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Where do we stand?

Unique Library Thing Book Group

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Aug 17, 2012, 12:53pm Top

So, where do we stand on the number of ULTBs?
I have 115 out of 1188 total books.
What about the rest of you?

Edited: Aug 17, 2012, 1:37pm Top

I have 19 out of 1302 (not all are owned!).

Correction: after realizing these had to be OWNED (in my library), I went back to recalculate:

14 out of 641 owned (2%?)

Aug 17, 2012, 1:24pm Top

159 out of 1937 (total books include read but unowned & wishlist, the ultb themselves are or were all owned)

Aug 17, 2012, 1:37pm Top

Only 41 or the 2242 physical books I have in my possession are ULTB.

60 of my 133 eBooks are ULTB-E. Most of those are medical texts and histories from the early to mid 19th century that I have down loaded from various sources including the National Library of Medicine in the National Institute of Health.

Aug 17, 2012, 1:41pm Top

After a bit of clean up, I still show 568 items with ULTB.

Per previous discussions, if I have the only two copies of a book on LT, I'm still using the ULTB tag unless there is a strong objection.

I have noticed a couple cases where some over-zealous combiners have grouped books they don't understand. This is especially the case for Jules Verne among my books. For example, highly abridged retellings should not be combined with the full works and yet one I have was, a From the Earth to the Moon.

Also among Verne there are non-English and non-French translation volumes with two or more stories that should not be combined with single-story books of the only one people can recognize.

A Pirates of the Caribbean book that was put out by Theme Park Adventure is not the same as the souvenir from Disneyland and Walt Disney World but it has been combined inappropriately.

It will take time to separate these that I don't care to spend this morning. I recognize that this mild rant is a topic for the Combiners group. However, I mention it here because it does impact ULTB counts.


Aug 17, 2012, 3:47pm Top

555 out of 5485, about 10%.

Aug 17, 2012, 7:31pm Top


If you have knowledge about different editions like that you could put it in a disambiguation notice. This would help you keep your books seperate and might educate the rest of us.

Aug 17, 2012, 7:36pm Top

On the question of "Where do we stand?", alone of course. Hard to be unique otherwise.

Aug 18, 2012, 1:47am Top

2396 of 12484

Aug 18, 2012, 8:07am Top

Not counting bookseller catalogues or having the only work in a certain language, 13 out of 910

Aug 18, 2012, 1:41pm Top

In addition to the number of books that are unique to our individual library. the relitive obscurity of our collections can be found on our statistics page. My statistics are

77/818 Median/mean book obscurity

If I eliminated my wife's Harry Potter books or my murder mysteries and really concentrated on my obscure historical topics I could get it much lower.

Aug 18, 2012, 5:11pm Top

My library stats are 6/19 Median/mean book obscurity. Seems easier and less fluctuating to track than UTLB's, plus I'm confused how to count unique books that one has that are either on someone else's watch list or in a legacy library. How do other's in this group handle those?

Aug 18, 2012, 10:50pm Top

I am still in a quandary to find that Nela the Conjuror, a scarce Stratemeyer book under the Bonehill name, was also added to the Harry Houdini legacy library. This is a book someone believes was owned by him. However I think that it is reasonable to guess that the collection is now dispersed. As such, the other entry in LT there is not an owned book. Should this count the same as another copy actually owned and entered into LT?

Also, what if someone goes through a collection and adds interesting books they find there (some ULTB) to their wishlist? With the wishlists on LT treated like owned books, it's a little hard to run down each book demoted because of another listing.

Finally, some people choose to add print on demand books and ebooks. That's fine but what should it mean for ULTB stats?


Aug 19, 2012, 12:35am Top

#13 Finally, some people choose to add print on demand books and ebooks. A copy of the book is still a copy. Print on demand I can accept if they actually have it, I'm still not convinced about ebooks though.

Aug 19, 2012, 1:08am Top

459 ULTBs out of 4328 books. 10.6%.

I have no problem with POD books; they are physical, dead-tree books, with pages and covers, that occupy space on my bookshelf, and I can read them. How is this not a book?

I have not so far been entering my e-books, except as a comment where I have the same book in both media, but I may do it in the future, because one of the main reasons for cataloging my library on LT is to prevent spending money on duplicate copies. It seems to me that this is still a concern, whether the duplicate is electronic or physical. There are sometimes reasons to do this on purpose, but I would rather not do it accidentally.

My two cents.

Aug 19, 2012, 9:41am Top

I don't have a problem with cataloging PoD books. I own many and am even involved in producing some like Victor Horton's Idea. Some books are very hard to find in physical copies but because they have been digitized as scans or OCR from Google Books, Archive.org, HathiTrust, or Project Gutenberg, they are available electronically and some put out slap-dash no-edit upload and forget it PoD books.

My question about this came up when I was observing that The Building of a Book appeared to be available as a PoD with the generic covers so common for that variety of book.

Even if we cared to make a distinction between eBooks and PoD, it would be hard to tell when someone has cataloged either of them since there's no distinction on LT either from vintage books or even between each other. Even if LT added a format field (hardcover, paperback, PoD paperback, eBook, audio book, etc.) it is likely that most people would not go back and update. If this is important to people, they probably tag it accordingly as I do terms like pb (paperback) and DJ (dust jacket).

I offer these questions so that I can tag ULTBs in a way that is consistent with others here. My goal is to find books that interest me in sufficient condition that I think they are worth owning. Anything else is a bonus or fun trivia.


Aug 19, 2012, 6:02pm Top

Since I joined LT the focus of my library has shifted. I have gone from focusing on collectable contemporary fiction, completest for some authors and signed first editions of others first published works. Obviously that would not involve many ULTBs. Since then I have shifted my focus to the study of history and I am slowly narrowing that focus. To do that I really need to use my wish list to track title I have heard about but not yet found. I have 700+ titles in my wishlist 30 of them are tagged ULTB-W. Since my current research covers 1800 - 1852 I am looking at a lot of period title that have been turned into ebooks. I keep them in a collection called, obviously, eBooks and 60 of the 133 titles in that collection are tagged ULTB-E. I need to keep track of those titles.

I have another 5 books labeled ULTB-SF (for Set Free) in my Read but Unowned collection. Now I am not that attached to those books but I don't want to eliminate them from my library I have read them and they are in my head so I don't want to remove them from my library.

I don't think anybody should give a second thought to adding a title in any format, even to a wishlist, just because it might knock someone else out of a ULTB. I doubt that anyone anytime soon will be adding Nubian resettlement in the Sudan, or A Reply to the Attacks of Dr. Charles Cladwell, or The northern lakes a summer resort for invalids of the South.

Although as I was typing this I noticed that my ULTB-SF had to be reduced by one.

Aug 19, 2012, 6:11pm Top

I don't have any of these problems as all of my LT catalog can be found in my home on a shelf somewhere.
Even the e-books will be found in my Kindle on the shelf next to my chair.
I never use wishlist.

Aug 28, 2012, 3:08pm Top

If you are particularly interested in relative obscurity of your whole collection as opposed to pure ULTBs, there's a group called Too Obscure http://www.librarything.com/groups/tooobscure It's not very active, though (and since it was founded back in 2006, the medians and means mentioned in the earliest posts can be pretty impressively obscure). I don't know if some other group has picked up the theme.

Sep 20, 2012, 12:12pm Top

I list my e-books in their own collection but don't include them in the 'your library' collection. I'm not at the point that i consider an e-book as something real, or even as mine, since they are merely licensed to me.

Sep 21, 2012, 10:03am Top

At the moment I count 11 out of 1275. I'm obviously not even trying. All are physical books, but I can't understand why ebooks do not count. Both have the words we read books for, after all.

Sep 21, 2012, 11:48am Top

You can count anything you want to count, spaceowl. (love your name, btw) The thing is, what's the chance that a book that has been made digital is not already listed on LT anyway? I know nothing about ebooks, so please tell me what I am missing.

Sep 21, 2012, 1:36pm Top

#22 If you take a look at my catalog "e books" you will get an idea of what we have. Most of mine are PDFs of books from the 19th century and earlier. Of the 135 titles I think I have only paid for two or three. Some, Common Sense, Capital, and The Wealth of Nations are very popular but many, like Of the Epidemic Cholera, as it appeared in Cincinnati are very obscure. I try to put a link in the comments section to allow anyone interested to find them and so that if anything ever comes of my research I can document it.

Sep 21, 2012, 1:42pm Top

Oh yeah, where do we stand...

60 ultb-e (e books)

30 ultb-w (wish list, most are less that 20 years old, just obscure although a few are microfilms that maybe I should think about a little harder.)

41 ultb, physical paper copies on my shelves.

Sep 21, 2012, 1:48pm Top

Oh. I see now. Well, anyway, just want to assure spaceowl that no one is trying to prevent him from putting ULTB on his catalog entries.

Sep 21, 2012, 5:46pm Top

I just pruned my ultb down to 220 out of 3866 - all physical books or magazines.

Sep 21, 2012, 8:45pm Top

I'm at 113 out of 1529. That's 7.3%.

Also, aaaah, space owl... Good times

Sep 22, 2012, 12:19am Top

I'm at 224 out of 3339. 6.7%

Sep 22, 2012, 1:56am Top

#22: Millions--literally millions--of volumes have been scanned by Google and put online. Many of my ULTBs are digital, though they're all commercial RPG material born digital and likely never printed. My other accounts, prosfilaes-gutenberg*, has almost 30 ULTBs (in a sense) all of which are available from Project Gutenberg. (I only add them to my account if I've read them and want to record that, or if I own the physical book.)

* http://www.librarything.com/catalog/prosfilaes-gutenberg

Sep 27, 2012, 7:45pm Top

I was at 459, but lost 5 and gained 1, so now at 455.

Oct 2, 2012, 3:43am Top

I am still at 48 out of 1721 (owned) titles, to my surprise. 8/497 on my wishlist. 198/1001 mean/median obscurity.

Oct 15, 2012, 5:49am Top

#29 - The more people who are introduced to the genius of John Allison the better.

For everyone else, thanks for the clarification. The total has risen to 12, BTW.

Nov 8, 2012, 1:12pm Top

Is anyone aware of tags other than "Unique"? When I joined LT I had thought of using that, but rejected it as subject to misinterpretation. After a thorough soaking in the inadequacies of LT's software, I am glad I made that choice. Tiny example: last night I encountered a situation of a phantom-match for what I thought was a unique entry, only to find upon further investigation that the alleged match was a printed score as distinct from a sound-recording. From the beginning I have opted for "LibraryThing first appearance", and though cumbersome for my aging fingers, I am content with using that. PS: while we all take pride in one thi g or another, obscurity is in the eye of the beholder. I am perfectly content that some of my entries be First Appearances, but to call them "obscure" would to display a lamentable cultural narrowness. There -- I've said it. Forgive it if it seems arch, but you have to take me as I am.

Nov 8, 2012, 7:18pm Top

#33 - When I've gone through and cleaned up my ULTB tags, I've been retagging those that now have 2+ owners as "former-ultb", which I think is conceptually kind of the same as "LibraryThing first appearance". I think it will be kind of nice to see the day when all of my ultbs will be former-ultbs. (I won't feel as special, but also won't feel as weird!)

Funnily enough, I went to your profile and the one item we supposedly have in common (Piano music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk) appears as a recording ... even though I haven't added any recordings here, just sheet music. I'll have to see if I can't clean that up.

Nov 16, 2012, 7:01pm Top

Just did a check; took ULTB off 7 books and added it to 4. One of them won't be an ULTB for long: Harry Potter Film Wizardry Revised and Expanded! I'm surprised it's lasted as long as it has!

Nov 26, 2012, 12:07pm Top

26 out of 711 3%

Some one else has How to Use Pickett Log Log Slide Rule Wow and its their only book!?!

Nov 26, 2012, 12:16pm Top

That same thing happened to me, misericordia! I was so surprised to see that this user
has only one book, and it's one of mine.
I have separated mine from his because someone went on a series binge and I don't want to be a part of that.
I already counted it as a ULTB anyway, though, because it is just too weird that a one-book-only person has it.

Nov 26, 2012, 1:01pm Top

157 books out of 1976 listed, 7.9%

Jan 18, 2013, 10:13am Top

Already this month I have managed to move two books from my wish list to honest ultb status. The Northern Lakes and The History of the Negro in Medicine, both for an ongoing research project.

Apr 14, 2013, 3:20am Top

After a bit of cleanup, I have 186 ULTBs out of 5610 total cataloged, 4639 cataloged in Your Library (and thus physically owned) - 3% and 4%.

I also have two that I know dang well are not unique, since I cataloged them by using brightcopy's script to copy them from another user, but they refuse to combine; and one that I'm pretty sure is unique, both by what it is and because I'm the only member listed by name as having it (no "private member", either). But it says 2 members at the top of the page, so I'm not counting it... no ultb tag on any of these.

I also had to rescue a graphic novel, which does appear to be unique, from being combined with a novel. Same name, same author, very different content (even leaving the graphical element aside - it's a different story). I do have it marked with {GN}, but someone was combining too fast to read...

And two tags removed because I got rid of the books. No longer physically mine means no longer tagged ULTB, as far as I'm concerned.

I don't tag ebooks, either. I don't think the question has actually arisen - I don't add them until I read them, and while I have quite a few obscure ones (mostly from Gutenberg, so not likely unique, just obscure), I haven't read any yet. The new import from calibre, though, may change that - change me cataloging them, I mean, not tagging them. YMMV, but for me, tagging ultb on ebooks feels weird. Same kind of weird as including them in Your Library - I don't (except for a few that I have as both paper and ebooks - I "catalog" those ebooks by adding the records of the paper books to my ebook collection).

Apr 14, 2013, 11:27am Top

#40 by jjmcgaffey> I also had to rescue a graphic novel, which does appear to be unique, from being combined with a novel. Same name, same author, very different content (even leaving the graphical element aside - it's a different story). I do have it marked with {GN}, but someone was combining too fast to read...

Might I suggest that, to prevent it getting combined again, you A) add a disambiguation notice to the graphic novel, explaining why it's different from the work with the same title/author, and B) expand {GN} to {graphic novel}? I don't think I would have had a clue what {GN} means if I had seen it before now. I spotted another work in your catalog that has {ss} in it's title. No clue what that one means either. But I think the disambiguation notice would be the biggest help in preventing further combination. Even if {graphic novel} is spelled out, a combiner might assume that all the works with that same author/title are also graphic novels, but just haven't been marked as such by their other owners.

Apr 14, 2013, 11:50am Top

{short story}. And I'm annoyed enough about having extraneous stuff in my titles I don't really want to spell them out. Grrr...may have to, though (you're right). I hadn't thought about the disambiguation notice, that's a good idea.

Apr 14, 2013, 1:03pm Top

230 ULTBs out of a collection of 1759... a few dozen of those are obscure periodicals, and periodical issues that belong with one of my themed collections, and another good portion is sheet music. A couple are comb-bound volumes of course readings from college. But then I've got stuff like the Linotype Maintenance Manual. Without the sheet music, it's 180 ULTBs out of 1672. I'm a little disappointed that nobody else has a copy of PVC Musical Instruments and How To Make Them!

Apr 14, 2013, 1:21pm Top

#42 by jjmcgaffey>
Well, the disambiguation notice is more important, in my opinion, for preventing a wrongful combination, and if the disambiguation notice spells out "graphic novel" or "short story", then it should be easy enough for the almost-combiner to figure out what {GN} or {ss} means in the title. Of course, you can catalog it however you'd like, and in ideal world, even just a different ISBN should be enough of a distinction in this same title/author graphic novel case, but of course there are some LT issues with relying on ISBNs.

Apr 14, 2013, 2:45pm Top

jjmcgaffey have you asked for help with the one that won't combine in the combiners group?

Apr 14, 2013, 9:45pm Top

45> Not yet. Yeah, I should. But busy. It might magically work, and if not it will still be around and annoying me later when I have more time...

43> Heh. Does it count that I have a PVC digeridoo? A friend made it - he can play it, I can't. But now he has a real one and I have the PVC one...I keep meaning to take it to one of the places I go where people who like weird instruments gather - BayCon, for one - but haven't managed it yet.

Apr 15, 2013, 3:40pm Top

My count is 1919 out of 4297 (45%). I just cleaned up and could eliminate 20 titles. Most of the uniques are scores, patterns and charts.

Apr 21, 2013, 3:22pm Top

I finally figured out how to sort books by owned numbers and I seem to have an extraordinary 3129 books ULTBs out of 13 800 plus - seems very high, is it possible? I still have to do the marking up as ultb on the tag lines.

Edited: Apr 21, 2013, 3:34pm Top

114 books out of 1085 listed, 10,5%
and 4 on my wishlist

Apr 21, 2013, 4:07pm Top

#48 by Africansky1>
Welcome, Africansky1. It's certainly not impossible. My collection is also about 1/4 ULTB (used to be about 1/3 a year ago), and there are some members with even higher proportions. Some of the works might just be in need of combining (and some combiners specifically look at ULTBs for things to combine).

Apr 21, 2013, 4:09pm Top

Though it is a bit crazy to think that your set of ULTBs is bigger than my entire collection of books, haha.

Apr 21, 2013, 4:40pm Top

thank you Omargosh - I think I need to do some more sorting, checking and clearing up - but all that will take time. Yes my library is a large one - fills 3 rooms under our living part of the house and created 2 years ago, a great pleasure but just leads me to indulge in books. I read all the time but still more to go . Keeline thanks for your help in getting going on ULTB.

Apr 21, 2013, 5:12pm Top

435 out of 4326 - pretty close to 10%. A lot of those are pamphlets and Sotheby auction catalogs; I'm sure they're ULTBs mainly because other people don't bother to catalog them.

Apr 21, 2013, 7:46pm Top

86 (down from a peak of 101 after my last cleanup effort) out of 3202 for me . . . 2.7%.

Roughly 1/3 forgotten maritime history and aviation titles from the 1920s/30s, 1/3 recent scholarly books on pop culture, 1/6 other titles that make perfect sense (small-press poetry collections, a 1900 rhetoric textbook), and 1/6 titles that make no sense at all (am I really the only one who has Variety's Complete Science Fiction Reviews or Martin Harry Greenberg's anthology Hollywood Unreel?).

Apr 21, 2013, 7:58pm Top

A lot of mine are obscure music books or 'zines. And cookbooks - the school or whatever kind, comb-bound collections of donated recipes. And various other oddities - computer manuals and the like that most people don't bother to catalog are another group. I have only 184/5628, or 3%. While I was checking, I found two that had been combined and had 23 and 35 total members (so I untagged them - I had 186 tagged at the beginning of my checking).

Apr 22, 2013, 2:21pm Top

I have 9%, 118/1209.
This is something I did not expect

Apr 22, 2013, 4:40pm Top

288 of 2236, 13%

Un-ULTB'd 20 books since last measurement.

Edited: May 11, 2013, 8:32am Top

176 out of 2099 (total books include read but unowned & wishlist, the ultb themselves are or were all owned), most of my latest ULTB additions seem to be non-fiction for juvenile readers in french (and originally written in that language).

May 11, 2013, 8:49am Top

Adjusting my gross total by subtracting Wish-List, Read but Unowned, and Wall of Shame (stuff I've read with revulsion), I have a base total of 1,600 titles, of which about 600 are First Appearances. Within that, roughly 500 are unique. I think that's a pretty alarming percentage: no wonder people often wonder what I'm talking-about! Peace to all -- G. PS: for the purists who scorn Recordings, the figure adjusts to about 350 out of about 1,100.

May 11, 2013, 9:36am Top

108/1322. I had to remove two just now because other people catalogued them. I still have a few with another member but they're private members and I don't consider them real. 8% ULTB in my library, which is all actually owned and in my house. Very few read, but I have looked at all the pictures. ;)

May 11, 2013, 10:27am Top

578 out of 5608, 10.3%.

May 11, 2013, 11:32am Top

Hi Guurtje,

I think I combined a few of your ULTB's, so you've dropped to 10% I guess. Sorry...

My total (until someone starts combining...) 296 of 2269, 12,9%

May 11, 2013, 4:15pm Top

62 > Don't be sorry Sneuper. You are one of the many persons who does a lot of work for LT.

Anyway, I still can say that from the most of the former ULTB's I had, I'm the only one in our language.
I can't have them all! I removed them from my ULTB-collection. For me it's an easy way to keep track on them. Now and then I go through the collection and see right away which one is'nt an ULTB anymore.

112 books out of 1095 listed. (10 more books since april 21st)
And 2 left on my wishlist.
I dropped indeed; from 10.5 % to 10.2 %

May 24, 2013, 3:53am Top

I checked all my ultb's: 556 left out of the 578 in message #61.

Jun 26, 2013, 4:12am Top


I'm glad to find this group!

My ULTB's make up 176 out of a total of 1871 (9.4%)

Jun 28, 2013, 11:59am Top

Welcome to this group ... Great idea . I have been to
Turkey and visited the great palace mosaic museum in Istanbul and bought a book that has joined the ULTB list .. But it is such a special Istanbul museum more people should have this special guide . Published in 1987 it is still the standard smallish guide book ... Now at 87 pages.

Edited: Jun 28, 2013, 5:56pm Top

At last count, I was at 10.05%; now with several additions to the non-ULTB collection and one that has been added by another user, I'm at 9.88%. 437 out of 4421.

Edited: Aug 4, 2013, 11:34pm Top

It is a challenging task/interesting information to know that some books/other printed materials owned by you is unique, only one being catalogued in the LT's website.

It will be more interesting if a member who is not "secretive" and "reserved" to share by giving details about his/her books in a special group for discussion and "chit-chat" or "small talk" about a particular book.

Is there a complete listing of uniquely-owned books by members to view ?

Aug 5, 2013, 2:52am Top

If you click on the ULTB tag, you'll see the books - or some of the books - that have that tag. Other than that, no - there's a listing of books you own that only one other person owns (Stats/Memes>Memes>Vous... (I forget the French, it's "You and no other"), but no listing of books that are owned by only one person.

One reason for that is that quite a few singletons are either spam or mis-combinations - books entered in such a way that they didn't combine with the work they should have joined. So it may not have been considered worth the effort of programming such a list.

Aug 6, 2013, 8:37am Top

I've been at 47/1710 for quite some time now. Apart from a few specialised items, most of my ultbs are 30ish years old - I guess nobody else has kept them!

Aug 6, 2013, 10:01am Top

Some changes in mine when I checked them yesterday.
UTLB currently at 42
UTLB-E 60 (down 2)
UTLB-W 28 (down 3)

One of the E books I lost to a Legacy Library, Harry Truman had a copy of Official Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention held in Cincinnati June 2-6 1856

Aug 6, 2013, 10:43am Top

#71 by TLCrawford>
Looks to me like one of you has Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, 1948 and the other has Official Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention held in Cincinnati June 2-6 1856 so I'd say a separation is in order, in which case you can restore your copy to its former UTLB status.

Aug 6, 2013, 1:45pm Top

Thank you for pointing that out. It does make more sense for Truman to have a copy for a convention that nominated him.

I have no idea how to separate them. Isn't there a limit to the string length that the software looks at when it separates titles?

Aug 6, 2013, 4:45pm Top

#73 I separated your copy and several more that combined due to the 22 (or whatever) digit rule. Restore your ULTB tag.

Aug 7, 2013, 7:49am Top

Thank you!

Aug 8, 2013, 6:59pm Top

#73 by TLCrawford>
Sorry I didn't respond earlier. In the future you can separate such things by going to the "Editions" page of the work (link in its left navbar) and each edition line will have a "separate" link next to it. It looks like these ones probably got autocombined since the Truman account first entered the work as "Official Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, 1948.", so that zero-copy shares a 58-character overlap with the title of your copy, so the autocombiner stopped caring something like 38 characters before the important difference in dates. :-)

Edited: Aug 8, 2013, 10:58pm Top

Correct me, if I am wrong to state whether the following facts I gathered can "sort out" our books in our book catalog/listing to show more reliable ULTB, with an indicating of a "Human Face" icon with figure (1) as a ULTB tagged exclusive of those books that are actually- untagged ULTB, when no indication of tagging of any sort is being used.

1. Each book will have a specificed ISBN number, and this is unique, Maybe, a different edition and reprint of the same book will have different ISBN numbers. When a book bear more than one ISBN number, I believe we should use only 1 ISBN number for the book to be listed in an individual LT book catalog listing.

2. If,only ISBN number is being used and sorted as a "primary" indication, our book will be shown as an only single copy being catalogued among the LibraryThing's members more accurately.

3. ULTB as in the context of a specific edition/reprint of a book, actually with the same content.

Aug 8, 2013, 11:40pm Top

ULTB is intended to refer to works, not editions. Most books with an ISBN are modern enough that the odds of someone having s sexing copy goes up dramatically. Many of my ULTBs are older books. I just added one today, Inca Emerald by Samuel Scoville.


Edited: Aug 9, 2013, 1:47am Top

The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition.

Take of an example, a novel, East of Eden by John Steinbeck were published by different publishers with different editions/reprints will have different ISBN from each publisher.

You might consider your book as "ultb", but not really true, another member having the same book's title published by a different publisher will bear a different ISBN.

As quoted by you: "ULTB is intended to refer to works, not editions" . In this case, similar titles/works with different ISBN(different publishers) will reflect as "ultb" - face icon (1) if you happen to be an only member with that edition. Is this true? I suppose you can tagged your book as "ultb". Is this correct ?

For information:


PS: I am very unclear about the real benefits of ISBN ?

Aug 9, 2013, 2:21am Top

79 >

An ISBN identifies a unique edition of a work. It is helpful for cataloging, searching, and inventory; in the last case, it is similar to a SKU (Stock-Keeping Unit) or the UPC which you find on most of your packaging these days. SKUs might be vendor specific, while UPC barcodes and ISBNs are manufacturer specific.

Any book can come out in multiple editions. Each edition may be a different size, binding, or even a different publisher or translator. It's still essentially the same manuscript. If I read a hardcover of Joe's Novel, you read the paperback, and my mom reads one in a library binding, we've all read the same book, despite the fact that each different binding has a different ISBN. As a reader, it doesn't matter. As a vendor or a manufacturer or a library, having each one clearly marked with an identifier is very handy.

The LT idea of a "work" is based on the "we've all read essentially the same book" concept, rather than the edition concept. That's why different ISBNs are combined to make a "work." The LT work consists of all editions, bindings, publishers, translations etc. of a given book.

The ultb tag is conceptualized as a marker for a book that is a unique work on LT, not a marker of ownership of a unique ISBN or of some other form of unique edition. If you have a one-of-a-kind, hand-bound, hand-colored illustrated edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, with its own unique ISBN, you have a lovely book, but it's not an ultb, because more than 14,600 other people have cataloged copies of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Here on LT, users can and do corral stray editions into larger works. So the status of an ultb can shift simply by the efforts of a combiner. Sometimes, combiner/separators use the ISBN to look up an edition on WorldCat or somewhere else to verify whether or not books with similar/identical titles really belong together. (However, if the ISBN doesn't match what the LT user has entered as the Title/Author, the combiner/separator rule of thumb is to assume the Title/Author as entered is what the LT catalog meant it to be, as a lot of people don't care whether or not the ISBN is accurate, but want the title and author to look right in their catalogs.)

If I have over-explained, I hope you will excuse my verbosity. But I hope this addresses your question.

Aug 9, 2013, 11:37am Top

Your explanation is superb. Thank You to You, phaedraB

Aug 9, 2013, 1:22pm Top

79 and 80 - a most useful discussion on ISBN and a helpful cross reference to FAQs about ISBNs. I actually needed to know this stuff to help in correcting a misallocated ISBN number for a particular recent book. I notice that ULTB ( excuse all this alphabet fruit salad) are more likely to come up for earlier books ( say pre 1965? date of introduction of ISBN?). I found it interesting that a book say published in 1928 ( eg Harold Nicholson's Some People a minor classic, is published in a new edition with an introduction by Nigel Nicholson (Harold's son) in 1958 but acquires an ISBN for the 1982 reprint edition. This is just an example of what is happening. ULTB status seems to be very much a function of obscurity, true rarity, early books, and countries that fall outside main coverage by LT membership . Are there also more ULTBs in foreign languages? I have spotted a few errors on ISBN numbering but that must be rare.

Aug 9, 2013, 3:25pm Top

#82 by Africansky1> Are there also more ULTBs in foreign languages?

I'd say so.

Sep 2, 2013, 5:05am Top

I have undertaken a major clean up of my electronic catalogue, working through titles and authors and checking for unnecessary duplicates or double entries . I found a good many titles where the definite or indefinite article had been omitted ( a lot of missing A, An or The ). Net result for ULTB category is that ULTB currently applies to 2941 books of total library of 13975 , ie under 20% of my collection . I am sure that ultb number will come down further . Turned out to be worthwhile as one does not wish to print a catalogue until at least 90 or 95 % accurate.

Nov 22, 2013, 12:42am Top

latest nos of ULTB books 2913. I notice one needs to revise periodically as what one thought of as ultb also acquired and added by others .

Nov 22, 2013, 9:36am Top

#85 I hadn't checked lately and found that I could remove one from my list. I now have 1915 out of a total of 4358.

Nov 22, 2013, 12:57pm Top

#85 by Africansky1>

Yes, a periodic check will reveal if anyone else has a copy of one of your ULTB books. Usually it is not so difficult to do. Do a tag search for ULTB and then sort by member copies (down).

Changes most often occur because the book you have has been combined (correctly or not) with others. I have a short-run book documenting the history of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. People have (more than once) combined this with the standard park-issued guidebook that is completely different. I'll separate it out and put a disambiguation notice eventually.

While looking down the list, I am sometimes suspicious when there are a couple people so I open the link with the number of copies in a new tab and see if it looks reasonable. In one case, a user account was created and the one and only one book in their entire library was this book. It's possible but unlikely so I left that one alone for further research.

As more people use LT, it is more likely that the books you found interesting enough to get are also interesting to someone else. Indeed, finding those people who are kindred spirits is one of the joys of LT.


Nov 22, 2013, 1:11pm Top

One thing I've noticed which is a tad annoying is that the system shows other members with a given book BUT it is on their wish list. I have it. They do not, apparently. As a result, I am not removing my ULTB tag for that.

I also don't remove it when the title also exists in a legacy library.

It would be nice if the links to other members with a copy on the book page took you to the book listing and not just their profile page. It requires an extra step. If I want to see their profile, I can click their name link once I'm there.


Nov 22, 2013, 1:58pm Top

brightcopy I believe has a userscript that does that.

Nov 22, 2013, 2:11pm Top

It only works from the list of "recently added" people, though, not just anyone who has the book.

Nov 22, 2013, 2:18pm Top

#89 by JerryMmm>

I'll have to look to that. I missed reference to that in the Hacking LibraryThing group. It might have some application even if it is not ideal (per #90).


Nov 22, 2013, 2:30pm Top

Oh it's definitely good, I wasn't dismissing its use at all, I have it and it's lovely! But, it only helps for that if they're in the recent list, so just pointing out it isn't necessarily a help.

Nov 22, 2013, 2:56pm Top

ah. Well, maybe brightcopy can expand its use.

Nov 22, 2013, 3:23pm Top

I have 417 out of 3050 works.

Nov 23, 2013, 12:33am Top

140 out of 3564. I went through them this evening, and deleted 14 which had gained members since the last time I culled them, whenever *that* was. Most of my ultb's are children's.

Nov 23, 2013, 9:03am Top

117 out of 1728 or 6.7%, down from 122.

Jan 12, 1:29am Top

A new year check and down to 2765 out of collections total of 14174.

Jan 12, 10:00am Top

I have 419 (up 2) out of 3097 (up 47) works. Four of my previously ultb works have been added by others since my last check.

Jan 12, 2:11pm Top

565 out of 5839; 9.7%.


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