar iPhone app, or via an API for free.

Legacy Libraries. LibraryThing members have cataloged the libraries of more than 200 famous dead people, from Thomas Jefferson and C.S. Lewis to Marilyn Monroe and Tupac Shakur.

CoverGuess. We show you a cover image, you use tags to describe what you see. If your tags match up with those used by others, you get points.

Book Haiku. Summarize any book in the form of a haiku.

Dead salmon color. Need we say more?

Join us

So that’s what LibraryThing is. Does this sound fun? Join us!


You can see how we came up with this document on PiratenPad: http://librarything.piratenpad.de/ep/pad/view/449/rKERKCJPlZ (drag the slider to the beginning and press the play button to see the edits “as they happened”).

Labels: LibraryThing