Cover fix: No editing covers today
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For the next 24 hours or so, we're shutting down cover edits—both uploading new covers and changing existing covers. You will not be able to do either.
This irritating step is necessary for us to finish fixing covers. As mentioned on the home page and discussed on talk, covers have been wonky lately. Basically, we switched to a new cover system and, through human error, the transfer didn't go smoothy.(1) It went terribly, in fact. Although the actual cover files were never in any danger, the numbering system went haywire and displayed a lot of wrong covers. (At one point Bridget Jones' Diary bore a cover from a book about Osama Bin Laden!)
To combat this we isolated all the edits that had been made to the covers, then restored the cover numbers from a backup—eventually using the numbers from 5/16/12 at 5:48am. Over the next 24 hours we will be running the edits back through the system. To do so with the maximum clarity and safety, we decided to shut down uploading and editing of covers for 24 hours. This is a pain, but better than the alternative.
After this fix, you can expect your covers to be in good shape. A small number of users who made edits during the last week may be asked to choose which cover they want to see for a book—picking an A or a B.
For now, please leave off reporting problems with covers as we work on the system.
1. The main problem was that we wrongly believed the two systems' id numbers did not overlap. In fact, there turned out to be a 70,000-cover overlap, meaning that 70,000 covers became theoretically ambiguous. Because I had specifically thought the two systems were non-overlapping, the problem took a long time to identify correctly, and all sorts of irritating display back-flips were performed, which only made things worse. Fortunately, we also had record of the various changes covers went through, and 70,000 is only 2% of the covers we have, so only about 2% of the cover edits in the last week were ambiguous.
As ever, the notice & explanation are appreciated: a spoonful of sugar. Hope all goes smoothly from here on out.
Is this problem related to books added not showing up in All Collections? I added a batch of books the night before last and they are viewable on my home page as recently added however they don't appear anywhere else. When I search for specific titles I know I added they say they're not there. But if I go to the work's page it says I have a copy, only I can't add tags or do anything to it.
quite like the idea of Brigit Jones Diary w/ O B Laden 's photo, shame it wasn't the other way around, thanks for the information, good luck to you patient people,
It's about time you finally decided to DO something about covers, which have been bug-reported over and over again for the last ?two/three? years. This could have been avoided with better management of bug reports. I'm not impressed by the fix in the works because history tells me it will be buggy and the bugs will be ignored for years. That's the LT way.
I hope it all goes well...
I am very happy covers are being worked on - nothing ever goes to plan in my life; so I can empathise as well as sympathise with these problems.
Thank you for the recent updates.
>3 - If this is still happening, do you have some specific examples? Sounds like a cache/reindexing issue rather than covers. You can leave me a profile message with the examples and I'll take a look.
One problem I have with cover edits is that very often when I select a correct cover (for a book which I have in my hand) I am told that this will change the ISBN number that I have just input. Since I know that the right ISBN number is the one I have correctly imput, and that the cover is also right (because I'm looking at it!), I know that LibraryThing has duff information, but there is nothing I can do to change it - at present, I have to either accept the wrong cover image or, if I stick with the correct cover, I have to watch with annoyance while the WRONG Isbn number is substituted for the correct number I have put in.
>10 Amazon covers can change ISBNs - as I understand it, that is the risk of using Amazon-provided covers. To avoid this, use member uploaded covers, or upload your own. I upload almost all of mine, searching google images for the cover I want or if I have to, scanning my book.
#10 For me, that only happens with Amazon covers, and I generally try to pick member-uploaded covers. If I have to resort to Amazon, and it wants to change the ISBN, I just stick with a blank cover and check back every now and then to see if there's a member-uploaded cover. (Yes, I could upload mine, but I'd have to take the books to my office where there's a scanner.)
10> I only get that message about changing the ISBN if I choose an Amazon cover. If I choose a member-uploaded one, it works fine. I will often upload or snag from the Internet a cover to avoid using an Amazon.com one.
Tim - Thanks for the notice.
I'm unable to edit any books right now on the edit page. Clicking save doesn't do anything. I'm hoping this is temporary and related to the cover fix.
I've had the same problem (i.e. cover selections changing ISBNs). I just upload the right cover (even if the source for the cover has the wrong ISBN) and attach it to my book. It's a pain, but I'm O/C and feel so much better 8-)
I should add that I'm so grateful for librarything that I'm not going to complain about an honest mistake, or whine when things are done to fix it. I have a lot of books and LT has been a godsend... thank you for LT!
I, frankly, don't understand how why folks these days don't scan in their covers ... all-in-one printers (with flatbed scanners) are easily found for under $50 ... at least for new additions to their libraries (my self-scanned covers only cover about 1/4 of my collection, as I hadn't thought to scan the books when I went through and logged them in back in 2005!). In some rare occasions (foil covers, for instance) where things don't scan well, I'll stoop to using the Amazon image, but I'll generally grab the big one from the site and pixel edit it. Can't imagine using theirs as a standard approach (but I also can't imagine adding books to my library that I don't own, so there's that).
Thanks for the explanation. As a software tester myself I know how often it's the most obvious mistake, the smallest, safest change that can foul you up...
> 10 - when this happens to me I just right-click, copy URL and then Ctrl-C up in the grab-from-web thingy above the pictures. Lazy, yes, but I'm a purely volunteer librarian on a dial-up connection.
LT: On-topic - thanks for the info. Ran into one of the 2% yesterday and it was odd. Glad to know why and that it's being worked on.
Thanks for keeping us up to date. BTW, you aren't the only ones with this kind of problem. I recently signed up for Apple iTunes Match and watched 20% of my cover art disappear! So I understand this is a non trivial problem to track down and manage. Thanks for all you do!
#18 by HolyGuardianAngels>
If you're copying and pasting an Amazon image URL, you can get a better image by removing all but the first part of last section of the link. E.g. starting with
change the last bit so it says
>16 Maybe because we don't have the space or time to do it? Not everything is about money. I am extremely grateful to the many LTers who have had the space and time and money, and who have uploaded some very fine high-quality images for me to choose from.
This is most irritating. I have uploaded dozens of previously non-existent covers since much of what I buy are books published before 1950 -- while I appreciate the heads-up, this represents a significant inconvenience, and makes it feel as though the labor of users who contribute legacy titles to this site is secondary to the convenience of those who only buy new books.
I appreciate the heads up. I upload quite a lot of covers here, and am constantly editing covers when I add books (usually on a daily basis), but I appreciate the heads up. Best of luck with it!
May 25th 9:42pm no cover edit in service at this time, the yellow notice across the page says cover edit will be down May 24th.... am I missing something?
Unfortunately, it was worded a bit... confusingly. It was dated May 24th and said cover edit will be down for up to one day. And it linked here, where you can see in the first post Tim said it would be down for the next 24 hours.
Of course, it's hour 25 now...
I'd just try to hold complaints until the (Western Hemisphere) morning.
I'm up. Sorry. Fell asleep putting Liam to bed. Service restored in 5.
1. After the core plumbing was fixed, and the display code that tried to solve it without solving it, 8,868 book-cover edits were directly affected. Problems could be eliminated algorithmically for a little over 6,000 of them. In the process we created new ID numbers for overlapping covers.
2. 2,500 books needed an examination by eye. All LT employees pitched in, looking at the title of a book and looking at which cover was right. It wasn't rocket surgery—the errors weren't subtle, but of the Bin-Laden-on-Bridget-Jones' diary variety. ("160 lbs., alcohol units 0, terrorist acts 2.") There were about a dozen judgment calls, like when there was evidence the user tried two different covers that were, in fact, appropriate.
3. We used the tool I mentioned. I'm not sure there's any utility in opening it to users now.
4. Once things were good, we ran all the "secondary" scripts, that populate covers for ISBNs, works and so forth. (Although only 8k books were affected, 2-20 times as many got wrong covers from this process.)
4. All LT employees again checked books each that could conceivably be a problem—5-20 pages each. No problems.
5. Jeremy kept a series of tabs open, comprising all the cover bugs reported on the other talk discussion ( http://www.librarything.com/topic/137354 ). As the day progressed I asked him to report on what remained. Eventually we researched everything remaining and Jeremy wrote up why ( http://www.librarything.com/topic/137354#3409353 ). What's left was wrong for other reasons, like titles that reused an ISBN from another ISBN.
6. I changed one thing about how work-covers dribbled up from the book level. This caused the Common Knowledge Series bug mentioned over on the other thread.
We think we're good. We didn't fix ever cover-related bug anyone's reported, so I'm expecting some of these will dribble in. But we fixed the rather alarming problem of overlapping covers, and various dependent bugs. Let us know if you see problems.
Except for a few "Best guess for ISBN" covers, that turned out "nice try, but no cigar"*, all seems well. They may have been around before the bug anyway - I don't check all my covers every day. Easily fixed them myself by choosing default generic cover.
So "Hurray for Captain Spalding" (and staff).
> 16: I, frankly, don't understand how why folks these days don't scan in their covers
I hear you and, yes, I really should get to work on that again. One problem is that many of my books are way too big to fit a standard scanner. But I've always been tempted to buy a larger one anyway.
Re. #30: "many of my books are way too big to fit a standard scanner"
I've had this problem on a few ... and I typically will scan the book in two halves (well, in one case, I ended up having to do quarters) and then pixel-edit it together. Of course, this would not necessarily be an option for everybody (I've been creating computer graphics for 25 years or so), but it works easily enough!
Wouldn't it be much easier in this case to use a digital camera and photograph the cover? Pixel-editing two images may be a fine pastime for folks who are easily bored, but I don't fall into this category.
I have a couple of covers that show up as blanks when I look at my collections, but are OK when I go to the work page. Would you like me to report this on the cover bug thread?
Thank you Tim and all other LT people for your hard work. I really do appreciate it. Even though I have been AWOL for a few months, I love this place.
I've done a few where the book was only a bit too large for the scanner and tried to centre it so that I didn't miss too much on either side. This changes the format of the book, but was the easiest way to have an almost acceptable cover.
Go ahead and let me know. This may or may not be a bug, depending on book/work issues.
For example, if you look at this book in my library (under "Your Books"), there is no cover even though it shows up on the work page.
Also true for:
I am using Style B in my library. If I use the cover view, I think everything is OK.
This is not a big deal, but anyhow, there it is.
Got it. Those three are pointing to Amazon covers that don't exist—so Amazon returns a 1x1. I can fix them by informing LT that Amazon doesn't have those covers. But I need to figure out why it's NOT returning that 1x1 on the book/work pages!
For example, if you look at this book in my library (under "Your Books"), there is no cover even though it shows up on the work page
Amazon's screwing up—either up generally or specifically screwing LibraryThing.
Here's the image from your catalog:
As you can see if you click it, it's blank.
Here's the image from the work page:
As you can see, it's there.
By changing one digit in the original image—50 to 51—I get a real image:
Maybe Amazon has some math error when they're resizing some covers by 50. But I'm worried they're tired of serving us that size. To solve this, I've changed the catalog covers from 50-wide to 51-wide. I've Googled around and I can't find other people noticing this problem.
I checked, and all your covers are now there.
Thanks Tim! I try not to use Amazon covers but lots oft early books have them.
10 et al> Note also that you get the "ISBN will change" whether or not it actually changes - that is, you get the message even if the replacement ISBN is exactly what you entered. And the only 'workaround' is avoiding Amazon covers.
Yeah, the message should maybe read "ISBN may change" - but that would probably confuse many people even more.
43/44> You know, I'm getting deja vu here. I'm pretty sure I remember this coming up before and Tim saying "oh yeah, you're right, I'll go change that now." And nothing ever happened.
Note also that you get the "ISBN will change" whether or not it actually changes
You mean if you choose exactly the same cover? Yes, I suppose so. But why would you do that?
I can change it to "may," but a better fix might be "That's the one you have!" on one of the covers.
That would be (for me at least) a great fix. I had not realized - until working on my catalog today - how many covers had been changed by your "refresh". Not that too many reverted to Amazon (about 57) but so many changed to poor scans instead of my own uploads.
Guess I'll just have work through them as I find 'em!
Or if you choose a cover (an Amazon cover), whether it's the same image or not, that has the same ISBN as you have in your book record. Sometimes there are three or four Amazon covers, essentially identical (maybe one scanned lighter and one darker, but the same picture), which presumably have the same ISBN attached.
But if you want to put a marker on "this is the cover currently applied to your book", I'd be delighted! Especially if it were applied to Member Uploaded as well as Amazon.
But, wait, if you press your ISBN nothing changes. Nothing changes means nothing changes.
Is the point that if you choose a custom cover then subsequently go back to your original ISBN cover?
but so many changed to poor scans instead of my own uploads
Show me an example. Covers you yourself choose are always kept.
There seems to be widespread and, to me, rather odd misunderstanding of the "refresh." Let me repeat some facts.
1. Refreshes of what covers Amazon has are constant. They must be, or we'd be showing covers that Amazon long ago yanked or which Amazon has subsequently added.
2. It shows you a cover in the following cascade:
A. The member cover you uploaded yourself or chose yourself
B. The Amazon cover for your ISBN, if there is one.
C. The LibraryThing best-guess for your ISBN, if there is one.
Sometimes there are three or four Amazon covers, essentially identical (maybe one scanned lighter and one darker, but the same picture), which presumably have the same ISBN attached.
No, never, ever. Amazon covers are a straight 1=1 thing. Each ISBN has a single cover. If there are covers that look alike it is because the publisher didn't change the cover as it published multiple ISBNs.
The fact that Amazon has one ISBN per cover is one reason to use our member covers. Actual ISBNs can have multiple covers—publishers are required to change the ISBN if the text changes, but they can change covers on a book and keep the ISBN. Our member covers often have multiple covers for one ISBN. Sometimes, frankly, they are a mistake—someone cataloged the wrong edition, which they changed by adding their own cover. Sometimes they are legitimate alternate covers for an ISBN.
I have restored about 6 today (just found another) and I guess I could track them through the "fings what you 'ave dun " feed?
But you are totally correct when you say they are still there, and it is just a question of restoring, not re-scanning and re-uploading.
No biggie - just FYI.
I've been working through my library and found the same thing as John_Vaughan - many were changed to poor scans of the same image. I also came across many odd things that had escaped notice until now, too numerous and picky to mention. Most puzzling were some covers said to be from Amazon that I know I uploaded personally - and not from Amazon.
I hope all my covers are secure now - none are from Amazon. I'd hate to have to do it over someday.
Have changed the "Where are your covers from?" page to confirm all unconfirmed Amazon covers before showing you the page. This should resolve any problems with mis-counting. Let me know if you have any questions.
What's the "where are your covers from" page? You mean coverstats (Statistics/Memes>Book covers)? or is there another page that I don't know?
Is there any way you can cut down the fading in of the covers on the covers view of Your Books? It's probably a completely idiosyncratic problem, but that takes forever to fade in on my system.
Really? The actual fade is slow? Do you have a super-slow computer? How long?
55> You could always switch to Internet Explorer -- there's no fade there...
(runs and hides)
#56: The actual fade took about 5 seconds on the first page switch and 25 seconds on the next and 18 seconds on the third. It's an AMD Athlon 64 3800+; not new but not super slow. It started appearing when I upgraded X11 (I believe), and I should probably be kicking that instead of bothering you. Actually, Chromium takes 3 or 4 seconds, so if it's X11, it's a combo of Mozilla and X11.
I'll go kick it some more on my side.
#57: IE 5 is way insecure, and they haven't released a more recent IE for any OS I'd consider tolerable for me to run.
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