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1timspalding
Edited: Nov 16, 2009, 1:49am Top

We've introduced a number of new features. This post is about "Local Book Search."

Do not write here about:
*Bugs. We know there will be bugs! I've made a whole discussion topic for bugs on Monday's features.
*For Get this Book see (link).
*For "All Sources" and "Edit Quick Links" see (link).
*For your ebook statistics see (link)

This is a skeleton announcement. I will be adding to it over time. A blog announcement will follow, probably Monday morning.

Example: Local Book Search: London, England
http://www.librarything.com/work/8288/getlocal&place=London,%20England

Notice:
*Results from multiple bookstores from Abebooks.com, as well as Foyles, Blackwell, Waterstones

Who we are integrating with (as of now):

*800 or so mostly used bookstores in Abebooks.com*
*402 Borders stores
*300 Waterstones (UK) stores
*250 Indigo, Indigo Spirit, Chapters and Coles stores
*40 libraries that use LibraryThing for Libraries
*40 Blackwell stores
*4 Shakespeare and Company (NYC) stores
*4 Powell's stores (Portland)
*3 Tattered Covers stores (Colorado)
*The Strand (NYC)
*Harvard Books (Cambridge, MA)
*Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA)
*Foyles (London)
*City Lights, NC

The idea: Bookstores lose out to online retailers primarily over convenience, not price. People increasingly rely on the web for their information, even about their own town or city. Most bookstores don't display holdings, and those that do make them hard to get to—and nobody gathers it all together. Until now. Yes, I am trying to show it can be done. And save physical bookstores.

*See http://www.librarything.com/topic/77118 for more on this; users are connecting them to us. At present, we have so many new connections that only about half have their full stock loaded into LibraryThing.

2KingRat
Nov 16, 2009, 2:28am Top

I take it the IndieBound interface doesn't give holdings then.

3timspalding
Edited: Nov 16, 2009, 2:34am Top

Most IB stores do not upload holdings, but something like 100 do. Unfortunately, we're robots.txt excluded from scraping them, and, as an organization, they do not feel the time is right to release data outside their site.*

We are set up to parse their files—Porter Square and City Lights send us their data every day, right after they upload the files to IndieBound. They're been doing it for two years.

*Check out my Twitter feed sometime for a running narrative of escalating frustration.

4KingRat
Nov 16, 2009, 2:34am Top

Yah, I follow your twitter (I be kingrat). Didn't recall you mentioning IndieBound by name. But then, I tend to a) have a poor memory and b) only pay attention to the last 20 tweets or so that pop up when i connect.

5timspalding
Nov 16, 2009, 5:28am Top

Something is wonky with Borders, unfortunately. I think it's about Borders links being added to quick links when your location isn't near them. This should be fine, but I think my code is messing it up.

6_Zoe_
Nov 16, 2009, 7:20am Top

I think you may have explained this before, but why is there (pretty much) no Barnes and Noble?

7_Zoe_
Nov 16, 2009, 7:27am Top

Also, what determines the order of the bookstores? Shouldn't all the ones that actually have the book be shown at the top?

8_Zoe_
Nov 16, 2009, 7:32am Top

Was it a deliberate choice for the Strand link to go to their Abebooks page rather than their actual store page? This seems strange, because the Abebooks page doesn't say where in the store the book can be found.

9PhoenixTerran
Nov 16, 2009, 8:46am Top

7> Echoing Zoe somewhat--what determines the order of libraries and bookstores? Ordered by distance might be nice, too.

10hailelib
Nov 16, 2009, 9:01am Top

The list looks a bit like it's supposed to be ordered first by availability and second by distance on the couple I've looked at.

11conceptDawg
Nov 16, 2009, 12:14pm Top

All of the integrated stores are shown first, but then they are color coded when the live request is completed. We don't reorder at that point (it would be a UI and interaction nightmare). So you you'll probably have a lot of green/yellow interspersed with each other at the top.

After that, it's based on what we call "feature level," which is what level of access we have to the store. Stores that have direct ISBN access are listed before stores that only have a basic web site link.

12timspalding
Nov 16, 2009, 1:31pm Top

We've got some wonkiness in the sorting Chris. I'll talk to you about it.

13KingRat
Nov 16, 2009, 2:52pm Top

It would be nice if there was an item for "Seattle Public Library - All branches". With their hold system, I usually don't have to care which branch a book is at.

14conceptDawg
Nov 16, 2009, 2:56pm Top

Yeah. We've talked about just such an item. It's in the "what do you think about....?" stage.

15timspalding
Nov 16, 2009, 4:07pm Top

>13 KingRat:

Yeah, it's a concern. We're working on it.

16SqueakyChu
Edited: Nov 16, 2009, 4:18pm Top

I found one bookstore (Pepper's Old Books, Kentucky) that is now closed for repairs and apparently will re-open at a new address. I went ahead and linked it as a real store with a notation in Local that it is closed, but scheduled to re-open in 2010. If I should change this, let me know.

17timspalding
Nov 16, 2009, 4:22pm Top

>16 SqueakyChu:

No, I think that's cool.

18jpers36
Nov 16, 2009, 5:19pm Top

Hey, did you consider putting the legend at the top of the list rather than at the bottom? I looked through these forum posts for a legend for a few minutes before I was able to find it by scrolling down ... :P

19sjmccreary
Nov 16, 2009, 6:49pm Top

A very cool feature - thanks.

I'm also confused by Borders. I live only 2 miles from Borders, and they have the book I was using as a test in stock, according to the web site. But my local Borders does not come up on the results list. I do get 3 Borders hits, though, all 15+ miles away. (There are only 4 stores in this area with that book in stock, according to Borders.)

And a follow-up question to #13. I see my library system is listed as having the book available at several branches. Normally, I don't care either which branch my book comes from. But there are several branches with available copies that do not show up on the results list (including my branch). Now, I don't really care whether the data from my library system is OK - I'll go to them directly before I even check local book search. But it'd be nice to know the results are reliable in case I need to go to a neighboring library for something I can't get here.

This is going to come in so handy. :-)

20lorax
Nov 16, 2009, 6:51pm Top

19>

Check to make sure your closest Borders is in Local -- the same thing was happening to me and it turned out that the nearest location just hadn't been entered.

21jjlong
Nov 16, 2009, 6:58pm Top

Any chance of integrating either Hastings (150 stores, and often the only bookstore in smaller towns here in the South) or Books-a Million (over 200 stores)? Or are they the same story as Barnes & Noble?

22sjmccreary
Nov 16, 2009, 7:51pm Top

#20 Thanks for the tip. My local store hadn't been added, so I went ahead and put it in.

23AnnaClaire
Edited: Nov 16, 2009, 9:02pm Top

>13 KingRat:-14
Idea user-seconded. Brooklyn's got a fairly good system-wide hold system too.

24AnnaClaire
Nov 16, 2009, 9:15pm Top

One more thing. Is there any way to give local book search more information to work with without making such info public? The two nearest BPL branches -- one of which is hardly a detour from the subway, mind you -- are listed as about 2 miles away, while the nearest according to the list is perhaps twice as far* as it says it is, and on the far corner of a major park. This would be akin to, say, telling someone at Lincoln Center that the nearest library branch is at the Met Museum, not at Columbus Circle (a mile up and across the park, rather than a scant half mile away).

* It's hard to say without a scale on the map.

25timspalding
Nov 16, 2009, 9:53pm Top

Hey, did you consider putting the legend at the top of the list rather than at the bottom? I looked through these forum posts for a legend for a few minutes before I was able to find it by scrolling down ... :P

Well, I don't know. It's kind of noise at the top. The colors are good, but they are also echoed by the words that come in, "2 in stock, etc." Can I get people who aren't too invested in this either way to comment whether I'm wrong or right to put them at the bottom?

But my local Borders does not come up on the results list. I do get 3 Borders hits, though, all 15+ miles away. (There are only 4 stores in this area with that book in stock, according to Borders.)

Can you find your borders in LT local? If so, give me the URLs. If not, add them, or tell me what they are. They then need to be "hooked up" to the Borders ids.

I see my library system is listed as having the book available at several branches. Normally, I don't care either which branch my book comes from.

This is a problem we're working on. The problem is, what we really know are what's available in a given library catalog. The holdings information--whether it's in branch A or B, whether it's on shelf X or Z, etc. are not stored in the same place as the information we get. So we're at sea. A lot also depends on what the policy is about moving books between branches.

Anyway, it's something we're looking at.

Any chance of integrating either Hastings (150 stores, and often the only bookstore in smaller towns here in the South) or Books-a Million (over 200 stores)? Or are they the same story as Barnes & Noble?

I'll look at them now.

#20 Thanks for the tip. My local store hadn't been added, so I went ahead and put it in.

Send me the venue id or URL, so I can hook it up.

>24 AnnaClaire:

I'm confused. It really is doing the math right--it's geolocating from Google and others. What are you putting in as your address?

26AnnaClaire
Edited: Nov 16, 2009, 10:21pm Top

It really is doing the math right--it's geolocating from Google and others. What are you putting in as your address?


"Brooklyn, NY". It's calculating from the geographic center of Brooklyn. Normally, that makes sense, but New York City makes a point of being an exception. (True, Brooklyn was the last to join up, but that happened in 1898 for crying out loud.) One city, five counties. I could go on.

Thing is, I don't anything more specific to be on my public profile -- I'm giving out the borough, I shouldn't have to draw a map for any potential stalker/nutjob to see, just to get (for lack of a better term) good data.

In theory, you have my address. I'm in Early Reviewers, and have participated in SantaThing twice. Yet you don't make it known to people who don't legitimately need it to send me stuff. Can't you have something similar, a box to put one's full(er) address for the purpose of calculating distance, but that isn't displayed?

27timspalding
Nov 16, 2009, 10:31pm Top

>26 AnnaClaire:

The location there isn't shown on your public profile. You can make it anything. It's separate.

28sjmccreary
Nov 16, 2009, 10:54pm Top

#25 Venue ID 49370

29AnnaClaire
Nov 16, 2009, 11:04pm Top

>27 timspalding:
Really? When did that change?

30jjwilson61
Nov 16, 2009, 11:19pm Top

29> It's been there since the earliest days of LT Local.

31jjwilson61
Edited: Nov 16, 2009, 11:31pm Top

While my nearest Borders is integrated, the Borders Express in the mall isn't. Is there a reason Borders is excluding its Express stores?

(edited to remove the bug report).

32jjmcgaffey
Edited: Nov 16, 2009, 11:33pm Top

29> Shortly after Local came in - precisely because of your problem (me too). You can give Local your full address, then there's a checkbox to say whether you want that data on your profile or not. Much better!

25> The legend works OK where it is for me - I had to search for it, but I'm used to doing that on maps etc. One possible suggestion - put it in the sidebar, under Editions, like the legend on the All Sources page.

And BTW, shouldn't those two legends have the same labels? The white and blue-and-white are particularly different. Though in fact they were helpful - between the two labels and some clicking, I think I understand those two. I prefer 'website link' for the white; for the blue-and-white, maybe something like 'search for item' - ick, or maybe not. 'blind item link' made sense after I clicked a few links and saw what it displayed for blue-and-white.

33suitable1
Nov 17, 2009, 12:21am Top

I found the legend at the bottom, but I expected it at the top.

34timspalding
Nov 17, 2009, 12:40am Top

>31 jjwilson61:

Go to borders for a book, like this: http://www.borders.com/online/store/OLRLocatorResults?within=100&all_stores=...

And change your zip code. Let me know if the express store shows up?

35staffordcastle
Nov 17, 2009, 12:50am Top

I've just been testing the various links on a random book from my tag watch, and found that the link for the Doe Library at UC Berkeley (http://www.librarything.com/venue/4039#) goes to a general informational page, not to their catalog. I've just added their catalog home page to the venue info; is there anything else that I can do to help link this up?

36staffordcastle
Nov 17, 2009, 12:56am Top

I have done the same for the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library - GTU.

37jjwilson61
Nov 17, 2009, 1:08am Top

34> Nope, the Express store didn't show up.

38generalising
Nov 17, 2009, 4:15am Top

re/ ordering...

Would it be possible to have a user-configurable threshold for distance? The data seems to stop at 25 miles, which is good, but different places have different contexts - in London or Los Angeles, 25 miles is an accessible distance, whilst in a smaller city 10 miles would perhaps be what you think of as "local area". If you're living out in the far fringes, away from large cities, you might need to dial it up to 50 or 100 to pick up any sizable bookshops at all.

(If I start from Oxford (UK), the system currently lists eight branches of Waterstones at the top; seven of these are in different towns, six are more than twenty miles away, and three are even in different counties. Being able to cull out most of these as "too far, never going to go there" would be nice...)

Quibbles aside, it's an excellent project - thanks so much for implementing this.

39TheoClarke
Nov 17, 2009, 7:25am Top

Although I did find the legend at the bottom when I hunted for it, I would have preferred not to have to scroll to see it.

40conceptDawg
Nov 17, 2009, 11:41am Top

It doesn't stop at a distance. It stops when it gets to a certain number of venues (I can't remember the exact number right now, 50?).

41jjwilson61
Nov 17, 2009, 12:19pm Top

It might be nice though to have the option to limit it to a certain distance. Otherwise, given that the sort works with only the limited info it has when the page first loads, the closest bookstore with your book could easily be below the fold.

42rsterling
Nov 17, 2009, 12:24pm Top

Agree that it would be nice to have a distance option, and maybe a limit on the number of the same chain that can appear above the fold. For me (in LA area), all I have above the fold are 14 Borders locations, most of them too far away to bother with.

43rsterling
Edited: Nov 17, 2009, 12:33pm Top

38: "in London or Los Angeles, 25 miles is an accessible distance, whilst in a smaller city 10 miles would perhaps be what you think of as "local area"."

Actually, I think it's the other way around. There's no way I'm driving 25 miles in the LA area to find most books, unless it's something really, really special. That would often take over an hour. For me, I'm only likely to be interested in things at a distance of 5-10 miles most of the time (above the fold, with the option to look below the fold for more). In the small town where I grew up, though, people regularly drive 25 miles to the larger city to go shopping, and it takes a lot less time.

(Edited to add: I think we agree on the main point, though: it would be nice to be able to customize the distance threshold!)

44aethercowboy
Nov 17, 2009, 12:34pm Top

>25 timspalding:.

I think the key is more meaningful at the bottom. You don't need to get bombarded with symbol soup before you actually learn how they're used. And, they don't normally put footnotes at the TOP of the page.

I think it's TMI at the top, personally. But I wouldn't cross county lines to make a stink if it was.

45lorax
Nov 17, 2009, 12:35pm Top

38>

in London or Los Angeles, 25 miles is an accessible distance

Buh?

Have you been to Los Angeles? I wouldn't dream of going 25 miles just to go to a bookstore.

46infiniteletters
Nov 17, 2009, 12:43pm Top

The "closest" bookstore listed for me is over 60 miles away, while others are left off the list entirely. Maybe there could be a "see stores without catalogs" section so it would at least show what bookstores are within a few miles.

47jlelliott
Nov 17, 2009, 12:46pm Top

-45 And my father there wouldn't blink about going over 60. Many people in Southern California spend capacious amounts of time on the road.

48jjwilson61
Nov 17, 2009, 12:49pm Top

46> Try the Local tab. If there are bookstores that you know about that aren't in Local then feel free to add them.

49AnnaClaire
Nov 17, 2009, 12:49pm Top

>45 lorax:
Same thing in New York. I may be able to get 25 miles away car-free without too much trouble, but that's still more trouble than I'd take for most books. I have a Borders near work, an indie bookstore and a B&N near home. Not to mention a library card at one system that's recognized at another public library system*.

----
*I can't speak to whether the city's third system, in Queens, honors cards from NYPL or BPL. (They probably do.)

50timspalding
Nov 17, 2009, 12:51pm Top

34> Nope, the Express store didn't show up.

They must not store stock for it.

The "closest" bookstore listed for me is over 60 miles away, while others are left off the list entirely. Maybe there could be a "see stores without catalogs" section so it would at least show what bookstores are within a few miles.

It does cut off at 60.

51lampbane
Nov 17, 2009, 1:21pm Top

>>49 AnnaClaire:

The crazy thing about the system is that is gives you a 25 mile radius, which means that you could be in New York City and be getting results in Red Bank, NJ... which is not an easy trip by transit or even by car.

52infiniteletters
Nov 17, 2009, 1:27pm Top

48: They show fine in Local. They just don't have websites with catalogs, so they don't show in Get This Book.

53trollsdotter
Nov 17, 2009, 1:45pm Top

>46 infiniteletters:

Either Tim responded to your request, or your bookstores are not in LTLocal. My local bookstores (indies) do not have online catalogs, but they show up on the listings with their phone numbers.

>51 lampbane:

It is crazy, a bookstore on the other side of the Chesapeake is listed before the local store, just because it has a searchable catalog on abebooks.

54generalising
Nov 17, 2009, 2:30pm Top

@43, 45 - fair point! I guess my thought is that in a large city, I might be willing to get on a bus and go to the other side of it to find a particular book in a small store; the same distance in a smaller place, though, I'd look at and think "nah, that's two towns away, I may as well mail order and wait a week".

It seems I may be more enthusiastic than most ;-)

I think the idea still holds, though - any given person at any given time has their own threshold for what is and isn't a reasonable trip to collect something, and so it makes sense to adapt to that.

55lorax
Nov 17, 2009, 2:34pm Top

54>

A bus? In LA? Now I know you've never been here. ;-)

56AnnaClaire
Nov 17, 2009, 2:35pm Top

>51 lampbane:
I have enough family in NJ to know that there's no such thing "direct route" when driving there. (And I'm a native New Yorker who therefore doesn't drive.)

57AnnaClaire
Nov 17, 2009, 2:36pm Top

>55 lorax:
Ditto, and I tend to take mass transit for granted (for the same reason I don't drive).

58infiniteletters
Edited: Nov 17, 2009, 5:08pm Top

Only 3 bookstores show for me on Get This Book. 2 of them are in a completely different city (~90 minutes away).

In Local, there are ~10 bookstores in my city.

I think it's pulling all the libraries within 60 miles, and then looking at the bookstores maybe?

59timspalding
Nov 17, 2009, 10:09pm Top

The crazy thing about the system is that is gives you a 25 mile radius, which means that you could be in New York City and be getting results in Red Bank, NJ... which is not an easy trip by transit or even by car.

I understand the problem, but there's no way around it. I get a library on Cliff Island, which is an island, and very hard to get to.

60_Zoe_
Nov 17, 2009, 11:03pm Top

I understand the problem, but there's no way around it.

I'm sure there is, if you really want to find one. At the most basic level, let us lower the radius. Or let us exclude stores in different states (different cities would be even better).

Also, it would be nice if we could reorder the bookstores so that the ones we actually shop at regularly appeared at the top (or if you added that nice requested feature that would let us connect individual books to the store where we bought them, this could even be automated!).

On a different note, it would be nice if all the stores with no information were hidden behind another click. When I'm searching for a particular book, I have absolutely no interest in seeing a list of all the local bookstores that don't provide stock information.

Also, while this is all nice in theory, I really can't imagine that I'll use it much without the Barnes and Noble stock information. Sorry.

61timspalding
Nov 17, 2009, 11:53pm Top

When I'm searching for a particular book, I have absolutely no interest in seeing a list of all the local bookstores that don't provide stock information.

Well, you could call them up. That's why we give the #.

Also, while this is all nice in theory, I really can't imagine that I'll use it much without the Barnes and Noble stock information. Sorry.

A lot of them near you?

62timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 1:26am Top

Test.

63_Zoe_
Edited: Nov 18, 2009, 7:51am Top

Well, you could call them up. That's why we give the #.

Right, but if I'm going to go to the trouble of calling bookstores, I can manage one additional click.

A lot of them (Barnes & Noble) near you?

Five within two miles. Ten within 5. One only 0.2 miles away, and two that are 3+ miles but conveniently next to the subway stops that I go to almost every day.

64infiniteletters
Nov 18, 2009, 9:13am Top

Yeah, Barnes and Noble is my closest large bookstore. :/ And Half-Price Books, but you're not going to get a store inventory from them...

65AnnaClaire
Nov 18, 2009, 10:25am Top

>60 _Zoe_:
I'm sure there is, if you really want to find one. At the most basic level, let us lower the radius. Or let us exclude stores in different states

I agree. Some of my city's nearest suburbs are out of state. Heck, the subway station I get off at every morning is 34th St./Penn Station -- Penn Station being where people taking NJ Transit into the city get deposited. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna go book-hunting in New Jersey.

Just out of curiosity, is Tim's example of a library on an island in the same state that he is? If so, I'd ask him to consider what his response might be if it were in a different one.

Also, it would be nice if we could reorder the bookstores so that the ones we actually shop at regularly appeared at the top
Again, agreed. That way my example of Galaxy Collectibles, the nearby shop which is just a little too specialty would be less of a problem (or at least, a problem in fewer places).

On a related note, I'd also like to add bookstores to my list I can get to without any significant trouble, but that aren't near home (like the Borders around the corner from that huge-a$$ train station I mentioned).

66timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 11:08am Top

The trick is in picking one way for it to work—one consistent, non-changeable way. Normally, we could have a philosophical debate about this. You know, the iPod's radical and unchangeable simplicity vs. all the buttons and settings of other MP3 players. But in this case I have the additional argument that this isn't a core feature, but an experiment. If this takes off—if, for example, we end up making a dedicated site for this—then maybe I'll revisit it. But as it is, I don't want to spend a lot of time making user customizations. After all, you can put any bookstore you want in your quick links and on Get this Book or Book Search pages you will see them.

So, assuming that it can function only one way, what way should that be? If it can function only one way, I don't think it should search within a radius but only within your state. People do live near state lines, and consider whether they're going to shop in, say, MA, RI or CT irrelevant.

I think it's another question whether it should show only stores that have info—with the others a click away. I'm of two minds, frankly.

67aethercowboy
Nov 18, 2009, 11:15am Top

>66 timspalding:.

Assumption: you're using the Google Maps API.

Does the Google Maps API have a way to determine the driving/walking distance (and possibility of such a path, in the case of the island bookstore) instead of "as the book flies"? Or would that be one of those P=NP type of problems?

Sorry for not R'ingTFM.

68AnnaClaire
Edited: Nov 18, 2009, 11:31am Top

People do live near state lines, and consider whether they're going to shop in, say, MA, RI or CT (#66)

The question isn't just the state line, just like it isn't just having to cross a body of water. (I effectively cross a river twice a day when I go to and from work. Which isn't the same as crossing a tidal estuary, but it's pretty damn close.) It's the fact that a) I'm almost never in New Jersey anyway, and b) I probably wouldn't have to take that much trouble anyway.

Why wouldn't reordering and/or custom-including places non-"near" places we shop keep most people happy?

69aethercowboy
Nov 18, 2009, 11:42am Top

>68 AnnaClaire:.

Like an "ignore this venue" option?

70jlelliott
Nov 18, 2009, 11:57am Top

I have a question (possibly a stupid question). There is a used bookstore close to me that has a catalog on Abe books (http://www.abebooks.com/home/avols/), a link to which is present on their local site here on LT, although they are not marked as a member of Abe books with that little flying book logo, and are not currently integrated with local book search. I would just link them to their Abe books account, but they are not included in that big list of Abe book accounts that was provided for linking. Have they been left out accidentally somehow, or am I just being impatient?

71suitable1
Edited: Nov 18, 2009, 12:25pm Top

Places like Kansas City certainly need to cross state lines and rivers.

72timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 12:11pm Top

The question isn't just the state line, just like it isn't just having to cross a body of water

Look I hear you. But if you do Pizza and your address in Google, it will give you locations across the water too. At some point, search is about giving you a bunch of results, knowing you won't like all of them.

Avols

Are they new, do you think? We scraped all stores a week or so ago.

T

73AnnaClaire
Nov 18, 2009, 12:20pm Top

>69 aethercowboy:
That would certainly solve what I consider the big part of the problem (the interstate-radius bit), and without seriously annoying those who don't think it's a problem.

I'd also like the ability to 'reverse ignore' the one or two bookstores that are hyperconvenient to, say, the office, but I'll settle for "ignore this venue."

74infiniteletters
Nov 18, 2009, 12:29pm Top

Yeah, I think "ignore this venue" would help. :)

75jlelliott
Nov 18, 2009, 12:54pm Top

-72 I think that they have had an Abe account for quite some time (years?). The manager always tells me to check it whenever I visit the actual store.

I would really love for this one to work as it is the only large used book store near me with a catalog that could work on local.

76_Zoe_
Nov 18, 2009, 1:08pm Top

If this takes off—if, for example, we end up making a dedicated site for this—then maybe I'll revisit it.

I'm not really too concerned about this since I have no trouble acquiring books as is, but I think it's worth mentioning that whether it takes off depends on how good it is. Currently, the data seems to come from only two places, and it's not even presented in a useful way. It seems a bit premature to dismiss improvements now and wait to see whether it takes off, because I really don't see it succeeding in its current form.

77timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 1:36pm Top

Right. Except the data doesn't come from two places.

800 or so, mostly used, bookstores from Abebooks.com
402 Borders (US) stores
300 Waterstones (UK) stores
250 Indigo, Indigo Spirit, Chapters and Coles stores in Canada
40 library systems that use LibraryThing for Libraries. (We hope to convince all 160 to participate.)
40 Blackwell (UK) stores
4 Shakespeare and Company (NYC) stores
4 Powell's stores (Portland)
3 Tattered Covers stores (Colorado)
The Strand in New York City
Harvard Books (Cambridge, MA)
Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA)
Foyles (London)
City Lights in Sylva, NC (they rock)

78_Zoe_
Nov 18, 2009, 1:43pm Top

I just posted in the bug thread about how the Strand integration doesn't seem to work.

But my point is, for the actual bookstores rather than the online ones, in any given city, the data only comes from a couple of places. There's not much to be gained by looking at the LT page rather than going to the Borders and Shakespeare & Co. pages separately, especially given how the LT list is organized.

79timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 1:47pm Top

Acht.

80timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 2:29pm Top

I'm loading all the new NYC Abe stores, to give you more to chew on.

81prosfilaes
Nov 18, 2009, 2:55pm Top

What does it take to add a new bookstore? I know Pandemonium Games in Cambridge has a computerized list of their new books, and I could bend the ear of the owner to get it added if it's not too much work.

82timspalding
Edited: Nov 18, 2009, 3:11pm Top

Would love to add them. If they're on Abe, it's super easy. Otherwise, we can deal with most file types. Fundamentally, we want ISBN title author.

New York

A nice example. You want a copy of Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

http://www.librarything.com/work/27577/getlocal&place=New%20York%20City,%20N...

Not in any Borders, but at three Shakespeare and Companys, the Strand and six used bookstores (out of a few dozen). I'm not sure how you'd have figured that out before this feature. Not by visiting Borders.

83timspalding
Edited: Nov 18, 2009, 3:59pm Top

I've changed the sorting, so that everything that is green or wiggly (which can go green or yellow, after a time) sorts to the top, followed by others.

Example: http://www.librarything.com/work/10168/getlocal&place=New%20York%20City,%20N...

84AnnaClaire
Nov 18, 2009, 4:38pm Top

>83 timspalding:
Is it now reading my location from my IP address or something? Because I'm getting a lot of results in Midtown, but I still have my home address in Local.

That is to say, I clicked the link you provided, and it said* "LibraryThing Local: New York City, NY"**. I duly clicked on the Local tab to check the address there. It still listed the one in Brooklyn, followed by a list of venues, all of which were in Brooklyn, often in the same zip code. (For those not familiar with Brooklyn, the next zip code over starts right around the subway stop I use.) I had to click "change location" to get the Brooklyn stores to the top of the list.

---
*Tried to upload screenshot to WikiThing (JPEG, 185k). It failed. Four times.
** This is in itself wrong simply because the correct form is "New York, NY." Please change it or I might have to start that snowball fight all over again

85timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 4:40pm Top

The link I gave had the location inside it—New York City, NY.

I think results are better because all the NYC Abe results loaded, and because I fixed the fact that people had turned the Strand and Shakespeare and Company into Abebooks venues because they list a few items there.

86infiniteletters
Nov 18, 2009, 4:42pm Top

83: Yay! Now it displays more than one local bookstore, even if it still has the 2 faraway Borders at the top. It only had 3 before.

87AnnaClaire
Edited: Nov 18, 2009, 4:46pm Top

>85 timspalding:
Ah, so your link is responsible for both problems. But you do see why it might look hinky to a New Yorker who doesn't live in Manhattan?

Just out of curiosity, why did you use the wrong (for lack of a more polite but still correct word) name for the Big Apple? What does "New York City, NY" do that "New York, NY" doesn't?

Edited for clarity, and to point to the post I was responding to

88timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 4:51pm Top

Heh. I don't know. Just entered a string. They all work.

89_Zoe_
Nov 18, 2009, 4:51pm Top

Thanks for the changes! I'll happily admit that it's useful now.

Though I still wish for B&N....

90timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 4:52pm Top

Yeah, I agree on that.

We're talking to some people to expand it. But not B&N. Silence from them...

91legallypuzzled
Nov 18, 2009, 5:29pm Top

The new sorting (>83 timspalding:) is better, but I'd still prefer an "ignore this venue" option. My closest venues are a coffeehouse (with about 100 books), a craft store, and several small religious bookstores. None of them are particularly helpful in searching for general books.

As for state lines, I'm in a weird portion of Virginia where I'd prefer to see Tennessee results.

92FicusFan
Nov 18, 2009, 5:37pm Top

I too would like to see B&N data. Borders doesn't really carry many books anymore (at least in my town).

They used to be great, but then went on a cost cutting measure and most of the books I want have to be ordered - even brand new books.

94aethercowboy
Nov 18, 2009, 5:48pm Top

95caseydurfee
Nov 18, 2009, 5:48pm Top

also: "Hitsville USA" gives you Detroit; "Chocolate City" D.C.; "Craptown" gives you somewhere in Kentucky.

96eromsted
Nov 18, 2009, 5:54pm Top

The usefulness of this feature will depend a lot on whether you are lucky enough to live near an catalog-integrated bookstore. Unfortunately that means it will not be too useful for me. My closest integrated store is a Borders 10 miles away, but given the geography of central Jersey it's quicker to get the the Borders that's 12 miles away. The nearest indy is 13 miles away. I found that one doing Abe links and they seem to have a lot of potentially interesting books at very low prices. So I might pay them a visit, but that has nothing to do with the LT feature. To me, that kind of store is better for browsing than for buying specific books.

There are some B&N locations around 5-6 miles from me so add me as someone hoping they will respond eventually. I noticed that unlike Borders, the B&N branch websites don't seem to have any indication of local stock. Perhaps they just don't want to make that public.

It's quite sad that I live right next to the major campuses of Rutgers University and the only bookstores are the ones that sell textbooks to students.

97FicusFan
Edited: Nov 18, 2009, 6:08pm Top

The B&N Catalog has a local store button on the page if its in stores (some are only available on-line). You just enter your zip code and it will list 3 stores near you and whether they have it in stock or not.

You may have to actually click on the book when it comes up on the search. Then it is usually on the right, about mid screen if its in stores.

I use it all the time because both B&N and Borders are a block from each other, but it is usually B&N that has the book.

98eromsted
Nov 18, 2009, 6:12pm Top

>97 FicusFan:
Thanks. So you have to go to the main catalog to search for the book and then re-search for the local store. It also seems that's how the Borders sites work. Not sure what I was thinking of.

99FicusFan
Nov 18, 2009, 6:19pm Top

No there is no need to search for the local store - unless you mean you don't know where yours is ?

You just search for the book

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=my+dead+body&box...

Then on the right under the price box it says check for store availability. If you mouse over it, it will give you a box to put in your zip and it will list the 3 stores near you. If yours has it there will be a green check. If it doesn't there will be a red X.

If the book is available you can click on the store name you want it from, and they will put it on reserve for you.

There really is no need for to go to B&N 'Local' because it has nothing to do with books. Only location, phone, hours, and their events calendar.

100eromsted
Nov 18, 2009, 6:27pm Top

>99 FicusFan:
But if I'm coming from LT I get sent to the local branch page. And of course this makes sense because until recently LT Local has been mostly about events. I understand the difference, that's just where my head was.

101timspalding
Nov 18, 2009, 6:51pm Top

I'm tempted to use the B&N links. Their stock pages are robots.txt excluded, but their Ajax and JS isn't. Maybe that means we can use it, until they make us stop. I wrote to them asking. It's irritating how I don't even get replies from most of these book people. Yes, LibraryThing is a tiny worm next to them. But, well, we're not a very tiny worm. As regards traffic, for example, B&N is only 2.3 times larger than us. You'd think some VP of nothingness could send me an email.

102_Zoe_
Nov 18, 2009, 6:55pm Top

Maybe that means we can use it, until they make us stop.

Sounds good to me.

And I wonder whether they'd really make you stop? "We don't want you directing people to our stores; send them to Borders instead!"

I can understand that not replying is the easiest thing, but actively refusing just makes no sense.

103caffron
Nov 18, 2009, 7:53pm Top

If it helps to keep a tally, I am a frequent shopper of B&N and would welcome integrating their info if they will allow it. I've looked up local inventory information from them several times this year. I know they're trying to make their own website into a social network, but I hope they can be convinced by dollar signs to let us in.

104SqueakyChu
Nov 18, 2009, 9:02pm Top

I'd really like B&N as a listing. Usually I buy used books, but if I need a new book in a hurry, the closest B&N is about half a mile from where I live.

105FicusFan
Nov 18, 2009, 11:01pm Top

100 eromsted: No problem, I just didn't want you to think you somehow had to go to or use local to find out if a book was available in your specific store.

LT is not a worm or even worm-like. It may be smaller than the big ones, but it has a lot of readers and B&N should appreciate that.

Tim they say it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. You at least tried to get an OK, so maybe you can do your thing until they tell you stop (as long as it won't harm you or LT in the long run). Having B&N data about what is available would be great.

106KingRat
Nov 19, 2009, 1:47am Top

Just out of curiosity, I have a question about Google.

I see Local Book Search because I have a location entered into LT Local and I look at a work page.

When I do this without logging in, local book search appears to default to a location in New York City somewhere. From that I can change location and get local results.

In order for this to really take off, it needs to be accessible to people who don't have LT accounts, i.e., who get to LT through Google searches. However, I don't see anything on the page that will trigger it to come up for people who search google for "buy Title in Seattle" or the like. And Googlebot won't click on "Change Location" either.

So how's this gonna get plugged in to Google?

107conceptDawg
Nov 19, 2009, 12:05pm Top

It defaults to New York if you don't have a location supplied. But, you can make it default to another location by using a URL parameter:
.../get&place=Chicago

We can use that to do some "creative" things. :)

108jpers36
Nov 19, 2009, 12:14pm Top

66>

"After all, you can put any bookstore you want in your quick links and on Get this Book or Book Search pages you will see them."

How do we do that? Right now, it doesn't look like the Get this Book / Book Search pages are including my "Favorite" locations.

109timspalding
Nov 19, 2009, 12:32pm Top

>107 conceptDawg:

They can just change their location!

Chris: Can you add something like "No location entered, so we're giving you New York City. Change your location" at the top if they don't have one.

110conceptDawg
Nov 19, 2009, 12:32pm Top

Yep.

111conceptDawg
Nov 19, 2009, 12:38pm Top

108, jpers36:
Click the little pencil icon next to Quick Links in the green box on the right. That takes you to a page the will let you add/remove/edit the items that appear in the green box.

112justjim
Nov 19, 2009, 4:23pm Top

No location entered, so we're giving you New York City.

Couldn't you do a better guess than that based on the IP? Porn sites manage to do it, erm, so I'm told.

113timspalding
Nov 19, 2009, 7:33pm Top

We're working on it. It's a lot of work for us. Most of us don't look very good naked.

114justjim
Nov 19, 2009, 7:37pm Top

I'm telling Abigail that you said that!

115LucindaLibri
Nov 20, 2009, 5:08pm Top

Just wanted to say that I was skeptical about this feature, but yesterday I tried it . . . and today I bought the book I was looking for at a local bargain bookstore! (And I mentioned to them how I found it.) So, I'm SOLD!!

Re the legend: at first I was confused because the stuff in the right sidebar has similar colorbars, so I thought that was the legend (which made no sense at all) but eventually found the actual legend at the bottom. Perhaps the legend could appear up in the right sidebar??

All of my favorite local choices will require hitting "more" to expand the list (I live in Minneapolis, we have lots of bookstores) . . . so the ability to (eventually) customize what stores appear in the list and/or the order in which the stores appear would be lovely.

'nuf said for now--nice rollout . . .

116timspalding
Nov 20, 2009, 7:38pm Top

Thanks. We're really pulling out all the stops for B&N. Hope we get it.

117SqueakyChu
Nov 21, 2009, 10:13am Top

What is a "blind item link"?

118rsterling
Edited: Nov 21, 2009, 11:56am Top

So... with the venues that say "No Local Book Search," is there a way to get them in? How do we get more stores connected? If we add ISBN search details to their Local details, will that eventually connect them to Local Book Search in some way? If so, is that kind of connection different? Is it less "live"?

ETA: I think I've answered my own question, by looking at a venue I just edited. It becomes possible to search the store's inventory for an edition, but the since the "holdings are not exposed," there isn't live information on stock or prices on LT itself.

119eromsted
Nov 21, 2009, 12:42pm Top

It becomes possible to search the store's inventory for an edition, but the since the "holdings are not exposed," there isn't live information on stock or prices on LT itself.

And I think that's the definition of a "blind item link." No?

120rsterling
Nov 21, 2009, 12:55pm Top

119: Very possibly. These threads have gotten a bit long and complicated, and I haven't been following all the new terminology...!

121beatbox32
Nov 23, 2009, 4:05pm Top

Okay, I'm so cornfused.. WHERE do I perform the Local Book Search? I click on the Search tab and tried to type in "book title near my location, state" and got no results.. even something like "art near Los Angeles, CA" gave me no results. I'm positive I'm doing it wrong, so where do I go? :)

Thanks!

122infiniteletters
Nov 23, 2009, 4:11pm Top

121: Go to the Local tab instead. :)

123staffordcastle
Edited: Nov 23, 2009, 4:13pm Top

If you are looking for a particular book, go to that book's Work page (Main Page) and look at the green box on the right side of the page. There are three links in a group near the bottom of that box - Get This Book, Local Book Search, and All Sources. Click on Local Book Search.

If you are looking for a bookshop in your area, go to the Local tab at the top of the page, and it should show you a list of bookstores near you. The search field here is the one that is By Name or By Location.

124beatbox32
Nov 23, 2009, 4:20pm Top

ahh gotcha. Many thanks!

125conceptDawg
Nov 23, 2009, 5:07pm Top

We are now using your IP address to get the default location. The only time it shows New York now is as a last resort if it can't figure it out by your IP address (about 1% of the requests that get that far).

126conceptDawg
Nov 23, 2009, 5:11pm Top

Of course, if you are using a mobile device all bets are off since IP addresses are a little more fluid in that environment. My iPhone says that I'm in Douglasville, GA when using the 3G network.

That's only a few hundred miles incorrect. But, hey!

127infiniteletters
Nov 23, 2009, 5:23pm Top

Hmm. IP matching isn't doing anything. Is it because I have a ultraspecific location on my LT profile? "Here"

128aethercowboy
Nov 23, 2009, 5:38pm Top

At least it isn't set to Argleton...

129lorax
Nov 23, 2009, 6:08pm Top

infiniteletters, your "Local" location can be set independently of your profile location, if you don't care to advertise your exact location to the world.

130conceptDawg
Nov 24, 2009, 2:04am Top

Yes, if you have anything set as your Local location it will override the IP-based location finding. The IP location is the last-ditch effort.

131jpers36
Nov 25, 2009, 12:23am Top

111: The "Edit Quick Links" little pencil icon isn't working for me. I tried it at work in IE7, and the connection timed out. I figured this might be an IE7 error, but I just tried it at home on IE8, and connection timed out as well.

132timspalding
Nov 25, 2009, 12:26am Top

Are you on dialup?

133jpers36
Nov 25, 2009, 3:52pm Top

No, I have high-speed internet access at both home and work. The page header and tabs (Home / Profile / ... / Zeitgeist / More) come up in under a second, but the http://www.librarything.com/editquicklinks page dies waiting for the rest of the content to load.

134SqueakyChu
Nov 30, 2009, 12:53am Top

I was just looking up a book's availability on the various sources of Get This Book, and it caused my computer to freeze. I'm on IE8 (high speed internet/not dial-up) Should I have been using FF2 for this feature?

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