Physical Description Fields & Stats Page

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Physical Description Fields & Stats Page

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Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 11:34am

We're now rolling out to all members some new fields for physical description:

dimensions (height, length, thickness)
number of volumes

If the fields aren't showing for you, they will be soon; we'll send you a profile comment when they're available.

You can use the plus/minus signs to add or remove lines for pagination, dimensions, or weight (useful for multiple volumes, multiple pagination sequences, &c.).

You'll also see a "physical summary" field at the bottom of the edit page, which combines some of these measures, and a "dimensions" field for catalog view (that will display height x length x thickness for you).

You can edit all these new fields on either the book edit page or by adding them to “List” view on the “Your books” tab. To do that, click the little “gear” symbol on the top bar.**

Once added, double-clicking on any of these fields will bring up an “Edit Physical Properties” lightbox and allow you to make changes. There’s also an option there to convert the data for that record between pounds/inches and centimeters/kilograms, if you’re so inclined.

The data is drawn either from the MARC record or the Amazon record used to add your book (black text) or from the ISBN-level data about that book from Amazon (green text).

Many thanks to the BETA group for their hard work in kicking the tires on this!!

Tim's also put together a stats page for the physical description data. See yours at:

or tim's at

How high is your book stack? Taller than a hobbit? How many bathtubs will your books fill?

More on the blog.

Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 11:38am

The real question is will the house fall down from the weight. 6000 pounds is a lot!. Fortunately, some of the books are in public libraries or have been passed on to other folks.


Edited to add 2nd paragraph.

Apr 21, 2011, 11:43am

This one is still problematic for me:

After a few seconds spinning, it got:

502 Bad Gateway

Happens in all three of my browsers (FF, Chrome and Safari) on XP. Also happens on another computer (same network) that's running Win7.

Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 11:50am

What a wonderful addition. I can now stop using my old Bookagraphy/Readerware database since the only reason I used it was to be able to sort books by size whenever I'm trying to maximize shelf usage ! Huzzah huzzah.

And your U=haul book boxes weren't too far off - we moved about 7 years ago and I know how many boxes I've unpacked, and how many are still to me a really good idea of how much more shelf space I'll need.

Apr 21, 2011, 11:51am

Cool. Even though my books have taken me around the world countless times, all their pages laid end-to-end cover less than a quarter of a percent of the earth's diameter.

Apr 21, 2011, 12:06pm

One thing that I missed on first glance was the Settings options at the top of the page. For those of you who have your (actually owned) library as a particular collection, you can choose only it.

I'm currently crunching some numbers with my girlfriend to see how many bookcases we need in our new house off these results. It's one of those tools you never knew you needed until you get it.

Thanks crew!

Apr 21, 2011, 12:07pm

Wow, that's interesting to look at! Even though about half of my books have no data (hand-entered Dutch books, mostly).

Apr 21, 2011, 12:11pm

>7 mene: - Yeah, I have a lot of data-adding to do, too ...

Apr 21, 2011, 12:47pm

>6 ryan.adams:
Thanks. I would never have found the Settings button if you hadn't alerted me. My "Distribution" chart is wider than my screen, so I have to scroll right in order to see it.

Apr 21, 2011, 12:52pm

Apparently, from the few I've checked, all the larger libraries are generating the Bad Gateway error.

Hope this can be resolved as I really want to see mine!

Apr 21, 2011, 1:07pm

This is awesome! Time to reorganize all my shelves again!

..although now I really want to know if all the books in LibraryThing would be enough to get to the moon (or at least build a space elevator to a geostationary orbit.)

Apr 21, 2011, 1:07pm

>3 brightcopy:/10 - Thanks - hopefully we'll have that resolved soon.

Apr 21, 2011, 1:09pm

>11 melannen: - ha - a cumulative stats page ... hmmmm!

Apr 21, 2011, 1:12pm

ngix bug fixed. It was running out of memory.

Apr 21, 2011, 1:17pm

14> Have you pushed this code? I'm still getting it on

Apr 21, 2011, 1:23pm

Is it possible to have things in metric without hitting "Convert all physical measurements to kg/cm or pounds/inches"?

Apr 21, 2011, 1:24pm

Arg. We should measure your books by how many servers they can sink.

Apr 21, 2011, 1:26pm


Except, we need to find things taller than the Eiffel tower for bluetyson! Any ideas?

Apr 21, 2011, 1:27pm

First thank you ... maybe. I am now wondering how to get the time to put these details in. (Can you work miracles and get us 26 hour days?) Well, I guess it's a lifetime project.

Apr 21, 2011, 1:30pm

Apr 21, 2011, 1:32pm

18> I suggest a measurement unit "Bluetyson's Library."

Apr 21, 2011, 1:35pm

I've had a spinning circle for about five minutes now.

(Windows XP Professional/IEsomething, 7 I think)

Apr 21, 2011, 1:39pm

>22 lilithcat:

Works okay for me for you. Try again?

Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 1:46pm

If I have just Your Library set for the stats page then when I click on the various "not set" links, shouldn't the resulting catalog page be limited to just the Your Library collection?

Oh, I see. The Settings on the stats page let you select any combination of collections, whereas on the catalog page it only allows one collection. In that case, could you improve the control on the catalog page so that you can set more than one collection at a time?

Also, it would be neat if you could click on the 51-100 pages column in the first graph (for example) and get a catalog page of your books with between 51 and 100 pages.

Apr 21, 2011, 1:48pm

Is there any chance of a "non-physical book" option? It makes me sad to see the list of books without data, except that they're all e-books so there's no information to use.

Also, how annoying that my minimums all have .5 inches in there. I'm pretty sure I don't have any books that are only .5in tall - I have to go figure out which source bunged up the order of the dimensions and fix it (after I finish adding the data for the ones completely lacking - though I wish Amazon were easier/more accurate; I'm not sure where else to look for this, maybe OCLC?).

Apr 21, 2011, 1:49pm

17> Arg. We should measure your books by how many servers they can sink.

I have even more, but they're for other stats so I created a separate report. X)

Apr 21, 2011, 2:01pm

> 23

Eight minutes and still spinning . . .

Apr 21, 2011, 2:02pm

25> I've already found several where the dimensions were mixed up.

Maybe there should be a disk space field for e-books. Do e-book readers tell you how many words are in the text? A words field would be awesome.

For audio books perhaps the Length field should be in minutes.

Apr 21, 2011, 2:04pm

So Tim is about 5 foot 9? Did I calculate that right from my Spaldings measurement?

I love the IKEA Billy Bookcases statistic. Looks like I could use about two more to get everything out of boxes. :)

Apr 21, 2011, 2:15pm

My stats page just keeps spinning and spinning :-(

Apr 21, 2011, 2:17pm

>30 norabelle414: - try a refresh?

Apr 21, 2011, 2:17pm

Taking out my wishlist changed my stack from slightly taller than Taj Mahal to slightly shorter than it. I need more books.

For another level how about the Singapore Flyer? 543 feet.

Apr 21, 2011, 2:18pm

>32 TLCrawford: - Heh, Tim said earlier we needed to add more digits to the blue whale, since people were seeing 0. I said they needed more books! :-)

Apr 21, 2011, 2:20pm

When I go the the Stats page from my profile the little wheel just spins. If I use the link at the top of this page to go directly to the new stats it loads very quickly.

Apr 21, 2011, 2:21pm

Did anyone else take the comparison graphs as a new challenge? As in, "Hmm, wonder whether I can get my stack to Taj Mahal proportions?".

Apr 21, 2011, 2:27pm

#32 - Would it be possible for you to explain to me how to "take out your wishlist" or other lists, for that matter? Or direct me to instructions?

Apr 21, 2011, 2:27pm

>36 MrsLee: - Click the "Settings" box in the upper right corner of the stats page; in there you can choose which collections to include

Apr 21, 2011, 2:29pm

jbd1 - Thank you!

Apr 21, 2011, 2:30pm


Absolutely! I have 4 and a half feet to go to reach Taj Mahal height (excluding books not in my possession), which at my average thickness of 1.3"/book is about 42 books.

Apr 21, 2011, 2:35pm

18> Would the CN Tower, or even better the Empire State Building be next in height?

Apr 21, 2011, 2:39pm

I've selected the "My Library" collection only for my stats. Why does it say that there are only 1933 volumes, when my collections summary says there are 2582 books? I don't have any books with less than one volume! And that's an enormous discrepancy.

Apr 21, 2011, 2:41pm

>41 paradoxosalpha: - Because there's no data for 665 of them (look below at the data/no data table)

Apr 21, 2011, 2:48pm

Ah, so dataless books aren't included in totals? I thought they were being assigned average values based on the remainder of the collection.

Apr 21, 2011, 2:50pm

Also, 82 U-haul book boxes sounds about right, but those would have to be 5 enormous bathtubs.

Apr 21, 2011, 2:52pm

Is the height of the Statue of Liberty not including the base, which adds up to around 300ft?

I love this addition, by the way!

Apr 21, 2011, 2:55pm

I can't see mine. I've tried to get there from the link above, from the link in the email message, from the link in the blog post, and from the statistics page on my profile. All I get is a spinning wheel - no matter how long I've waited.

I know I have a lot of books, but not nearly as many as some of you who are getting to play with this new toy.

using XP, IE7 if that makes a difference.

Apr 21, 2011, 2:58pm

I took a look at bluetyson's library and I have to agree with 21, it should be its own measurement and perhaps a yardstick to measure our own library against.

Your bookstack is 0.05187 bluetysons

Apr 21, 2011, 2:59pm

>43 paradoxosalpha: - They are, but only for the speculated totals column
>44 paradoxosalpha: - Yeah the bathtubs thing threw me too, so we reran the numbers. Somebody needs to test this one, I think :-)
>45 jimcripps: - Yes
>46 dulcibelle: - Weird. Yours loads fine for me (much more quickly than my own). We'll keep looking at what's causing the delays.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:01pm

Is anyone else having problems with dimensions sticking after edit? (I use centimeters.) Also I can't get the auto-populate if I enter the figures. The field stays blank.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:02pm

>31 jbd1: Refresh did not work. The other pages of my stats load fine, but I can't see my nor anyone else's pages & dimensions.

I am running XP with IE7, just like dulcibelle in Message 46.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:05pm

>48 jbd1:.2 No. I am not putting my books in my bathtub for you.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:07pm

>49 fdholt: - Editing from edit book, or from catalog? And I'm not sure what you mean by "I can't get the auto-populate if I enter the figures. The field stays blank" - elaborate?
>50 norabelle414: - Hmm. Maybe a browser thing. We're looking.
>51 justjim: - Heh.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:09pm

I must be using too ancient a browser (Win XP/IE6) because I can't get the physical stats page to come up for me. I note on the bottom, Error on Page does appear.

Two errors: Line 104, Char 3 - Expected Identifier missing
Line 113, Char 1 - Objected expected

Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 3:21pm

#52 Tried it on the edit book page several times. Doesn't save. I did not make a column in my catalog for this.

Auto-populate is what I call the summary. The title/author works. I can't get the summary for the physical description - the choice above the regular summary field in the style edit. It also does not populate when I do a manual entry and add the info.

Dimensions in this should be 35 cm. as height. Won't hold and I get nothing in the physical summary even though I did add pages.

In this, I had typed the physical summary. (Just ignore the OCD that makes me fix the punctuation to match standard library usage. Can't help it!) Would not take the height.

Edited for typos

Apr 21, 2011, 3:21pm

>54 fdholt: - Thanks. Passing to CC, he's on it now.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:22pm

> 53

Geeze, man, IE6? I'm still on XP too, but for crying out loud!

Apr 21, 2011, 3:23pm

52, 54> I had an example of that, where it was pre-populated and I changed it, but it wouldn't take. had to clear it, then enter it again. But it was only the one and it stuck after that...

Apr 21, 2011, 3:24pm

Not working for me either, on XP Pro and IE8.
I get the spinning gear, and a "Done!" message at the bottom.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:30pm

> 56

I was on IE6 for the longest. We finally got IE7 at work, shortly before IE8 came out.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:33pm


At work. Not my choice, believe me. At home, I've got IE7, but will be switching to Opera/Firefox when I get a new hard drive with more space.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:37pm

I'm on XP/IE7 and having no problems at all. Perhaps it's a busy day for your ISP?

Like someone above, you must be talking pretty big bathtubs because I'm sure I have more than 3.5 tubs full. But I ain't loadin' 'em all in to find out!

Apr 21, 2011, 3:45pm

Re: bathtubs. We're using a standard tub size of 15 cubic feet, Tim tells me. So if you take your total cubic feet, and divide by 15, that's the bathtub number he's currently calculating.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:47pm

Won't load for me in Vista/IE7, and I get a Javascript "Error: Object expected" for line 113, char 1.

It loads fine (and quickly) in Chrome, but the Collections Settings refuse to save.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:47pm

The standard capacity of a bathtub is probably measured a few inches from the top as one doesn't normally fill a bathtub to the brim with water. But in putting books in a bathtub you can pile them higher than the sides. So, possibly the capacity of a bathtub to hold books is greater than that for it to hold water, which Tim isn't taking into account. But then you lose a lot of space because books won't pack as well as water, so who knows.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:49pm

>64 jjwilson61:

True. We're calculating 10% loss for the book boxes, I think. Should calculate it for bathtubs too. Also, we're forgetting that some of you may want to be IN the bathtub when the books are added.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:50pm

Re #63: Apparently I was logged out in Chrome. Works fine now. :)

Apr 21, 2011, 4:10pm

If I have an entry for a set of books, say The Harmsworth self educator with 8 volumes and only one set of pages thickness and weight does the summing algorithm assume the figures apply to each, or to the total?

Is there any way to change all my books to metric units rather than convert one at a time?

If covers have been loaded as .jpg can't the height and length be found from there?

Apr 21, 2011, 4:15pm

I love it...I just love it!


Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 4:28pm

If covers have been loaded as .jpg can't the height and length be found from there?

Not necessarily. The pixel dimensions might not match the physical size, for example if an image editing program was used to reduce a scan from 150ppi to 72ppi, while maintaining the same H×W dimensions.

ETA: Also consider that many of the images are resized - say from 800×500px to 300×200px - but still maintain the same pixels per inch ratio. I don't think the exif data records the original scan dimensions.

And lots of uploaded covers I've seen have had white or black bars added to create a square image.

So it's just too messy to try to do.

Apr 21, 2011, 4:20pm

I second the ability to have a "power edit" for units

Apr 21, 2011, 4:23pm

>67 ringman: - It's using whatever's in the fields (so if the measures in the fields are for the entire set, it uses those; if just for one volume, those - it doesn't assume all volumes are the same)

There's not a universal converter as present, no.

And I'm afraid I can't say anything about the covers uploaded :-)

Apr 21, 2011, 4:32pm

RE the bathtub issue, I calculated a 24 gallon tub, 5544 cubic inches (231 Cu. In./Gal) or 3.208 cubic feet of volume per bathtub. That means that my 70.1 cubic feet of books would need 21.85 bathtubs.

It looks like the original calculations use 14.914 cubic feet per tub?

Apr 21, 2011, 4:34pm

Fun stuff. Having the the catalog sort by page count not be thrown off by the Roman numerals used for introductions is a nice touch.

Apr 21, 2011, 4:37pm

While I certainly appreciate the ability to add more data about our books, it takes time to enter information for 50+ books. May I suggest that LibraryThing partner with NetRead ( We use NetRead to create ONIX metadata entries for our titles which are then sent to the major book distributors and retailers. LibraryThing would be automatically updated with every update we make rather than having us enter the information multiple times --- and NetRead already has fields for physical attributes and much, much more.


JB Howick
WindRiver Publishing

Apr 21, 2011, 4:41pm

The tool is too much fun!
Thank you developers :)

Apr 21, 2011, 4:41pm


Am I the only one deranged enough to immediately think of this as an excuse to buy a nice postal scale and digital caliper?

Apr 21, 2011, 4:42pm

IE folks, try your stats pages again, and let me know whether they're loading for you, please.

Apr 21, 2011, 4:55pm

Loading okay now with IE6/XP Pro

Apr 21, 2011, 4:57pm

65> ...some of you may want to be IN the bathtub when the books are added.

Then some of the books fall out, typically anything written by Archimedes.

Apr 21, 2011, 5:01pm

Absolutely hilarious ! I had to look up a Smoot - yes, I'm that ignorant. And then of course, I was going to post here and ask what on earth a Spalding was but I've figured that out due to a previous comment.

Bathtubs are obviously much bigger in the States than Australia...they try all sorts of devious means to keep our water usage low.

I just love this new feature. I'll be most interested to see who reaches the dizzy heights of the Burj Khalifa.

Apr 21, 2011, 5:03pm

> 77

Yes! (XP Professional/IE7)

Query: will the value of weight in gold be re-calculated with market fluctuations? ;-)

Apr 21, 2011, 5:04pm

A nice feature for those who want/need it.

Any chance of an option to "turn off display of physical description" in the edit screen for those of us that don't need it/dislike it?

I hand edit EVERY bib record I import into my library. For me, physical description is not worth my time. Now I must scroll past data I don't want to see to get to fields I always edit. The edit screen is really long now! Those with limited use of our hand(s) notice such things.

Also the new arrangement of the edit screen seems to have shrunk the LC classification input box. I can no longer see the entire class # in the box without repositioning the curser in the box. Yes, I use a large font size. Bad eyesight.

Hmm. I think what I'd really like is the ability to set a preference so that only the fields I enter data into are displayed. All that "green stuff" can be of value, or just clutter -- depends on the needs of the user.

Apr 21, 2011, 5:04pm

If covers have been loaded as .jpg can't the height and length be found from there?

That's an interesting point. We can't know the height or length, but we can know the aspect ratio of the two, and calculate the other given one.

Having the the catalog sort by page count not be thrown off by the Roman numerals used for introductions is a nice touch

Thanks. It's the little things. They are what we live for--not compromising and just using the arabic numerals like Amazon does. And allowing multiple ranges, again, against what amazon data has. But they also take up huge amounts of time getting right.

Apr 21, 2011, 5:04pm

>81 lilithcat: - Excellent. And heh. Good question.

Apr 21, 2011, 5:06pm

>77 jbd1: - loading fine now. It's nice to know that I have slightly more than an Empire State Building of books, but not quite a Niagra Falls.

Neat toy!!

Apr 21, 2011, 5:06pm

>82 libros: - There's a "show/hide" option for these fields in the styles layout edit page (click the little gear on the "Your Books" tab next to the A|B|C|D|E options, and at the bottom you'll see the radio button for show/hide).

Apr 21, 2011, 5:06pm

Query: will the value of weight in gold be re-calculated with market fluctuations? ;-)

I know, seriously. Gold is so high now. It actually matters to LibraryThing, because we pay John in Australian dollars, and apparently mining is such a large part of the Australian economy that gold prices are screwing us. I never thought that I'd have to care about gold prices, running a book social network!

Apr 21, 2011, 5:07pm

Fun but a little frightening. With a possible move in our future, I'm not going to show my page to my DH, especially since I have many more books than I those I have already added to LT, and most of them will be required to move with me. Boxes, boxes everywhere.

Thank you, LT!

Apr 21, 2011, 5:10pm

How awesome is this? Seriously, you guys are amazing. This promises lots of fun in the future and some goals: like surpassing the height of the Statue of Liberty. Off to the bookstore I go!

Apr 21, 2011, 5:12pm

Thanks to jbd1! I was a bit worried to see that my bookpile was taller than Big Ben, but that includes all the wishlist. Still shocked though that all the books I currently own appear to be slightly taller than Niagara Falls...

Apr 21, 2011, 5:13pm


Apr 21, 2011, 5:16pm

I just noticed, by sorting my catalogue by page count, that a LOT of my books appear to have duplicate page numbers. Is there a quick way to clean it up, other than double clicking, clicking the minus sign, and saving?

Actually, I suspect I'm going to have to let this feature go. Almost all the data appears to be wrong, or at least suspect, and I can't devote time to fixing it. 300+ books (not counting the ones I don't have access too) is too many to measure and count and weigh, even if a lot of them do have the same height/length dimensions. But then you still have to compare to see which publishers use which heights for which type of book...

Apr 21, 2011, 5:18pm

What is the size of a U-haul box? I have never heard of that, but I assume it's an American brand of carton box used for putting stuff in it when you move to another house?

Apr 21, 2011, 5:20pm

>92 keristars: - send me one where you're getting dupe page numbers? We can probably clear that up for you.

And I hear you - I've got more than 800 with no data, not to mention all the Legacy libraries that need to be gone through :-)

Apr 21, 2011, 5:21pm

>76 cpg:: I haven't considered calipers, but I now have a tape measure on my computer table, and I'm looking for a nice small scale.

As for what this says about us, I'd rather not think about it...

Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 5:26pm

94> I've been manually fixing them, but almost all the ones at the top of my list were duplicated, when sorted by page number (biggest on top). Some of the duplicates made it sort wrong - for example The Innocents Abroad with ~480 pages was sorting with the 800s, but other books that had "480" listed twice were sorting in the right spot.

I'm probably going to give up on messing with it today, though.

Wait, found another I hadn't touched yet: - 214p + 10p ill., sorts between books with 432 and 426 pages. - I won't mess with this one.

(Also notice that the books with 432 and 426, right before and after it, have duplicate page numbers entered when I edit the field, but they aren't sorting as 864 and 852.)

Apr 21, 2011, 5:23pm

You're right, mene (#93). U-haul is a do-it-yourself moving company that sells really nice book boxes. Not sure of the size, but they're not really big.

Apr 21, 2011, 5:26pm

>86 jbd1: THANK YOU! Now the edit page is only 6 screens long for me. Big help.

Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 5:42pm

I'm almost thinking there should be a proper bug report for the weird sorting I'm seeing re: #96

I looked again at the example book, and not only is it sorting as though the primary page number is duplicated (and ignoring the 10p ill. number), while the two on either side are NOT sorting that way, the problematic one doesn't have the duplicate number I'd been seeing, while the other ones do. Now I wish I hadn't touched the ones that were duplicated, since it looks like two different things might be going on here...

ETA: Another weird sorting thing: this book has green data, no black data, is sorting properly on the green data, but it's not showing in my catalogue view (same permalink as before, but page 2)

And this book is doing the same thing as the other one, where it's acting like the page count is doubled, but it's not.

Mostly unrelated, but still a sorting oddity: This one here is vii + 295, but on the catalogue view thinks that equals 304 or 306, not 302.

ETA2: Also, shouldn't green data sort amongst the black data? I'm seeing green page numbers at the bottom of page 5 and top of page 6 using the permalink above, when they should be sorting on page 3 or 4 at the lowest, using the Page Count sort.

Apr 21, 2011, 5:34pm

I'd been using my Your Library collection for all books I've ever read (that I can remember) so some books were in both my Read But Not Owned collection and my Your Library collection. This feature now gives me a reason to distinguish just my owned books so I guess I'll be creating a new collection.

Apr 21, 2011, 5:41pm

It's working now (see my #58 msg)

Not sure if it's worth persuing...

The calculated numbers tend to run high -
3100 lbs of books, stacked 2463" high (205')
In my spreadsheet, I've got -
2531 lbs of books, stacked 1825" high (152')

Apr 21, 2011, 5:46pm

#97, #93: The U-Haul book box is a cube 12 inches on a side, or 1 cubic foot in volume exactly.

Apr 21, 2011, 5:54pm

85> It's nice to know that I have slightly more than an Empire State Building of books, but not quite a Niagra Falls.

Make that slightly more than a Statue of Liberty. I correct you only because you had me checking to make sure Tim hadn't screwed up on the landmarks. :D

Apr 21, 2011, 6:04pm

I love this feature. Great job!

And Taj Mahal you're within my greedy grasp :)

Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 6:15pm

Haven't seen this mentioned so far in this thread...

Now that we can enter number of Volumes, does that affect our number of Books? For instance Jacobean and Caroline Stage is one "Work" consisting of seven "Books". But when I go to G. E. Bentley's author page it tells me I still have 11 books and 11 works by him. Shouldn't that now be 11 works and 17 books, since I've edited the volume field?


Apr 21, 2011, 6:17pm

No, a volume is a sub-unit of a book, which is a sub-unit of a work. So you can have 1 work, 2 books, and 3 volumes.

Apr 21, 2011, 6:17pm

According to the data, I have books with one page (I don't think so) and no books with more than 1100 pages, but the graph shows that I have three books with 1500+. I would like to know what those are since I certainly don't see them in my home.

Anyway, some new information to add to my library. Currently taller than the Taj Mahal, but once all records are fixed, I may reach the next milestone.

Apr 21, 2011, 6:17pm

I can't think of a more useless stat that the one LT has rolled out. Maybe your goal is to measure all the big boys and take them over. For a home library stats of this kind are meaningless. Someone who wants to know how much his/her books weigh has no busy having them. Is there some way I can disconect this "fabulous" addition?


Apr 21, 2011, 6:24pm

>108 josephquinton: - Wow. But yes, there's a "show/hide" option for these fields in the styles layout edit page (click the little gear on the "Your Books" tab next to the A|B|C|D|E options, and at the bottom you'll see the radio button for show/hide).

Apr 21, 2011, 6:38pm

THANK YOU for adding the number of pages feature, and for making it sort properly! We were adding number of pages in the Comments field as that was data we needed.

How frequently does the data get updated for the stats page? For example, I had one picture book (unpaged) coming up with 1583 pages (a real outlier in my collection, which is mostly unpaged picture books). I fixed the item, but it still shows up in my graphs.

Like >24 jjwilson61:, I too think it would be neat if you could click on the 51-100 pages column in the first graph (for example) and get a catalog page of your books with between 51 and 100 pages.

Apr 21, 2011, 7:02pm

would love word count more than any of these, but they are pretty cool.

Strangely my graph changes shape switching between cm/in don't know if that's a maths error or an artifact of your 'bin' sizes.

Apr 21, 2011, 7:05pm

Am I the only one who desperately wants a way to post that graph of how my books measure up to landmarks on Facebook?

I love this new feature which is shockingly accurate for me at least- I just recently moved my book collection overseas and do in fact have Ikea Billy bookcases so I know how bang on those stats are.

Apr 21, 2011, 7:09pm

In my catalog view, when sorting books by weight, like-numbered weights end up next to each other regardless of unit - i.e. I found a 0.24-kg book right after a 0.25-pound one, but before a 0.22-pound one.

Intuitively, that column should be sorted by actual weight noted, not by mere numbers. I believe it can be done, because sorting by height, length or thickness seems to deal appropriately with centimeters vs inches.

Adding three more 0.24-kg lines to the same book entry (it's a four-volume set) didn't make the line move upwards in the list. Shouldn't that count as a 0.96-kg book? I didn't check whether the totals changed at all.

Apr 21, 2011, 7:53pm

>113 sm5por: - Will look at how those are sorting, thanks. Yes, they should sort regardless of unit, as the others do.

Apr 21, 2011, 9:11pm

I am thoroughly amused by the new stats, thanks for adding them to the mix.

Apr 21, 2011, 9:33pm

I've had quite a bit of fun exploring this. Thanks guys.

Oh and I got quite the giggle seeing that I own a book that is listed as being 20" x 20" x 20" and weighs 20 pounds. LOLOL

Apr 21, 2011, 9:47pm

I love the Billy statistic, except that they come in multiple sizes. Can you clarify?

Apr 21, 2011, 9:54pm

Very interesting! My book stack is taller then the Sphinx! Goodness that's tall. And yet the weight is only 0.095 Elephants... huh. I guess 'cause most of them are YA/children's, shorter and lighter.

Apr 21, 2011, 10:09pm

Still getting flakey results:

in this

I edited the physical summary to match the 300 in the MARC record:
171 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.

(Also edited out the duplicate pagination and that seems OK.)

Column in the catolog reads:
171, p.; 22 cm
in my view "C"

Cannot edit there - says:
"There is a problem saving data. Try again."
Yet the physical summary in that edit window is correct.

Using IE8 and WIN XP

Apr 21, 2011, 10:26pm

Under "Dimensions" on the book detail page, it only shows the first dimension (if there are more than one....I'm assuming that's what I'm supposed to do with multi-volume works?!)

(Also, there should be a checkbox to turn off dimensions/weight for e-books, to avoid screwing up the statistics)

Edited: Apr 21, 2011, 10:30pm

Is there any chance of a "non-physical book" option? It makes me sad to see the list of books without data, except that they're all e-books so there's no information to use.

I'd love to see this too. Maybe with an option for kbs or mbs. File type might be nice too. I've got tons of physical books, but since getting my eReader, I've been filling it with free books (and the occasional purchased one) and being able to compile data for that too would be nice.

Apr 21, 2011, 10:36pm

I love that we've had both transcendent joy—one email sent to Jeremy used the word "transported"!—and now derisive dismissal. Spalding's Second Law of LibraryThing Features strikes again!

Apr 21, 2011, 10:47pm

#122 In spite of my problems, I'm definitely in the "dancing for joy" group. Thank you!

Apr 21, 2011, 11:29pm

>93 mene:
I didn't see this answered, so I thought I'd chime in. U-haul (site) is a company that rents out trailers and whatnot for people who are moving a lot of stuff, but not enough to call in a bunch of guys and a tractor-trailer. The size of U-haul truck I usually see would be a good size to drag a load of stuff to a storage unit (this being sometimes advertised as "self storage" but that's a different story). Like storage facilities and guys-and-big-truck movers, they also sell big cardboard boxes.

Apr 21, 2011, 11:43pm

I am confused. can someone tell me in everyday talk what this is about? i have 3 books now. how does this help me or is it something else?

Apr 21, 2011, 11:49pm

Go to your profile and click on "Statistics/Memes." This will take you to a section with all kinds of stats about your own collection.

On the left is a navigation box. Click on "Pages, Dimensions, and Weights." There you will find a ton of more graphs about your collection.

Since you only have 3 books cataloged so far, your graphs are a little skimpy. Your stack of books is almost as tall as a garden gnome - which is fun to know. As a matter of fact, that's the purpose of this section: fun for people who like odd information like this.

Apr 21, 2011, 11:50pm

>126 CampusCoed07:
There's a new page of statistics/memes. A brief discussion is in the first post, and a link to get you to your version of it.

Since you only have 26 books cataloged (the "3 books" you say have is three reviews, according to your profile), so it won't be too much to look at yet. But there's an upside: it's a lot easier to fix the data on your 26 books than it is for my several hundred (much less other people's several thousand), so the numbers that feed your shiny new statistics page will be accurate from the get-go.

Apr 22, 2011, 1:15am

122: What's Spalding's First Law of LT Features?

There's an awful lot of missing data in by collection, over half of the books (mostly Swedish ones) lacking at least some of the info, and I don't think I'll ever muster up the energy to check the weight etc on dozens or hundreds or books. Yet, seeing the data there is is sort of amusing.

Apr 22, 2011, 1:49am

And can we please have this new data added to the tab-delimted export

Apr 22, 2011, 2:58am

Seconding #130, which is what I came over here to request!

Apr 22, 2011, 3:31am

Can we please, please have a way to hide this on the book detail page and/or a full export for the data we have in here?

Edited: Apr 22, 2011, 5:33am

132> There's a hide option on the Edit Views page - go to your catalog, click the sprocket, and there's a radio button down near the bottom right. That apparently hides this whole thing, including the fields on the book detail page.

117> It's the tall, medium-width Billy - 6 shelves, 31 inches (31.5, but I think that's outside dimensions). The biggest one, for the most books per bookcase! (biggest Billy, that is - there are much bigger bookcases)

Apr 22, 2011, 5:51am

Could we please get an option to show this info on book pages in measurements that make sense? It's great that I can edit the info using centimeters and kilos - but if it then still only shows in inches and lbs I'm not going to bother with this.

Apr 22, 2011, 5:53am

Talk about making something very user unfriendly. That is someplace you couldn't even look for it on.

Apr 22, 2011, 6:21am

Oh, it hides them on the details page? I wondered why it was there in the views editor (if you don't want to see them, just don't put them on any views...why would you want to hide them on the view menus?). Yeah, talk about a non-obvious place to put it :)

Apr 22, 2011, 6:34am

All - thanks for all these - I'm away today (off to Portland to hunt for apartments, which of course I will be measuring in square Spaldings, and fully aware that the new stats page has made me even more petrified of moving house than I was before), but Chris C. and Tim will be around and hopefully continuing to chip away at these questions.

Apr 22, 2011, 6:36am

Happy hunting.

Apr 22, 2011, 8:02am

Just a little over the Sphinx. I'm disappointed. :>

At home, using IE7 and XP home, so working fine.

Apr 22, 2011, 8:34am

Can I suggest a new stat to add - length of time taken to read? It could be estimated at a page a minute, or perhaps just over that.

Apr 22, 2011, 8:36am

140: Doesn't everyone read at a different speed?
If you know the number of pages, you can probably calculate it for yourself.

Apr 22, 2011, 8:40am

Hi all,

If anyone else was seeing duplicated input fields when going to edit page numbers, that should be fixed now.

Apr 22, 2011, 8:49am

>133 jjmcgaffey: Thanks! I really regret that they stopped making the slightly narrower one, which I think looked a lot nicer.

>140 markbarnes: I'd love to see average time it takes to read a book based on started and stopped dates. Plus all sorts of other fun reading statistics.

Apr 22, 2011, 8:54am

What's Spalding's First Law of LT Features?

I believe it's: Whatever feature it is, someone will want it to be optional.

Can we please, please have a way to hide this on the book detail page and/or a full export for the data we have in here?

The former is available at

Export needs to be redone generally. The basic problem is that users want rows for a spreadsheet, but the data doesn't easily fit into rows. These fields, which are duplicable, would be an example. I want to do it, but see other discussions.

It's great that I can edit the info using centimeters and kilos - but if it then still only shows in inches and lbs I'm not going to bother with this.

No, you can edit them and it should stick. If it doesn't explain how you're getting the problem exactly.

Talk about making something very user unfriendly. That is someplace you couldn't even look for it on.


Oh, it hides them on the details page? I wondered why it was there in the views editor (if you don't want to see them, just don't put them on any views...why would you want to hide them on the view menus?). Yeah, talk about a non-obvious place to put it :)

It's a field like any other field--like ISBN, DDC, reviews, tags, etc. Add it to your list view, or don't add it. Either way, it's on the edit page, along with every other field.

Apr 22, 2011, 9:09am

Just fyi, the stats page is now working perfectly for XP w/ IE7. Thanks guys.

Apr 22, 2011, 9:11am

Okay, came across an interesting glitch.

(XP Home/IE7)

I can edit the information from the book edit page. Things stick.
When I bring up the light box from the catalog, it won't let me save.
It tells me that it couldn't save my data, try again later.

Apr 22, 2011, 9:16am

>146 gilroy: Is it all fields that are giving that error or just physical description summary? (I'm aware of and working on the summary field not saving from catalog edit in IE problem).

Apr 22, 2011, 9:24am

Thank you very much!!! It's a great Sant Jordi's present!!!

Edited: Apr 22, 2011, 9:46am

> 144: No, you can edit them and it should stick

Right, they are sticking now. So: maybe just a glitch.

Apr 22, 2011, 10:01am

It's great that I can edit the info using centimeters and kilos - but if it then still only shows in inches and lbs I'm not going to bother with this.

No, you can edit them and it should stick. If it doesn't explain how you're getting the problem exactly.

It sticks in the editing lightbox, but it still displays inches/pounds on the catalog view.

(Actually, I'd like to be able to select length and weight units independently: I never want to see pounds, but I'd still like to see inches rather than cm for US-published books {and prefer mm rather than cm when using metric units})

Talk about making something very user unfriendly. That is someplace you couldn't even look for it on.


It's under the "edit styles" button in the catalog view, but it doesn't affect the catalog display styles, it affects the details page. Who would expect that? Or think to look there for it?

Apr 22, 2011, 10:02am

This is terrific! Thanks for doing this, now I have something else to obsess about :)

Apr 22, 2011, 10:15am

> 108

. Someone who wants to know how much his/her books weigh has no busy having them.

I strongly disagree. Someone (like myself) who mails books to others periodically has a great interest in how much my books weigh. More weight equals higher postage costs. Of course, I also weigh my books after I wrap/box them.

Apr 22, 2011, 10:19am

This message has been deleted by its author.

Apr 22, 2011, 10:30am

I find this new feature fun :D
The only "useful" thing is the number of Billy bookcases and U-haul boxes, I think.

Apr 22, 2011, 10:30am

"I love that we've had both transcendent joy—one email sent to Jeremy used the word "transported"!—and now derisive dismissal."

You give us ponies, and we ask for cheese. You give us both and we'll discover how hard it is to eat our cheese while riding our pony. ;o)

Even if it's only used as a tool for estimating how many boxes will be needed to move this thing is priceless. (If you're missing 1/3 or a 1/2 of your data, you can still get a decent estimate.)

Apr 22, 2011, 10:37am

>146 gilroy: In-catalog edits of physical description data should now work in IE.

If you can believe it, there was a bug in a javascript library we're using affecting inputs named "length". Well it just so happens that we had one! ;/

Apr 22, 2011, 10:41am

First, let me say I'm having fun with this new feature. But it did get me thinking about ways I would want to slice & dice the data, which requires exporting.

So building on Tim's message #144:
Can we please, please have a way to hide this on the book detail page and/or a full export for the data we have in here? ... Export needs to be redone generally.

I would love the ability to select how much of my library to export (based on tags, or collections perhaps), and then be able to choose which fields to export.

Is there a talk thread about re-doing Export?

Apr 22, 2011, 10:50am

> 155

Even if it's only used as a tool for estimating how many boxes will be needed to move this thing is priceless.

Yes, I looked at the estimated number of U-Haul book boxes and thought, "I'm never moving again."

Apr 22, 2011, 10:59am

>156 ccatalfo:

Curiously, in FF I am no longer able to save length on the edit page. I can save it from the lightbox.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:00am

I no longer get the duplicate input fields when I edit pagination from my catalogue, but now it erases the second field even if there should be two. For example, if there should be "xii" and "320", when the edit box pops up, the "320" is gone, and the "320" is erased from my catalogue.

It only seems to happen with the automatically populated fields. If I add a field manually, with the little plus sign, it stays.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:04am

#158 - 'Yes, I looked at the estimated number of U-Haul book boxes and thought, "I'm never moving again." '

I had a similar thought. :o/

Apr 22, 2011, 11:12am

> 159

No, it's stranger than that. Sometimes it's length that doesn't save, sometimes thickness and sometimes they all work. When a field doesn't save from the edit page, it does seem repeatable though. And so far it always works from the lightbox.

>160 SylviaC: Agreed, I see this also.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:13am

>160 SylviaC:
I'm seeing this too. The last few books I've edited have all been missing the second pagination field when it should exist. It only shows the Roman numerals. I had seen this a few times before, but never 4 or 5 in a row.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:13am

I could move, it is only a little over a ton. It does rule out third floor walk-ups.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:14am

I'm currently at 27, but that's not a full count and excludes only my wishlist, so it's neither too oppressive nor a reliable guesstimate. Wonder what it will be when I've done measuring and weighing books.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:16am

>164 TLCrawford:
My current place of residence is a fourth-floor walkup. When I move, I'm hiring people to do it for me -- and since I live with my mother, I don't exactly have a lot of furniture of my own.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:19am

160,163> Hhm, I had broken the length saving from the Edit page for the span of a few minutes but I thought I had it fixed again. Looking again now.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:22am

159,162> Saving all dimensions appears to be working from the Edit pages now - can you try once again please?

Apr 22, 2011, 11:29am

161,163> Can you check your Edit screens now: both sets of pages should now be displaying once again.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:41am

This is wonderful.

Just one suggestion: it would be nice if I could sort by one of these new fields *without* adding it to a view. In other words, please add these new fields to the list that comes up when I click on the up and down arrows icon.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:46am

>169 ccatalfo:

Yes, the second field is back. Thanks.

Apr 22, 2011, 11:54am

> 168

Yes all seems well now.

Apr 22, 2011, 12:17pm

I really like that we can choose which collections are counted, particularly as I own only ~15% of the books I've cataloged. Could that be expanded to other Stats pages, and maybe even the Series, Awards, Male/Female, etc.? (If it's not too difficult or anything. I'm just a stats nerd who's too lazy to count all this stuff by hand.)

Apr 22, 2011, 12:24pm

173> In another thread (probably the one in the BETA group), Tim said that he was going to do this and asked for opinions on which pages should be done first.

Apr 22, 2011, 12:27pm

>143 _Zoe_: I'd love to see average time it takes to read a book based on started and stopped dates. Plus all sorts of other fun reading statistics.

I don't see how that would be accurate. If I read a book in one day, the start and stop dates are the same. But did it take 24 hours, 12 hours, 2 hours or 30 minutes to read the book? There is no way to know.

Apr 22, 2011, 12:37pm

>143 _Zoe_:, 175
I have quite a few books where I have the stop dates, but not the start dates (often because I read them before I was on LT, but that's beside the point). What do we do for those books?

Apr 22, 2011, 12:40pm

>175 rgurskey: I think there's something meaningful to be seen there either way; the book is either short or compelling. I'd be interested in knowing when a 300-page book ends up taking people an average of a month to complete; it's either dense or boring. Either way, probably not something I want to take to the beach.

Apr 22, 2011, 12:41pm

>176 AnnaClaire: They just wouldn't be included in the calculation.

Edited: Apr 22, 2011, 12:54pm

>177 _Zoe_:
That said, you'd have to include an average pages-per-day count for those readers over all they've entered data for. I read One of our Thursdays is Missing in more or less a single sitting, but that's very much an exception. Marie Antoinette took me most of a month, which is a more normal pace for me.

Also, there's the question of exactly when a book was read. I sped through Queen Isabella in barely a week -- but was that because it was a good read, or because I read it over New Year's, when I didn't have to spend a big chunk of my waking time at the office?

In short, there's just too many reasons this can vary, and there's really no good, easy way to control for this across the board.

Edited to close square bracket.

Apr 22, 2011, 1:10pm

>179 AnnaClaire: Those are all arguments against ratings too, but I still find them useful. There's always going to be individual variation for all sorts of reasons, but that individual variation gets smoothed out when you have enough data.

Apr 22, 2011, 1:23pm


Exactly. There may not be enough data -- I don't know how widely the date fields are used -- but that's no reason not to make it available; people who want to use it know it may not be entirely reliable in all cases, and can take that into account.

Apr 22, 2011, 1:29pm

>108 josephquinton: "Someone who wants to know how much his/her books weigh has no busy having them."

Like SqueakyChu, I strongly disagree. Does a car owner who knows its engine displacement have no business owning it? A book is not a simply a text string; it's a physical object. Why shouldn't a book lover love the physical aspects of his/her books? As far as weight, in particular, is concerned, I've found it (or density) to be a fairly good proxy for the level of craftsmanship that went into the making of the book. Most of my nicer books have a good heft to them.

Apr 22, 2011, 1:40pm

Interesting, except that I quit buying DTB when I got my first Kindle and that was before I got my membership here. Most of the books I've acquired and read since 2009 are digital. There are 711 books, magazines, newspapers and blogs currently in my Kindle taking up a space of 7 3/4" X 5" x 3/4" including the cover and weighs about the same as a nice, fat Science Fiction paperback. How do I notate ebooks other than in Tags?

Apr 22, 2011, 1:50pm

Someone who wants to know how much his/her books weigh has no busy having them.

So speaks someone who's never had to move.

Is there some way I can disconect this "fabulous" addition?

Sure, don't look at it.

Apr 22, 2011, 1:59pm

>174 jjwilson61:: Thanks! I'm not in the Beta group, so I missed that.

Apr 22, 2011, 2:03pm

>169 ccatalfo:
I'm now seeing multiple pagination fields again so it seems to be fixed. Thanks.

Apr 22, 2011, 4:02pm

I've got an audio book of Death Masks that shows in my catalog view as having one page. The value is in green. I don't seem to be able to remove it. If I edit from the catalog view or from the edit page the field is blank. Even if I resave the blank field, the one reappears if I refresh the catalog.

Apr 22, 2011, 4:02pm

I look forward to checking out the new info on this site! :)

Apr 22, 2011, 4:15pm

Just what we needed, another time suck! Seriously, this is great! I am constantly amazed at the way you guys keep thinking up features that I didn't know I needed, but can't live without once I have seen them.

After removing wishlist and "read but not owned" titles, I have over 3000 lbs and am closing in on the Taj Mahal. It is a bit daunting to learn how many bookshelves I would need in order to get everything out of boxes.

I don't know when I will find the time, but going back to enter missing data will give me a chance to scan some covers and verify some details I missed the first time around.

Apr 22, 2011, 4:27pm

A couple of people have mentioned removing a collection from these stats. I don't see a way to do this. Explicate, please?

Apr 22, 2011, 4:36pm

On the statistics page, above the upper right corner of the distribution graph is a button labeled settings. Click that and there are check boxes for which collections to include. You may have to scroll all the way to the right to see the button depending on your resolution.

Apr 22, 2011, 4:40pm

> 191

Thanks. That button wasn't showing on my screen; I had to scroll over to see it.

Apr 22, 2011, 4:50pm

How do I count the pages in an Ace Double? Should it be one side and then the other?

Apr 22, 2011, 5:44pm

A small suggestion: Among the types of page numbering, "plates" would be a helpful addition.

Apr 22, 2011, 8:50pm

>183 glitrbug: How do I notate ebooks other than in Tags?

Create a new collection called ebook...which has the aditional advantage that you can exclude the collection from the stats page...

Apr 22, 2011, 8:53pm

195> But only if you also don't include ebooks (or audio books) in any other collection that is included. Having to do this, along with many other "just create a special collection" rules can make things awfully cumbersome.

Apr 23, 2011, 8:30am

when do we see the physical descriptions for each book in the catalog ? Great addition for LT.

Apr 23, 2011, 9:47am

> 197

You can see them now. Just modify any one of your catalog views to include them.

Apr 23, 2011, 10:26am

I use collections for location. Works well:

Church (I'm a pastor)
Unknown (for books I've lent that have disappeared)

Now that we have a "Pages, Stats, & Weight" stats page, it's easy to exclude missing and ebooks from he physical summaries.

Works for me.

Apr 23, 2011, 1:06pm

Someone who wants to know how much his/her books weigh has no busy having them.

Au contraire - it's more like "once you have a significant number of books, you need to start thinking about the floor loads on your joists"....

Apr 23, 2011, 1:26pm

I'm having fun with the new addition! :) Thanks!

Apr 23, 2011, 1:38pm

Yes, it's fun. I sorted by weight to find my heaviest book. Surprise!! A paperback that weighs 20 pounds!!

Apr 23, 2011, 1:50pm

At present there's no other way to mark Kindle books or etc. There will be soon...

Apr 23, 2011, 4:25pm

definitely appreciate the scientific aspect of books now because of the physical fields .
Apr 23, 2011, 7:41pm

This may not fall into the same category, but I would love to see a "number of words" field. This number naturally fluctuates much less between different editions than the physical dimensions. I can imagine a number of interesting statistics to be extracted from this data.

Edited: Apr 24, 2011, 1:31pm

None of the data I entered is saved, XP/IE8.
Tried it on the book details edit page and double clicking the box in my library.
Just tried three books in both areas. Nothing!

Correction: Win7/IE8

Apr 23, 2011, 8:29pm

The 20" x 20" x 20" cubical book that weighs 20 pounds seems to be a recurring junk datum. I wonder who's to blame and why? (There were three in my library, but I fixed them early, and can't recall which titles they were.)

Apr 23, 2011, 8:48pm

205> Are you going to enter the data into this field?

Apr 23, 2011, 11:12pm

The 20" x 20" x 20" cubical book that weighs 20 pounds seems to be a recurring junk datum. I wonder who's to blame and why

The answer is, I think, Amazon sellers—that is, third-party selllers who entered book data for books Amazon didn't have. Sometimes they've entered base dimensions for their books which represent the numbers they calculate shipments by, which bear no relationship at all to the items themslves. There is a way that shipment and item can be distinguished in the data. But we see this isn't always adhered to.

Edited: Apr 23, 2011, 11:22pm

#209 - sounds like hex spaces. I've seen blanks in a numeric field waaaaay to many times.

Edited: Apr 24, 2011, 1:57pm

It appears that the pages field won't accept "viii" as a Roman numeral entry. All of the other Roman numerals that I've tried display properly. Yes, I've set the format to "i, ii, iii".

Update: The problem has gone away. It was either a transient bug or the LT staff corrected it sub silentio.

Apr 24, 2011, 7:48am

This has given me a great way to spend a rainy weekend, or, as my wife puts it, another excuse to waste time in the library.

Apr 24, 2011, 10:26am

Well, hello, there LibraryThing!

I am writing today to thank you not just for LibraryThing itself but also for the new physical description features. It's depth and detail of these kinds that increase LibraryThing's usefulness and attraction, not to mention idiosyncrasy. I had not thought about unit conversions such as furlongs per fortnight in a long time until I saw books per bathtub! Strange, but kitschy, in a humorous way.

I note that U-Haul gives quantity discounts on 1.5 cubic foot small boxes, but not on 1.0 cubic foot book boxes, with the result that I have many small boxes and no book boxes. The Ikea Billy cases number is just too practical for words, except thank you. I hope U-Haul and Ikea have contributed nice product placement fees for their appearances in this LibraryThing movie.

I am tempted to consider this a Sisyphean feature in that when I thought I was on top of my hill of books I find myself at the bottom with the data entry stone at my shoulder again. Well, such is life, so let's get on with it. Finding a ruler was not difficult, but finding a book scale with appropriate sensitivity and range is a challenge. The bathroom scale is too insensitive, and the diet foods scale has insufficient range. What is one to do?

The features for capturing different paginations are good for one volume, but what about for different paginations in a multi-volume boxed set? For example, I have Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, four volumes in one set. After I enter paginations for The Hobbit, how do I, within that single ISBN, add them for the remaining three volumes?

Well, that's enough from me for now. Thanks again ever so much for all you're doing. It's a great service, and bringing people together over books can only make the world a better place.

Apr 24, 2011, 10:26am

This message has been deleted by its author.

Apr 24, 2011, 2:12pm

>206 rbott: Thanks for the system type clarification. I was not able to replicate the non-saving issue in XP/IE8 so I'm hoping the difference is being on Win7/IE8. We will take a look.

Apr 24, 2011, 3:14pm

Ok so i've read all 215 messages and I didn't see my question answered, but my apologies if it has been answered and I was just lost in all of the other interesting comments.

My question is about pagination. I was wondering when i'm entering the number of pages in a book do I enter the actual number of pages? or the number of pages that have been numbered?


btw - love the new stats.

Apr 24, 2011, 4:08pm

>216 arrwa:

I think the answer is both -- you can account for all of the pages by type and number. For example, if there are a few pages in the front of a book that are numbered with Roman numerals, you can enter the Roman numeral of the last page that has that kind of numbering, and set the numbering label in the next box to i,ii,iii,... If there is not another entry line for numbered pages below, just click on the plus sign to the right, and another line will appear. Type in the number of numbered pages in the left field, and set the type field to 1,2,3,... If there are unnumbered pages, you can count and enter them with the appropriate type label. Some books have unrelated pages from the publisher in the back, perhaps as advertising for their other products. You can count those pages and enter them with the other label. Yes, it is sort of persnickerty and nit-picky, but it's kind of neat, too, because if everyone is careful and precise about how they enter these page counts, the collective data will help to identify editions and give a better idea of what's between the covers. Some kinds of pages in the middle of books, like glossy pages with photographs printed on them, will be easier to identify as part of a book with this data system.

Apr 24, 2011, 4:36pm

>217 ficlitia:

a big fat ooohhhhh. thank you. It all seems so clear now. I feel kinda dumb.

thanks again

Apr 24, 2011, 5:44pm

Question: what is the height of a book? Is it the longest dimension, or is it the length of the spine of a book? I have come across a few books in landscape design where I would assume the height is less than the length, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Apr 24, 2011, 5:53pm

>219 rgurskey: - We're using the following:

height = head to foot of spine;
length = spine to fore-edge;
thickness = “width” of the book on the shelf

Apr 24, 2011, 6:28pm

>220 jbd1:

Thanks. That's how I have been measuring.

Apr 24, 2011, 11:32pm

What does "number of volumes" mean?

Apr 25, 2011, 1:29am

I'm sure I'm another user that's going to spend far too long adding details to my catalogue. This is yet more data that I had on my previous database.

But I'm wondering if anyone else would benefit from having the in catalogue edit box show the name of the book/work being edited? If things are slow for some reason (and my PC is usually the cause) when I'm going through a list it's easy to forget for sure which book I was about to edit.

As to the units being used I would prefer that the metric units be a default and I haven't yet seen how to manage that. Also, mm would be better than cm in my opinion, it would prevent needing a decimal point in three boxes.

Apr 25, 2011, 2:35am

222> It means the number of bound volumes that make the book, if you chose not to catalogue each volume separately. Like, "War & Peace, Vol. 1" and "War & Peace, Vol. 2" or "War & Peace (vol. 1-2)".

223> Yes, it would be nice to have the title/author at the top of the lightbox. I had to close it and double check a few times when I was messing with it the other day, and things weren't even going particularly slow.

Apr 25, 2011, 3:08am

I have tried to use the field "Physical Summary", to enter if the book is a paperback, booklet etc. But I have not succeded to have that shown in the overview. The only thing I have shown is the number of pages and the measurements.

Does anyone else have this issue and how could I solve this, if possible ?


Apr 25, 2011, 4:01am

225> I was under the impression that the physical summary was created by the physical information, and that it's only editable if you edit the other fields (ie: it isn't directly editable). I enter paperback &c information into the publication field, and my catalogue view for the page numbers/size includes that.

Apr 25, 2011, 7:06am

This is fabulous, and I envisage many happy hours with the kitchen scales and the tape measure!

I know a couple of people have mentioned it already, but can I add my vote to the 'can we have a 'convert all to metric' option please? I can just about manage in feet and inches, but pounds isn't intuitive for weight to me at all. :) I guess it'll take a fair bit of effort though....

Edited: Apr 25, 2011, 9:38am

Wow it looks like a real Groovy feature like Far Out!!!! I'm gonna look at more whenever I have the time to go over it. Great Job. To Quote Ringo from HELP! "Gear Fab"


Apr 25, 2011, 8:43am

Another question what is "Number of copies" ?

Also it would be nice to put in Data for eBooks. Since some books are only eBooks.

Apr 25, 2011, 8:50am

Just curious, is this going to lead to another recognition, for people who fill in the sizing data?

Apr 25, 2011, 10:18am

I agree with Avron in #223.

It would be very helpful to have the title visible in the pop-up edit box. I have already edited a couple of records, only to discover that they were for the book above or below them in my catalogue. And several times I've had to cancel the edit just to check that I'm on the right book.

Apr 25, 2011, 10:39am

Just in case anyone wants to do it the way library's do it:

pages: Libraries use the last numbered page/s. They don't actually count pages. If there are no numbered pages, we record it as 1 v.

height: top to bottom of the front cover rounded up (always up, never down) to the nearest centimeter.

length: Only added if the book is longer than it is tall (as this affects shelving). Spine to cover fore-edge, rounded up to the nearest centimeter.

Width and weight are just done in the aggregate (the shelf-feet of your collection, the cubic feet of your boxed storage). I was glad to see that LT's calculations for my library agreed with standard weight we always used (30 lbs per cubic foot)

Edited: Apr 25, 2011, 11:16am

230> Just curious, is this going to lead to another recognition, for people who fill in the sizing data?

I doubt it, as this is information in our personal catalogs and recognition is given for entering collective data, like Common Knowledge, not personal data. At least that's the reasoning behind not getting badges for writing reviews.

Apr 25, 2011, 11:53am

My question is why is it measured to the nearest centimeter & not inch instead? Everyone here knows how I feel about the Bloody Metric system.


Apr 25, 2011, 12:13pm

My Other Reader keeps putting away the tape measure, and doesn't seem to appreciate that it will now need to live next to the computer for the foreseeable future.

Apr 25, 2011, 12:23pm

235> I've found that extra tape measures are much cheaper than divorce proceedings...

Apr 25, 2011, 12:27pm


Um, it's not? It's measured to the desired precision of whichever units you choose to enter it in -- not the "nearest" anything. Feel free to either hit the handy little "convert" button to convert the data on an individual book, or enter your own data measured in inches.

Apr 25, 2011, 1:34pm

Fascinating - both how much data of this sort is already retrievable from catalogue records (about 75% of my books alread have page counts as a result) and the overall stats.

I'm not sure if I've found a problem or whether I misunderstand how to use the feature. I was surprised to see in the table on my stats page which shows averages, medians, maxima and minima for these stats that I owned one book of over 6,000 pages. I wasn't aware of this, so I thought I would check the data. I edited a view to include number of pages and then sorted on that column. The largest number was just over 3000 pages, which was the number I was expecting having just entered the data for that book manually. So where is my 6000 page book ?

I look again, and the plot thickens. The stats now show my largest book is 9552 pages. And now I think I know what might be happening. My 3000+ page book is a railway timetable, which comes in three very unequal pieces. I've entered the data as 3 volumes, and then put the page count for each volume in separately - 3184, 12 and 2. I thought that that was how it should work. But 9552 = 3 x 3184, so it seems as if the stats calculation is treating this as a book with 3 volumes EACH of 3184 pages. That's just wrong however one looks at it. Perhaps I should go over to bug collectors and describe this there. I'll do that.

But there's great potential for this data and the initial implementation is impressively bug-free and usable. Thanks to all involved for that.

Apr 25, 2011, 1:45pm

>238 kevinashley: - Odd. Passing it to the fixers :-)

Apr 25, 2011, 2:19pm

Anyone else sorting by page numbers and finding that they are not sorting quite right? For instance, if a book has preface info pages entered too it seems to put it in a different place:

It will go
xvi; 794


Also one book has 590 pages but it is listed right smack in the middle of the 900s. I edited it to make sure it was entered in correctly with no hidden spaces or characters but it was still out of place.

Love this feature but curious if I'm the only one finding odd sorting issues

Apr 25, 2011, 2:46pm

I've discovered that if you change your sort, you want to click the "refresh the page" link that is provided in order to get the proper sort.

Edited: Apr 25, 2011, 3:01pm

>238 kevinashley: Thanks for noticing this and for the detailed description. There were a couple of bugs there: 1. it was indeed using the first page value 3 times (once for each volume) when calculating the total page count, and 2. it was not attempting to convert non-arabic and non-roman page numbers so they could factor into the total.

This hopefully accounts for some of the other page-sorting oddities being noticed.

Apr 25, 2011, 7:41pm

229> Number of copies has been around for a while. It's the number of copies of the exact same book that you have. It shows (still) only on the edit page - you can't see it in your catalog or, as far as I know, on the Details or Main page for the book; nor does it raise the number of books you have cataloged. It's only useful if you just want to track that you have multiple copies of a single book, and don't want to enter them individually.

Apr 26, 2011, 3:34am

It's a pleasant surprise to come back to LT after the Easter break and find a lovely new feature - Thanks!

From a first quick look it all seems very intuitive and consistent with the way the LT interface normally works.

The only thing I would seriously quibble about is the way it deals with units. If you have a lot of data to enter, it is really bad ergonomics to have to use a drop-down menu to change from inches to cm every time. Either radio buttons or (ideally) a setting that makes it remember which you used last (or a preferences menu somewhere) would cut down the number of clicks.

As a scientist, I find the combination of "cm" and "kg" a bit odd (I'd expect to see m and kg; or mm and g), but I'm prepared to accept that as a vagary of librarians. It might be nice to have an option to force the display in the catalogue view to all-metric or all-imperial, but it's not really that essential.

Another very minor niggle is the way the light-box covers up the "publication details" field you were about to copy data from. I keep forgetting and having to cancel the edit...

Apr 26, 2011, 10:45am

I've been working with this feature for a couple days now. There are a couple aspects which slow down the workflow involved in entering data for a few thousand books.

In my "E" view I displayed just the minimum information needed to identify the book: title, publication, pages, height. As I was entering the more important books, I added pagination information and height in many of the publication fields. Now I need to transcribe a lot of this to the corresponding physical fields.

1) Because it was convenient and reasonably precise, I measured board height in mm. While I don't expect this to be a unit option, I would like to be able to default to cm and have it stick.

2) Further, I would like all units so shown and not whatever the last data source happened to supply. I've found that if I "convert" the units and save, it doesn't necessarily stick on a reload. This makes me feel as if that time of converting and saving was wasted.

3) The dialog displayed when one double clicks on a physical feature is certainly comprehensive but it is not helpful in a couple ways:

A) The focus is not placed on the unit double clicked.
B) The dialog is not movable and almost invariably covers up the numbers I am trying to transcribe.
C) The dimensional units (not settable to my preference I believe) do not show up in the tab order on Firefox 3/Mac so I have to click on it in order to change every single one to the units I am using. I can convert mm to cm in my head but not mm to in.

4) A part of me wishes that the default for volumes was set to 1 so I didn't have to enter that in every one.

5) I somewhat like the notion of guessing the width from the aspect ratio of the cover image for the first go around (green text?). Then, if it is wrong (rotated cover image) I can change it.

6) My preference for the multi-field dialog box would be to see it only if I have double-clicked on the physical properties column. If I double click on a single unit such as pages, I'd prefer the usual text entry box instead of the entire dialog. It would be nice if the table didn't have to be redrawn for these, by the way. Being able to double click, type a value, and hit return or enter would help a lot in entering a bunch of these values.

Now if I could get a digital scale and calipers that plugged into the USB of the computer to enter the values automagically....

As these values vary by edition, it is not clear to me if they impact/benefit other LT members. Are only data source values shared with our collections?

I love the stats. For the stacked height chart it would be fun to see this graphically with a line drawing of the buildings (or landmarks) in question that overlap somewhat and either the bar or a stack of books image for our value.

We joked that in our 1100 sq ft house that if we took our 7,100+ books and put them on the floor that they'd be about 7 volumes deep. Now, with the width and height (even estimates) there are opportunities for area measurements. What portion of an acre would your books fill if they were all laid out flat in a field (guarding against moisture of course).

The Ikea Billy bookcase unit is useful (though we don't use them). You should probably have a link to the Ikea catalog page which shows exactly which one you mean. Does this assumption refer to the standard number of shelves per unit? Tell us. For my shorter series books I almost always have to get extra shelves to avoid wasted space, especially when they're available. And, if they take a certain number of Billy cases, what is the overall wall length required to set them up? Inquiring minds want to know :)

Same is true for the U-Haul boxes. A link to the U-Haul page would explain a lot. If you don't want to link to an outside site for this, make your own explanation page somewhere.

James Keeline

Apr 26, 2011, 2:25pm

222> Another example is The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. It contains two volumes, but those volumes were never published separately and as far as I know really don't have separate titles (maybe "Volume 1" and "Volume 2").

Apr 26, 2011, 2:58pm

Just a note to all - I'm collected the requests for changes and additions so that we can run through them as a staff and discuss. So just because they haven't been specifically responded to here (yet) doesn't mean we're ignoring them.

>245 Keeline::2 - this seems like a bug report. Can you give specific examples, and file a bug report on it so we can track it down? Thanks!

Apr 26, 2011, 4:53pm

Now if only I had a LibraryThing stamp to mark each book after I enter the dimensions...

Apr 26, 2011, 5:45pm

>247 jbd1:

With the physical dimension and mass data collected by collection, it seems the possibilities for applications to suggest optimal shelving requirements given certain parameters are just terrific. Asking the system to calculate the number of shelves of particular heights needed for a collection given single-stacking, double-stacking paperbacks behind cloth covers, similar-sized or over-sized books together or mixed in the collection, etc., etc., seems to me a great use of the physical data stored and arithmetic capabilities of the machines.

Analogously, if I am planning a move that involves moving the library too, optimization calculations to indicate how many book boxes of which sizes would be necessary given a collection's characteristics, and other limitations such as a weight limit on any single box, also seem a wonderful potential use for the data. Were such applications available, it would better motivate a person to keep the library data complete and accurate.

Apr 26, 2011, 6:12pm

248> Nah, they'll come up with something else that requires you to take down each book and check two weeks!

Apr 26, 2011, 9:36pm

This is a bug.

Tonight, whenever I add page numbers to books where the dimension data already existed, the dimension information disappeared. This happened using the lightbox or choosing to edit the book.

Apr 26, 2011, 9:46pm

>251 rgurskey: - anyone else seeing this? I'm not, so it may be some sort of browser thing. rgurskey, what browser are you using? Will certainly pass this on to CC in the morning.

Apr 27, 2011, 12:33am

I'm trying to understand something about the auto-filled data, be it black text or green text. In the first post, you say black data comes from the add books source and green comes from Amazon (ONLY amazon?) ISBN-level data for the book.

Take this example added manually and then from amazon:

The one from amazon has 8.19x5.2x0.79 dimensions, 256 pages and 0.62 pounds, but the one added manually only gets the dimensions, not the pages and pounds. Is this because that extra data is only tagged to that one specific entry and somehow not to the ISBN?

Apr 27, 2011, 3:36am

Just a thought: I don't know if could be of any real use, but what about including the possibility to enter traditional sizes (folio, quarto, octavo, etc.) as well as precise dimensions?

Apr 27, 2011, 3:49am

>251 rgurskey:,252
Confirmed - Firefox 3.6.13, Windows XP
I've seen it for a couple of books where the Height field was already populated and I added pagination using the lightbox in the catalogue view.

Apr 27, 2011, 7:51am

I second thorold's suggestion in 254. With that option the height and length fields could be populated with one selection from a drop-down menu.

Apr 27, 2011, 8:59am

>251 rgurskey:,252,255
Thanks for the reports. This was indeed a bug resulting from a related fix I made late yesterday; sorry about that.

Doing some more testing now but it should be fixed.

Apr 27, 2011, 10:25am

Still want my measurements to default to cm. :)

I just looked at the dimensions and the text associated with them. On the US site these are:

* height
* length
* thickness

The second of these doesn't quite work for me. I think you really meant width. Length can be interpreted as the longest dimension which on many books is often the height.

I found a bunch of the 20x20x20 20 lb entries in my books and deleted the values. One can only imagine how they distorted my stats. So many books to go (older stuff) and it's not always clear how many I have without page numbers since I don't think the stats page is updated on demand but probably only periodically? At least, after a bunch of work I don't notice any changes on the bottom table.


Apr 27, 2011, 10:34am

>258 Keeline: I agree that "length" is an awkward word to use, but I don't think "width" would be any better. I think it would get confused with "thickness". I would prefer "depth".

Edited: Apr 27, 2011, 10:39am

The second of these doesn't quite work for me. I think you really meant width. Length can be interpreted as the longest dimension which on many books is often the height.

I made a similar comment in the thread on the beta group:

Apr 27, 2011, 10:56am

It has occurred to me that there is no indication of weather these measurements should be longest-side-is-always-length, or if they should be consistently the same direction, even if measuring a book which is 'landscape' rather than 'portrait'*. It's a question relevant to most people taking measurements who have any books of postcards cataloged. If you want me to be even more obvious about why this might be an issue, take a look at this detail page (and yes, the book's spine is on the left of the cover image).

I've been going for consistency by this-side-up. If looking at a shelf of books spine-on, the X axis (left/right) is thickness, the Y axis (up/down) is height, and the Z axis (forward/back) is length.

* To clarify, in case clarification is needed, most books are 'portrait' -- the front cover is taller than it is wide. 'Landscape' is the other way: the front cover is wider than it is tall.

Apr 27, 2011, 11:04am

262> Jeremy clarified what the intended meanings are in msg 220 of this thread. It *does* need to find its way into help text at some point.

Apr 27, 2011, 11:11am

>262 jjwilson61:
Ah, so I had it right. (And even if I didn't, at least I'm consistent!) I think what's needed isn't just help text, it's better terms.

Apr 27, 2011, 11:20am

The basic problem is that all the terms mean different things depending on whether you're considering the book as it sits on a bookshelf or as it sits in your hands preparing to read it. For the former height, width and depth would be appropriate but the same concepts while holding your book in your hands looking at the cover might be height, thickness, and width.

Apr 27, 2011, 11:57am

Right, but if a book is on a shelf, and then you take it down to measure it, you're back to being confused. Who measures a book while it's still on the shelf?

Apr 27, 2011, 12:33pm

>265 AnnaClaire:
I'm sure the LT boffins are busy as we speak, adding the last few details to the CaliperThing on-shelf book measurer with integrated spring balance and page counter. A few minutes twiddling the verniers is all you will need to be able to read off the size and weight to a precision of +/- 0.1 Spalding and the page count to the nearest hectoquire.

Apr 27, 2011, 12:41pm


I think that should be part of the official description of the feature. :D

Apr 27, 2011, 12:46pm

>266 thorold: Would CaliperThing automatically update the official weight of a Spalding if Tim gains or loses weight?

Apr 27, 2011, 12:48pm

I thought the spalding was a unit of length?

(Does it, in that case, change if Tim gets decapitated?)

Apr 27, 2011, 1:50pm

>269 AndreasJ:
Me too, but #266 referred to the Spalding as a unit of height and/or weight. I've gotten used to the "pound" being a unit of weight and/or foreign currency.

(I'd sooner hear Tim got his feet cut off than his head cut off. Both would reduce his height and would, therefore, mean that my library instantly gains a few Spaldings.)

Apr 27, 2011, 2:40pm


The Length field for this book,, in my library won't save after I edit it either on the catalog page or the edit page. I had no problems changing the Volume, Height, Thickness, or Pages fields for that book and I've been able to change the Length field of many other books in my library with no problems.

Apr 27, 2011, 3:03pm

245> 6) My preference for the multi-field dialog box would be to see it only if I have double-clicked on the physical properties column. If I double click on a single unit such as pages, I'd prefer the usual text entry box instead of the entire dialog. It would be nice if the table didn't have to be redrawn for these, by the way. Being able to double click, type a value, and hit return or enter would help a lot in entering a bunch of these values.

I'd like to second this. It would be really nice if I could just sort my library by Volume and set them all to 1 without having to bring up the lightbox each time. It would also be useful for setting Height and Length because all my Science Fiction Book Club books seem to be the same in these dimensions (paperbacks too). It would be much easier to just edit each column directly from my catalog in these cases than to have to deal with the lightbox on each book.

Apr 27, 2011, 3:11pm

>271 jjwilson61:
What browser and platform are on seeing this on? I haven't been able to replicate it yet (and I played with changing the length on that item, so there is one there right now).

Edited: Apr 27, 2011, 3:21pm

FF 3.6.16 on XP, although I thought you guys are supposed to be able to see what browser was used to post a message in Talk. Maybe you should get the secret handshake from Tim.

ETA: Now that you've changed it, I can change it too. I'll let you know if I see the problem on any other books.

Apr 27, 2011, 3:26pm

>274 jjwilson61:
Seeing what browser someone posted that would be a fine what's the magic word, tim?

Very strange that you should be able to edit it now that I did. I'm momentarily perplexed. Do let me know if you come across another.

Apr 27, 2011, 6:53pm

On this Wikipedia page about book dimensions currently reads:

The size of a book is generally measured by the height against the width of a leaf, or sometimes the height and width of its cover.

In that description (others may vary), the height is the dimension along the spine. The width is across the boards from the spine to the foreedge. Not mentioned but this leaves thickness for the amount of space along the shelf occupied by the pages and boards.

In looking at box dimensions, length often refers to the longest side first.

When looking at bibliographic listings and catalogs, the only dimension given is what we have agreed to call height. If length is used for the second dimension, it could well be interpreted by some to be the longest dimension along the board, whether horizontal or vertical. For the landscape-orientation bound books, this could create some confusion.

I'll ignore the label and put the height first since that is the one that really counts. The others are simply fun for the size of the total library, etc. stats.

I found that those 20x20x20" 20 lb anomalies really distorted my shelving estimates, bathtubs, and overall height of the stack of books. To get rid of those I sorted by height and that revealed the 20" outliers.


Edited: Apr 27, 2011, 7:04pm

Two book measuring devices. A bit pricey since they're geared toward the library market:


Apr 27, 2011, 7:56pm


My library isn't sorting right on Thickness. My top 5 books (in the Owned collection sorted by Thickness) have thicknesses of 0.5, 8, 8, 1.4 and 1.63 inches. It doesn't start sorting right until it gets to the 7th book.

Apr 27, 2011, 8:20pm

>277 Keeline:
That second one is cheaper for inch-users than cm-users. I'm one of the former and I still think that's a bit discriminatory -- like women having to pay more for the same haircut or to dry clean the same shirt.

Apr 27, 2011, 11:24pm

I'm another thrilled user. Insanely practical! Am planning a new home library and voila, you come up with a very useful tool for planning.

Just so I'm clear, No Data = Nothing in the totals, not some kind of general book average added in for good show. So the fact half my books are "No Data", I'm not actually Sphinx but double-Sphinxed? Wow.

Apr 28, 2011, 12:06am

I wondered about this too, however close inspection shows that the height in feet is based on the Speculated Total thickness in inches (assuming I've remembered correctly how to convert those archaic units :-) ), not the total in the first column.

Apr 28, 2011, 12:16am

I've been thinking about future workflows that could fill in some of the data. My cover scan process is 72 dpi 100% and then rotate and crop accordingly. From the PNG image file it should be possible on the client or server to extract the real height and width. An option that could be chosen during image upload to use this could be helpful.

The weight and thickness would have to be entered separately, of course. Haul out the digital calipers and the scale.

Here's another machine for measuring books. It's probably much more expensive than the other two from its appearance and use:


Apr 28, 2011, 1:12am

269, 270 > And if Tim lost body parts, no matter where they came from, wouldn't that also account for a weight reduction, which would increase the weight Spaldings of your library?

Apr 28, 2011, 4:46am

So the fact half my books are "No Data", I'm not actually Sphinx but double-Sphinxed? Wow.

Sadly not. The graphs include interpolated data.

Apr 28, 2011, 6:47am

277/282: These devises are used for measuring a book for repair or conservation (making a book jacket, box, new binding, etc.)

Catalogers use a tape measure or a ruler. And they don't agonize over the measuring. They just slap it down on the cover, take a quick look, round up, and go. Except for getting the book on the right size shelf and certain arcane of extremely rare, very old books, this information is completely useless in an institutional library.

Apr 28, 2011, 6:59am

Yes, perhaps, but now we have a new use for the information.

LT cataloguers will, of course, use the fields as they wish. Some will measure to the nearest millimetre, some will always round up, some will perform 4/5 rounding. Some, bless their darling little hearts, will put somebody's phone number in there.

Edited: Apr 28, 2011, 9:17am

New bug:

IE 6 on XP (Not tried this on other browswers yet.)

Multiple volume sets. Specifically looking at Norton Anthology of American Literature (Volumes C-E)

Trying to add the dimensions for each book. It holds the heght and thickness, but the length is reverts back to the extrapolated data on the second and third volume. This only does it in the light box from the catalog view. Works fine from edit book page. (If erased in Edit book view, it reverts to the cleared data rather than maintaining new data.)

Corallary question: Displayed in the catalog view, will we only see the first volume or will it parse like the pages section does?

Apr 28, 2011, 9:22am

On most sets, will the height or "length" (width) change? I can certainly imagine the thickness changing according to the page count of a given volume.


Apr 28, 2011, 9:30am

>285 aulsmith:

Yes, these measurement devices are geared towards manufacture of archival boxes (and by extension slipcases, etc.).

And doubly yes, the height can be a point of issue for some books. Thickness can also be a factor as page weights dropped over time for books like Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys.

However, your characterization of a slap-dash measurement rounded to the nearest inch or cm would tend to erode the unassailable accuracy of library catalog data. I've seen errors here so I know that's a mainly tongue in cheek statement on my part.

Book measurements don't have to be to the mm to be useful for bookcase planning. However it is just as easy to read off those numbers as it is a partial estimate sometimes with the right sort of apparatus, if used.

For my own cataloging before these measurements, I too used a ruler and recorded the height on the more important books.


Apr 28, 2011, 10:38am

>287 gilroy: Thanks for the excellent report, it should be working now. Note that while testing I updated those 2 volumes to a length of 6 to match the first volume you had edited.

Apr 28, 2011, 10:42am

>287 gilroy: Corallary question: Displayed in the catalog view, will we only see the first volume or will it parse like the pages section does?

We have it set to display x x x style dimensions for just the first volume -- whether it ought to display them for all volumes is an open question.

Apr 28, 2011, 10:51am

ccatalfo, Did you see my sorting bug in msg #278?

Apr 28, 2011, 11:08am

>292 jjwilson61: Thanks, yes. That is related, I think, to which is for a similar sorting bug which I am also working on.

Apr 28, 2011, 3:04pm

i am 16 years old and this is my first time since my old account so i don't understand who or what this person wants from me???

Apr 28, 2011, 3:18pm

>294 iloveyou4ever:
Uh... what who wants from you? This is the first time you've posted in this thread, and you don't exactly give us much to go on.

Edited: Apr 28, 2011, 8:29pm

We have it set to display x x x style dimensions for just the first volume -- whether it ought to display them for all volumes is an open question.

Well, what it's doing makes little or no sense. It ought to either display the data for all volumes or (my preference) for the 'book'/edition as a whole, i.e., the (maximum, if they differ, which I can't imagine they ever would) height and width and the sum of the thicknesses.

Apr 28, 2011, 9:29pm

Is there any way I can eliminate these data from showing up on individual book pages I think it's just a messy distraction from what the book is there for! while keeping the aggregate stats on the stats page I don't think this is wildly exciting stuff but am happy to go along as long as I don't have to waste my time looking at it every day?

Apr 28, 2011, 11:15pm

297> Yes, edit your views in Your Books and at the bottom you can turn off all the dimension data. I'm pretty sure this gets rid of it everywhere including the edit page.

Apr 29, 2011, 9:52am

>298 jjwilson61:. Thanks for that - I found it by hitting the Edit View Styles button after going to Your Books.

(Sorry my message 297 must have seemed incoherent - square brackets don't show up.)


Apr 29, 2011, 10:06am

As a goal for everyone, I suggest adding the Burj Khalifa Tower (2717 ft) in Dubai to the graph of book pile heights.

Apr 29, 2011, 12:22pm

Random thought: wouldn't it be cool to see the height of the combined books of everyone in the group you're in?

Apr 30, 2011, 9:51am

295: I think this refers to the profile comment we all got informing us of the feature and this thread.

Which I hope answers the question in #294: The message was posted by a LibraryThing staff member to inform you of a new feature. You can recognise an official announcement like this by the fact that there is no "reply" link (next to "archive" and "delete") underneath the comment. There is no obligation to use the feature, or say something about it, or anything like that. But you can if you want to.

Apr 30, 2011, 10:17am

293> Chris, you closed that bug report but my problem isn't fixed, so I reopened it.

Apr 30, 2011, 10:45am

My egocentric ramblings: I'm not sure I'm going to use this. It looks addictive. I already use my own book sizing system, based on standard shelf heights, but spine thickness might be useful to know for estimating shelf yardage (this is not a comment on my preferred system of measurement). The counting-shelves-by-sight method tends to fail when you're leaving gaps and/or double-stacking. But if I were to embark on a mass spine width data check I'd be tempted to do the other dimensions as well.

Though I might just enter my already-established XS-XL (XS-EL for sorting purposes) values for height, and add shelf depth values along similar principles. (Advantage of doing only the spines: no need to take the book off the shelf, in most cases. Hm. Disadvantage of non-numerical shortcut for other dimensions: who knows what it will do to the statistics page. Argh.)

I'm thinking of deleting all the data from books I don't own, but on the other hand, it would be fun to have an idea of the space I'm saving by not owning certain books, or owning them in the form of a single CD.

Apr 30, 2011, 11:28am

Don't know if anyone else is noticing this but while editing my outliers for physical description (I had one book that was listed as 20x20x20 inches and weighing 20 pounds--clearly not right) I started noticing something odd for a number of these books:
The thickness is really the height, the height is really the length and the length is really the thickness. In other words, for a group of at least 20 books, I had some really mixed up numbers. I started fixing them and then thought I should mention it in case there was a problem with bringing in the numbers that caused this and a lot of others had the same problem.

Apr 30, 2011, 12:52pm

305> I didn't have any 20x20x20 books, but I did have a handful where the values were in the wrong fields as you described. After fixing it the Thickness column doesn't sort properly.

Apr 30, 2011, 7:02pm

OK, I just got back from the city, and I have a confession to make:

I blush to disclose (I'm far too noble to lie) that I just bought a small digital scale so I can weight my books.

Obsessive? Well...

Apr 30, 2011, 7:36pm

307> We already have a digital scale, but I dug out my little blue tape measure to measure the books I'm adding from the book sale this weekend :)

Apr 30, 2011, 7:45pm

It's not just you, MerryMary. My husband has one out in the barn that he uses to weigh eggs. So every day I go out to the barn, and bring the scale in to the house. And every day he comes in to my book room, and takes his scale back to the barn.

Apr 30, 2011, 7:50pm

309> Another message with many layers of meaning...

Apr 30, 2011, 8:06pm

I consider it a testimony to the strength of our marriage that we are able to accommodate such a diversity of interests, as well as serial scale-napping. ;)

Apr 30, 2011, 10:17pm

I find such shenanigans sweet and endearing. Sign of a good marriage.

May 1, 2011, 10:12am

Love it!!

May 1, 2011, 12:37pm

Being naturally cheap, I no longer use U-Haul boxes. I have settled on Berkley & Jensen's box offerings. All Natural Large Dog Biscuits, Deltropico - the Miami Bread, Hope's Country Fresh Cookies and Muffin Town Cornbread Loaves. The dog takes care of the first and the remainder cost only a "Thank You."

Four sizes do NOT fit all, so an occasional Stihl box is called for. They are heavy and are ready to go back south on the morrow for the next load.

As I sit here in the cave, I can see 15 Hopes, 6 Deltropico, 4 Dog Biscuits and only 1 Cornbread.
Many more in the basement.

May 1, 2011, 6:08pm

will there be a real estimated worth calculator in the works ?

May 1, 2011, 10:50pm

ISBN's could link to prices on ABEBooks, generating estimated high and low values of one's catalogue. Possibly more useful that aggregate weight.

May 1, 2011, 11:08pm

316> owlcroft has already done some pretty interesting things on that front:

So that's at least proof that you can come up with something useful via that strategy.

May 2, 2011, 4:46pm

>315 jenniebooks:

You mean your books aren't worth their weight in gold? What more could you want? :)

The discussion in #317 addresses some of the issues why book values are hard to estimate. Here are some things off the top of my head.

* condition
* proper identification of printing
* condition
* type of seller offering the comparable copy
* condition
* presence or absence of dust jacket
* conditon
* format

Notice how important condition is?

Only books issued since 1967 have a chance to have an ISBN so they are just one part of a value consideration.

Amazon does not tend to be the best place to evaluate books anyways. For a semi-modern paperback you may find 1¢ paperback copies that will really cost you about $4 when you pay for Media Mail shipping. Meanwhile, other more difficult books may be vastly overpriced, dozens or hundreds of dollars more than their value as a price people will actually pay.

Asking is not the same as getting.

The used book databases (e.g. also have the problem with cheap books selling quickly and overpriced books staying up there for an unknown amount of time. The high-priced listings can distort the impression of "value" to booksellers and book owners and cause the other sellers to list their copy at a similar value.

Condition is a supremely important factor (along with printing, format, etc.) so one is comparing like copies. The condition summaries used by sellers can vary and it is even harder for book owners to know what constitutes a "very good" copy or a "fine" copy.

Back around 2000 I built a database system to work with a Palm VII that let me search for copies of books on a wireless PDA and get a sense how many copies were listed and at what range of prices. I could drill down to see more detail on specific copies. I also found that certain always overpriced sellers or databases might be excluded as an option in my analysis. In that system I stored each query in my own database and then worked off of that for my drill down actions.

At the very least we'd need a place to store estimated value for our books in a way that can be exported for tabulation in Excel, etc.

This is the second step (after listing all of one's books) to getting a value of a collection for the purpose of insurance or tax-deductible donation.


May 5, 2011, 11:23am

is there any progress on a metric/imperial preference switch?

May 6, 2011, 3:10pm

would like an estimate of how much my books are financially worth if if I could put a price on them.

May 6, 2011, 3:24pm


This has been requested almost monthly for the past few years. The admin have avoided saying no, but they haven't said yes either.

Honestly, it has been stated that this listing wouldn't be accurate for the insruance adjuster.

May 6, 2011, 3:38pm

320/321> Well, jenniebrooks did say "if I could put a price on them", but I don't know if she meant that she would actually fill in the price value, or that LT would. If it's the latter, she should check out my link in message 317. Owlcroft did quite a bit of work on this and came up with a value that's not perfect but is decent for insurance purposes for the average library that's not chocked full of rare, signed first edition antique books.

May 6, 2011, 11:46pm

A very large number of books we have do not have ISBNs because they are pre-1967. I could possibly imagine that ISBN books, where those numbers refer to a specific title and edition (not printing) might have some use for the reading copy evaluations (hardcover or paperback). However, these are the very books which insurance companies don't mind covering. Of course you might find that they will cover the low Amazon price but not the postage to get them (usually $3-$4/book even if you buy multiples from the same seller).

For books that have value, a program is not the way to evaluate them, at least not to get a single number. What you might need is to look for that specific book and get a sense of factors like:

* How many libraries have it in WorldCat?
* How many copies of that edition on LT?
* How many copies of that publisher & printing in similar condition (DJ or not, book club or not, etc.) on ?
* Of the last, what is the range of prices offered for comparable copies?
* How often is it listed on eBay and what is the closing sale price?
* Has a comparable copy been listed in American Book Prices Current (ABPC)?

It might be possible to automate some elements of this. For example, back in 2000 I built a Palm VII web query app to search for an author/title/keyword combination on addall and report back the number of matching copies and the range of prices with notes on the Alibris and BookRescue copies which were skewing the numbers higher so might be desirable to drop as outliers.

Even with all of this data you won't really know how much your book would sell for until you try to offer it on a site like eBay.

Appraisals usually come in two varieties. One is the insurance replacement value. The other is an evaluation for estates or charitable donations. Since they have different purposes, they have different ranges. In the insurance replacement value it is a matter of how much you'd have to pay if you needed to buy it today or soon. The other is what you might get if you had to sell it in a bit of a hurry--not a true distress sale though.

I think that a good LT catalog is the first step towards getting proper insurance for a book collection. Some may need an actual appraisal. However, even if you determine your own perception of values, you will then need to convince the insurance agent that you need a collectibles rider to cover a certain amount.

The previous suggestions of taking a slow video tour through your collections with commentary on important books should be made and stored off site (web server, relative in another part of town, safe deposit box, etc.). The pocket video camera we have (Sanyo Xacti CG-9, ~$200) makes good quality files on an SDHC card that could be copied to a computer and uploaded somewhere with ease.

I think we need to find out what insurance companies would actually accept. Perhaps this should be placed in another thread devoted to it. I still would like private fields to record:

Price paid
Date purchased
Estimated value
Comparable copy values observed (probably private comments for this)
Date sold or given away

I grant that LT is not a sale site but the people who are using it could well benefit from a place to store this information in a structured way just as we do our physical characteristics being discussed in this thread.


May 7, 2011, 11:49am

Is anyone else having trouble getting the "length" to stick? I just added dimensions for this book, which measures 8½" x 5½" x ½" -- but my catalog page doesn't show the middle number and the detail page shows just the pages and weight.

May 7, 2011, 12:39pm

Try 8.5, 5.5 and 0.5. See if that makes a difference.

May 7, 2011, 1:37pm

I have the same book, Feminism and Suffrage and I edited the dimensions last week end and again to day to check that it still worked, it did. I did have trouble with some books that had three weights and I could not edit them until I eliminated the extra weight values.

May 7, 2011, 2:01pm

>325 MerryMary:
Actually, that's how I did enter it in the first place, since half an inch is the easiest fraction of an inch (after a whole inch) to translate to decimals. I posted here in fractions because that's how my ruler's divided. (Way back when, I think I even wondered aloud about the interface's ability to accept fractions, but that's a different story.)

May 12, 2011, 4:59am

I don't quite understand the bottom axis of the distribution graph....

May 12, 2011, 5:29am

I think it's just a normal histogram, but they've only labelled every second bar. So on the "pages" graph the first bar would represent the number of books you have with 0-49 pages, the second bar 50-99, and so on.
The other graphs look a bit odd because they've picked different ranges for the metric and imperial graphs. For instance, mass (which is referred to as "weight" but quoted in mass units....) goes from 0-6 pounds in imperial, but only 0-1.5 kg in metric view, so the metric graph looks much more squashed up.

May 13, 2011, 9:08pm

You know that problem I had with Feminism and Suffrage back in post #324? I just had it happen again with The Bonds of Womanhood. The "length" field on the catalog page is blank, as is the whole line on the detail page.

Seriously, this bug needs to be swatted. If you can't do that, at least have it happen to books on other subjects. (Bodybuilding, say. Or military history. Or something else similarly masculine.)

May 13, 2011, 10:16pm

Yeah, CC was checking into that one - I'll touch base with him Monday to see what he found out. We've seen it a few other places too, don't worry :-)

May 13, 2011, 11:25pm

Just make sure it doesn't discriminate by subject matter. ;)

May 17, 2011, 10:44pm

I'm still waiting for a field where we can enter price. Some of us need to track that!

May 18, 2011, 2:41am

>333 alexann:

Rather than wait, you can help yourself toward a solution by clicking on the More tab, then Import/Export, then Export as tab-delimited text. If your LibraryThing computer has a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel or Calc installed, your computer will probably give you an option to open the exported file in a spreadsheet file. Click the tab-delimited choice if needed, then save a copy of your raw data. Open a copy of the data file, insert one or more data columns for pricing data, and record your costs, prices, tax bases, or whatever you choose, then, of course, save your data. Other spreadsheet wizardry is optional, but at least you'll have your data collected, and an opportunity to create whatever summary reports are of interest to you. Historically, LibraryThing has encouraged social connections rather than monetary concerns related to bibliophilic data, a decision which has enhanced the site's august ambiance in every calendar month.

May 18, 2011, 3:18am

Or you can just enter in the private comments field, or the BCID field if you like...

May 19, 2011, 9:55pm

First, shouldn't it be height, width, thickness?

Second, a bug: the "Physical Summary" field does not update on save unless I delete it's contents (which is intentional, I believe) AND edit at least one of the 'Dimensions' fields. If I update the number of pages only, and then delete the 'Physical Summary' field and save, the 'Physical Summary' field remains empty.


May 19, 2011, 10:26pm

First, shouldn't it be height, width, thickness?

You'll have to read the whole thread for the answer to that one.

May 20, 2011, 11:55am

>337 jjwilson61:
Found it. Thanks.


May 20, 2011, 1:56pm

Thank you so much for the physical description feature!

I'm so annoyed that my public library catalog often doesn't include this data.

I've cleared out my LT library since I was using it as a collection development tool at my old job (LT made c.d. and acquisitions a lot easier). Now that I've resigned and actually have time to read, I can start using LT to track my own books.

Thanks again!

Jun 2, 2011, 10:04am

As of this past weekend, it wasn't fixed. The length did not take for my copy of Alison Weir's The Life of Elizabeth I (catalog page). The dimensions on the book details now read "8.125 x 1 inches" -- which would confuse anyone who didn't know better, since that line suggests it's a strictly two-dimensional object and thus shouldn't weigh the pound and change listed below.

Oh, and the weight I entered for American Lion is now the green auto-fill weight, but I cannot make it stick as the user-entered weight (catalog page).

Jun 3, 2011, 12:16pm

Okay, I've typed up a bug report. Can someone take a look when the spam mess is better contained?

Nov 22, 2011, 8:08am

The number of members has disappeared from the display of the books in my library - any tips on how to get this field back? Thanks, Stuart Braman

Nov 22, 2011, 11:03pm

I'd post this in either Talk about Librarything or Bug Collectors - it really doesn't relate to this thread at all. Also, I don't see it - I see member numbers both in List view and on the Main Page for a book. Is it fixed for you?

Nov 26, 2011, 9:09pm

a while ago I stumbled on this great feature. I then started working on creating some collections so that I could display on my blog the physical progress I'd made with books finished this year. As part of that I made the Your Library collection inactive.

When I'd finished making my collections, I headed back to check out the stats. My Stats/Meme page no longer has the pages, dimensions and weight link on the left hand side and if I check it through the profile/membername/stats/physical link the little round thing rotates and gives me.... a blank page.

I've since gone back and made Your Library active thinking that might make a difference and it does not. I still get a blank page in both IE and FF.

Any ideas?

Nov 26, 2011, 9:26pm

344 - That's odd. I wonder if you'd changed the settings for that page, and it's showing a collection that is empty, or something.

Do you see a settings button?

Nov 26, 2011, 9:34pm

Actually, arukiyomi, when I look at your catalog, *none* of your books have any data in those physical description columns. So that's probably why the page is empty. As to why those columns would be empty, I don't know. Even more bizarrely, when I clicked on the book details page for one of your books, it *did* show the dimensions - so the data's there somewhere. There's some kind of bug here. Maybe it could have something to making your collection inactive then active again, but I don't know why that could matter.

Nov 26, 2011, 10:11pm

thanks rsterling, I appreciate you following this up. I see nothing on the page except the title and the left hand menu and as I said, the left hand menu does not have a link to Pages, Dimensions and Weight

incidentally, when I went to look for book dimensions for individual books in my catalogue, I couldn't find where they might be. Neither the work details nor book details have them for the last book I catalogued

Nov 26, 2011, 10:44pm

They're there, on book details.
I think you can also see them on the "edit book" page.

Nov 27, 2011, 12:00am

ermmmm no they're not for me. Where do you see them on that page? Below my review all I see is:

Publication date 2001
Publication Vintage (2001), Paperback, 288 pages
ISBN 0375709223 / 9780375709227
Number of copies 1
LC Classification
Love › Physiological aspects
Primary language
Secondary language
Original language

Private comments
Date acquired
Date started
Date finished
A General Theory of Love by Thomas;Amini Lewis, Fari;Lannon, Richard (2001)
Member arukiyomi
Entry date 2011-11-25
From where?
Data source
Private No
Citation MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, Wikipedia citation

Nov 27, 2011, 12:34am

Ah! That's the clue I needed. On your profile - um (goes to check) - actually, the easy way is through the Edit Views screen (the sprocket button in Your Books). Down on the right is a radio button to Show/Hide the physical dimensions field - bet you've got it set on Hide. That hides it everywhere from you - it doesn't show up at all (some people were very annoyed at this feature, so got the hiding button).

Nov 27, 2011, 1:54am

et voila! thanks jjmcgaffey... weird that I've never seen that button before today and so didn't turn off that feature when a couple of months ago I could see it... ah well... all happy now!

Nov 27, 2011, 1:57am

I can think of two possibilities - either you accidentally clicked it while adjusting views, never noticing it, or you were adjusting views and thought it meant something like the swap column, that it would show physical data in every view. And then forgot about it because it was so minor. Or maybe Transient Internet Weirdness sneaked in and set it for you... :D

Edited: Nov 27, 2011, 2:00am

BTW - Tim, maybe if you go to the physical dimensions Stats page when you have them hidden, it should say you have them hidden? Rather than just giving a blank page.

Oh - never mind, the hiding hides the link as well. You have to be really determined (and already know about it) to get to that page if you have the info hidden.