LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world

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LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world

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Edited: Mar 28, 2013, 11:39 pm

As you may know, Amazon recently bought Goodreads.

This is an open thread, soliciting your opinions of how LibraryThing can succeed in the new reality. I'm going to post my thoughts. I'm eager to hear others'.

First, this is GOOD NEWS. I've been wanting this forever.

1. When startups get bought they slow down or worse. When Amazon bought Shelfari, our other competitor, it just languished. Not a few big purchases have ended up in ruins. I don't think Amazon will bungle Goodreads—I'd analogize this more to Amazon's purchase of Zappos—but there's going to be an effect. Amazon is a VERY smart company and has power, but a lot of its power will backfire for the sort of people who like LibraryThing, and Goodreads is hardly going to move faster now that they've acquired a whole new set of bosses, company-wide policies and technical infrastructure to mate with, etc. And you can be sure that Goodreads will see its stock-incentivized talent drain away once everyone vests.

2. Amazon/Goodreads realigns friends and enemies. Publishers are desperate to find a way out of the Amazon trap--needing Amazon, but also competing more and more with Amazon's own publishing operations, and finding their individual and collective power declining as Amazon's grows. As I read it, funding Bookish was one attempt to get out of this trap. The independence of Goodreads suited them too. Now that Goodreads is just Amazon, the time and money publishers spend on Goodreads is like everything else they do with Amazon--good in the short term, but suffocating them in the long-term.

The same goes for many other players. With Amazon in the drivers' seat, you can bet that B&N, Kobo and Indies are going to drop and be dropped by Goodreads like a hot potato. If any non-Amazon "buy" buttons remain, they're going to be buried deep. And B&N is hardly going to encourage people to use Goodreads now that every item of data Goodreads get goes to build Amazon and the Kindle features Goodreads is promising.

In short, we gained a lot of friends today.

3. Users are restless. While outright Amazon hatred is a minority feeling, it's a real one, and something LibraryThing can benefit from. We need to justify those feelings by making it clearer than ever that LibraryThing respects your data. (I think we need to discuss new terms that bind LibraryThing as much as they bind users.)

At the same time, it's well known that Amazon has an indirect but real stake in LibraryThing—they bought Abebooks, who were our first minority partner. People keep reporting that Amazon has 40%. That's simply not true—it fails to take account of our second funder, Bowker. (I remain the majority; I can't say how the rest divides up.) But this certainly muddies the message. For what it's worth, I want LibraryThing to make more money, and therefore my, Bowker and Amazon's stake to be worth more and more, but with Amazon now holding 100% ownership of BOTH our competitors (Goodreads and Shelfari), we can hardly do so without emphasizing what sets us apart.

More thoughts to come.

Mar 28, 2013, 11:12 pm

Thanks for the thoughts: they actually clarified the situation for me.

If Abebooks is owned by Amazon, who isn't?

Is anyone not owned by Amazon?

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 8:41 am

What we can do:

We have limited but real development resources, and a TON of work to do. LibraryThing has a very large codebase and feature set for a company with only a few developers. As fate would have it, we just started a "surge"—going from one full-time developer to three. (Basically, robust sales of our LTFL products have bought us the breathing room to pivot back to But three people is not ten. Our current plan is to work on the core cataloging features, and FB/Twitter integration. We know we need a native iPhone app, but we just don't have that on the plan as of now.

Ultimately, we're going to make progress, but it's not going to be dramatic and immediate. I'm looking for ways to accelerate that. I'm going to throw out some ideas:

1. We need to make common cause with the publishers and booksellers the Amz/Goodreads move leaves out in the cold. I'm hoping some come to us. For example, I can't IMAGINE Google is going to continue showing Goodreads reviews now that Goodreads is owned by Amazon. But we also need to find them.

2. LibraryThing sells aggregate and anonymous data (i.e., no users or catalogs, but recommendations, tag counts and etc.) to some companies. We don't want to kill that. But why not release our data to indies for free? They're not paying us, but they could help us a lot if they promoted us.

3. We need to embrace being the "un-Amazon" and "un-Goodreads." If they zag, we should zig. This is the way I like it—I find Goodreads too pushy on the social side, too cavalier about user data and--on average--not as intellectual as LibraryThing can be(1). So I want to be unlike them. But it's also good business practices. If you want a ham sandwich, Goodreads will give you one. We need to be the site for people who hate ham sandwiches.

4. Trust me or don't, but my motives are pretty pure. I like my job and I'm not looking to flip the company to Amazon or anyone else.(2) The LibraryThing terms of use are pretty good too, but they still give us wiggle room. How can we tighten it up so that users can be sure they won't get screwed, as many feel Goodreads is screwing them now?

5. LibraryThing is remarkably dependent on its users, who organize and improve its content all day long for the sheer love of it. How can we encourage this and deepen it?

Don't say we should open-source the code. That would be a nightmare! And I have limited confidence in APIs. LibraryThing has the book geeks, but not so much the computers geeks. In part this is our fault. Goodreads successfully ignored Amazon's API restrictions until, finally, Amazon bought them. (Let's see how their APIs go now…) But I also feel that, fundamentally, LibraryThing is for book geeks, and has limited appeal to programmers. So, for example, even when we promised to give thousands to charity, we couldn't get any help adding events through our API—even as users did lots of manual adding.

6. We need a design that speaks to the differences. In general LibraryThing is the site that cares about data, where kiddies get the boot and reviews and comments are always intelligent and well-written. But our design doesn't say that. Better, how can we improve the design without spending $100k?

7. We could adapt by shrinking—basically, kill off many of the "side stuff" and focus on cataloging cataloging cataloging. This would give us more development resources, because we wouldn't be stretched so thin. I'm against this, frankly, but I'm not sure I'm right.

1. Besides, I'm not sure anyone's going to buy a tech company in Maine, of all godforsaken tech places. That'd be a challenge even if they accepted I wasn't leaving.
2. I originally wrote "culturally and intellectually inferior." This is clearly too harsh. There are parts of Goodreads that I don't appreciate, and would like to see LibraryThing avoid. Among other things, there are a lot of under-13s on the site. This is illegal and unwanted; LibraryThing members report users who mention a low age or grade, and they get kicked off. More generally, LibraryThing's rules and social interface have been built to favor long-form conversation between well-spoken adults who care deeply about books, and the culture has followed.

Mar 28, 2013, 11:33 pm

I like Goodreads, I've never been an either/or person. It's different and that's fine. I'm curious to see how, and how quickly, Goodreads changes. Some better integration with kindle could be good, depending on what exactly it is. The Shelfari model doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

One thing I think would help LT is if it had a fresher look. I suspect that over the coming days, weeks and months more people will be checking out LT and as much as I like its functionality (which is and should be the priority) a nice vase of flowers and that fresh cookie smell might get people to stick around and explore a while. I know that's not an overnight thing, but a better looking interface couldn't hurt.

Mar 28, 2013, 11:40 pm

Another thought, and I apologize if it's not that well developed, but I was reading an article today about how microsoft is committed to Windows 8 and the eventual abandonment of the desktop. LibraryThing looks like it was designed for a desktop. I still prefer the desktop but the world is moving away from it. Maybe LibraryThing can begin to move in that direction. I'm not sure exactly what that would look like, but probably bigger graphics, larger links, and a navigation style that lends itself to both a desktop computer and a touchscreen tablet.

Mar 28, 2013, 11:44 pm

This member has been suspended from the site.

Mar 28, 2013, 11:47 pm

I, for one, would be very sad if LT went the "bigger graphics" look. One of the big attractions for me of this site is its visual simplicity.

Edited: Mar 28, 2013, 11:49 pm

>7 lilithcat:

No, I agree. I don't think better is the enemy of the information dense and simple. As discussed previously, I admire the sort of design that Bookish has, but it's never going to be ours.

Mar 28, 2013, 11:50 pm

An updated, fresher design would help. I get the heebie-jeebies, though, when we start talking about bigger graphics, larger links, etc. If you've experienced the new version of Overdrive (one of the biggest library-lending systems for ebooks), they have made the book covers huge pretty graphics, which unfortunately don't leave enough room to even display the full title of the book underneath!

Microsoft may be committed to Windows 8 but I have yet to speak to an actual Windows 8 user who hasn't complained bitterly about the ways it does not function in non-touchscreen mode. (Happy users must exist somewhere outside of those Microsoft commercials but I've not met one.) Maybe the desktop/laptop computer model is ailing and maybe it isn't, but it's certainly not dead yet and for a significant portion of consumers it never will be if they have anything to say about it. Heck, people are still happily using Windows XP which is 4 OS versions ago.

I can't imagine trying to manually enter a book on LT with a touchscreen tablet. And I love my iPad.

Edited: Mar 28, 2013, 11:53 pm

>8 timspalding:

I hear you. Overdrive used to be ugly as sin. Now it's attractive, but also a bit bloated and garish. I can assure you, I LIKE the information density we have.

Mar 28, 2013, 11:55 pm

>4 tottman:. How can we tighten it up so that users can be sure they won't get screwed, as many feel Goodreads is screwing them now?

I don't suppose Amazon's willing to sell their stake in LT. (I also don't know who would buy it, but if LT was completely un-owned by Amazon, I imagine that would be reassuring for new users fleeing GR.)

Mar 29, 2013, 12:00 am

FYI: I'm not sure that huge graphics and the like would be a wise move. Yes, it might possibly attract some disgruntled GR people, but should we change what we are and possibly alienate the 'hard working geeks' in order to possibly attract GR peeps?

There are not a few of us here who like the relative simplicity of LT, the regularity of the setup that speaks, nay, cries out to an organizer's heart...the same who fondly reminisce over card catalogs!

Tweak some things, make a few minor changes, but let's not turn LT into a GoodReads in order to attract GR members.

::gets off soapbox::

P.S. I am not trying to dictate to Tim, I'm trying to convey how some of us feel.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 12:04 am

>11 Katya0133:

I don't see why they would. I wonder how this goes now, though. I speak regularly to my contact at Abebooks—great advice from a friend and professional—and, as investors, they get yearly reports, etc. I've never had the least problem with Abe, and Amazon has not stood in our way. But it's worth asking, if they use that information to help Goodreads, wouldn't they be violating their fiduciary duty to all owners of LibraryThing? How do I know? If this were steel, some government agency would step in if Amazon tried to buy all the players. But I don't think this is steel.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:03 am

>12 fuzzi:

I'll say it again: It's not going to happen. Worry about something realistic. I don't want big buttons, etc. I might be convinced to drop the "dead salmon" color… :)

Mar 29, 2013, 12:07 am

I wouldn't want to see huge graphics, or the vast expanses of white space that seem to be popular lately, but I do think that LT needs to become more tablet-friendly. It's becoming pretty clear that tablets aren't going to go away any time soon, and more and more users must be using some type of tablet device as their primary access to the site. While browsing and talk work fine on my iPad, there are other things that are awkward, like editing from the catalogue.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:08 am

(14) Sorry, I missed your previous reply, as I was busy one finger tap-tap-tapping out my thoughts on an Ipad keyboard...

Mar 29, 2013, 12:08 am

Change the color scheme if you want, Tim, but LT and Band-aid will always be linked in my brain. :-p

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 12:13 am

Couldn't agree more with msg 12. Do we want to pull in new members? Of course, what website doesn't? But LibraryThing has a fairly large, *dedicated* userbase, and based on talks in the past one of the biggests "pros" about LibraryThing is it's simplistic design. No in-your-face colors or graphics, no oversized text/graphics/icons, etc. I certainly see wanting to tweak things a little, but I'm sure we are all hoping you won't cater to potential-new-users at the expense of us older dedicated users (Especially since LT is full of data that us dedicated users have spent time entering). (edit: Just saw Tim's reply, glad this won't be happening!!)

Don't have much else to add, except that I think this is definitely an overall good thing. Back when I was most active here in the LT groups, Shelfari and Goodreads were pretty much our two major competitors. Now..... they aren't. They are just yet another part of Amazon, and Amazon will screw them up in one way or another, no matter what the intention. The very simple fact that LT remains it's *own* site, not Amazon-dictated, might be a huge pull for people.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 12:19 am

We are NOT GOING TO TART-UP THE DESIGN! No big buttons. No cute bullshit. I like it simple and information dense—a design for adults who read. Within that framework, there's a lot we can do. But if anything we need to look MORE like the smart site we are, not less.

Amazon will screw them up in one way or another, no matter what the intention.

I don't know. I think Amazon's pretty smart. While I'm eager to see Goodreads slow down, I don't think Amazon's going to kill Goodreads with attention. And I've be very surprised if they started sporting an "An Amazon Company" logo, like Shelfari does.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:23 am

One aspect of LT's core cataloging function that could be expanded is its usefulness on my Android smart phone. If I could scan barcodes with my phone and check whether I already own the book, for example, that would be pretty nifty. Manual lookup would be useful, too, especially if there were a LT app that synced my collections to the phone so I could still look things up even when cell coverage is spotty (a frequent problem at my favorite book stores). A LT app wouldn't need all the bells and whistles--just checking what I already own and maybe reading reviews/ratings would be a win.

As for "design", the current design works just fine for me. Maybe the usability could be improved, but in general I don't see much wrong with it. It's true that I'm not the typical web surfer--more of a black text on a white background kind of guy--but I suspect the rest of LT's users aren't typical, either. :)

Mar 29, 2013, 12:31 am

> 3

1. We need to make common cause with the publishers and booksellers

Now that GoodReads is firmly entrenched with online bookseller Amazon, I think that LT's place stands firmly behind the bricks-and-mortar bookstores, even though they're dwindling in number. Those that remain standing are truly beloved. Developing LT Local further (as you're doing now) helps that.

2. But why not release our data to indies for free? They're not paying us, but they could help us a lot if they promoted us.

Anything LT does to further a tighter relationship with indie bookstores would be a great plus for both parties. Push on with that idea. I love it!

3. So I want to be unlike them

You have been and will always be unlike them. Keeping LT free from ads and only having to deal with you when we don't like something is the way I want LT to stay! :)

4. How can we tighten it up so that users can be sure they won't get screwed, as many feel GoodReads is screwing them now?

I don't think you're out to screw your users, but it might be worth a dialogue with LT members to identify those areas in which they don't feel complete trust in LT. I'm pretty open with my data, but others are much more private. Those are the ones with whom you mostly need to communicate.

5. LibraryThing is remarkably dependent on its users, who organize and improve its content all day long for the sheer love of it. How can we encourage this and deepen it?

I really loved your last idea to use charitable contributions to encourage data input. I see that you didn't have a lot of takers on that (i.e. LT Local), though, but maybe you can develop that idea a bit more.

7. We could adapt by shrinking—basically, kill off many of the "side stuff" and focus on cataloguing. This would give us more development resources, because we wouldn't be stretched so thin. I'm against this, frankly, but I'm not sure I'm right

I would really hate to see you kill off the "side stuff". I agree that cataloguing is LT's best asset, but I want LT to continue to be fun to use. Cataloguing alone won't do that for me.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:34 am

As a book geek one of the great values to me are reviews and book info that I can trust. That doesn't happen with Amazon. For many many books here on LT the book reviews just do not exist or are minimal. There are also plenty of non-reviews that should be deleted but never are. (such as people entering things that belong in their personal comments.)

I ended my account at Goodreads today because I primarily used it for the reviews. Goodreads frankly seems to have a more active community for discussing books and posting reviews (there are exceptions here on LT of course).

A plus for LT on the social side would be a robust optional connection with FB. I haven't tried whatever currently exists since the early versions were so buggy. I have been seeing FB friends pulled into Goodreads frequently by the friend connection.

I've spent many hours (happily) here on LT enhancing and fixing book data. I value LT. A lot of book data on Goodreads is pretty lousy in comparison despite the work that I know volunteers do there as well.

Good luck Tim. I really really hope that LT can benefit from this.

Mar 29, 2013, 1:11 am

I honestly thought Goodreads was already mostly owned by Amazon. I don't know what gave me that idea, but I'd been thinking so ever since they did whatever it was that made people lose data on books/authors that weren't linked to Amazon pages, sometime last fall.

Anyway, one minor thing that might help, which I made a crappy suggestion for a few weeks ago - add a simple "Share this" option to work and author pages. Make it easier for people browsing LT to send the page link to Twitter or FB, get more people browsing to LT. I'm not really crazy about the sharing all over the web, to be honest, but when I do find myself using the buttons, it's always on commerce-type sites, and I think LT's author/work pages fits into that.
-- Especially because a lot of times I'm tweeting a link to a work page in order to direct people to the "Find this book" section. I'd love to see the indies do something to make it even greater/more useful, but I've no idea how that could work. Maybe have an option to only show the local independent bookstores and/or libraries, if available? (Actually, I think I'd love to use that, though none of the local indies I know of have any kind of online database. My local library system recently switched to a new OPAC, but previously, they didn't use the correct protocol for LT's Get This Book to work, either.)

The site does need to be optimized for touchscreen devices - not only the lack of a mouse, but also the size. But I really don't want to lose the great information density that I get on my laptop.

Mar 29, 2013, 1:21 am

I'm mulling ditching all advertisements. For now we only have them if you're not signed in at all—not just paid members but any members. Still, they may convince people entering that we're just like other sites.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 1:49 am

I signed up with LT eons ago, but Goodreads won me over with the easy social sharing. I more or less stopped using LT, even though I much prefer the tagging here, because I didn't want to keep up two accounts. I want to see, up front and center, what my friends and fellow librarians across the country are reading and reviewing. Think readers' advisory, not cataloger. I want to find new things to read, I want to read unbiased reviews of books I'm thinking of buying. Make it easy for me, like Goodreads does.

It just took me a few minutes to even find the Friend Finder section just now, and I can't see yet how to bring the "Interesting Libraries" of my Twitter connections to my front page so I can see their recent reviews. (And it appears none of my Facebook friends are on here. Odd.)

However I would like to jump ship from GR to LT - if I can get my friends to follow suit. I think Amazon has far too much power. The social sharing of books, especially self pub books, is the future I think. I hate that Amazon just bought the biggest resource for that.

So, my thoughts about LT:

1. I'd simplify the home page - great bunch of options, but let me opt into some; just show me the most popular at first.
2. Make it more obvious how to connect with my friends.
3. How do I search for a title I want to investigate, but don't want to actually add yet? "Search site", I guess - that's not very intuitive.
4. When I search for a title and click through to look at a book, give me my friend's reviews & other people's reviews right up top. Oh and my review, because I want to jog my memory about the book when I go back to it. Stick the other stuff down below.
5. Connect me to authors up front and center too. I want to click to see their latest blog posts, contests, whatever. I like how if there's no blog feed associated with an author then i can add one. as a"librarian" over there i think.
6. Rename "Member recommendations" and "LibraryThing recommendations", those are cool! And I can add my own recs? Awesome. But I didn't know what that meant right off the bat. It's "if you like this book, Librarything/other members recommend..." - that's a great feature! Shove that up front too. With book covers. I'm sorry, I know you're pro-text, and I'm not terribly visually oriented, but I do shop by book covers!
7. Good god, I just realized I can click and drag the reviews up top! And I finally found the book description/annotation too.

I guess my advice can be summed up as "Don't Make Me Think", a la Steve Krug - the most popular features should be front and center. Don't make me work to find them. I don't want to work that hard. Also, that font on the home page is freaking tiny. What's up with that? I do like the myriad of cool options, but it's too complicated at first blush - let me learn about them later.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 1:59 am

When I look at Amazon's overall business strategies these days, it's very clear that they're focusing on "local", "social" and "mobile" (like all tech companies these days, of course). This is evident from their big push on Kindle, Amazon Local Deals (today, I got an email for a $15 voucher just for signing up to use the Amazon Local Deals app on iPhone), same-day deliveries in select cities, lockers at 7-Eleven stores, etc., and, now, Goodreads. There are even strong rumors of an Amazon mobile phone......

While I agree 100% that we don't want LT to become another Goodreads (I like that "we should zag if they zig" too, Tim), I also agree with other comments here re. optimizing LT for more mobile and social usage - without too many bells and whistles. A more slick and seamless connection with FB and Twitter is a must.

I also think that further enhancing the local aspects - with deeper tie-ins with local bookstores and book events - would be great.

More than a decade ago, before a lot of sites like these were possible, I was a regular member at Readerville (now defunct - one of the casualties of 2009). There were many things I loved about that place, particularly the big name authors who used to be just "one of us" and discuss their favorite books, the regular blogs and the Readerville Journal (which, at the time, was print only). LT has a lot of the same great attractions for me as Readerville, but, somehow there's a difference I can't quite articulate. The extraordinary woman who ran Readerville was Karen Templer. She consults with other tech businesses now, among other things. I wonder if she might be someone to invite to a discussion like this. She also happens to be an author of books: Just a thought.....

Oh, and, I did not frequent Goodreads over LT precisely because of the messy interface. Too much going on all at once and I really love the simple, clear interface here. So, relieved to hear that will not be changing. :) Thank you.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 3:28 am

Hey, Tim, I'm really liking what you're saying. The idea of a web platform giving users a say in the agreement is breathtaking in terms of Internet freedom. Bravo.

I'm a self publishing author, which means there isn't enough time in the day. So although I've been a Library Thing member longer than GoodReads member, I confess I have been more active there than here in large part because I found their user interface easier to use.

So I agree with tottman that it needs some refreshing, although not the look so much (I like the visual style; its got personality) but more the user friendliness. It isn't that everything doesn't work, it's more that it's set up an organized more for tech folk than non-tech folk. My friends on Wikipedia would have no trouble picking it up fast, and I can manage, but it doesn't feel intuitive, so it's a bit more of a chore. Most of my friends on Facebook would be seriously challenged by it.

Regarding your point 3. We need to embrace being the "un-Amazon" and "un-Goodreads." While Amazon is to be credited for providing a great self publishing platform, it doesn't actually commit to self publishing, quite possibly because it's ultimate aim is to be a publisher. I chose not to enter their novel contest, even though the attendant publicity would have been nice, but because I'd have had to turn down the top prize if I'd won, because I don't want to be published by a mainstream publisher. I'm self publishing on purpose. Although I appreciate that you treat all authors the same, perhaps Library Thing might consider giving some kind of edge to indies and self publishers as most of us don't have the vast publicity budget of the mainstream publishers. I'm not sure what, exactly, but the playing field isn't exactly level, especially at the beginning.

I do appreciate your candor.

Laurel L. Russwurm

Mar 29, 2013, 4:13 am

Developing (and maintaining!) native mobile apps is a huge financial drain. Because after you release the iPhone version, Android users will clamor for their own.

In your case, you could consider a mobile web site. It may not be exactly cheap either, but at least you will cover all platforms. And it is even possible to add barcode scanning to a web page.

Just my 2c. I agree this is a very positive thing for LT overall.


Mar 29, 2013, 4:16 am

after you release the iPhone version, Android users will clamor for their own.

Definitely. In fact as far as I'm concerned you could skip the iPhone one ;-)

Mar 29, 2013, 4:33 am

iOS, Anderoid platforms can be simultaneous targets for an integrated development environment that evolved from Hypercard, I recall.

The LT look and feel should stay as it is for those who cling to cooked salmon⁄brain bandaid, but for others, it should renew regularly like French fashion or Apple's big cats.

LT doesn't work well on the Kindle experimental browser.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:25 am

The most important things are to improve the usability of the website (also on mobile devices) and to get a bit more modern lay-out. Squash bugs and finetune and optimize the processes of adding books, editing books, discussing books etc. as much as possible. Embrace the international userbase and flaunt your international options. As far as I know from the two times I have been there, both Shelfare and Goodreads only support US and UK books.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:49 am


LT almost mandates an information dense display which goes against the big graphics, big buttons design principles of some other sites. LT does need a refresh though, and I think Tim knows it.
- The UI needs to be consistent throughout (it isn't quite)
- I think some of the actual HTML generated could be cleaner, with better uses of classes and IDs.
- The mobile side of the website needs to be reimplemented. With more functionality than exists currently.


Too much is in a nearly there, or beta state, or not totally integrated into all the aspects of LT that they could be. These should be finished off or shelved.

New/Extended functionality.

Yes I know these are all BIG things, and unlikely to get done (or at least get done soon).

I know we have been around the houses on this but Lists. I think that what got implemented as beta only really scratched one minor use case of what people had been thrashing out in the user-groups. I think that a fuller Lists implementation would help grow the site as it could be an inherently social and fun space - with commenting on items and lists.

More and more individual short stories have been added (when they only appear in collections and anthologies). LT support (well any book site's support really) for contents is poor. Contents are ordered lists for a start. Obviously once contents cataloguing is done right, things like Other Authors data might well need to be revisited as that should be gathered from the contents, rather than from explicitly listing Contributors.

Revive the thinking on Editions and Expressions.

I'm a software developer (and there are a few of us on here). I've worked on many software programs that have grown and almost developed a life of their own. They become increasingly ossified and more difficult to work on, and certainly aren't as fun to work on. I think over time there does seem to have been a decrease in velocity of changes - which might indicate some areas of the codebase are not so easy to work with now. Maybe at some stage you should consider a rewrite (keeping the database structure) either in part or in total. This can, but not always, reinvigorates the developers and the resulting software It is certainly not something to be done lightly as it involves an investment of time for little immediate reward to the users. But if some of the issues behind not proceeding with Contents Cataloguing/Mobile Web/Editions & Expressions etc are to do with code inflexibility then it could pay off in the long run.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 6:03 am

As a Goodreads immigrant I would really appreciate a better import function. I may lost certain things but if I move here I will lost most of it, indeed. I would be very happy to collaborate in improving the importing from the "native" Goodreads csv. I agree it is a one-host development that may not be used very much in a month but right now I think would be quite important.

By the way, I agree with > 32 andyl. The management of the editions could be improved. One very good functionality in Goodreads was the possibility to switch between editions, and, in general, I think they did "editions" management better than LT :/

Mar 29, 2013, 7:43 am

>9 rosalita:. I'm not sure why everyone wants to change designs all the time. The data is what counts and the processing of the data. Besides when design changes, functionality changes or the site 'breaks'.

In another area, take a look at Mint. They first make changes and don't tell the client base about it, they don't test it, it 'breaks' and they can't fix it. I finallly walked away from them after their being unable to fix something simple after 90 days.

That's one of the things I really like about LT, people share ideas and don't do it in a 'bash the vendor' way, help others with issues, etc. I realize money is different from books but you get the idea.

Now, remember I'm a a rookie at this so take my comments with that in mind but I had been in the computer racket with a large pharma company for almost 40 years before I became 'gainfully unemployed' and I love it!!!

Mar 29, 2013, 8:28 am

add a simple "Share this" option to work and author pages. Make it easier for people browsing LT to send the page link to Twitter or FB, get more people browsing to LT.


Mar 29, 2013, 8:30 am

Improve LISTS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now, you can't even get to them easily.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:32 am

Various thoughts:

1. The first thing that occurred to me was whether you would eventually sell LT to Amazon as well. I know it's not something that you have any interest in doing at the moment, but Amazon does have a lot of money, you're human, etc. I suspect that they could eventually make you an offer you couldn't refuse, even if they're not currently inclined to do so.

2. A lot of the articles I've read (particularly in the NYT, I think) have focused on "discoverability". This is something that LT sometimes seems to be deliberately apathetic to, based on some idea that helping users find books to read is equivalent to selling books. LT can be a great place to discover books, but it's not something you really focus on.

3. As a source of unbiased information, there are a few key elements: reviews, ratings, and other member input. I basically don't use LT for reviews, always clicking through to Amazon, and it's not worth talking about that anymore. I do always use LT for ratings, and I don't think you're doing yourself any favours by claiming that that data is useless. "Other member input" can be harder to describe/find: I get a lot of recommendations based on other people's reading in the 75 Book Challenge group, which isn't obvious to a new member. Like andyl, I think Lists have much more promise than their current incarnation would suggest. I'd be interested in seeing more about what my friends were reading, but that fails on both "friends" and "reading", which should probably be separate points.

4. When I see posts on Facebook about what people are reading, these posts are usually from LT users. And the posts are usually done via GoodReads, even though these are people who use LT every day. I'm not very optimistic about getting my non-LT friends to post regularly about their reading anywhere, but surely you can at least get the existing LT users to promote LT rather than GR on FB.

5. Reading. GoodReads was based on the idea that people care about what others are reading. The most popular group on LT is the 75 Books Challenge, where people list what they're reading. And yet LT deliberately doesn't do reading tracking (at least, not without fiddling with various settings--I suspect that Date Read still isn't in a single one of the default display styles, and the data isn't used for anything). I think this is a problem. Again, it's probably a waste of breath to say more.

6. LT has a lot of data, but it's not always accessible in a useful way. I'd still like to see things like the most popular books published in 2012, the highest-rated books published in 2012 (rated by at least x members), and so on. This ties in with discoverability again, and possibly with lists.

7. I'm not completely sold on the benefits of tying yourself to indies, which are in many cases a sinking ship. I still can't believe IndieBound took away events. They often don't list stock online. But I guess LT can use all the promotion it can get.

8. I'd rather see you doing more basic things to promote LT online, though. When someone hand-compiled a list of the highest-rated books of 2010, with a picture book by Neil Gaiman at the top, Gaiman retweeted my tweet about it. LT said nothing about the whole idea, and certainly didn't automate the process for future years, so it never happened again. The GR choice awards generate a lot of conversation every year, no matter how silly they are. Basically, I think LT should be steadily generating interesting bookish news stories, which isn't really the case. You have lots of good data; you should have plenty of things to say about it so that other people keep seeing how interesting it is too.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:34 am

Oh, and you should have a blog post right now explaining and promoting LT to GR users, specifically addressing the current situation. This is a good time for LT users to promote LT to their friends. But it's a weekday; I'm busy; give me something easy to post immediately.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:44 am

I agree with the people who have suggested better sharing options, and more mobile-friendly design for tablet and smartphone screens. Both would go a long way towards making new member recruitment easier.

And speaking as a "moderate" LT User-- someone who catalogs lots of books, but is not overly worried about deep accuracy, someone who (at least lately) participates in talk, and someone who knows her way around data without being obsessive about it, I still find whole areas of LT so complicated I shy away from them. I'd be a better "helper" if the whole "combiners" neighborhood didn't make me want to poke a sharp stick in my eye! Which, given my normally high tolerance for having to figure things out on my own, is not a good sign in general.

I think if there are areas of the site where you want to engage users, encourage their participation and thus their investment in, commitment to, LT then you need much better documentation in those areas, and better ways for people to find answers to questions without having to ask. Right now, there are just wiki pages (hard to navigate and you don't know they are there unless you go looking) and talk (hard to find anything). A little while ago a new user posted a question on talk about cataloging music scores, and was told by several people to put the class of the item after the title in brackets {vocal score}. And I wondered how anyone else would ever find that particular advice in the future.

I'm not sure what the solution is. You have cadres of users to monitor and fix data--maybe you could have the same to act as a kind of community tech support? But finding the answers to questions about LT, and assessing what is actually available (where on this page, for example, is the information for posting a poll) is a constant issue for me.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:51 am

Generally speaking, while I appreciate the suggestions, we're not going to magically have 10x the developer resources. So we need to focus on top-list items, and on things that we can do to change the game. Getting publishers on our side and contributing to the site with data and/or money would change the game. Telling us we need to do X, Y, and Z won't, because we only have the resources to do X.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:01 am

Thoughts on Zoe's post:

1. The first thing that occurred to me was whether you would eventually sell LT to Amazon as well. I know it's not something that you have any interest in doing at the moment, but Amazon does have a lot of money, you're human, etc. I suspect that they could eventually make you an offer you couldn't refuse, even if they're not currently inclined to do so.

I don't have a mind-reading machine, but surely Amazon's desire to own all of LibraryThing is less than ever. They never needed LibraryThing, but LibraryThing and Shelfari (100%) did give them options. (I remain convinced that if Amazon had sunk time, money and promotion into Shelfari, they could have stunted Goodreads right quick.) Now, we're just an oddity.

As I've said before, I don't want to sell. LibraryThing wasn't set up as a startup that would get flipped. And our business—split between .com and the library side—always made us easier to partner with than buy. So I don't think it's going to happen so long as I'm alive. If I died my wife would, I think, have a long dark night of the soul, and then weigh an early career in independent bookselling (Brookline Booksmith) against the family's financial future.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:01 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this situation, Tim. I'm heartened by your views, and expect to be using LT far into the future.

For me, LT is my main "social software" platform -- not just through the user-based social features, but because so much of my "society" consists of the people (dead and alive) whom I encounter through their books. I imagine that I spend the regular and recurrent daily time that "normal" people do on Facebook (where I am not a user) on LT.

> 33 As a Goodreads immigrant I would really appreciate a better import function.

That might be a high-priority item for scooping up disaffected GR users. Make it easy and effective for them to import an existing catalog. Pair this concern with LT export (it's only fair!) to have the export formats most effectively and completely reflect the current data fields.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:02 am

I think getting publishers onside might in some ways be the opposite of what you need to do. I thought the whole angle you were taking was that LT was independent, and not beholden to a book-selling agenda?

Anyway, I've always said that you should think more about how much value you're getting for time spent. If you don't have time to write a blog post addressed to GR users because you'd rather spend that hour scraping more events, you should probably give up now. It's more important to keep people talking about LT, continually, than to have that cataloguing overhaul done a week earlier.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:07 am

>41 timspalding: I don't think Amazon needs LT, but I also think they might not need, say, $100 million. They could buy and kill competition just for fun, even if it's not really a threat at all.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 9:08 am

Also, maybe someone should start a GoodReads Refugees group, if that doesn't exist already.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:36 am

>45 _Zoe_:

Good idea. Jeremy's starting it.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:46 am

I love LT (and didn't love GR) because it's all about me. That is, I mainly want a place to keep track of my reading and reviews and pull from it using widgets - and to see what other people think about books, pretty much in that order. I like the look because it's familiar, and because it doesn't look like every other site. (I like Wordpress, too, but holy moley, has that horizontal image-intensive look ever taken over the Internet lately.) I love that I trust LT because I have a sense of who Tim and other folks who built it are and what they care about and I love that it's relatively self-promotion free (and I am an author and know how difficult it is to get attention - but I also know how much I hate having a conversation turn into a sales pitch or to not know whether a review is honest or not).

Publishers talk about discovery but I suspect the only valuable discovery function is one reader to another. I'm not sure it can be scaled up and automated; I'm doubtful it can be driven by publishers or authors. Authors and publishers can be trusted, approachable, worth having a relationship with or not - but I'm going to seek reading recommendations from readers I know. What I get from authors and publishers can reinforce what I gather from readers, but it can't supplant it. The reviews here (and lists and other paraphernalia) are secondary to me - a place to double check something I have already picked up elsewhere. Once I read and reviewed a book I would probably have missed if it weren't part of Early Reviewers, but mostly I choose things that I'm already aware of, either because I've read the author's work before or because I've heard from my reading circles about a new author. Within those circles, I do read and share news about authors new to me, but somehow all of that filtering happens upstream from here, if that makes sense.

Not everybody has these book-filtering reader circles or can invest the time in maintaining them, but to me the key to the discovery function of book-related conversation is trust. Trust is a tricky thing to develop, and the way that LT has carefully negotiated the idea of what it's for (which includes LT Authors, but also preserves space for those who want to avoid marketing pitches) has worked very well for me. Preserving that trust is what I would put at the top of the "what next?" list.

Though letting members choose their own background color would be okay by me too, further down the list :)

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 9:50 am

One interesting piece of data. I long ago gave up looking at Compete, which tries to track website visitors; it's never matched up either our numbers or the changes in them. But a reporter showed me the Compete numbers, and they're way way off—giving us only 250,000 unique visitors/mo, whereas Google Analytics gives us 1,364,000 unique visitors/mo. Goodreads may have some of the same distortion, but I get a sense larger sites survey better, and I think we have special factors holding us back—fewer IE users, lots of library and academic users. Our non-US domains aren't counted either, although they're much smaller.

Also, while it's not directly helping the LT user experience, our LibraryThing for Libraries service serves more than does. We're in hundreds of library systems from New Zealand to Denmark. In other words, we're bigger and more spread out than people think.

And we're growing. There is a reason Seth is down in Boston doubling the size of all our servers. Here's the pile of hard drives :) :)

Mar 29, 2013, 9:49 am

4. Trust me or don't, but my motives are pretty pure. I like my job and I'm not looking to flip the company to Amazon or anyone else.(1) The LibraryThing terms of use are pretty good too, but they still give us wiggle room. How can we tighten it up so that users can be sure they won't get screwed, as many feel Goodreads is screwing them now?

Not a TOS issue but a full export feature would limit any potential screwing. Users won't feel locked in. They'll know they can take their stuff and go elsewhere if it comes to that.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:52 am

For the past 6 months, I've been slowly migrating from Goodreads to LibraryThing. Yesterday's Amazon announcement certainly put heat to the fire; and I'm not-so-slowly migrating anymore.

So I feel that LT does not, in the short term need to be worrying too much about attracting new users. They will be coming anyway--in the short term.

I feel that the more important questions should be: "Who does LibraryThing want to be?" "What important book/reading service is the web now deficient in; and what does LibraryThing intend to do knowing that deficiency exists?" What are the LibraryThing limits/resources that will determine its capabilities?

Today LibraryThing appears to be the reading/book website least owned by Big Publishing and Big Marketing. And that is a remarkable asset.

This thread shows a new user, like myself, just how much this website values its members' input. And that is a remarkable asset.

As LibraryThing considers its options; keep in mind the existing assets that need to be maintained.

The more I know about LibraryThing, the more impressed I become.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:53 am

I suggested doing more about LISTS because the most irritating thing I find regarding LT, is the inability to easily order my TBR collection. Lists lets me do that. I think GR folks would really like that, if they could find the feature which isn't easily linked to anything.

Drag and drop of lists is great, and I don't think it needs much work. Just the ability to get at it needs improvement, with a button maybe or something to give you access to the feature.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:57 am

I am not a tech geek. I am a book geek. Several years ago I was trying to find software that would allow me to organize my library. Most of what I found was way more pricey than I cared to spend. Then I stumbled upon LT. I couldn't believe what a great deal I was getting. LT has made life with a lot of books a whole lot easier. Let LT be LT, don't give into megaglobs like Amazon or Wal-Mart (give them time and they'll want to be in the bookcatalog business.

Mar 29, 2013, 10:01 am

.... one other thing about trust (and then I'll shut up). I like the fact that I know how LT is funded and that there's a sustainable plan behind it. I am happy to pay a small fee if that means I can count on a service being there for a while. Too often, we get stuff for free, invest a lot of content into it, make it part of our lives and then get bent out of shape when it changes or goes away. If it's free, it's either there to collect content from you or to grow fast and be sold, or both. I like knowing how the bills are paid, at least in general, because then I can trust.

Mar 29, 2013, 10:09 am

I think it's important to note that our membership fees aren't really what's paying the bills. I obviously don't know how the percentages work out, but we're at least in large part the product (via our tags etc.) rather than the customer. This doesn't particularly bother me, but it still is.

Mar 29, 2013, 10:27 am

Jeremy reports he's getting emails from publishers who want to switch over to LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. That's good.

Mar 29, 2013, 10:40 am

Yesterday's news was spooky weird for me. I couldn't log in for a few weeks because I dimwittedly changed my username a while back and forgot doing so. Anyways, yesterday at lunch, I finally got around to feeling a surge of motivation to get to the bottom of why I couldn't log in to start transitioning my GR's info over to LT. At around 2:30 pm yesterday, after attempting many times to update my profile and bookshelf to no avail, I finally wrote LT. BTW, Jeremy answered so nicely in an email, responding in less than ONE minute. Wow. Thanks, Jeremy. My sense of urgency was uncanny and preternatural in that I felt a real jolt to start moving my stuff but I didn't know why. This was within a few hours of when I heard the announcement - well, it was for me -- I don't know when the announcement took place officially. was just a coincidence. But I know I felt a real inner prodding to finally make a transition personally, before finding out the GR news.

Mar 29, 2013, 10:44 am

Oh, to add to the suggestions: could we invite friends to LT another way besides through Twitter or Facebook - neither of which I use? I referred GR to my real-life friends who were serious readers and they joined because of my invitation. Now, I cannot bring them here because I don't have a Twitter or FB account. Thanks.

Mar 29, 2013, 10:55 am

I'm on LT and Goodreads. But I don't like Amazon not more. I already changed from Kindle to the new Talino and ePup format. And so I think I'll leave Goodreads in a short Time.

Mar 29, 2013, 10:56 am

I haven't used LibraryThing in a few years. I just exported all my data from Goodreads and am waiting to import them into LT.

If I was to go to a friends house to have a bookclub I wouldn't want it sponsored by a big corporation. I wouldn't want ads to buy things from them. I wouldn't want them sitting in the corner collecting the data from my book club.

Why would I want that in my internet version of a bookclub?

Mar 29, 2013, 10:59 am

We need to hear more from Goodreads people. Clearly our interface is a problem for many of you—it would be a problem even if it were perfect; it's different. But what else pops out at you?

Mar 29, 2013, 11:00 am

I've been a member of LT since 2007 and while I have always preferred the "personality" of LT, I did maintain a GoodReads account for one reason: they did the socia media thing better.

The things GR does that I'd love to see from LT:

The email that lets you know what your friends are currently reading, have just rated, or want to read.

An app that would update currently reading, rated, and to-read on my Facebook timeline. I rarely write reviews, but I would still like to be able to let my friends and family on Facebook know what I'm reading. (Yes, they care!)

Other things I'd love to see LT improve:

New design. Doesn't have to be major, but I think the site could benefit from a facelift. A sleeker design (not necessarily "dumbed-down"...just less cluttered) and updated colors would be nice.

Better PM interface. Something more mailbox-like.

Scanner app. Love my old CueCat but in recent months I've gotten both an iPad and an iPhone, so now it's kind of unnecessary.

General app. (Does LT even have one currently?)

Finally, if I were LT, I would seriously push the whole "we're neutral! we're independent!" angle. That's the very thing that so many readers want to see. We're getting tired of Amazon's takeover of the universe.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:07 am

Thanks for the post. I was wondering how LibraryThing fit/related to Amazon and that clarity is good. I do like sites that remain independent of any one big company. Goodreads was a good place for that; LibraryThing is also.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:09 am

punch and pie
more people will come if they think we have punch and pie

this site is one i probably spend too much time on. i enjoy the recommendations, the active groups have great discussions, i love having no advertisements, etc. i think one thing that could be enhanced is author interaction, there always a tension in the groups between the commercial aspects of promoting one's work and LT members not wanting to sift through author self-promotion. having more author AMA type events, or even small publisher AMA (i'd love to ask questions about the industry, etc.) could be interesting if handled the right way.

52>let LT be LT +1

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 11:16 am

I enter my books using my iPad all the time. It is very simple to do. I hardly ever use my regular computer any more.

And I would like an easy book search feature, without having to add the book.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:11 am

You say you don't have enough developers? Then let others do the work for you i.e. give access to data. In no time there would be 10 simple Android apps, 5 never to be updated. Remaining half would get better, until there would be 1-2 GREAT apps.

Just open the APIs.

...yes, you'd also need to update API terms of usage. Last time I checked it looked like mobile app was not possible within given limitations. Technically yes, but according to terms not:

- Max 1 call per second, without possibility to chain several calls together. That's all APIs together, max once a second. For anything.

- Application (non-human) can fetch max 1 book cover per second. List of my 1000 book collection would get covers in 16+ minutes. With such a delay, nobody would want to use the app.

- Daily limit for API calls, 1000 if I recall correctly. All limits are per "project" developer key, so strictly reading 1000 copies of same mobile app would be allowed to call API just once a day.

Other comments:

- LibraryThing website could use a refresh in both look and feel as well as layout, current one looks very technical. Especially the navigation is pretty complicated, menus and submenus pointing to pages full of menus and links. Simplify!

- Lists have been mentioned, completely agree. There are so many options, I don't even know if I have tried all combinations while searching for a good looking setup. Btw haven't found a good looking one, just gave up on searching.

- Use tracking to find out which features are most used based on actual access data vs. how much people talk about them. Are lists as high on the list as they could be? Do people search more than browse? Is front page the most common way to access the site?

Nevertheless, LibraryThing is a great service, that's why I've been using it since 2007. Have to confess I did lately take a look at Goodreads because of their mobile client and social connectivity, but guess that's history now.



Mar 29, 2013, 11:14 am

I've been a happy user of both sites for years and I think I will continue. The thing is, LT is what I use for cataloguing my library, but GR is more "fun". And it's fine this way, for me: I use the 2 sites differently.

What I'm trying to say: while I see that many GR users are thinking about leaving the site (now how many of them will actually do it, I don't know), it's not going to be easy for LT to "conquer" former GR users right away, because many of the things they enjoyed there are missing here.

And I wouldn't want them (a lot of the "social" things) (as far as I can tell, neither Tim), they don't suit LT very well. Just my thoughts.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:14 am

I think releasing data to indies is a good idea. A robust API could attract developers--providing more features without having to hire more developers--specifically mobile solutions and social integration.

I initially used librarything, but now use both it and goodreads. My favorite feature of librarything is the "will I like it", but I like the social aspect of goodreads. I like seeing what my friends are reading, both on goodreads and on facebook. The librarything facebook app doesn't seem to work all that well.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:19 am

I can't pretend that the partial Amazon ownership doesn't bother me. Can you talk about what (if any) access to data Amazon has?

That said, I'd vote up the idea of a way to use my phone (Android) to scan books into LT. Anything that breaks down barriers to simple access will benefit LT long-term.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:19 am

First let me say I adore LT.

However, while I really want LT to stay text-heavy I do agree some features need to be a little easier to use - it can sometimes take quite a bit of hunting to find out how to use one.

More FB and Twitter integration would be good - Goodreads features so heavily on FB but I'd much rather have people there see that I'm a LT user and proud of it! On the other hand, I love the way LT doesn't hijack my information the way Goodreads does.

Although LT is, from the user's point of view, very personalised, there's not much for here for book bloggers - is that an untapped resource? Yes, we all love looking at each others' libraries via the Random Book widget on blogs but, there's not much else. For instance, I have FB pages related to my book blogs (and more than one book blog) but I can't (or can't see a way to) add that information to my profile.

I'd also like to see more UK publishers using the Early Reviewers programme - at the moment I think LT is rather losing out to NetGalley. LT is altogether a bit US-oriented for users elsewhere, too (it will never remember, no matter how hard I encourage it, that my default searches are **** not .com). Although the US orientation (and I do appreciate that there are a lot of you over there) has become less obvious in the 6 years I've been using LT, it could be better promoted outside the US, and that may be why more blog-friendly features might be useful. While recognising that LT needs to stay very firmly grown-up and quite serious, that is.

Two more suggestions: there doesn't seem to be a way to catalogue music as effectively as LT does books. I know that some people do use LT for their CD collections and have considered doing so myself. Integrating book and music collections in one place could be a "selling" point. Similarly, LT's handling of ebooks and audiobooks could be improved on. Could LT hook up with something like Calibre for ebooks? I guess Kindle and Audible are out of the question...(would be nice to have a tiny piece of my soul I hadn't sold to you-know-who).

And please remember that there are some book geeks who are at least mildly computer geeky - please, please don't alienate us by ignoring Android tablets and smartphones. If there's one thing more certain than my never deserting LT, it's that I'll never own an iPad or iPhone!

Mar 29, 2013, 11:22 am

Not suprisingly many of my Facebook friends are booksellers, former booksellers, bookselling friends of booksellers, English majors, yadda yadda, so there's a fair amt of talk about Amazon/GR. I've mentioned LT to some of them but they either dont know about it or are scared by the Amazon investment in LT. So I drew upo this Facebook 'ad' and posted it on my page-- did I get anything wrong?
Upset that Amazon now owns Goodreads and will hijack all your reviews for their own purposes? Gonna dump Goodreads?
I recommend that you check out (aka LT).

- LibraryThing is primarily a book-cataloguing site (for listing, organizing and tagging your library) rather than a 'social' site, although you can socialize there too, join discussion groups etc, if you want.

- Contrary to some media reports, Amazon does not own LibraryThing. True, they are an investor in LT, but they don't even have as much as the 40% often mentioned by the media. LT didn't sell to Amazon, Amazon bought out some folks who had already invested in LT. The majority LT stockholder is (and will remain) founder and head developer Tim Spalding.

- Amazon has no input into or control over LibraryThing's daily operations. Amazon cannot use or sell your reviews or recommendations, and cannot recommend books to you. LT does harvest some reviews for its sister business "LT for Libraries" but if you want you can set your preferences so that your reviews can not be shared anywhere. THERE ARE NO ADS OF ANY KIND ON LT. The investment aside, the closest connection Amazon has with LT is they are one of many sources from which you can draw data to populate your library; but in fact LT recommends that you use library data instead (Library of Congress, university libraries, etc) because Amazon data is so often "ratty" (unreliable).

- I'm on LibraryThing EVERY DAY. It's my go-to site. LT users catalogue popular fiction, literary fiction, science, history, philosophy, religion, politics, you name it. Overall it probably has a higher,,, uh, SAT score? IQ? -- than Goodreads -- but you can find anything there. Basic LT membership is Free for cataloguing up to 200 books, After that you can catalogue unlimited for $10 yearly, or for $25 you can buy a LIFETIME membership. That $25 is certainly one of the best bargains I've ever had on anything.

See you on LibraryThing!

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 11:26 am

Can you talk about what (if any) access to data Amazon has?

Yes. Amazon has no access whatsoever to any LibraryThing data. Abebooks, owned by Amazon, has a license to access some non-personal aggregate data, like tag counts and work-to-work recommendations, but are forbidden to transfer or use it outside of that site.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:28 am

>70 Crypto-Willobie:

Corrections. There are Google Adsense ads on LibraryThing if you aren't signed in at all. (We get a few bucks if someone comes in off Google and wants to buy the book, not hang out on a social site.) You get no ads if you're signed in—paid or unpaid account.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:33 am

> 70, 72

I would pitch that as: "A free sign-in makes the site entirely free of ads of any kind."

Mar 29, 2013, 11:36 am

In msg #20 szarka said:
> If I could scan barcodes with my phone and check whether
> I already own the book, for example, that would be pretty
> nifty

Whilst I work in a library, I'm a techie so I might not be representative of the "book geek" target audience that Tim talks of, but this suggestion gets a thumbs up from me. Indeed I've hacked up (for my own personal use) something like this on my Android phone as I use LibraryThing to keep track of my personal book collection (which is, possibly surprisingly, mostly gardening books as most of the techie literature I need/use is online). I got fed up of seeing a book in a slightly different cover in a second hand book shop, buying it and then getting it home only to discover another version already sat on my shelf.

The advantage of LibraryThing though is that I can not only check books that I have on my shelves, but I can also check my girlfriend's shelves (and she is a proper librarian!) as we can share books. If I can persuade other folk I know to use LT this "ring of sharers" could be expanded out so that I don't accidentally buy duplicate books that other friends have.

Whilst I've contributed the odd review to LT, I can't say that I've really used them in my book purchasing, but then that's probably because I'm not a book geek. If I could access the reviews from a mobile whilst standing looking at the shelf in the bookshop that might change though... and it might cut down on the "duff" books I've bought on spec!

If you're looking for techie stuff to strip away to allow you to concentrate developer effort, the first thing I'd ditch is this forum: there's plenty of open source forum software that's much friendly and feature rich and it would be one less bit of code base to worry about.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:36 am

55> Where's a "Like" button when you need on?

I've always preferred LibraryThing to GoodReads.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:38 am

That's good enough for me. I don't like the idea that they'd be profiting in any way from anything related to LT, but frankly at this point I would be surprised to learn that Amazon gets a percentage of money from somebody somewhere any time I click on just about anything.

Plus, Maine.

Mar 29, 2013, 11:46 am

5. LibraryThing is remarkably dependent on its users, who organize and improve its content all day long for the sheer love of it. How can we encourage this and deepen it?

fix the bugs that drive us nuts
(post #6)

Yes, please!

Mar 29, 2013, 11:52 am

Regarding the social media element of GR and LT -- when I was searching for a great book website a few years back, I specifically chose LT over GR because it didn't leave me tripping over Facebook and Twitter everywhere. I do not use either, and I don't want to be hooked into them or have them get my information (especially inadvertently) when I am cataloguing or rating my books. I felt like GR had Facebook everywhere, while LT was cleaner and felt more professional.

I am not at all opposed to having more social media integration on LT; I understand that when it comes to this issue, I am the Luddite and just about everyone else is on board with clicking to post every LT update on Facebook :) But I'd ask, if you add this component, that it not overwhelm the site as it did GR. When I think of GR, I think of it as a social media reading site, in that the "social" comes first and the "reading" second. That's fine for people who want it, but I know most LTers don't want LT to become that. I'd suggest an unobstrusive button to link to Facebook/Twitter, and no more than one button per page. Each individual web part of a page doesn't needs its own...

All this said, I love LT. It has far exceeded all my expectations (especially for just $25!). I'm hopeful our GR refugee friends will come to love it as much as we do :)

Mar 29, 2013, 12:10 pm

I'm a longtime GR user who is checking out LT because of this event. I've used GR for various things in the 7 years I've been a member and while the social aspect has dropped off for me, being able to connect to my social network of preference is very important to me -- I realize some do not want Twitter, FB, or G+ (yes, it is actually alive and vibrant over there) in their faces all the time, being able to share to those locations is important. LT doesn't need to take on the burden of huge social interactivity if it can make it easier for us to access our LT information on those dedicated social networks.

And many GR people are reluctant to venture into LT because of the pay wall -- like me, they have thousands of books shelved for various reasons and cannot port their collection here to try it out before buying in. I perfectly understand the reasoning for the pay wall, just bringing you the comments I've seen. I have no idea what the difficulties would be, but a trial version might be a big help -- 30 days to see if it works for you, with a one shot import and then either pay or be limited. Not sure if that's practical, but it would be attractive.

When it's all over, the truth is that inertia will keep a lot of GR people still on GR after the takeover. GR is built around books, but the ability to create groups with various levels of exposure from full public to secret, the trivia and lists and writing areas have attracted a lot of people who make that the center of their GR experience, with books as a sideline. I don't know that LT even wants those users (My Little Pony roleplay groups? Maybe not.)

The tech aspect is big in the comments over there. if you want to attract the hardcore reader/cataloger, yes, make the site mobile accessible. GR is useful to me because I can stand in a brick and mortar book store and check my list of books on my (android) phone to see if I already own it, if I'm looking for it, if someone I trust has reviewed it (because I am too much of a book wonk to keep all that in my head). I'm not alone in this. Lots of Nook, Sony, and Kobo ereader users are concerned about the Kindle "favoritism" that is indicated in the weasel worded messages from Otis and Co. Offer them somewhere to be, and you could pick up those users. International users are concerned because Amazon segregates US and non-US users, which GR does not, and they worry they will be locked out in various ways (or they just don't want the association).

I'm still looking around and making up my mind. I realize that LT has its own tight community and may find an influx of GR users something of a threat -- how could you not? GR is a different, if related, beast. But many of us loved GR because it was independent, honest, and made finding people to talk with and opinions about books easy to access. If LT offers that, it's going to do well with the change.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:15 pm

As silly as it sounds, one of the biggest reasons I have a GR account is that it tracks how many books I read over the year without me having to do anything. It's right there on a button on my homepage.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 12:16 pm

Just wanted to highlight something I saw suggested earlier in the thread: if LT wants to capture fleeing GR users, I think a blog post welcoming them, highlighting some of the things they want to do and how to do it, and talking about how we're different in terms of Amazon should be up ASAP. And I'd get cracking on making import features as easy and complete as possible.

To compare apples to oranges, recently Google announced that they are shutting down Google Reader in July. I'm a HUGE Reader user. The very. First. Thing. I did - within HOURS - was to look for posts talking about the pluses and minuses of alternatives, then read blog posts on the sites in question looking for info on things like how I might like the functionality and how easy it would be to move all my feeds.

LT has a steep learning curve. But it's awesome. Anything you can do to make the former easier and emphasize the latter is going to be a huge boon.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:19 pm

I have been on LT since 2006, but haven't used it for years in favor of GR. When I started on LT, I was often at my desk, cataloging my books. Now, I use my smartphone in the bookstore or library to see if a book is in my collection or to add it to a list. When adding books to my collection, I use my tablet to scan barcodes of my books while standing at my shelves, instead of taking a pile to my desk to enter into LT. I understand that there aren't that many developers on staff and that resources are stretched, but the reality on the ground is that people are more mobile than before. Few will accept having to go home and enter or look up information. I enjoy the cataloging and metadata aspects of LT, and I want to be able to access that anywhere.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 5:12 pm

I love Librarything, Most of all the cataloging! Thank you.
The other site i regularly use to catalog my books is the now fast growing (dutch) collectors website
In Librarything I love the database and huge catalog which I can find and add all my books. Catawiki does not have such a database. But there I can sell my (antiquarian) books in a online shop or on their online book auction.

I know Catawiki is more a collectors site and not only for books but i think a combination of both ideas can be perfect and also generate money for Librarything. Just an idea..

Let me know what you think..

Mar 29, 2013, 12:23 pm

I am not a Goodreads fan. I post there occasionally, but I am a huge fan of LT. I like Tim and company, and LT just feels more warm and fuzzy to me. I like that. I have no ideas, but I do like the suggestion someone made about making it easier to share on FB and Twitter. This site is unique in the way it is run, and in the interaction and opinions of the powers that be. I like that .

Mar 29, 2013, 12:27 pm

I agree with >44 _Zoe_:, Zoe, that, ometimes, large tech firms don't need the companies they acquire but do so to shut down competition. In some ways, Yahoo's recent acquisition of Summly is just that - they've stated that Summly, the app, will be shut down, but some of the code / features will begin to show up in other Yahoo properties.......

If there are many software developers around on LT (sadly, I have a tech marketing and strategy background rather than tech coding), would it be worth enticing a couple of young 'uns with some sort of competition / giveaways for some hours of their time to get the mobile/social aspects tightened up?

Mar 29, 2013, 12:31 pm

This is so interesting - that people need a mobile version because they are in bookstores and libraries looking at physical books. Kind of puts paid to the notion that discovery happens online. (So does some research ...

Mar 29, 2013, 12:36 pm

One of the bookstores I use recently had a list of ten reasons to use the bookstore instead of buying on-line. I was very surprised that it didn't include

'because while I am in the bookstore I will walk past lots of books I didn't know about, and there's a good chance that I will see one I want.'

(Hmmm. Maybe that's why I don't get complaints about the number of books I buy online. There I really only buy the ones I know about. But there are sooooo many other books out there.)

Mar 29, 2013, 12:38 pm

I'd disagree, at least based on my anecdotal experience. I tend to research books online, or discover them from posts of people I know, and then hit the bookstore to take a look at them (especially if I am in a used book store). If I spot books in the store I can't currently afford, I record them online for later. I used to carry around a notebook for this purpose, which was cumbersome and difficult to update. Online book shelves streamlined the process for me and I am loath to return to that notebook. But the majority of my book discovery takes place online.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:39 pm

I also agree with >79 Murphy-Jacobs: on the need for a mobile app that one can pull up when in a bookstore - to check one's wishlisted books, other LT reviews, etc. I try to do that now on my iphone through the browser, but it takes ages to load, as you can imagine, and isn't easy to read.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 12:45 pm

I use both LT and GR, but prefer LT to GR on just about every single feature. Basically, I use LT to maintain what I own and read; I use GR for tracking only one particular genre that I read because I found there are more readers for this particular genre over at GR and I get better recs at both sites if I keep the tracking separated.

I’m probably in the minority of users in that I don’t use FB all that much and I never use Twitter. I hate what FB and Twitter functionalities have done to tools that worked perfectly well before they became FB/Twitter friendly. I’m also probably in the minority for wanting to keep my private life separated from my consumer life. I hate mixing those things up, and nearly every social media tool out there is forcing you to mix them if you want to stay informed or take advantage of their features, etc. LT is like a breath of fresh air in this regard!

I love the organizational features of LT and consider it a real strength over GR (again, I’m probably in the minority because I know many other readers who find GR easier to use). I’m not all that visually oriented. I find too many graphics lead to visual chaos, which really turns me off. I also am not using either site to make social connections, so finding and making friends isn’t as important to me as organizing, tagging and taking advantage of reading reviews.

Features I hate at GR that are thankfully absent here at LT:
- Gifs in book reviews. Is that ever abused, and I hope to god LT continues to keep them out of forums and posts.
- Book promoters and bloggers (who blog for a living, or might as well they spend so much time at it) dominating the reviews and forums. It’s as bad as Amazon over there these days, and it’s going to get worse. A previous poster mentioned trust above. This is another area where I think GR is quickly losing any credibility. Its proponents will tell you LT is for collectors, GR is for readers, but I’m seeing GR more as a tool for promoters than readers these days.
- Users at GR who rate and review books before they are even completed by the author (as yet another form of promotion). It’s reached ridiculous levels over there. None of that abuse happens here.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:47 pm

As another Goodreads refugee, I think offering a GR-specific import of book data would be a very, very good idea. After looking around, i'm pretty sure I can alter my GR export data to fit your spreadsheet, but it would be better if it was a simple, four-click affair.

And yes, as has been mentioned above, something on the site welcoming the folks who are now out kicking tires couldn't hurt.

I liked Goodreads because it was independent and had some nice touches (graphically it was fairly clean, and I liked the way it tracked the number of books I read each year). Like so many others, I was willing to contribute to the site because it was independent; I'll be damned if I'll write reviews in the interest of building Amazon's stock price.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:50 pm

I am a Goodreads user who wants to come back to LT. I also write for teens (some of you may call them kiddies). Reading through the thread has made me feel unwelcome here. So, there's that.

Differentiating the site is very different from being exclusionary. Just sayin'.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:50 pm

I would like to click on a book's title and go to a page that has a book description on it instead of having to click on another link. I know you can see member reviews on the first book page, but I'd also like to see the book description near the top of the page.

Mar 29, 2013, 12:51 pm

Sorry - posting as I catch up with all the amazing ideas/thoughts of others - I agree with others here that, since fancy code-related improvements are not feasible overnight, an increased focus on user content creation, distribution and discovery will go a long way - blogs, more reader and author lists/reviews/discussions that can be easily found/viewed/shared, author vlogs/interviews, etc.

One last request and I'll stop, I promise - I used to enjoy the live video author chats at GR. Even if you were in a different time zone at the time and couldn't log in real-time, you could go look at the chat anytime later. I enjoyed this more than the written interviews because it felt like the author was in my living room and talking with me directly. Content is evolving beyond just text and, if at all possible, it would be great to have a video channel at some point for those so inclined. Though, I do appreciate the limited resources point, Tim, and this would not be a dealbreaker for me (though, it might be for the Gen Y GR immigrant.....).

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 12:56 pm

> 79

"Pay wall" is an inaccurate characterization of the LT user fee. There is no fee to access any site content or features. Free accounts only allow so many catalog entries, so that limits what you can add to the site.

"Pay wall" generally refers to a subscription fee that keeps users from accessing/reading what's already there. See the relevant wikipedia article.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 1:00 pm

> 95
Granted. However, the problem still stands. I am reporting the comments made in GR about perceptions of LT that appear to be a barrier to joining.

Mar 29, 2013, 1:06 pm

I'm a new LT thing user, trying to de-Amazon my life! I'm doing exactly what Aerrin99 is suggesting. LibraryThing is the closest thing to what I'm looking for, so I'm here for the moment and want to find out how this place works!

Mar 29, 2013, 1:14 pm

Welcome GR peeps. Check out this thread as well. Help is on the way -

Mar 29, 2013, 1:19 pm

I'm a Goodreads refugee who would like to add a word of caution.

Perhaps I'm like the dog who was abused by a man who wore a red shirt, and now snarls at anyone wearing a red shirt.

But about 10 months ago, or so, over at Goodreads--there was a very, very large influx of new users (well over 3,000,000) who came over from Facebook as a result of a new Facebook app. Was it Timeline? Many of us over at Goodreads associate quite a few of the more tacky and unpleasant Goodreads policy changes to that time. Management, over at Goodreads, was delighted at this enormous influx of new "users" that more than doubled previous Goodreads membership roles. Many tacky new policies were justified by the logic that "this is what these new members are demanding" and "we need to streamline with the Facebook apps". Today Goodreads now possesses an enormous new membership population that undoubtedly has made it an attractive target for Amazon purchase--and also undoubtedly raised its asking price.

Many of us now associate Goodreads' tailoring its content and policies to the "needs" of Facebook participants to the Big Slide Down. Goodreads Facebook popularity has almost made the Amazon buyout (selloff?) inevitable.

My own interest in LibraryThing, as well as my purchase of LibraryThing membership dates from those days, about 10 months ago, when this Goodreads policy degradation began. Now that move may seem prescient to some.

So my word of caution is: "Be careful about being too accommodating to the "essential" compatibility with Facebook.

There is compatibility; and there is leaving the door unlocked in a dangerous neighborhood.

Be careful concerning the internal LibraryThing transformations that may be considered in the name of Facebook compatibility.

What type of new users does LibraryThing really want?

No easy answers.

Mar 29, 2013, 1:24 pm

This is one of the few reasons my goodreads account is still active. I like the simplicity of scan book with app on phone, mark as reading, update what page I'm on as I go occasionally writing notes to self as I go or capturing quotes, which might eventually become part of a review.
I review everything I read on LT but only a few on goodreads, but rely on goodreads for date finished info.
Wish LT had an easier add to wishlist function and a better note on the add books screen where it would say "this book is in a different edition on your wishlist, do you want to replace it with this edition?"

I'd also love to get notifications of books in series i've flagged when they come into my library system but that requires a different set of nagging first.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 1:27 pm

Book Riot has a live chat/discussion going on re. this very topic. There are people talking about LT and the miscategorized "paywall".

Edited to add their side-by-side comparison of GR and LT:

Mar 29, 2013, 1:25 pm

I use both LT and Goodreads currently, but for very different things. On LT, I have a full and accurate catalog of the books that I have in my personal library, which I update frequently as I add or get rid of books. On Goodreads, I have a full and accurate catalog of the books I've read in the past 10 years, with ratings, and some reviews. I wouldn't want to merge these two databases because they don't overlap that much. For instance, if I've read a one star stinker, I am not going to keep that in my library but I still want a record of my rating and thoughts, and the dates that I read it. Also, I read lots of books from the library that I don't own, and I don't want to dilute my LT data by including those.

I would love a LT app or quick search ability of my own data to answer the question "Do I already own this?" in low or no signal areas.

I am very very wary of Goodreads and Amazon merging their review policies and deleting reviews without warning.

It would be great to have a summary post comparing similar features of LT and Goodreads for refugees.

Mar 29, 2013, 1:26 pm

Flur, why is it you feel unwelcome?

Mar 29, 2013, 1:28 pm

I even said welcome.

Mar 29, 2013, 1:29 pm

The only thing I stuck around on GR for after migrating here several mos back, was to use it as a sort of wishlist. GENERIC EDITIONS!! I refuse to add all sorts of specific info for books I do not own/have not physically handled. Give me generic editions so I can maintain a wishlist of titles I hope to read at some point in the future! This is what GR was perfection for.

Also GR users are big on ratings & reviews. I know you have your opinion on ratings (which plenty of us vehemently disagree with, and plenty of longtime users used to disagree but found it futile so have since quit doing it since you didn't use it enough) but everything about GR was ratings! Trying to scoop up those members means rethinking some of your personal opinions on the use of a site for what many members actually want to do with it.

Finish all the half-features. Make the work-to-work feature actually do something. Use the lists! Those are a huuuuge part of GR, and they're a huge way that I found lots of books to add to wishlists. It's something lots of runaway-members will miss from other there. Add in the huge list of waiting sites for Also On. And so forth. Tuck in all the loose ends hanging around.

I understand people wanting some additional FB/Twitter integration, but please don't make it a big focus. There are lots of us who shun those sites and do not want to see them prominently around. Small additions to placate those who want it, but small and unobtrusive for the vast majority of us.

I don't use mobile/tablet stuff, but I do think it's an important thing for sites who want to stay prominent in this tech-crazy age.

Also, while adding a little clarity to certain areas would be beneficial, do not not not "simplify!" things overmuch. That just screams confusion to me. Losing things in the shuffle is not good. Maybe ask for some volunteers to shape up the wikis about the site, as I'm sure there's outdated, missing, and unclear info.

Indie is good, but don't put too much stress on publisher relations. Most of us came here due to the independent nature of the site, so don't wrap yourself up with big names, even if they don't technically get any say in anything.

Several people on GR and here have mentioned the international post. GR is hugely American-centric. Tons of times in the past on there I saw complaints about how focused it was on American everything. So how about trying to get more foreign ER options? Boosting the international sources (there's one I'd posted about months ago that got a quick initial response and then never any follow-up)? Making the international features we do have a notable point of interest?

Mar 29, 2013, 1:36 pm

As I said above, I don't use goodreads as much as I use LT, and I am pretty dedicated to LT.
Other things I use/like on Goodreads
Friends reviews first, it's a reason to follow people
Comments on reviews
Easy adding of wishlist items

Things I hate about goodreads
The read/to read/reading default. I don't really count knitting or cookery books as read, thats not what they're for, there are some that are but this makes me cranky
The gifs in reviews
The lack of empathy for people who don't have the same reading taste

You know there's nothing I truly hate about LT except perhaps the guardians of "good" reviewing who mark some reviews with "this is not a review" because it's not what they consider a review. Though thats died down a bit

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 1:47 pm

> 103

The attitude of keeping the "kiddies" out, for one, and the idea that LT should be the anti-Goodreads, and the "don't change just to attract GR users" posts.

I'd like to be able to make a home for myself over here, but it seems like the welcome mat is dubious at best.

There are a lot of things that Goodreads did poorly, but there are a lot of things it did well. And if LT wants to grow, change is inevitable. Why not learn from what GR did well, and add those features?

AT GR I love the ease of adding, sorting, and tagging my books, of tracking what I've read and how I felt about it. GR makes everything easy (I can scan books with my phone and auto-tag them on upload to my library!). What's so awful about that?

And from what I've seen, and I've seen quite a bit of it, the problem users on GR were full-grown adults, not kids. I fully support evicting trouble-makers, but the idea that youth automatically means reproachable behavior is offensive to me.

Mar 29, 2013, 1:49 pm

I am still not sure that Tim Spalding has fully explained all the implications of what he means when he says that actually.....
" this is GOOD NEWS."

Mar 29, 2013, 1:51 pm

I am a GR user who joined yesterday after hearing the announcement. I'm still looking around and getting a feel for the site, so I don't have much I can add about what LT offers, but I can provide some feedback about my favorite features at GR that I've not specifically noticed here (if they exist, I'm sure I'll find them. I enjoy the information density here, even if it will take a bit to learn where everything is).

I like that on GR, I can enter what dates I start and finish a book, and I can update my progress as I'm reading. If I read a book more than once, I can track the dates for each read. When I look at one of my books on GR, I can see in the "your review" section (the equivalent of the "your book information" section here) what I rated it, my review, how many times I've read it, what dates, and the progress updates (and comments) I made during that reading.

I like being able to click on the cover of a book and the first information on the page is a description. When I pick up a real book for the first time, I look at the back (or inside flaps) first. When I look at a book for the first time online, I want the description as easy to find as it is on a paper copy.

Finally, as a few others have said, I like that GR tracks the books we read in any given year. It makes things like yearly reading challenges much easier.

As I said, I do not know if these are things that LT is missing, or if the information is just organized different and I've not found where it is yet, and if it is missing, I understand it might not be something easy to do. I think there is also the possibility that this site will offer enough other features I enjoy that I won't mind the lack of those features if they don't exist. I am really liking what I see here, and the superior quality of the cataloging alone is enough to have me considering a pay membership.

Mar 29, 2013, 1:53 pm

I'm excited to see this direct response to yesterday's disappointing news (Goodreads selling its independence). Particularly the direct tackling of the "40% Amazon ownership" data point. I registered my first two books here, and the only "feature" I need to switch fully is a way to keep track of my reading progress, e.g. 20%, 50%, done. Am I just missing a way to do this?

Mar 29, 2013, 1:55 pm

Same here, yup, the dates of starting and finishing a book and progress along the way, and I can be quite happy here I think. The "less than 40%" ownership stake Amazon has is a bit murky I guess, though.

Mar 29, 2013, 1:56 pm

Thank you for the free membership, much appreciated!

Mar 29, 2013, 1:58 pm

To get over the "paywall" issue, we've decided to give out free accounts to anyone who's joined since the announcement and through Sunday.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:01 pm

Longtime LT member here--over six years--but not a huge board participant. I've just gone through this thread, because like all of us I'm very interested in how the Amazon/Goodreads deal will affect LT.

I'm REALLY happy that you don't want to sell, Tim, because I love LT's independence, as well as its connections with libraries and indies. I also really like the information density, because I'm both a book geek AND a tech geek. Granted, though, LT does feel old-school, and while I like that, it might stand in the way of attracting new users. Some mild reworking of the user interface might be in order--I'd really like the role of collections to be clearer, for example--but please, don't change it TOO much.

I can think of some concrete suggestions, though, which echo what people have said here. First, LT really does desperately need a comprehensive mobile app. Somebody upstream said they couldn't imagine adding books to LT via a touchscreen; well, I HAVE done that, on my Nexus 7, and it's extremely painful. I also really like the idea of letting users scan a book to see if they already have it, or to see reviews or tags, or whatever.

Please, Tim, you need a mobile app. Make this a priority. Hell, if I had more programming experience, I'd write it myself for free, just so I could have it.

The other thing is that, yes, you need more social integration--not so much for concrete features, but to increase general visibility. Letting people easily share reviews and ratings, for example, or telling people what they're reading and spawning discussions around those posts. You want to build awareness? Make it easier for your users to share their activities, and then all their friends will know about you. Let us be your ambassadors!

And finally, I agree that you need to position LT as the anti-Amazon/Goodreads. In EVERY way. Play up your partnerships with libraries and with indie bookstores. (And Kobo!) If it weren't for Amazon's stake, I'd even suggest you open negotiations with B&N. If you could get LT links into the Nook's store, that would be HUGE. (Of course, it would also look like you were courting them for a buyout, which wouldn't be so good even if you have no intentions along those lines.)

Anyway. I really love LT the way it is. Please don't turn it into Goodreads. If I'd wanted them, I would have joined them in the first place.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:02 pm

>113 timspalding: Duly tweeted, posted, shared, etc.!

Mar 29, 2013, 2:04 pm

I use both Goodreads and Librarything. I started with LT, and later added GR to see what is was about. Now I use both, LT primarily for discussions, GR primarily for looking up book information. Although the search function at GR is not perfect, if you type the right name or title, I almost always get the book I want in the first few hits. On LT I usually get a bunch of stuff I don't want, particularly when I'm adding books. I also prefer the way book editions are linked on GR. Perhaps more importantly: almost every book in GR has a blurb, and it's one of the first things you see when you go to a book page. On LT, there often is no blurb, and you have to click on Book descriptions to get there. For this reason, I started using GR more. I've also noticed that GR has a lot more reviews on books, so that was another reason to find book information there, and it is really easy to change edition. One more thing I like about GR is that on the main page, I can see the books I am currently reading, how many pages I've read, and what my friends are reading.

I would be thrilled to see some of these features at LT. Major design changes are not necessary for me. *sighs*. Using both LT and GR was a great combination for me. Now I'm not sure what I'll do with my GR account.

I have a very strong dislike of Amazon, so I'm very glad to hear LT is staying independent. That message on GR right now is decidedly puke-worthy...

P.S. How would LT feel about donations? Wikipedia for instance has been having a banner on their site lately asking for money. If things get too tight, I'm sure many people would be willing to chip in...

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 2:08 pm

In response to message #60:

Hi Tim. I have been a member of both LibraryThing (lifetime, since 2007) and Goodreads (joined in 2009). I will admit that I have been far more active on GR (even moderating a group there) because I just find LT too cluttered, sometimes overwhelming and not very fluid. I suspect I will be spending more time here on LT now...trying to get more comfortable with your site. While I am glad you are here as an option, I am actually not looking forward to navigating LT initially, though I know it will be fine once I re-familiarize myself with things.

I don't need super-pretty or big buttons or 100K overhauls, but I do think there is a way the site can be better organized and more intuitive for users. Please don't lump me into a 'dumb user' category. I am a bright person, curious and enjoy constantly learning. I work to adapt to new situations. I'm not a programmer, it's true - so I don't speak the language very well. But I do feel that you can be focused on smart, useful and 'culturally superior' without looking so cluttered and chaotic.

Thanks for taking the time to read my reply to your comment.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:14 pm

The ease of use of marking a book as currently reading, tracking the reading and keeping track of books read for the years was a real plus at Goodreads. You can manually add the dates read to books on LT of course but the easy functionality was a real plus at Goodreads.

An optional share to FB etc is a big way to increase visibility. I have a love/hate relationship with FB. I don't want every single thing I do on LT propagated to FB. But for books I've read/am reading that I would like to share to FB, a quick link button (like we see all over the web these days) would be a big plus in allowing LT users to share and more importantly to let friends see and get a taste of LT. The ability to share "recently read" lists and variations of that would be a bonus.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:18 pm

I've been on LT for over 4 years. Though I came here only to catalog my books, I love the friendships I've made through discussions in the annual 75 book group, the annual category challenge group, and some others.

I've tried GR and the only reason I go there is to see what my sister has been reading. For some reason, she likes GR and not LT (while I'm the opposite).

Mar 29, 2013, 2:21 pm

#107 -- I can't claim to know for sure, of course, and maybe Tim will clarify, but I think his reference to keeping the "kiddies" out was that LT takes a pretty firm stance on deactivating accounts established by kids under age 13. It's nominally against the TOS on most sites for kids under 13 to have accounts, since it's illegal in the US for sites to collect any sort of personal information on under-13s (see COPPA regulations, especially if you're suffering from insomnia!), but LT is firmer on the issue than some sites I've visited. I haven't spent enough time on GR to know if it is one of them or not, or how it compares. I do know that LT is welcoming to those of us who read children's literature and young adult literature (I'm a children's librarian, myself) and that there are plenty of us around, and plenty of teens who are active in both cataloging their books and in the social aspects of the site.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:21 pm

One think I like about Goodreads, is the random sorting of list. If I can't decide what to read, I click on my "to read" shelf and it randomly picks one. It is always a different book at the top. Is there a way to have the list be randomly sorted. Adds a little suspense to deciding what to read next. Thanks.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:21 pm

Interesting chart re. Amazon's acquisitions through the years - is there a method to the madness?

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 2:28 pm

Hi, I'm new, a refugee from GR!
I think I just needed an incentive to leave and this was the tipping point. I was getting quite annoyed with GR in the last few months, the ads and the focus on the social side, and the innane discussions that seemed to focus mainly around film adaptations of books...
I want a place to catalog my books, to keep track of reads and a list of books to read (buy or get from library) - I don't want to 'share' (don't use facebook or twitter) and usually only read reviews after I've read the book.
I also really didn't like the latest 'design' (I'd call it something else...) changes in GR, and the idea that everyone uses a mobile device and needs big buttons and big colours (hello? what are books?)
So thanks again :)

Mar 29, 2013, 2:28 pm

>19 timspalding:. YES!!!!!! YES!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!

Mar 29, 2013, 2:31 pm

About GoodReads - I'm on it because I was curious, but finding a review on the site that has any valuable content or analysis is difficult. I'm sure they exist, but I see it as so pedestrian as to be useless to me. Frankly I think it is to Amazon's detriment to purchase it.

Let me know what I need to do to help LT endure.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:36 pm

going back to #3, I don't think positioning LT as the "un-Goodreads" is a great idea. Positioning as an alternative to GR sounds better to my ears. There are good things on GR. People in this thread have been mentioning some of them. Embrace what is good and what works. I would like to see LT grow into something better out of this.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:36 pm

The feature I use most on GR is the ability to scan a book in using my iPhone. When I'm returning a book to the library, I stand in front of the return slot and count to three. This gives my dataplanless iPhone time to connect to the library's free WiFi, so I can open the GR app and scan the book in as "read".

A scanning app might be the sine qua non which keeps me on GR.

The one thing I can think of which might be more valuable than that would be an API so I could correlate my public library book lists with my LT "read" list.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:39 pm

Some other great suggestions here...

Like the idea of a "donation box", similar to Wikipedia. I paid for a lifetime membership, but I wouldn't mind paying a small sum every year. Alternatively to a permanent box, could always do an annual pledge drive, similar to PBS.

Also, to elaborate on my point asking for greater Facebook connectivity/functionality: I would like there to be more functionality, but not at the expense of LT's charm. I think there must be a way to offer this greater functionality to those who would like to use it without alienating those that wish to avoid it. It need not be the Facebook-Love-Fest that GR has been of late.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:47 pm

>Also GR users are big on ratings & reviews. I know you have your opinion on ratings (which plenty of us vehemently disagree with, and plenty of longtime users used to disagree but found it futile so have since quit doing it since you didn't use it enough) but everything about GR was ratings! Trying to scoop up those members means rethinking some of your personal opinions on the use of a site for what many members actually want to do with it.


>Use the lists! Those are a huuuuge part of GR, and they're a huge way that I found lots of books to add to wishlists. It's something lots of runaway-members will miss from other there.

Ditto again.

>Finally, as a few others have said, I like that GR tracks the books we read in any given year. It makes things like yearly reading challenges much easier.

And I want this.

> 6. LT has a lot of data, but it's not always accessible in a useful way. I'd still like to see things like the most popular books published in 2012, the highest-rated books published in 2012 (rated by at least x members), and so on. This ties in with discoverability again, and possibly with lists.

And this.


Lastly, I like the "look and feel" of LT. I think it's simple and uncluttered myself. But that's coming after using it for six years. I know where everything is now. There's just certain things I want to see. I want to see ratings used more, I want lists - lots of lists and I want them used a LOT better, and I want to track my reading easily. These are all things that GR blows LT out of the water doing.

But then I haven't touched my GR account in over a year because of all the other "noise."

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 2:51 pm

Personally I wouldn't like this site to change to look like GR - examples in post 129 of ratings (do you really care what others think?) and popularity lists (I just need to mention one trashy 2012 example to see the validity of these 'top lists'...)

Mar 29, 2013, 2:53 pm

I have had an account on LibraryThing for a long time but didn't use it. I had one with Shelfari too, but ditto. GR was easy to use, free, and a lot of fun so after I stopped blogging that became my go-to place on the net.

On GR I belong to a 'secret' group of about 120 members, maybe 25 active. We are all fairly heavy non-fiction readers and regular reviewers and over the years have become good friends. I wouldn't want to lose that and if we can maintain a similar structure and have good book cataloging and reviewing features elsewhere we might well move en masse as not one of us is happy about the Amazon buy-out.

These are some of the concerns people in the group brought up this morning:

1. What control over LibraryThing does Amazon have?
2. LibraryThing doesn't seem at all welcoming but a very closed group of nerdy people who are probably not into light romance, m/m erotica etc. (I'm not either but these are not my opinions, but general ones). On various discussions on the web, LibraryThing users always seem to rubbish Goodreads as 'downmarket', I have seen that.
3. What sort of structure of liking reviews and commenting is there? Were there any top lists?
4. Is there an equivalent to My Books showing a lot of user-relevant content?
5. LibraryThing is difficult to use.
6. Does LibraryThing have closed or 'secret' groups?

This is from me - How can you, as someone above said, ' position LT as the anti-Amazon/Goodreads. In EVERY way' if it is 40% owned by Amazon?

I hope it is ok to post a message as blunt as this but it seemed the best way to put our concerns.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:55 pm

>131 petra.X:

We'll be glad to provide free accounts to your group.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:58 pm

We are NOT 40% owned by Amazon.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:02 pm

6. Does LibraryThing have closed or 'secret' groups?

Yes, there is the option to make a group private (discussions/member list invisible to anyone not a member).

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 3:06 pm

> examples in post 129 of ratings (do you really care what others think?)
Yes. I find it interesting

> and popularity lists (I just need to mention one trashy 2012 example to see the validity of these 'top lists'
I read and enjoyed a ton of popular books including the trashy example you probably are thinking of. So do a lot of people. That's why they are popular.

>131 petra.X:
1. What control over LibraryThing does Amazon have?


2. LibraryThing doesn't seem at all welcoming but a very closed group of nerdy people who are probably not into light romance, m/m erotica etc. (I'm not either but these are not my opinions, but general ones). On various discussions on the web, LibraryThing users always seem to rubbish Goodreads as 'downmarket', I have seen that.

There is a bit of that. See post #130 - heh! But I read romance and a lot of urban fantasy and I know of at least one other person who reads m/m romance. And I have a pretty active thread. So as with any site, there's always a bit of negativity. You let it go and enjoy the rest.

3. What sort of structure of liking reviews and commenting is there? Were there any top lists?

You can thumb up reviews but it doesn't really do anything. You can't comment on reviews. There aren't any many top lists even though we ask for them. A lot.

6. Does LibraryThing have closed or 'secret' groups?

Yes, you can have what's called a private group.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:05 pm

Wow, lots of GR-bashing here. It wasn't perfect but some of us made it work for us. But obviously the very active LT users consider us trashy, mindless and not real readers. Anti-GR wasn't the pitch I was expecting. But message received.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:07 pm

To be "un-Amazon" I would expect to have at least the option with the LT widgets to not offer a click through to buy the book from Amazon.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:12 pm

>136 Clwaller:.... hmm. I used both sites too for different reasons. But, I've been following this thread closely and am not getting the "GR-bashing" you mention. Yes, there's a lot of "let's not become another GR" but I'm reading that more as "let's not become like someone else and retain our originality". I am also reading a lot of good things about GR that dual-members would like to see here...... Definitely never felt that long-time members here look down on some as "trashy, mindless and not real readers". Wow. That's quite an inference to draw from this thread. Phew. :) Everyone is entitled to their perceptions, of course, so I'm sharing mine as a contrast. :) I do hope that you find some positives here if you choose to stay. :)

Mar 29, 2013, 3:16 pm

> 107

The attitude of keeping the "kiddies" out

Well, that's a legal issue, relating to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act .

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 3:25 pm

I understand where Clwaller's coming from. LT members tend to be LT members for a reason, and one reason is finding it superior to Goodreads. Personally I find the forced socialization and ads gross. And I think the average level of discussion inferior—but with a larger user base, there are certainly parts that are not. Indeed, there are pockets of real excellence and passion, for sure.

I think we need to be like GR in various ways—in doing some things, like mobile, better. But I don't think we should start auto-posting and auto-friending without explicit permission, or showing adds all over the place.

I liked someone's Twitter comment about how GR no longer allows fantasy sex play. LibraryThing could become the site that encourages erotic sex play! ;)

As for the "kiddies," I'm not going to yield. LibraryThing is for those 13 and over. That other sites turn a blind eye to this is their problem. It's the law and, yes, it's also a matter of quality control.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:19 pm

> 129

everything about GR was ratings!

Although I have an account at GR, I don't use it very much, and that's one of the reasons. You can't get recommendations unless you give books star ratings, and I don't like star ratings.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 3:28 pm

This is in response to Post #2 by fuzzi asking if anyone is not owned by Amazon. is owned by independent booksellers and can never be sold until they agree to it. It's only sellers are independent booksellers, most of whom sell primarily used and antiquarian books, with a few new books in the mix. It has a monthly listing fee, but no additional costs to sellers unless they use, by choice, the credit card processing gateway on the site. Most sellers prefer and do use their own processors.

Tomfolio has a code of ethics to protect customers. Buyers can use a unique category system to browse books, and will often find much more complete book descriptions than they will find on Amazon. Prices are also sometimes lower that on Amazon for the exact same book, same copy, from same seller, because on Tomfolio the seller doesn't have to pay the additional fees Amazon charges.

It's true the selection is not as great as on larger sites yet, but it hopes to attract more sellers and buyers. More buyers attract more sellers. Tomfolio is in its 13th year of being in business and has survived the demise of many other used book selling sites, including Bibliofind, which Amazon left to die after acquiring it.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:29 pm

> 109 I like being able to click on the cover of a book and the first information on the page is a description. When I pick up a real book for the first time, I look at the back (or inside flaps) first. When I look at a book for the first time online, I want the description as easy to find as it is on a paper copy.

> 116 Perhaps more importantly: almost every book in GR has a blurb, and it's one of the first things you see when you go to a book page. On LT, there often is no blurb, and you have to click on Book descriptions to get there.

The "Book Description" field is not always populated, true, but it appears (by default, I believe) at the distant bottom of each Work page, as well as being accessible through the "Work Descriptions" link on the left column. For your own login, you can customize the prominence of Book Description by dragging the Description bar up the page.

As for myself, I may have pushed it down to the bottom, because my experience of jacket-copy-type publisher's descriptions has inclined me to distrust them anyway, and I am looking at records in my own library (where I don't need a description at all) more often than I am browsing new titles. If LT forced descriptions into the top of the listing for each Work, I'd be displeased.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 4:08 pm

Please, please do not turn this into a social hub like goodreads, where you have no choice but to have it in your face. I like the homepage exactly as it is. I like having the option to add talk/groups to my homepage. I like having the option of whether or not I want to join groups. To put it simple, I like the ability to customize the homepage. I don't necessarily want to see what every Tom, Dick, or Harry is adding or reading.

Edit: I'm not saying to not ad the social aspect at all, I'm saying make it optional.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:33 pm

> 109 I like being able to click on the cover of a book and the first information on the page is a description. When I pick up a real book for the first time, I look at the back (or inside flaps) first. When I look at a book for the first time online, I want the description as easy to find as it is on a paper copy.

Okay. We'll get that out soon. We need to hide most of it, but just a sentence with a "more" would help.

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 12:45 am

I've been toying with the idea of dropping my GR account for a while now, and this just makes me lean more in favor of actually doing it. I joined LT in 2006, but didn't really use it extensively until roughly two years later, when I joined GR and did a side-by-side comparison. I wanted a book catalog that was less of a glorified spreadsheet and more like a commercial OPAC, but still affordable. The only reason my GR account has survived this long is that GR's recommendations match my tastes better, given the same set of books entered into GR and LT. (I have had good luck with BookPsychic, though... if I can just persuade my public library to get it, I'd be a happy camper.) On the other hand, these days most of my recommendations come from real people over in the Category Challenge group than from an algorithm and a book list.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:35 pm

> 145

Hrmph. (#143)

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 3:42 pm

> 139 and 140

I wasn't talking about people under 13. I'm talking about the attitude that LT is for "adults" that's been stated in more than one post. There's a big difference between 13 and 18, last I checked.

LT seems very snobbish, is I guess what I'm saying. Clearly I'm not the only one feeling like the welcome is a bit two-faced.

All I was saying in my original post is that I was excited to come back to LT, and now, not so much. It feels very closed off.

I'm still working on transferring my library, and I'm still going to bring my books over, but I'm hoping the interaction might be a bit friendlier. No one likes to be looked down upon.

> 120
Glad to know there a folks here who share my interests. Thanks!

Mar 29, 2013, 3:42 pm

Fighting the good fight. Canceled my GR account and have been flogging LT on my bookstore's Facebook page all morning.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:43 pm

Descriptions post

Jeremy and Paradox may debate me :)

Mar 29, 2013, 3:44 pm

I agree with #65 (jouni's post) – since you have limited developer resources, the best thing to do would be to make better use of the APIs and incentivise the community to develop mobile apps, etc. There may be far more book geeks than tech geeks on the site, but the tech geeks could increase visibility a lot with support from LibraryThing.

I do agree that the interface needs an update, but I'm not really aware of any way that it could be improved without spending a bunch of money. Maybe you could invite design improvement proposals from the user base and have them be discussed on Talk to find good ideas?


A note to GR users feeling unwelcome: Any community will always have people that are afraid of change, but rest assured that most of us want you here. We all love books, and enjoy being in a community full of other people that love books, regardless of genre.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:44 pm

#148 Flur, welcome!!

I bet if you took a look at the 75ers group (a chatty, welcoming bunch, if ever there was one), you'd get a better feel for LT. Whatever your reading interest, there's almost surely someone else who shares it. I say this as a fan of mysteries, baseball books, disaster books, and books about Chicago.

There are also plenty of specialized groups. Don't see one on your favorite kind of reading? Then start one.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:45 pm

>149 BeckyJG:

Thanks. Let us know if we can do anything for you. You're not IndieBound, right?

Mar 29, 2013, 3:47 pm

> 151 and 152


Mar 29, 2013, 3:48 pm

I was just going to recommend the 75 Books Challenge group for newcomers, but lindapanzo just did in #152. Here's the link: (the number of books you read doesn't actually matter).

The Green Dragon is also a great group, especially for SFF enthusiasts:

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 3:52 pm

Flur, there is a lot more controversy and mean spiritedness in these types of threads than there is in the group threads. I'm always dropping out of threads that have to do with 'change' as around here. There is a large and vocal cadre of folks who 'hates it' no matter what it is, or what it is about.

Just join a couple of groups, like Green Dragon or 75 Books Challenge for 2013 or the 2013 Category Challenge. Those are far more indicative of the types of interchange that is standard here on LT.

And I'm very sorry you feel unwelcome.

ETA: one day my fingers will actually follow my brain....

Mar 29, 2013, 3:50 pm

We are IndieBound members, but don't use them for our webstore.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 3:52 pm

Personally I prefer the Category challenge ( because it encourages me to spread my reading around a bit more. In fact the group reads and side challenges for the two groups are pretty much shared.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:52 pm

We all love books, and enjoy being in a community full of other people that love books, regardless of genre.

Amen to that. A hearty welcome to all GR "refugees". Yes, fine, we may or may not share the same taste. To each his / her own. But it takes all kinds - and no genre is unwelcome.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 3:56 pm

Thank you! That solves that concern for me (I'm poster 109). I appreciate the assistance.

Mar 29, 2013, 3:55 pm

Thanks Tim!

I'm one who started on LibraryThing and LOVE it as a book cataloguing system, but eventually started using Goodreads almost entirely for one reason - I highly value the social aspect of GR. It's helpful (and fun) to see what my friends are reading, how they're enjoying it, and what I might want to explore as a result. That's just not clearly published in LT.

I know I can create a currently-reading collection, but it's not seamless, nor are progress updates from currently-reading, from my collection or my friends'. That would be fantastic to bring to LT.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:00 pm

In re #159. And a good thing it is, too. A curious confirmation of Matt's characteristic wisdom is the number of Groups with only 1 or 2 participants., also the huge number of Dormant Groups which are kept available in case there are stirrings of life -- and from time there are! If these don't = Inclusion, what does?!

Mar 29, 2013, 4:02 pm

> 148 I wasn't talking about people under 13. I'm talking about the attitude that LT is for "adults" that's been stated in more than one post. There's a big difference between 13 and 18, last I checked.

I understand defensiveness on all sides, but I'm sure everyone could use less of it. Believe it or not, I think that the "adult" message you're hearing is also rooted in a sense of defense against a homogenizing mass culture. Speaking for myself, anyhow, I prefer a forum for books that doesn't gravitate markedly toward YA literature that has no interest for me.

Since J.K. Rowling became the second-richest woman in England it's gotten so that what was an annex of juvenile literature has become an enormous sales category for general readership. Some of us really are "adult" readers, and have been since our teens. LT seems better at making space for that sort of thing, because it's not a sales mechanism. Lillithcat might share my suspicion that the lower significance accorded to star ratings and book popularity on LT deserves some credit for that too.

I'm hoping the interaction might be a bit friendlier.

You'll note that this particular thread has a sort of "reaction to crisis" problem-solving mood, as kicked off by Tim's announcement of status and intentions relative to the amazon-GR situation. Most LT Talk (in my experience) is very friendly, and centers on what people are reading, rather than any sort of anxious meta. There are certainly some exceptions: site-oriented groups that are meta and contentious, and rare issue-oriented groups that verge on combative. But friendly is easy to find if you follow your literary interests. Even if those interests are Twilight or Hunger Games.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:05 pm

>148 Flur:


You may want to look at different groups - there are teen-dominated groups... But then in most groups you will see people from 14-16 to 85+ in the same conversations.

Welcome on board - it does feel a bit threatening when you join, seeing how everyone seem to be chatting with everyone else if they know them for years but before you realize it, you end up as one of the old users :) I joined relatively late compared to most of the old timers... and I do feel like an old-timer.

I usually end up staying the most in - but that's because I am very bad at doing challenges (and sticking to plans).

So... look around, get yourself a beverage of your choosing and just jump into a conversation or three. Next thing we know, you will be welcoming new users and explaining them how to use the site :)

Mar 29, 2013, 4:07 pm

>163 paradoxosalpha:
Why do so many people think that all YA literature consists of is Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games? *cries onto keyboard*

Mar 29, 2013, 4:09 pm

I think there are YA groups here.

There are also YA fans in both the 75 book group and the 2013 category challenge group. I was thinking of changing one of my 13 categories to YA and got lots of suggestions.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 4:11 pm

> 165
I picked them as the most conspicuous examples. Why wouldn't I?

Edited to add: I also said they're okay, and there's room for them here.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:10 pm

Note that one can flexibly construct one's own micro-environment on Talk by a combination of favouriting and ignoring groups, threads and members, as well as choosing limiters when viewing Talk (Your Groups, Your posts, Your Favourites etc. vs. All Groups).

Mar 29, 2013, 4:11 pm

>165 Flur:

Because these are the titles that always get cited. :)
There will always be people that don't want to even try YA and children literature. Or Fantasy. Or Mysteries. Or *insert any genre*. It is their choice and LT is good for all kind of readers - because it is all about the books after all.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:13 pm

Some of you may wish to step back and look at this discussion in terms of the larger LT world, and beyond that, the bigger world which is, well, The World. I read many threads on LT, and have viewed with astonishment the free-form content and style of discussions. In the past two months I have seen the vacancy (and re-filling) of the Papacy assume vastly more Group-posts than the war in Syria or threat of war with or over North Korea. Then I watched the defacto demise of Goodreads bump the Papacy from the collective consciousness of LT. I won't presume to say what this says about us. Perhaps my pal paradoxosalpha would f(l)avour us with an interpretation. To spare him part of his trouble: the sad fac is the common denominator among all these phenomena, namely our lamentable lack of control over any of them. Peace to all, -- Goddard

Mar 29, 2013, 4:17 pm

> 170

Jeeze, Goddard. I have better-informed opinions on these things than those. Isn't there a big Syria/North Korea thread I'm neglecting?

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 4:18 pm

Following on from my previous message 131 and just looking at this thread, Clwaller (Msg 136) and Flur (107, 148) don't find LT any more welcoming than myself and others of my friends (can't speak for anyone else) who were thinking of coming to LT. There is massive GR bashing here and what seems to be a common thought of thinking LT is superior rather than different from GR.

Just from this thread, not from the massive bashing of GR LT members sometimes go in for on other sites.

Msg 3 - Tim Spalding
"This is the way I like it—I find Goodreads too pushy on the social side, too cavalier about user data, and culturally and intellectually inferior. So I want to be unlike them. But it's also good business practices. If you want a ham sandwich, Goodreads will give you one. We need to be the site for people who hate ham sandwiches."

That sets the tone!"

Indeed it does! Not really what you call a welcome message from the founder.

Msg 12 - Fuzzi

"Yes, it might possibly attract some disgruntled GR people, but should we change what we are and possibly alienate the 'hard working geeks' in order to possibly attract GR peeps?"

Msg 70 - Cryto-Willobie

"LT users catalogue popular fiction, literary fiction, science, history, philosophy, religion, politics, you name it. Overall it probably has a higher,,, uh, SAT score? IQ? -- than Goodreads -- but you can find anything there."

Msg 125 - MurphyWaggoner

"About GoodReads - I'm on it because I was curious, but finding a review on the site that has any valuable content or analysis is difficult. I'm sure they exist, but I see it as so pedestrian as to be useless to me"

Msg 130 ScarletBea

" (do you really care what others think?) and popularity lists (I just need to mention one trashy 2012 example to see the validity of these 'top lists'...)"

Msg 144 Steph310

"Please, please do not turn this into a social hub like goodreads, where you have no choice but to have it in your face..." " I don't necessarily want to see what every Tom, Dick, or Harry is adding or reading. "

So GR and by extension its members are trashy, pedestrian plebs with such low iqs they are 'culturally and intellectually inferior' and certainly the opposite of, 'hardworking geeks'.

There are a lot of unhappy GR people, we aren't actually any different from you (we also have our snobs and mealy-mouthed people) we just liked that site and now we don't and would like to continue in our book activities as a group on another site. But it doesn't seem that Tim or several of his members have a high enough of opinion of us to make us feel welcome.

Sad. I'm really sad. I thought this might be our new home.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:18 pm

165> Because we have seen all the 'I love Edward' groups that sprouted here at one point. There are several groups for these books.

We can hardly deliberately mention your favourites, because you haven't entered any books yet.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:20 pm

>165 Flur: YA is a marketing tool as much or more than a description of what type of book you'll find. One of the best and most moving books I've read (and reread and listened to) in the last 10 years is Code Name Verity. It's classified as YA and for as much acclaim as its received, I fear the label has kept it from being even more widely read. Similarly, sometime between it's original publication and the present, Ender's Game has been mystifyingly reclassified from Science Fiction to YA.

The point being that I agree that the YA label is abused and used to dismiss as much work as it is to lead people towards it. Once you move away from the contentious talk about LibraryThing boards and into the other book or genre discussion threads, you'll find more enjoyable and work-related rather than label-related discussions about particular books.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:24 pm

#3 by timspalding> And I have limited confidence in APIs. LibraryThing has the book geeks, but not so much the computers geeks. In part this is our fault. Goodreads successfully ignored Amazon's API restrictions until, finally, Amazon bought them. (Let's see how their APIs go now…) But I also feel that, fundamentally, LibraryThing is for book geeks, and has limited appeal to programmers. So, for example, even when we promised to give thousands to charity, we couldn't get any help adding events through our API—even as users did lots of manual adding.

I gotta say, this kind of pisses me off.

The reason why you have limited appeal to programmers is because you have incomplete and buggy APIs that you got interested in building one week and then ignored most peoples request for bugfixes or feature additions that would turn them into something truly useful. You really only have yourself to blame on this one, Tim. This is harsh, but I feel it's the truth.

Enough time has passed so I'm just going to go ahead and put this out there - I built a LT mobile cataloging website. It didn't have every bell and whistle and needed quite a bit of optimization, but it did a really good job of the basics of letting you access your LT catalog in a mobile device friendly way that worked on both iOS and android devices. It even adjusted its GUI depending on whether you were on a phone or a tablet. It could fetch your catalog and cache it so you could also use it offline. I used it quite a bit myself when going to bookstores.

I built this eight months ago and showed it to Tim and co.

As part of showing it to them, I pointed out that limitations in the API prevented you from reading more than about 5000 books before the API just barfed. You also had to get them all at once and couldn't request a chunk at a time, which is an awful thing to try to do for a person who has over 10,000 books and a typical mobile device. There was also no way for a private user to load their library because the API didn't allow for that. From my viewpoint, the changes wouldn't really be that major.

I immediately got some interest and positive things said about my API requests. Then after a month of waiting for a response to my last mail (and a reminder from me), another response saying "yeah, sounds great, let's fix up the API." That was in September. Despite my prodding Jeremy a couple of times, I've gotten nothing but radio silence from you since then.

This whole "LT has limited appeal to programmers" is a giant crock of expletive deleted. I'm trying not to be bitter about it but it certainly dampened my enthusiasm about it. Then while I was twiddling my thumbs waiting on a response jouni wrote an iPhone app which I have to admit dampened my motivation a bit (no offense to you, jouni!)

And these aren't the only two projects. I know cvedovini has put a ton of time into a facebook application that you feature on your very site help. But I often see bugs (1, 2, 3) and simple feature requests not just not addressed but ignored completely.

And hey, it's your business and you can run it like you want. You have absolutely no obligation to lift a finger to make any of our apps work or have feature X. But I'm also not going to let a comment like that go buy without any fact checking. :P

Moving on...

All the while, I see you time and again spending significant time on questionable features. Melville decimal system, anyone? Or how about features that you started on but then never really finished like Lists or News Feed or linking to member names with @ (tons of bugs there, and you seem to have agreed that you should change it to @@ to avoid lots of problems but then you never did)? Other features like Filter by Kindle, CoverGuess, Book Haiku, Lexiles, From Where aren't so questionable but really make me wonder about the priorities of LT.

You pull out the explanation of limited development time but then time and time again we see lots of time spent on things like this rather than the mythic Add Books redo. That's been promised to be just around the corner for... years now? And that's one of the core features of the site, one that is probably about 9/10ths of what all the defecting GoodReads uses you hope to snare are going to grade your site on. And right now, I'm afraid you're not making the Dean's List.

And you post threads like this that you've posted time and time again. I could dig up quite a few for you. The old "how can I improve the site?" thread that pulls us all in over and over again. But I'm just so tired of it at this point because every time the users of the site pour tons of comments into the threads, saying the same things, but then you just lose interest and nothing ever happens with it. You've even had us post whole redesigns of the site but then just disappeared. I admire Zoe's persistence but you can see in her post (#37) that even she is getting tired of taking a run at kicking this football.

Okay, so a giant tl;dr rant, I guess. This isn't to say I hate the site or anything. I still think it's a great place for cataloging and talking to folks. But I think a lot of it's shortcomings are self-inflicted rather than unavoidable.

Now if you don't mind I'm going to go enjoy a sunny day with my son. :)

Mar 29, 2013, 4:24 pm

Read YA lit is the fourth largest group on LT.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 4:39 pm

172> Let's face it. Many of us are here on LT because we like it here. We weren't on GR because we didn't like it there. You were on GR presumably for the opposite reasons.

Many of us have spent a lot of time doing small things for the site and helping others learn their way around. We are willing to help Goodreads people find their way here, but we do want the site to remain the site that we love.

I see a lot of GR people who are complaining about how LT works and wanting to change it before they have even started entering books here. No. Tim is right to reassure the LT members that he does not intend changing LT just to suit the newcomers.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:42 pm

5>> PLEASE, pleeease don't make it like Windows 8 - I just got a new Laptop and was forced to W8 and hate it! If this sight works for a desktop/laptop it should work for a tablet or smartphone.

14>> if we drop the dead salmon color, could we go with a pretty sand or ocean blue? 0

Mar 29, 2013, 4:43 pm

Tim, if your not interested in suggestions why are you asking?

If you need more resources without money then it seems like your option is to open it up to outside developers or finding additional revenue resources. Can't aligning more closely with Indies, linking to them for sales and taking advertising from them generate revenue?

Mobile is where everything is headed. Android and Apple Apps are critical. Connection to social media is next.

I love Librarything. Keep it up.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:46 pm

> 179

Where did Tim say that he's not interested in suggestions? He's simply pointing out that LT's resources are not infinite. Whose are? (Well, aside from Warren Buffett . . . Hey! Tim! Call WB!)

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 4:58 pm

>175 brightcopy:

I hear you BC. Helping you slipped through the cracks, organizationally as as part of our strategy. It was part me and part ConceptDawg and it didn't get done.

That said, I'm not at all convinced that user apps can solve our problems. But I think they're probably all we can do. Some time ago, I was sure that we'd get apps out, but our struggles with apps for Library Anywhere have convinced me it's not going to happen without a change in overall resources.

And I agree, we don't always choose the right features or develop them with enough discipline. We do have very serious constraints, and I think users tend to misunderstand what takes time and what doesn't. But you're at least 75% right.

It's my hope that this is something of a change for us. I'm glad to be the Indie again, and I think it opens our options up. I hope I can be a better manager of it, and live up to the love that so many feel for the site.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 4:47 pm

@177: "Let's face it. Many of us are here on LT because we like it here. We weren't on GR because we didn't like it there. You were on GR presumably for the opposite reasons."

But not necessarily. You'll note that the LT membership fee is a big hurdle to a lot of people, so even if they like it here they may have opted for GR simply because of the (free!) price.

On the other hand, there's certainly something to be said about a userbase who chooses to pay for one product (LT) over a competing, free product (GR).

Mar 29, 2013, 4:49 pm

>181 timspalding:

I think the price has had an effect on the community. Part is just age—GR people tend to be younger because young people are more price sensitive, as a matter of economics and the expectation that sites should be free.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 5:05 pm


Reply to: MSG 172 petra.X

Oh, you assume much. I too have a Goodreads account, and I've used it for years. I don't like the homepage (never did), but so what? The homepage on goodreads does not allow customization. You see what your friends are reading (and if you don't have friends, you see what people you don't know is adding) or you have to option to see your groups. If you don't have groups, you see random posts from people you don't even know about books you have in your own list. There is no way to shut it off, and that's what I DON'T like about goodreads.

Does all that automatically mean I think you're (and others that like the social aspect of goodreads) a nit-wit? No, I do not. I was merely stating my own personal preference. Did others in this thread take the scenic route in insulting your (and other goodreads members') intelligence? Yep, you even quoted some of them, including me, which I do not deserve. However, the others you quoted, including the founder (if you don't understand where he's coming from), were nasty.

I think you read too much into my "Tom, Dick, and Harry" statement. I only meant it as everyone but me. I don't have friends that read, and I have no interest in seeing what strangers are doing, plain and simple.

I even made the edit (about 8 minutes before you posted this) that clarified my position about social aspects on LT. I only said to leave it optional (like it currently is) for those of us who don't want it. You want it, that's perfectly fine and acceptable. Just don't force it on me and others who don't like it. The way LT is set up right now, we both get what we want.

Mar 29, 2013, 4:50 pm

I'm another dual member - I use LT to catalogue what I own and have subsets of culled books and read but not owned books (though I've stopped using that one in preference to GR). GR is my list of what I'm currently reading or planning to read. I'm an active editor on both sites and got my library to subscribe to Library Anywhere a while ago. ;)

My other half is also on both, but I have to do his LT cataloguing to keep our shelves up to date because he finds adding books tedious nowadays.

What I like about GR is:
* The decent mobile interface - the LT one is annoyingly basic and a hard to remember the URL of, so I fiddle with the full site on my smartphone to check things in bookshops. Sounds like a lot of users don't even know about it!
* The app with barcode scanner so I can add as soon as I buy or borrow - it would be very exciting to have a scanner as part of a mobile site.
* Quick and dirty book adding using data already in the site (probably tricky)
* Accessing and updating my list of current and future reads from the front screen - I don't record current reads on LT as the methods of doing that (which I'm aware of anyway) are super tedious.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:00 pm

>182 saltmanz: In a sense, but come on, you can pay as low as $1/yr, you really can't ask for anything cheaper than that. (Yes, you could ask for free, but given what free tends to get you, and given what that one measly dollar gives...)

Mar 29, 2013, 5:06 pm

>184 Steph310: Ok Steph, I apologise. I understand what you meant more now. There was no reason to love every feature of GR or any site and especially not to want an unloved feature to appear on another site.

I notice that Tim Spalding hasn't bothered to address either of my messages so my only question Tim is why on earth do you want anyone from the "culturally and intellectually inferior" site to join you. You said that GR gives people the "ham sandwiches" they want and you say, "We need to be the site for people who hate ham sandwiches." So what do you want us here for?

And you do. Offering free accounts instead of paid ones is definitely inviting people to join.

Why don't you address what I've said, what I've quoted, why have you ignored it?

Mar 29, 2013, 5:11 pm

I for one have a paid membership here at LT and a free membership on GR. What I like about GR is the ease of finding the correct edition of a book, book description prominently displayed on top of book page, friendliness of groups and members , the social integration and the ease of adding a book to your library.

I use them both I have been a member of the 75 book group for a few years and love that group and the Green Dragon group is very nice, but as you can see by what happened above Flur made a comment she was a fan of YA and you all jumped on the we hate YA so that means we hate you bandwagon and I would bet she doesn't come back. because we are so much better than you and that is an attitude that permeates from the top of the food chain down and makes people who don't read high brow fiction or non-fiction feel unwelcome.

And as >172 petra.X:-petra.X said in her post you really don't make people feel welcome if they post in the wrong place you all jump in and make it so they never come back, I have seen this time after time and is one of the things that keeps me from using LT exclusively.

Now that I have that rant out of my system back to the actual topic of this thread:

I am afraid that one day Amazon will own everything that has to do with books, I am anti-Amazon, I don't shop there, I own a Nook and have always shopped at B&N that is my personal preference. I am scared at what the ramifications are going to be on GR but I am not going to pull up stakes until I know what these ramifications are going to be. I will still use GR & LT just as I have for a few years.(for now)

Mar 29, 2013, 5:13 pm

I'm a paid dual member; and I am also a grateful Goodreads refugee--both; and I really get what dedicated LT members are saying about the difference in focus of the two sites. I agree. LibraryThing has its own, successful, identity and approach. It needs to be maintained.


Protecting what is valuable and unique about LibraryThing is not the same as dissing Goodreads members. Comments about the relative maturity off the two sites have succeeded in alienated, not only Goodreads members, but also younger members here as well.

Comments about relative IQ measurements also needlessly alienate potential allies and members.

There is no good reason for Goodreads refugees to assume that making LT "more like Goodreads" will improve the site. There is also no good reason for elitists to assume a moral or intellectual superiority simply based upon difference--that's called xenophobia.

A dramatic inevitable tragedy (for Goodreaders) has and will cause an influx of new, potentially valuable members here to LibraryThing. LibraryThing is showing a welcome. Thank you.

But both groups need to step back a bit. Immigrants need to understand that the "new" country already has its own language and cuisine. But the welcoming country need not trash the inborn culture inherent to the newcommers.

A little perspective can produce miracles. We have an opportunity here.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:15 pm

186: Okay, but the fact that it's pay-what-you-like isn't advertised until you actually go to pay. That you can join for as little as $1 only matters to those who've already decided it's worth $25.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:16 pm

GR isn't going away, so those too measly to pay a small amount of money for LT once in a lifetime can happily share all their phone contacts and other data with GR/Amazon and get their services for free.

That said, GR has some great functionality I wish LT had copied long ago:
1. Painless add books (with information hiding for casual users)
2. Reading status toggle
3. Reading progress and non-clumsy date entry
4. Clear display of basic bibliographic information (page numbers, year, publisher ...).

Mar 29, 2013, 5:17 pm

MSG 188 susiesharp

You say this as if goodread is innocent. Remember, goodreads has certain groups where you have to jump through hoops, brown-nose the admin to let you in, and once in, you better not have a different take on a plot line or you're outta there.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 5:24 pm

>187 petra.X:

I think Goodreads has many different sorts of people and groups. Some are as smart and well-spoken as anywhere on LibraryThing. Some are not. Many of us, myself included, find there's too much of the latter sort. So, for example, a recent discussion on Goodreads went like this:
I like both, but I think Dimitri is better :) even thought it's really freaky about him being strigoi & all... but still, Dimitri is awesome :D
i agree
Dimitri i was reading the series i looooved dimitri!!! but the most recent book made me change my mind. GO ADRIAN!
I agree with Nina, at first I thought Dimitri was amazing, but Adrian has way more personality and sarcasm
*high five*
I 3 Dimka
up high chica!
lol he is so HOT!!!!!

etc. for 33 pages. Reviews are not infrequently like that too. LibraryThing's interface is pretty much about trying to avoid that, and the culture has followed the design. LibraryThing members—myself included, and I suppose I set the tone—tend to think that Goodreads isn't always as adult or serious. Of course, that's not true across the board. It's clear that's not what Goodreads is for you. You probably avoid groups where people write like that. That's really all this boils down to. As another feature of LibraryThing, the UI tends to encourage reading across groups. So groups of the sort I quoted are less acceptable around here, because they tend to get in people's hair more.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 5:19 pm

>No Steph I am not saying Innocent I know of those groups but I for one wouldn't jump through any hoops just to join a group no matter if it's here or on GR.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:20 pm

4. Clear display of basic bibliographic information (page numbers, year, publisher ...).

I would like this (minuscule?) pony very much. I feel it ought to be connected to the cover, such that when you click on a specific one (in Cover Images) you can see which edition it is.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:21 pm

>188 susiesharp: susiesharp, If you read the posts clearly, no one jumped on any hate-bandwagons. Someone explained their viewpoint and why they made certain remarks. There's no sense in getting overly defensive just because people state they're not interested in the same books. It was clearly stated that there are plenty of groups on here that focus on that sort of thing and it's entirely welcome. And for the record, there are countless groups all dedicated to genre fiction. There is certainly no you must read Pulitzers or non-fic demeanor here.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 5:24 pm

>194 susiesharp: susiesharp

Neither would I, and that's what angers me about goodreads. Like I said in post #144, goodreads forces the social on you. While it's not jumping through hoops for group admission, it's still making you jump through hoops to use the site. In my opinion, LT doesn't do that (unless you count the $ for unlimited yearly/lifetime membership, and that's just a one time hassle).

Mar 29, 2013, 5:26 pm

>187 petra.X:

Tim did not say that the people from the other site are inferior though.

The point that a few people are trying to make is that as much as we love having all the GR users here, LT will not turn into GR. This is a different site - we will make some changes, we will be very welcome hosts but the GR people will need to do some work and get used to at least some of the differences.

So... we are not the site that hates ham sandwiches - we are the site that says: "Yes, we know you were used to the ham sandwiches but there is no more ham and we cannot get ham produced that fast (and we are not sure that by the time we can, there will be people that want it). Would you like to try turkey instead? Or grilled chicken? Or a salad? Or a 4-courses French meal?"

And why we want you here? It's very simple - Do you read? Do you like books? If the answer to either of those is yes - we want you here. Because regardless if what site we all belong to, we are together because of the books.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:27 pm

There are some other cultural differences. I think another would be that LT doesn't have group-level TOSes, so you can't have a group where "bad language" is prohibited. I'm something of a free-speech idealist. A lot of discussions you can have on LibraryThing would get you kicked out of a group or Goodreads generally.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:27 pm

I am a Dutch user and for myself not give much about the discussion about Amazon. We have a site here in the Netherlands for online books and they are not (yet) buying independ book sites. (i hope)
I love Librarything most of all cause i can find and catalog my rare book collection of Underground World War cartoons books as well as finding fiction good book suggestions. (not being all YA) though I really like a good YA novel at the time.

Loving to see more users from Europe here and like (already explained in post 83) maybe a system to auction or swap some rare books.

New members I welcome you to join the World war 2 or Holocaust and genocide groups.
Sorry i know this is not as inviting as YA but very interesting and educational. ;)

Mar 29, 2013, 5:27 pm

>196 .Monkey.:-PolymathicMonkey- yes but was this a thread about books? No this was a thread about making newcomers feel welcome and do you think Flur was made to feel welcome?

>Steph- Right they both have their differences and I am not here to slam one or the other and as others have said I don't thing GR bashing is going to get new members to come here.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:29 pm

Amazon is like the Goliath Corporation in the Thursday Next series. We need to defend The Long Now by supporting LibraryThing every way we can.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:31 pm

>201 susiesharp: Fair enough, but bashing and pointing out all the reasons LT isn't like goodreads when you haven't added any books or used the site for a little while isn't exactly the way to get LT members to roll out the welcome mat either...

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 5:37 pm

I do think what I said was a tad "sharp." I apologize for the offense. (I'd add that another feature of LibraryThing is that the founder is opinionated and not constrained by politeness to customers, but, well, honesty can be refreshing.)

On ham sandwiches, the analogy isn't perfect, and "hate" can be misunderstood. I do think we need to zig where GR's zags. We need to differentiate ourselves—to continue to do so, since we do. We need to be the site that cares about data more, that cares about libraries and, I think, is geared toward early-internet notions of privacy, social sharing and respect for users. If we simply try to be Goodreads, we will fail. They had more users, more resources, etc. Now they have basically infinite resources, if the business case can be made. Fortunately, we don't care about the same things or have the same values. Those differences are part of what we sell, and they are the reason LibraryThing still exists.

Speaking of strategy, we're considering how this changes our library business. It's going to be interesting to see whether OCLC and Novelist continues to partner with Amazon/Goodreads. We may find ourselves drawing even closer to libraries.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:33 pm

114 >
Somebody upstream said they couldn't imagine adding books to LT via a touchscreen; well, I HAVE done that, on my Nexus 7, and it's extremely painful.

Out of curiosity, and perhaps to help the staff deal with the issue, just what are people finding so hard about adding books via a touchscreen? I've done it too (on my Nexus 10), and didn't find it particularly painful. Not as convenient as on my laptop, true, but not all that much worse either - certainly a lesser difference than that between writing email on the one or the other.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 5:44 pm

>172 petra.X:
Thank you. Yes, some folks have expressed interest in helping noobs. Many have been too worried about letting noobs into their clubhouse. Oddly enough, most of the suggestions for changes to the sacred site have come from LT folks. But it is the GR members who seem to be taking the blame for possible changes.

It floors me that to read LT members think we are inferring hostility. I think you pretty much cleared up the "inference" issue with your list.

It seems to have never occurred to the LT users that some of us on GR had never heard of LT until a few days ago. That's why we weren't on LT. There are a few who seem to be on LT because they didn't like GR. Hate to burst their bubble, but a lot of us weren't on GR because we hated LT; LT wasn't even a thing.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:37 pm

>204 timspalding: *phew* I was gonna say...

So I can like LT and ham sandwiches, that's a good thing. I don't know which one of y'all would win if it came down to it.... ;)

Mar 29, 2013, 5:38 pm

>193 timspalding: My gawd man. That response is appallingly insulting. Quoting a juvenile conversation you found on Goodreads says what, exactly, about LT? Go to the YA group here and you'll find equal levels of intellectual discourse. Go to anything about That Popular Vampire Series here, you'll find the same thing.

"Reviews are not infrequently like that too."

Seriously? You're gong to get sniffy about the quality of GR reviews? "I was pleasantly impressed. Only read it because the Grand-Goddess was talking about it. So very glad I did! it was an AWESOME read!"

Not flagged as "not a review", for a wonder, but hardly a PhD-level analysis of Twilight.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:40 pm

>206 Clwaller:

Between Passover and Good Friday, I recommend skipping the ham sandwiches. Normally, however, I'm game—smoked, not honey, with strong mustard.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:42 pm

> 208

Ha. I was just going to suggest that #193 has obviously set all the Twilight groups on "Ignore".

Mar 29, 2013, 5:45 pm

>208 richardderus: I'd like to see a link to the similar thread from "the YA group", though.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:47 pm

>206 Clwaller:

You will find out that most of the worried people are the same that will also spend a few hours to help a newbie and to make sure that the newbie feels at home :)

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 5:57 pm

>208 richardderus:

LibraryThing allows any sort of conversation, but, yeah, the management is not agnostic about what we want to encourage. Goodreads has a lot more of the sort of conversation I'm quoting because it doesn't kick young users out(1), because it's free, and because its forum UI encourages short, rapid-fire dialogue.

Ditto author promotion. You would probably consider it "insulting" if I told you what I really think about how authors often engage with users. I know a lot of authors leave angrily as soon as they discover LibraryThing members don't want to be sold. But Goodreads author culture is something we have striven mightily to prevent here.

As another example of how UI and culture play off each other, LibraryThing is pretty unique in preferring user names to little square pictures. And we don't show "real names" nearly so much. These features exerts a sort of pressure on the thing—encouraging a certain type of user and discouraging others. This adds up to some differences in culture.

And yeah, as Zoe says, I don't think you're empirically correct about our YA groups.

1. There are 1,690 pages on Goodreads containing the phrase "I'm 12 years…" LibraryThing members are merciless about this.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:54 pm

>203 Steph310: or maybe you start importing books by getting a username and then want to figure out how things work, and you get referred here and see the welcome mat isn't out, you hear "get off my lawn", and see many LT members (who were also on GR according to there entries) saying this change would be nice and GR really did that well, and...well...I think you can infer the rest. Kinda makes you rethink the effort to import if you aren't going to be able stay.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:58 pm

>213 timspalding:

I am truly sorry you don't feel welcomed. I think we've laid out some of the differences. But I at least consider everything up for discussion, and would love to learn from your experience.

Mar 29, 2013, 5:59 pm

In 193, 208, atque 209. richardderus errs only in -- pardon the pun -- not airing it out fully about the level of much of the discourse on LT. No matter how we look at the stats 0n our little community here, the fact is that it's pretty small, BUT it's large enough to parallel or even replicate the patterns of the surrounding world, or at-least the literate, Western-directed part of it. That means we have a fairly predicatble distribution of saints, sinners, sages, slobs, sadists, and Santa Claus- types. A slight consolation, but a real one, is the option to Block indivdual participants. Amazing how much time that frees-up. Thank you, Tim, et al. THAT much you have done just right.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:02 pm

Welcome to all the, apparently many, new LTers.

Enter some books. Join some groups. Get involved in some discussions. Then like LT or not.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:07 pm

There is in fact an official "welcome mat" in the official Welcome! group:

Welcome Goodreads refugees!

Not to mention the many individual offers of help, or the paid accounts for the newcomers.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:11 pm

179 >> I don't believe that "Mobile is where everything is headed. I personally think that it is really rude to assume that the way that one person lives their life is the way that everyone lives their life. I don't want to be tied to an internet website by phone or tablet so that I always "have to have" them with me. 25 years ago people didn't all have PCs, some people still don't have cellphones, the world is different for everyone. I don't think that it's fair for you to say "Android and Apple Apps are critical.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:16 pm

> 215

Are you at all surprised why I personally don't feel welcome? I write for teens. You don't want authors or teens.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:22 pm

>220 Flur:

If you add some books and participate in discussions, you may start feeling a bit more welcome. Teens are more than welcome - as long as they are over 13. And books for teens are discussed all the time.

It's a huge site with diverse groups....

Mar 29, 2013, 6:27 pm

Flur, have you taken any of the advice to poke around in the various YA or author groups to see what the atmosphere is actually like? Hanging out in this thread and being offended isn't going to give you a very good idea of what the actual LibraryThing site is like, and whether you would find it someplace you would enjoy hanging out. Maybe you wouldn't; that's entirely possible. But just reading this thread isn't going to give you the answer.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:30 pm

> 221

Your site owner has made his feelings clear in post 213.

Hanging out here would be like going to a party at the house of someone who doesn't want you there, and is telling you so to your face. Would you stay at that party?

Mar 29, 2013, 6:33 pm

As fun and interesting as this discussion is with the various tangents, I wonder if a brief member poll might not be the most efficient. List a set of features and options and get votes re most wanted/loved/hated. Then, prioritize based on resources (or seek out resources based on results)

Sometimes, as readers and writers, our love of rhetoric gets in our own way, maybe.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:33 pm

>224 jennybhatt: Hehe. That may open up a whole other can of worms; people have very strong opinions about polls ;)

Mar 29, 2013, 6:34 pm

Vote: Polls!

Current tally: Yes 28, No 17, Undecided 17

Mar 29, 2013, 6:37 pm

#223 by Flur> Then honestly, why are you still here? You seem bound and determined to find fault with everything and no one's apologies or explanations seem to have an effect. I completely understand why you were taken aback by some of the comments at first, but at this point if you aren't willing to at least try, I can't fathom why you continue to post in this thread.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 6:41 pm

#220 -- Both authors and teens are welcome here.

Authors who only visit for the purpose of self-promotion are less welcome (though there are two groups where author self-promotion is allowed, Hobnob and Writer's Brag and Rag Bag) -- but you've already shown that you are interested in actual conversation by posting in this group, so no worries there. And I've interacted with plenty of authors here on LT who feel comfortable and welcome -- you can find some of them in the groups I have linked to.

Teens are also welcome, though if they post discussion like Tim cited in, say, Book Talk, some LT members will probably ask them, perhaps rather brusquely, to find a different group in which to post. There are groups on LT where that sort of discussion is appreciated, or at least tolerated. On the other hand, I've interacted with plenty of literate, intelligent teens on LibraryThing in groups of all descriptions.

I'm sorry that you do not feel that you have been welcomed here. As others have remarked, threads in the Talk About LibraryThing group tend to get more heated than general discussion threads in other groups. LT members who participate in these threads usually have strong feelings about LibraryThing, and are not afraid of speaking plainly about potential changes to the site. And now we add to that mix people who have, perhaps, been loyal Goodreads members and have strong feelings about that site. I'd encourage you to try a few different groups, like Read YA Lit or the 75-Book Challenge to get a better feel for the culture of the site, because I don't think it's particularly well-represented on this thread.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:47 pm

>225 _Zoe_: and >226 LolaWalser: - ok, ok. I give up. :) Can't those who don't like polls just abstain? Although, as I like to say to non-voters - not voting IS a vote of sorts. David Foster Wallace said it much better but I won't quote in this thread.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:49 pm

Tim said: We know we need a native iPhone app, but we just don't have that on the plan as of now.

I've been an LT user since June 2006. At the time I joined so did most (maybe all) of the members of my online book group. In the past few months most of those people have moved to GR because of the lack of an iPhone (or other mobile) app here at LT.

It may not be on your plan right now, but I'm with many others here who really think it should be.

Mar 29, 2013, 6:58 pm

And there is the welcome mat pulled out from under you..
227rosalitaToday, 6:37pm
#223 by Flur> Then honestly, why are you still here? You seem bound and determined to find fault with everything and no one's apologies or explanations seem to have an effect. I completely understand why you were taken aback by some of the comments at first, but at this point if you aren't willing to at least try, I can't fathom why you continue to post in this thread.

Mar 29, 2013, 7:00 pm

That's unfair, Susie. I'm sorry you didn't see fit to quote the messages that encouraged Flur to look around and try things before deciding LT wasn't a good fit. I'm done with this topic, but selective quoting is a poor way to try to prove your argument.

Mar 29, 2013, 7:04 pm

> 227

Because the site owner was posting in this thread, and I wanted to see how he handled what people were saying before I decided how much I wanted to "donate" to the site. It's his business, after all. Clearly I've gotten my answer.

And yes, it seems like there are a lot of nice people here, and good, active groups (I've looked at every group that's been recommended, and joined one), and one person's opinion shouldn't ruin it for me, but the person is the site owner, and that means something for the future of the site, and for both my financial and emotional investment in it.

I'm not going to jump ship from LT on the first day. But based on what I've seen here, I'm also not going to break the bank to support it either. Maybe I'll feel differently later on, we'll see.

Mar 29, 2013, 7:12 pm

Tim, I've got nearly 1500 books on various lists in Goodreads, and I often look through the reviews before I add something to my to-read list, and I've never seen reviews that resemble what you pasted in #193. The reviews I see there on the books I'm looking at are generally substantive and intelligent, so it's hard to see how the site's "TART-UP(ed) DESIGN (with)...big buttons (and) cute bullshit" has really deterred that.

I've long had an underused LT account and long appreciated the insights you share on Twitter and here about bookstores, publishing, and Amazon's effects on it all. Until yesterday, though, I've used Goodreads a lot more but am now thinking strongly about shifting my activity over here and paying up for a lifetime LT membership because of the Amazon deal.

I found a little bit of a hurdle, though, in the implication that preference for a different visual layout implies immaturity, as in 19's bit quoted above as contrasted with LT's "design for adults who read." I am glad to see you softening that some in 204.

Your respect or disrespect aside, I imagine my use will be more influenced by functionality. For what it's worth, one specific function of GR I've preferred has been the prominent display of a short-paragraph-length description of a selected book. As some long-term users above have said, it's their preference and yours that matters more than mine, but there you go nonetheless.

Mar 29, 2013, 7:14 pm

I'm glad you are poking around in groups and getting a feel for the overall site. That's a great idea. And for sure you don't need to decide right this very second yay or nay, so taking some time to consider is very wise, too. I hope you find more positive than negative here, and that it ends up feeling like a place you want to stay. But if it doesn't, at least you'll know you gave it a fair shake and that's all anyone can ask.

Mar 29, 2013, 7:14 pm

>234 steve.ely: one specific function of GR I've preferred has been the prominent display of a short-paragraph-length description of a selected book

And Tim already opened a discussion on that:
Feel free to chime in there.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 7:19 pm

Sorry to bring it to the wrong thread.

Mar 29, 2013, 7:23 pm

>237 steve.ely: - not at all, no worries!

Mar 29, 2013, 7:47 pm

>223 Flur: Your site owner has made his feelings clear in post 213.

Hanging out here would be like going to a party at the house of someone who doesn't want you there, and is telling you so to your face. Would you stay at that party?

There is another way to look at this. You have direct access to the owner of the site, who is not only participating in the thick of it with all of the rest of the users, but directly responds to both direct and indirect feedback. Of course, you may decide that you really don't like him, but how often do you get to actually meet and talk directly to the creator of the service you've just signed up for? In my experience, that's pretty rare. I don't remember the Goodreads owners ever stopping in to say "Hi there" to me, but Tim has indeed "said hi" on several occasions. AND he answers his email!

And how often are feedback and suggestions acted upon and/or taken seriously enough to keep discussions open? This particular thread has already spawned at least two others, plus the initial stages of a layout change (descriptions), and a free membership offer, all within hours.

I suppose the higher visibility and accessibility also means a higher chance that some folks just won't like the people they meet, but as people have said, there are certain areas of the site that are gentler in tone. I'd stay away from the pro/con group(s) though, unless you have really thick skin. I have skin even a rhino would envy and I've still had my fingers burnt on occasion.

But diversity of opinion makes the world go round!

Mar 29, 2013, 7:53 pm

220 > From Flur: "Are you at all surprised why I personally don't feel welcome? I write for teens. You don't want authors or teens."

I can't speak to teens, but I am an author and my late husband was an author. We joined LT in 2007 to catalog our personal library, then I got hooked on the talk groups. I love LT. I still catalog my owned books, and my reading, and actively participate in Talk. I've met lots of lovely online friends that way.

What I don't do is use LT for promotion. It's simply not the culture here.

I read a blog that gave advice to authors as to how they could use GR by judicious use of friending & direct messaging people who were in user groups related to the author's genre, among other things. I felt, for me, immersed as I am in LT culture, that the suggestions felt pushy and spammy. I wouldn't have felt comfortable either doing them or being on the receiving end.

And for me, I guess that's the difference. I came here to catalog my own books, not to sell my books. Now, if I do sell some books because of my interactions on the site--score! Heck, when we went to Amsterdam to do workshops a few years back, other LTers were in attendance. That was great. But that wasn't what drew me here or what keeps me here. This is part of the personal side of my life. I use it because I enjoy it.

I looked at Shelfari and Goodreads, but they didn't appeal to me. Many things they did well were not things that were important to me. (Personally, I don't give a damn as to what page of the book I'm on, and could care even less about what page my friends are on in a book I'm not even reading. But that's me.) I have friends who love the "I'm reading this" social aspect of Goodreads and think the cataloging aspect on LT is insanely tedious. But I love doing the cataloging. I never even thought of myself as OCD until I got into cataloging!

Anyway, let the Gods bless and rejoice in diversity. One size does not fit all, nor are all who fit into one size intellectually or morally superior to those who do not. And those who fit multiple sizes have more choices.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:02 pm

(142) Thank you for your information about I will check them out. :)

Mar 29, 2013, 8:04 pm

site's "TART-UP(ed) DESIGN (with)...big buttons (and) cute bullshit" has really deterred that.

No, actually I wasn't referring to Goodreads. Goodreads is slight to the left (or right) of LibraryThing on design, but it's similar—it favors information density the way other sites often favor pure sparkly. To the extent that comment had a target, it was the Overdrive redo. I think Shelfari somewhat too shiny and information poor too.

What I don't do is use LT for promotion. It's simply not the culture here.

There are certain easy way to promote—improve your LibraryThing author page, add your events, do Early Reviewers, etc. We just aren't that hot on authors using discussion groups to promote their books.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:05 pm

>237 steve.ely: steve.ely

No, no. This is not what I meant. I just wanted to point out that LT are listening and that in addition to posting here, you might want to join the discussion over there :) Have fun in LT!

Mar 29, 2013, 8:06 pm

I recently decided to make a list of books I wanted to hunt down (certain books written in Irish). I tried out both LT and GR, and picked GR because it was much faster to find the book I wanted and add it to my Wishlist. For example, if I was logged into the site, and looking for "Is Gearr..." by Marian Keyes (aka "No Dress Rehearsal") from the Homepage

1. I see a box labelled "Tite/Author/ISBN" at the top of the page. I type in "Is Gearr" - the English "No Dress Rehearsal" appears without me having to click enter
2. Move mouse to "No Dress Rehearsal" and click
3. Click Other Editions on righthand side of page
4. Move mouse to "Is Gearr...", click Want To Read

1. I see an Add Books tab at top of page. I click it
2. Type "Is Gearr" into text box
3. Click Search
4. Click Show All under Add To Collections
5. Click Wishlist box
6. Click Is Gearr on righthand side

Four actions versus six.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:09 pm

In practical terms, what does it mean to get more publishers and authors on LT's side? Authors and publishers naturally seek to promote. The Early Reviewers program is a good win-win way of doing that. But I think generally, LT users are opposed to even fairly innocuous self-promotion by authors unless it is quarantined in Hobnob.

As we read in the tangent thread ( on book descriptions, some users will even object to the promotional blurb printed on the back of books to be more prominently visible on LT work pages.

To be extreme, LT is an online library catalogue site for physical book owners where GR is a social networking site for readers. By design, the only purpose for listing books on GR is to make the social connections and get the recommendations.

The self-publishing author of eBooks, writing under a pseudonym, promoting their books as the work of a fictional persona or avatar. Is LT the place for them to build a relationship with their current and potential readers?

Mar 29, 2013, 8:10 pm

242 > "There are certain easy way to promote—improve your LibraryThing author page, add your events"

Excellent reminders. As a matter of fact, it was finding my husband's author page on LT through a Google search that first brought me to the site.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:11 pm

"5. LibraryThing is remarkably dependent on its users, who organize and improve its content all day long for the sheer love of it. How can we encourage this and deepen it?

7. We could adapt by shrinking—basically, kill off many of the "side stuff" and focus on cataloging cataloging cataloging. This would give us more development resources, because we wouldn't be stretched so thin. I'm against this, frankly, but I'm not sure I'm right."

Doesn't #7 contradict #5? I'm not sure at the moment what you mean by 'side stuff,' but the side stuff I think of is all user-input stuff (cover guess, Legacy Libraries, CK, etc). I know you're limited by staff/resource issues, but LT's catalog section is already pretty awesome (although there's always room for improvement). I think the best way to expand is by fleshing out the side stuff, not burying it. One problem, mentioned by others, is the way new features are sometimes developed to a certain point and then abandoned. I thought Cover Guess was supposed to be the base for a function that would actually let you search for books based on cover descriptions (or did I imagine that)? I had a lot of fun with CG when it first came out, then forgot about it. I thought it had been removed from the site when I went looking for it a while ago, and started playing again. It's fun, but out of sight, out of mind. And let's not forget about lists...

Make the user-input parts of the site front and center, rather than burying it under the More tab.

I've played around with GR a little, and my favorite thing about it was the quotes section. You can search by author, book, or keyword and find quotes. We have a CK section for inputting quotes, but does it go any further than that?

Mar 29, 2013, 8:12 pm

>245 marq: LT is an online library catalogue site for physical book owners

Is it really? It is for people's libraries but anyone is allowed to use their own interpretation of the word library :)

But I do agree on the promotion. However - I had bought books written from people that participate in discussions and that I would not have found otherwise.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:14 pm

One of my local bookstores just posted this on their FB page. I hope I'm not violating any privacy thing by re-posting here. Given their comments, I wonder if ABA is aware of LT as an alternative and can they help further?


Bookshop Santa Cruz

Like many, we were saddened to hear that Amazon is buying Goodreads. The social book reviewing site was one of the biggest independent alternatives to the online bookseller's review system (which has been found to be very problematic: While the effects of this "vertical integration" on the Goodread's platform remain to be seen, it's hard to imagine that it will remain a trustworthy site dedicated to independent reviews and the ability to purchase from more than one vendor.

Because we are an independent bookstore and Amazon is in direct competition with us, we've deleted our Goodreads account. Many book lovers are taking this step because they want a choice with where they buy their books and they don’t want their book reviews and networks to be used by Amazon to push products and services on them. We salute them. If you are interested in taking this step, export your reviews so you don't lose all your work then follow this link to delete your account In addition, the American Bookseller’s Association, which supports independent bookstores, is already considering alternative platforms for indie bookstore customers who want a place online to create book lists and share their love of books with their social network.

You can read more about this acquisition on The Author's Guild blog:

Or for a more impassion take, read this blog post from Jarek Steele of Left Bank Books:


Mar 29, 2013, 8:15 pm

>247 AngelaB86: Here's an RSI about quotations.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:16 pm

Greetings. It's been a number of hours and my book spreadsheet from Goodreads still says "Finishing estimate: between 1 hours, 19 minutes and 2 hours, 13 minutes." The total under "My Books" hasn't changed. What should I try next?

I apologize if this is the wrong place to post this. I'm still getting to know the site and the FAQ doesn't seem to address this problem.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 8:18 pm

Timspaulding, thank you very much for allowing the free year accounts right now. I appreciate very much the "try it before you buy it" approach you have offered. And to all the LT people offering welcomes, advice, and opinions, thank you for taking the time to do so.

Since we are all voicing opinions and cross posting, and I represent only myself in all this, I'd like to make sure I am very, very clear that, while I am speaking only for myself, I suspect at least some of my thoughts and feelings are shared by others.

I was worried that there might be a "culture clash" as GR refugees trickled into LT.

I don't find LT particularly unwelcoming, but it is different and I am, admittedly, a stranger come among you. I know there is already a culture and a community here where I will have to work to join in. Of course, the GR people were on GR because it had features and an atmosphere they enjoyed and found easy to use. LT people are on LT for similar reasons. I personally don't expect LT to change to suit me, but that doesn't mean I won't ask. GR had a lot of usability. I found many deep and interesting reviews from the people I followed, but that was because I'd spent some years reading reviews, talking in discussion groups, and getting to know who would write a good review. Hitting up a random review on any of the "explore" areas was usually disappointing, but that wasn't why I used GR. I cultivated a group of trustworthy reviewers as my own, and many a wild and wonderful discussion took place in comments.

I'm sure LT has something similar and that such reviews and discussions take place here. Not being able to comment on reviews may limit that for me until I work out alternative ways to have those discussions.

As for the "social aspect" some have voiced concern about -- I don't necessarily want to drag Twitter, Facebook, G+, or any other site here so much as I want an easy way to link whatever i do here to the social site of my choice. If that means copy-paste a URL linking a review, so be it. Of course I'd like a simple way to push my data out at my discretion, but that doesn't translate directly to "shoving it in anyone's face".

Most of all, I'd like to point out something important. Most of us who are looking to replace GR are trying to replace something we love that we feel has been adulterated and taken from us, as if our home country had been invaded and the policy of the new rulers uncertain but not looking friendly. Just as many of you are deeply attached to LT, many of us were deeply attached to GR, and we are, in effect, mourning its loss while we look for a new home. Welcoming refugees is often hard on the "natives" of the host location. I think the analogy is fairly accurate and that it should be kept in the minds of all people involved -- there are going to be tensions and hurt feelings. pinches and pin-pricks, and some tussling over territory and status. I hope that we can all take sufficient deep breaths, slow down before we type a response, count to ten, give benefit of the doubt, and make sure that LT users and former GR users can both find a home here.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:19 pm

>251 OshoOsho: - There are lots and lots of books in the import queue at the moment (Tim tweeted a bit ago that it had hit 250,000!). It's working, but it may take a while.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:28 pm

>252 Murphy-Jacobs:

And the community of LT is here to welcome and help the refugees - but we are also going to kick back when they start with the demands and the "but this is not how it was back in GR". We know it is different and we know that people want their old GR - but it will never be the same. :)

Welcome on board and have fun in LT!

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 8:30 pm

>253 jbd1:, thank you. I'll try to resist the urge to poke at it with a stick.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:49 pm

Murphy-Jacobs, thank you, that was well written.

If some of you are unsure of what LT members are like, let me share something with you:

Every year in December we have a little gift exchange called SantaThing. Each person who wants to join, signs up to both buy books as well as receive them. The staff here matches the names (like a Secret Santa) and assists in the ordering's a huge undertaking they do not HAVE to do, and we appreciate it.

If that wasn't altruistic enough, when some people cannot afford to buy books for others, people step in and sponsor the less fortunate members. These sponsorships can cost upwards of $25.00, but it happens. Total strangers make sure someone gets books for Christmas.

I am truly sorry if anyone here feels less than welcome. Please be assured that the majority do want you here if you want to be here. Give the site a chance, give the members a chance...we certainly won't keep you here against your will.

And now, without further delay, I would like to say...WELCOME GOODREADS BIBLIOPHILES!

Mar 29, 2013, 9:09 pm

>256 fuzzi: Thank you, you said it before I could and much better.

Welcome to everyone from Goodreads.

I've used both sites - although I will confess I gave up on Goodreads a while ago as I didn't find it that easy to use, mainly because I became overwhelmed by the social side of the site - and, for me, there are pluses and minuses on both, which I'm not going to list them here as they've mainly all been covered off by other posters to the thread.

The thing I love most about LibraryThing is that, other than adding books, its really up to you how much you use or don't use any of the features.

Take your time, have a nose around, we are different to where you've been but you may find things that you like.

Like the real world, you're bound to come across some members you really like, and some you don't, but I don't think LibraryThing is a snobbish or unwelcoming site, its just different.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:14 pm

I couldn't read through all the replies, but one feature of Goodreads I'd like to see here is a default to the current date for date read with one click like Goodreads - I have a hard time remembering the date (especially on vacation when I read more) so often I updated Goodreads first so I'd know what day it was - lazy but true.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:17 pm

>258 YoungGeekyLibrarian: If you edit via the catalogue, you can type "today" in the date box.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:24 pm

>260 AnnieMod:

Or "yesterday" if I remember correctly :)

Mar 29, 2013, 9:25 pm

>260 AnnieMod: Yup, but that won't get you today's date :D

Mar 29, 2013, 9:26 pm

>256 fuzzi:, thank you. This was a disconcerting thread to read as a person exploring my options.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:27 pm

I use both LT and GR for different reasons.

I love the social aspect of Goodreads. I like that I can comment when someone adds a book.

I agree with Zoe I would like a default when I finish a book, that I finished it on such and such a date.

I like the fact Goodreads has a list of authors most read and sorts out just the books I have read, and does not include those to be read.

I like LT for all of it's statistics CK facts, books shared with this person, books you should borrow, connections etc.

I have participated in 75 Book Challenge and the TBR challenge for about 4 years.

Keep up the good work!

Mar 29, 2013, 9:28 pm

>261 _Zoe_:

Yeah but when you are on vacation, sometimes you also need yesterday to mark a book:) Plus the date is EDT - you might need yesterday to get your actual date (or tomorrow... I don't remember if that was an option) :)

Mar 29, 2013, 9:32 pm

Greetings, all -

A few years back someone suggested LT and GR as possible places for me to catalog my books. I looked at them both and it was easy for me to pick LT. That said I have no animosity toward GR or its users - why would I? As far as I have ever been aware all readers are welcome on LT.

LT's level of 'social' is just right for me. I participate in several groups and have many LT friends with whom I interact regularly. I have no desire to post to FB or Twitter, but I can understand that many folks do. I just hope that the social aspects don't become overwhelming!

There are a few points I'd like to address from previous posts.

Since I've been on LT, I have read far, far more YA than I ever did before. I think many people and groups here on LT are very open to and enthusiastic about YA lit. As for actual teens on LT, in the instances I have been aware that an LTer is a teen, I have noticed that posters to their threads have been incredibly kind and encouraging - as I have tried to be myself.

As for not being able to respond to reviews, if you take a look, for example, at threads in the 75 Book Challenge group, you'll find that many people post their reviews to their threads as well as to the works themselves. Many people (myself included) also write short comments about works that they don't post to the work page. There is plenty of opportunity to discuss the works and reviews on individual threads.

I have felt very welcome on LT - it's a caring community. I hope others will feel welcome as well.

Edited: Mar 29, 2013, 9:40 pm

I am a Goodreads member who joined LibraryThing today. After reading some of the comments here, I don't know if I will stay. Honestly, some of Tim Spalding's comments made me feel physically ill. Calling Goodreads users "culturally and intellectually inferior" is very insulting, and I am also put off by Tim's rejoicing in Goodreads' possible downfall. That is not a good way to "gain friends".

Edit: It was pointed out to me that Tim wasn't necessarily referring to the users in that comment, and I sincerely hope that is the case.

Mar 29, 2013, 9:55 pm

Man oh man, I'm SICK of the double standards being shown here. Goodreads staff is just as nasty as anyone here. Heck goodreads staff more often than not ignores problems (book recommendations) or outright dismisses member's concerns. Plus, you won't even see the owner of goodreads in ANY thread or blog.

Just because Tim asked for suggestions doesn't mean he has to take them. He does NOT have to turn Librarything into goodreads, and shame on all of you that think that.

Tim's rejoicing in Goodreads' possible downfall: Wouldn't you be glad of your competitor's downfall if it was you running a business? Why would you expect Tim to be any different?

Mar 29, 2013, 9:56 pm

Let's see: my LT account says I've been a member since 2007.

This is my first post on LT that I can remember. I didn't even know LT had forums. My fault for not poking around.

Where have I been? Well, I flirted with Shelfari, but that went nowhere fast. Thanks, Amazon.

Then I fell into the sweet, seductive arms of Goodreads. Oh, Goodreads, you annoyed me so much - especially your condescending obfuscation when speaking to the community, Tim's presence in this thread is a breath of fresh air - but it was so hard to quit you. You were easy, Goodreads, and while perhaps that's not the best attribute in a partner, I was seduced by your intuitive interface, the pushed updates from people I followed, and yes, the pretty, pretty graphics.

But I still use LT to catalog my personal library. Goodreads became the place where I went to keep track of what I read, as well as to review and talk about it; LT became the place where I go to keep track of what I own. And since I buy a lot of books "for later," and read a lot of library books in the now, my two catalogs are very different.

I understand LT not wanting to be Goodreads. And here's how I think you can differentiate LT (you've probably already thought of them, but anyway):

1) Be the "to go to resource" for the indie bookstore and library community. Right now, indie booksellers are feeling particularly betrayed by Goodreads. See if there is a way to integrate LibraryThing's API with IndieBound and/or other indie bookseller resources. Also, Kobo will probably be looking for another review partner.

2) Goodreads used to send its community manager, Patrick Brown, to writers' and booksellers' conferences to present data on readers' habits and book discovery. It is speculated this will stop as Amazon will probably want to keep that data all to themselves. You have a chance to step into that void and help writers, booksellers and librarians understand what readers want and how they find books. This will also help to introduce LibraryThing as a valuable resource for those communities, while remaining an advocate for readers. This doesn't mean being "cavalier" with users' data and/or privacy - but sharing is vitally needed, especially now that it seems Amazon will control all the reader data otherwise.

3) Keep the reader first attitude. Goodreads tried to have it both ways - be a reader community AND an author marketing platform. Unfortunately, the two don't mesh all that well. Google "Stop the Goodreads Bullies." And I'm fairly certain Goodreads is only going to tip further into the author marketing camp as Amazon takes over. It's very telling that of the new jobs listed on Goodreads, three of them have to do with expanding the advertising and author marketing programs. Meanwhile, although Goodreads could really, REALLY use some help when it comes to community relations: nada new jobwise. Guess ensuring the reader community feels listened to and protected is not high on Goodreads' priorities at the moment.

Also: There are some really smart people on Goodreads. And Goodreads' "superusers" were usually also its most outspoken critics. Don't assume everyone is a GIF loving, exclamation point using, "LiKE i no, hes so HAWT, rite?!?!" reviewer. (And some of those GIF reviews are really, really clever and funny. Some. Well, a few. Definitely not all. But some.) In fact, I bet the "downmarket" users, as they were termed, will probably be the Goodreads users who won't notice a change and will happily keep on using it. The Goodreads names I recognize in this thread tend to be the smart, savvy, passionate users who already had issues with GR before the acquisition (namely around GR prioritizing authors over readers.) Don't paint them with one brush - it's not fair to them, and it's not fair to LT as a fellow book loving community.

Mar 30, 2013, 12:09 am

I've just read through all 268 messages here and I'm saddened. I have enjoyed using LT for the last 2 years (I looked at GR and chose LT), but I understand why many of the GR refugees do not feel welcome here based on many of the comments posted here.

To the GR Refugees: Welcome and please, don't let this discussion determine whether you stay or leave. Check out some of the other groups.

Mar 30, 2013, 12:26 am

> 220

We do want authors. What we don't want are "drive-by" authors, those who run in, post advertisements in the form of messages in the forums, catalogue no books and participate in no discussions. We love authors, if they actually want to be part of the life of the site, rather than treating it as just another marketing tool.

Mar 30, 2013, 12:42 am

>1 timspalding: "People keep reporting that Amazon has 40%. That's simply not true—it fails to take account of our second funder, Bowker"

From Wikipedia:

"Online bookseller AbeBooks (now owned by Amazon) bought a 40% share in LibraryThing in May 2006 for an undisclosed sum.8 In January 2009, Cambridge Information Group acquired a minority stake in the company, and their subsidiary Bowker became the official distributor to libraries."

Mar 30, 2013, 12:44 am

Those of you who find this discussion heavy, repetitive, and/or unwelcoming:

Please go the the group Welcome to LibraryThing and check out the GR threads there. Especially "New and Questions" and "Welcome Good Reads Refugees." People there are kindly and quietly helping the newbies find their sealegs. No discussions of superiority/inferiority. Just people helping people. A much better reflection of what this is all about.

Mar 30, 2013, 12:56 am

Just found out about this site today. I've been using GR for a couple of years. From what I have seen of this site so far, I think it may actually suit my preferences better once I am adapted to the change. I actually do not care about the social aspects that were available on GR. I use(d) it to:

1) Track the books I've read so I don't repeat them unintentionally, or purchase books I already own.
2) Rate what I read so I can get good, helpful recommendations based on my personal tastes
3) Keep track of books I want to read, and get random lists of them since I can't make up my mind what to read next. I don't see this functionality available here, and that is a shame.
4) Sign up for book giveaways and actually win & receive them. GR did a fantastic job with their giveaways in my opinion. In the past year I have won about 50 books, read and rated all but 4 currently (getting to them!) and what really blew me away was hearing from authors and publishers personally. Especially when they'd offer a copy even when I didn't win. Very touching. I've discovered several new authors and series that I enjoyed this way. I feel like a teenager at a rock concert meeting my favorite star when an author or publisher communicates with me personally. And I tell all of my family and friends about it too. Oh and I get excited, like Christmas present excited, EVERY time I win one. Drives my husband crazy =)
5) To check out the ratings and reviews for a book I am considering reading, that I am not familiar with. Especially new-to-me authors. Or sometimes I read reviews just out of curiosity to see what other people thought of a book that I have already read.

I am not a writer. I am a reader. I love to read. I have been a reader since I was 4 years old (I am currently 37.) I do review the books I read, but they tend to be pretty short and personal to basically remind myself what I thought of the book and maybe give some insight into why I rated it the way I did for others to see if it might be a good one for them. I am a list junkie / database junkie, so I do like what I see here in that regard. Even though I've been using GR for quite awhile, I've always maintained my own personal spreadsheet of the books I've read, just in case and for fun.

I do also use another website, FictFact, because it filled a need for me. I use it to keep track of series that I am reading to see which book comes next. I never found a way to do it so easily in GR and am thankful I found FF. They go so far as to let me know future release dates of series that I am all caught up with. And they email me reminders when a new books in a series I follow is published. Love it! So if something like that could some day be implemented here, this could easily become my web home.

Mar 30, 2013, 1:12 am

one thing new members may/will enjoy is that everyone is a librarian. Everyone can add new books, fix/enhance book data and so on.

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 3:10 am

>271 petra.X:

And Wikipedia is always right?!?!

LibraryThing is a privately held company. Therefore, its finances do not have to be disclosed publicly. Only Tim, his CFO, his board and his investors know for sure, and Tim's a pretty straight shooter (certainly far straighter than Otis and/or Patrick ever were.) And the Wikipedia article does not contradict Tim. Bowker did take a stake, and that stake could very well have diluted Abe/Amazon's stake.

I know your name from Goodreads, petra.X, and I know you are smart and passionate about books. LibraryThing could actually be a better match for you. Give it a chance.

Mar 30, 2013, 3:56 am

I only became a GR user because of the Reading Challenge option; I had hoped it would help me push to get reading back in my day. (Turns out getting ebooks did more for me than a social reading website, because I can read in bed, in the dark, without disturbing my partners.) I dislike the idea of having to maintain two catalogs, so I've not really adopted GR that much. If I want to see what others are reading, I have a variety of ways of finding that out (two quick examples: 1. Status update on FB with a question and 2. "Recommendations for you" on Amazon, which connects books I have wishlisted/bought with other books people have also looked at, etc.)

LT *is* the catalog for my house. When we stop at Goodwill on 50% off Saturdays, our local used bookstore chain, even when I'm browsing Amazon, I don't buy unless I've checked my LT. When I'm trying to update my Ravelry library, the ability to connect to my LT catalog saves me much duplication. When we move, my LT collection gets tagged with the box number, so I can locate them more easily on the other end -- or know what was in that box, if the moving company loses a box of books.

As for what I might want to see on LT? Of course, I'm going to jump on board any bandwagon involving an Android app. But, if that's not feasible right now, what about the ability to send myself an email with the results of a particular search (wishlist items with a certain tag for example)? What about being able to show the various editions (beyond hardback, mass market, second printing, etc) like an Audible audiobook or the Kindle/Nook version of an ebook? Are most people just doing this with tags? While my library is small, at just over 2000 books, it's already a doozy for me to manage (and I'm the one in the house who does manage it). Occasionally, I try to go through my tags and look for typos or singular/plural duplicates, etc. Is there a tool which would help me look for any problems in my library? What about being able to locate all the books which have the default "blank" cover because there's not currently one assigned? If I could see all of those, I could go through and set them to one of the user-contributed pictures when I was doing some clean-up.

My husband is a software geek. I've been trying to wheedle some kind of app out of him for years, to help me use LT on the go. Is there an API? If not, is there one in the works? If I could point him to such a thing, he'd have one less thing to use to say he can't. :)

I must admit I don't know all that LT *can* do, so I apologize if I've suggested something already available. I've loved LT since I discovered it. I've been a "lifetime member" (I think that's what it was called when I bought my membership) since I discovered LT. It's one of the two websites I would actually cry over, if it went away (the other is Ravelry *grin*).

Thanks for making keeping my library organized both possible *and* enjoyable. And thank you for not selling out. :)


Mar 30, 2013, 4:50 am

If AbeBooks/Amazon doesn't own a 40% stake in LibraryThing, why was that figure included in AbeBooks's press release?

Mar 30, 2013, 5:45 am

>252 Murphy-Jacobs: Murphy-Jacobs, People post reviews and chat about their reading in various places, but some of the most prominent are things like Club Read and the 13 Category and 75 Book Challenges. They're great for carrying on all sorts of conversations, and being inundated with recommendations! :)

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 5:59 am

258>You can even enter Friday and it will enter last Friday's date.

276> Go to either your home page or your profile page.

Click on Stats/Memes up near the top.

Leave the page to load, because there is lots of neat stuff there to check out later. In the meantime open a new tab from book covers just down the lefthand side.

Argh!! I have let a few Amazon covers in lately. Got to fix.

Mar 30, 2013, 6:00 am

> 277

Because that press release dates from 2006 and in 2009 CIG acquired a minority stake in LibraryThing

And looking at Tim's comments above, it seems that when that investment came through LT reconstituted its share structure and released more shares into the marketplace, which will have effectively reduced both Tim's and Abebook's overall shares of the company, we don't know how much but Tim has confirmed 'I remain the majority; I can't say how the rest divides up.'

Mar 30, 2013, 7:18 am

>1 timspalding: - you ask how LibraryThing can succeed in the new reality.

My plea would be that you simply the user interface. Adding a title to my collection is easy but so it is with Goodreads and What gives LibraryThing the edge for me are the group discussions. But taking part in them is ridiculously complex. When I started a thread for the first time in one group last year I felt I was having to learn a completely new language just to get past the first step. Even simple things like adding a link into a post or a photo required finding html codes. I don't want to be a programmer. I just want to have an interesting discussion with like minded people. Those complications have turned me off using groups however. So unless you can fix them, I have a feeling that all the people who will migrate to you simply because you are not Goodreads will find it a very unsatisfying user experience.

Mar 30, 2013, 7:24 am

(273) Barb_H wrote: I am not a writer. I am a reader. I love to read. I have been a reader since I was 4 years old (I am currently 37.) I do review the books I read, but they tend to be pretty short and personal to basically remind myself what I thought of the book and maybe give some insight into why I rated it the way I did for others to see if it might be a good one for them. I am a list junkie / database junkie, so I do like what I see here in that regard. Even though I've been using GR for quite awhile, I've always maintained my own personal spreadsheet of the books I've read, just in case and for fun.

You sound a LOT like me! :)

Except I'm older... ;)

Mar 30, 2013, 7:33 am

(276) annekaelber wrote Occasionally, I try to go through my tags and look for typos or singular/plural duplicates, etc. Is there a tool which would help me look for any problems in my library? What about being able to locate all the books which have the default "blank" cover because there's not currently one assigned? If I could see all of those, I could go through and set them to one of the user-contributed pictures when I was doing some clean-up.

I don't use tags as much as I should/could, so someone else might be able to answer that question for you.

When I add a book to my library, a message will come up if it is the same as a book I have already entered. That helps me avoid duplicates. It also will alert me that there is an issue, and that I need to either combine or separate works that have been inadvertently entered incorrectly.

You can choose a default cover, and I have chosen a large red one, to make it easier to spot. Most of the time I either use member uploaded covers, or scan and upload my own.

I guess my next project is to replace Amazon covers...

Mar 30, 2013, 7:41 am

#175 Brightcopy: my feelings exactly!

Mar 30, 2013, 7:43 am

(281) Mercury57, I am not a computer person, but I like using html for bold, italics, etc. :)

I have found where other more tech savvy members have posted 'cheat sheets' in the form of threads, like this:

I have starred this particular thread, AND I have also made certain posts 'favorite', so I can look them up quickly.

With repeated use, I have learned some basic html and can add pictures to my posts, as well as bold, underline, strikethrough and blockquoting without having to look them up. I like learning new things, so that's been a positive for me!

Mar 30, 2013, 7:46 am

I am a terrible tagger. I am a lazy tagger, and this is often to my own regret. But I love LT. I never look for perfection in other people, or certainly not in websites, but LT suites me. I take the changes as they come and either use them or not, but I certainly get used to them. Impossible to please everyone all the time. I know I can't. I am a fan of the forum, and many of the forum folks, who are mostly friendly. I hope that any Goodreads wanderers who find us like it here too.

Mar 30, 2013, 8:02 am

I haven't read all the messages in this thread, but I've skimmed it and gotten some of the "main ideas," as they used to call it back in school.

I heartily agree that threads like this attract opinionated people who often express those opinions in a way that can seem harsh. This is NOT true of all of LT. Part of the challenge of coming to LT is that there are so many things you can do and ways to interact with the site that it takes time to figure out what works best for you and where, in terms of groups, you want to hang out. This is infinitely more true for anyone who is used to how another site works.

If you are coming here from Goodreads, don't assume that the tone on this thread is the tone of all the groups. Recognize that it will take a while to find your way around LT and that there are many people here who will be happy to try to help you as you dip your feet in the water. My experience is that Tim and the LT staff are very responsive, but they do express their own opinions and most likely people won't agree with all of them. That's life in the world, as I see it. Some people like to argue and some don't. There's room for both here, but newcomers will have to take some time to find their own spot in the LT world.

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 8:14 am

>276 annekaelber:/283

You can see the different types of cover you have used here i.e. Amazon, blank, etc.:

(From your profile=>Stats/Memes=>Covers)

Mar 30, 2013, 8:15 am

Thanks, Scorbet!

(and this is a perfect example of how helpful LT'ers can be!)

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 10:02 am

Tim's rejoicing in Goodreads' possible downfall

So here's what I really think.

I congratulate Otis for the success of his site. He did a lot of great work. Goodreads executed well.

On the sale, I have mixed feelings. I'm glad Otis is richer. He's a nice guy—very genuine and likable. I suspect that, if he had his druthers, he would have kept it independent or sold it to someone else. But Goodreads was venture-capital funded, and it's been seven years. That's a long time in VC-land. VC money wants out—they want you to sell. If they could force a sale, they'd do it. If not, he'd still have to do it eventually. Besides, VC-funded companies tend to underpay, incentivizing their employees with stock instead. They surely wanted out too. I'm glad they got their wish.(1)

Unless I'm quite mistaken, Goodreads was not hugely profitable as itself. With 30 employees, many of their engineers and in Los Angeles, he was probably burning upwards of $3 million/year on salary and benefits alone. When you do the advertising math, there's no way he was making lots of money--not the sort of money that justifies a $150m valuation. (I don't for a second believe the $1b number.) My guess is that he wasn't even cash-positive. A number of people in the industry share my assessment. Unless the company itself is very profitable and very, very large, there's no chance of going public, hence no way for the investors to cash out.

So he had to cash out. And he pretty much had to sell to Amazon. Still, I wish he had found another way. Amazon is fine and smart company, full of fine and smart people. They have done some great things for books, but they are too big and too powerful. The industry is, of course, terrified by their growth--booksellers, certainly, but also publishers. Amazon is growing faster than ever. Borders is dead. Barnes and Noble is going to die soon. Publishers are doing okay, but their future is bleak when Amazon's all that's standing. Ultimately, I think we're heading to a world where one company controls the device you read the books, the sale of the books (which you don't really own), the discussion of the book and—more and more—the publication of the book. I think it's a threat to book culture, pure and simple.

Lastly, to switch from book culture to social software, I question parts of how Goodreads operates, and am worried about where this is leading. Social software started as an experiment in freedom and self-expression; if I could take you back to the conferences and parties of 2005/6 Cambridge, you'd see a community of developers striving to come up with something beautiful. The idea, as Paul Graham and others put it, was that if you made something your users wanted, that would surely be valuable. It's ending in Facebook, a site you can't quit, treats you like a surf and progressively defines your autonomy and privacy down. I think Goodreads slid in that direction--the forced friending, the advertising model, the push toward real names, and the overall sense (now confirmed) that its users were the product they were going to sell, not the customers. Selling to Amazon means, ultimately, that Goodreads is driven by no idea larger than money, and its members will be free, private and respected only to the extent they generate value for Amazon. As the person who thought up social books, and thought it would be a force for good, I'm sorry to see the largest example of that end as another brick in a $121 billion wall.

For better or worse, LibraryThing has kept to that sunnier model of how social software should work. I'm still inspired by what LibraryThing creates for its users: interesting and wholly free discussions, real friendships (and a marriage or two), a new dimension to the millenial-old conversation about and between books. We've done everything we can to make sure the conversation included libraries, who still produce about 40% of the actual reading in the US, and contribute enormously to a free society. And I've resisted the "slide." Those are the ideas I had when I started LibraryThing. And they still inspire me today.

In many ways, the Goodreads sale frees me, and LibraryThing. It gives us a new start. I intend to take that. So, three cheers for the sale!

From Wikipedia

Right. When Bowker entered, the percents changed, because how else could they be in there?

1. A bunch of people with English degrees are going to have money for a down-payment. I predict some babies. That's all good.

Mar 30, 2013, 10:09 am

As one of the people who made snarky comments (#70: "SAT scores... IQs") I'd like to apologize. I'm really more of a populist than an elitist at heart (even if as a cranky old man I'm a little dismayed at the OMG-ization of Merkan Kulcher). A couple things were going on... First, I was addressing that remark not to GR users or even folks in general but to a small group of acquaintances for whom I thought snob-appeal might bring them to LT -- from GR where they bin hangin their brainiac reviews. Then, I was infected a bit by the sports-fan mentality --"our team rules, your team sucks!" -- emotional not rational. LT is small, GR (and Amazon and FB and...) are huge so I felt defensive on LT's behalf.

But I read YA sometimes, and genre fiction, and there's room for everyone here. It's true that I prefer the old-school interface to smartphone-social paradigm that chases me down dark alleys in my nightmares (I even like the dead-salmon color!); and I might occasionally yell at the kids to Get Off My Lawn but I wouldn't actually turn my hose on them (and they can run faster than I can). So I apologize for making snarky comments that I didn't really mean the way they sounded, and welcome to flur and petra-x and everyone else.

Mar 30, 2013, 10:55 am

276> Occasionally, I try to go through my tags and look for typos or singular/plural duplicates, etc. Is there a tool which would help me look for any problems in my library?

Go to the Your Books tab and click on the tag button in the top row. You will get a page of all your tags where you can easily see if you've misspelled some and correct them right on that page. If you edit a tag on that page that tag will be fixed on all the books with that tag in your library. You can also use power edit (the lightning bolt) to manipulate your tags and move books between collections en masse.

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 11:51 am

That sounds like a cool idea for LT, pick me x suggestions from the tbr pile... or the to buy pile.

Mar 30, 2013, 11:52 am

>290 timspalding:


Thank you VERY much for giving a business perspective on the Gr/Amazon buy. As a user, it's hard to see things in those terms -- Otis may or may not have made the information available to users somewhere, but most likely didn't wave it in our faces.

I'm noticing several good reviewers from GR making their way here, people who ran/run groups, worked as librarians, participated actively and usefully in discussions, and were hugely important at GR. I think many LT members will want to get to know them and get them doing what they do here.

So far I like what I see here at LT. I'm figuring out (with LT member help!) what all the buttons do and where to find things. My books have loaded in and I can do some maintenance there once I figure out the controls (I have no problems with pushing all the buttons, screwing up, and starting over).

I can't help but feel sad about GR. I have done my best to cut ties with Amazon or reduce what interaction I have with them, but it's well nigh impossible. (I have a love for B&N since it was a black and white catalogue appearing in my mailbox full of wonderful, mysterious, never-at-Waldon's books). I do not respect or agree with how Amazon has chosen to do business, so it's sad that GR has been forced into the position of joining with them. I have such a long and intimate history with GR -- much like that LT members have -- gifts and Christmas cards and birthday cards and meetings, tears and anger and incredibly funny times. Despite appearances, I think the core communities are similar. (does anyone else hear Sting singing "Russians" right now?)

Well, time to plunge into more stuff and see how my assorted reviews are showing.

Mar 30, 2013, 12:12 pm

As long as LT stays close to what it is and not like GR even though a lot of their users are coming over here, I will be happy. I don't like the formatting of GR and the way it works and having friends shove recs down my face. And the endless links to twitter of what page you are on in a book. Ugh. Tell me what you are reading and what you thought of it when you are done. Full Stop.

Mar 30, 2013, 12:29 pm

I totally agree about the side stuff. Keep it!!

Mar 30, 2013, 12:46 pm

annekaelber: What about being able to show the various editions (beyond hardback, mass market, second printing, etc) like an Audible audiobook or the Kindle/Nook version of an ebook? Are most people just doing this with tags?

I don't know about most people; but as I'm importing my books over from Goodreads, I'm including tags along those lines. Just wanted you to know that you wouldn't be the only one using tags like that if you decide to. :)

Mar 30, 2013, 1:05 pm

>297 TnTexas:
I have my default library view set up to show me the publication information, which is where the format information usually resides. (And if it isn't there, you can put it there yourself. LT will do its best to come up with something to put in that field, but it colors it... um, green, I think. Anyway, if it's something LT thought you might want, it's a different color than if it's something you entered yourself.)

Library views are highly customizable. You can choose which columns you want shown, in which order, and you can set up multiple views which can be switched between at the click of a button.

Putting information that is important to you into tags isn't a bad idea either, though. You can do more stuff more easily with the tags, like searching for combinations of two tags, and seeing how many other people out there are using the same tags you are. :)

Mar 30, 2013, 1:24 pm

Here's some info about setting up custom 'styles' for library views that might be helpful:

Mar 30, 2013, 1:35 pm

At 299 (now 300) messages, I think it's time to continue this in another topic!

Mar 30, 2013, 1:46 pm

LShelby & Aerrin99, thanks for the information. LT is turning out to be much more customizable than I expected. I think I like that. :)

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 4:39 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Mar 30, 2013, 4:43 pm

I was replying to one of the very first posts - not this one!

Mar 30, 2013, 4:37 pm

there's a new thread peeps. link is just below.

Mar 31, 2013, 5:44 am

>285 fuzzi: Thank you Fuzzi for the link. Helpful. I know some people are comfortable with HTML but its not me even though I'm fairly comfortable with most technical things.

Mar 31, 2013, 1:24 pm

For what it's worth, there's a new community over on Google Plus. It's called "Escaping Amazon", and its purpose is to A) help refugees from Goodreads/Amazon find new homes for their reviews (LibraryThing has been discussed, among others), and B) suggest alternatives to shopping on Amazon. Anyone can join.

It's at

Mar 31, 2013, 9:29 pm

1) Remain independent
2) dont change the interface. I picked LibraryThing over the other two because I found their interfaces too confusing and cluttered, goodreads being a facebook for books and shelfari jam packed with java and flash and stuff to make it Web 2.0

Apr 1, 2013, 2:36 am

>94 jennybhatt: jennybhatt

I took your prompting and engineered a timezone feature for LibraryThing.


Apr 1, 2013, 5:03 am

What?! Ohmygoodness! *dances with joy*

Apr 1, 2013, 11:50 am

Even Tim ignores the topic continuation notice. :(

Apr 1, 2013, 11:59 am

Hi Tim,

I just commented on the "Amazon Buys Goodreads" post but I was reading these comments as well. I've had an LT account since 2010, when I started library school, but have been a dedicated Goodreads user since 2007, when I considered both services and found Goodreads to be (a) free, and (b) have a cleaner design and better UX/UI.

However, I am now planning to migrate my GR data to LT, as soon as the backlog allows, because I am wary of Amazon and think it's worth it to pay for the type of services that LT provides. I mostly use these "social reading" sites to keep track of my own reading, but I do value seeing how people I know personally rate and review their books as well; I'm hoping some of my GR friends will come over to LT too.

I know you value information at LT (I value information too - I'm a librarian), but a different and/or ever-so-slightly larger font and a little more white space would go a long way toward creating a less cluttered, more open, friendly look. (I'm not asking for giant buttons. There seems to be an anti-GR prejudice among many LT users; please remember that many of us are educated, intelligent readers like yourselves.)

I haven't read all the comments in this thread and I'm sure I'm repeating what a few others have already said. Thanks for monitoring these comments so closely and communicating with your customers. (Notice I didn't say users. :-)


Initial reaction to "Amazon Buys Goodreads news (blog post)

Apr 1, 2013, 12:04 pm

>310 jjwilson61:

No, I don't! Argh.

Apr 1, 2013, 12:32 pm

I'd like to join when it's up and running, even though I've technically had an account since 2010. I just looked for it on the Groups page and I don't see it yet - at least not by that name - but it may take some time to set up.

Thanks to Jeremy for his quick replies in the past.

Apr 1, 2013, 12:35 pm

I know there's a new continuation thread, but, since Tim posted the message here....

>308 timspalding: - Tim, thanks so much for the timezone feature. Just that I think it might have been someone else who asked for it. My message #94 was about author chats, I believe. Not to worry - I know a lot of folks here, including myself, will love this new timezone feature - being the global community that we are. Thanks again.

Apr 1, 2013, 1:20 pm

Snort! Sorry. I was looking for who asked for it and you said something about "Even if you were in a different time zone at the time and." When I searched the page I caught that, and didn't read the context!

JBD1 is going to look into how GR did the live chats. I'd love to do it on Google Hangouts or something, not our own solution.

Apr 1, 2013, 1:53 pm

#1 > What about the fact that Amazon owns 40% of LibraryThing?

"Amazon purchased a 40% stake in LibraryThing seven years ago."

Apr 1, 2013, 1:58 pm

#316 AMZoltai>,

Take a look at messages #1 and #70 (and do a browser search for "40%") to see that this "information" is in error.


Apr 1, 2013, 2:11 pm

>315 timspalding: - Tim, Google Hangouts work great, really. Would be a quick and painless way to do live author chats (considering quite a few authors are already being asked to do so). Cool!

Apr 1, 2013, 2:17 pm

Wouldn't Google Hangouts completely throw the whole "you can be pseudononymous" ideal of LT to the wind?

Edited: Apr 1, 2013, 2:24 pm

>319 brightcopy:

Fair enough—there's no way to be anonymous? (Although there'd be no necessary link-back.)

Apr 1, 2013, 2:37 pm

#317 > Thanks :-)

Apr 1, 2013, 2:49 pm

#320 by timspalding> I don't believe so:

I believe it's just like if facebook had implemented a similar feature. They want to be able to force everyone to use "real" names. So to join a google hangout, you use your Google+ account. Using a fake name for a google+ account is grounds for account suspension.

The only exception is if you have an "established" pseudonym. In other words, Bono can be Bono but you still have to be Tim Spalding.

Apr 1, 2013, 2:59 pm

According to THE NEW YORK TIMES, amazon owns part of librarything as well.

Apr 1, 2013, 3:04 pm

#323 by techeditor> Do yourself a favor and search this thread for 40%.

Or reread the first message in full.

Apr 1, 2013, 3:08 pm

timspalding, didn't I read in THE NEW YORK TIMES that amazon owns part of librarything? If they're right, I wouldn't be so snooty if I were you about librarything's purity.

Apr 1, 2013, 3:10 pm

Don't know how many times you need to be told. Read the first message or search this thread for 40%. It's explained.

Apr 1, 2013, 3:12 pm


Amazon owns a minority stake in LT as a result of Amazon having purchased Abebooks some years ago. If you can't tell the difference between "makes a purchase that indirectly creates a minority ownership" and "purchased all of it outright", I don't really know what to say.

Apr 1, 2013, 3:12 pm

At the risk of repeating myself, techeditor, please see messages #1 and #70 and others that mention 40% in this thread to see where that "information" is inaccurate.

The two parts of this thread do indeed have 400 posts. However, it is more helpful if you read them before tossing out a sniping or incendiary comment. We like to have good and productive discussions here.


Apr 1, 2013, 3:25 pm

>322 brightcopy:

So Salman Rushdie can get go by Salman? ( ) That's a relief :)

timspalding, didn't I read in THE NEW YORK TIMES that amazon owns part of librarything? If they're right, I wouldn't be so snooty if I were you about librarything's purity.

So, I get where you're coming from. For what it's worth, the percent is not as high as that, but it's a real percent. They acquired their minority share when they bought Abebooks, the used bookseller who were our first funders. While I have a certain respect for Amazon, I think I've proved my bona fides as a critic of them enough times. But I certainly see that it provides some fodder for questioning.

Edited: Apr 1, 2013, 3:30 pm

Would love to see more around tracking when I've read my books, how many times--I know it's a silly thing, but I love the Goodreads yearly goals & tracking to goal on how many books I've read.

It may be entirely possibly that it's on LT & I just haven't found it yet; if that's true, I apologize!

Apr 1, 2013, 3:34 pm

> 330: Which feature?

For the "newbies" (and certainly not trying to tell you guys off): on LT topics don't thread. Whatever you do your posting will end up on the bottom of the topic. If you reply to any specific posting, please indicate so.

Apr 1, 2013, 3:35 pm

>330 giboppmar:

We're working on it.

Apr 1, 2013, 3:42 pm

#332 by timspalding> Yay! More good GoodReads fallout!

Apr 1, 2013, 4:34 pm

>332 timspalding: Wow, best news I've read all day.

Apr 1, 2013, 4:41 pm

In addition to 330's suggestions: Someone on LT made a spreadsheet that tracked your books read, and made a graph that charted all the data for you. You could compare multiple years, and see how your reading has changed over the years. I stopped using it because I was entering my reading data twice (here and the spreadsheet), but it would be cool if LT did the same thing.

Apr 1, 2013, 4:44 pm

I strongly agree with those that have suggested that tracking and sharing are key functions that you could enhance, both the attract GR users, and to make regular LT users happy. I've not been able to find great resources out there that work well for tracking what I read, which is something that I know a lot of avid readers do (or want to do). Making that work would make the whole site stronger.

Apr 1, 2013, 4:44 pm

The timeline ( could also use some improvements, if you're looking for ideas :)

Apr 1, 2013, 4:55 pm

All engineers are on deck right now. MikeTopper is working on Facebook and Twitter. ConceptDawg is in charge of figuring out date-read—getting to the point where we can decide exactly what to do with the complexity vs. functionaltiy. ChrisC is working on import and upload.

Apr 1, 2013, 4:58 pm

ConceptDawg is in charge of figuring out date-read—getting to the point where we can decide exactly what to do with the complexity vs. functionaltiy

What kind of things are under consideration here?

Edited: Apr 1, 2013, 5:19 pm

Nobody working on Add Books? I know, I know, limited resources. But I can't believe that all these poor GR folks are having to encounter the current Add Books. It's going to be a rude awakening, especially with the green plus (Add to your library). I can see import/upload as taking priority over that but... facebook and twitter? Even date-read stuff, as much as I'd want it?

ETA: It occurs to me that you didn't list what YOU are working on. Holding out hope for Add Books...

Apr 1, 2013, 5:20 pm

>340 brightcopy:

Add books is upload. It's all one process. We need to improve the under-stuff before we redo UI.

Apr 1, 2013, 5:59 pm

Quoting #41 Timspalding

As I've said before, I don't want to sell. LibraryThing wasn't set up as a startup that would get flipped. And our business—split between .com and the library side—always made us easier to partner with than buy.

I was surprised to read the April 1st article headline today in light of the statements above but I agree that greater promotion is the right road for LT.

LibraryThing sells controlling interest for 2.5 billion dollars to Apple!!

In view of that I would like to be the first to apply for one of the new LT Tesla's with the LT logo emblazoned on the side in scrolling LED letters. This is a great promotional idea and I promise to have my GPS travel log filled with culturally deprived areas like Miami and Las Vegas as is stated in the contract agreement. I find the monthly stipend rather frugal but I am always willing to sacrifice in order to promote education. Yours humbly and truly - Dugsbooks

Apr 1, 2013, 7:26 pm


Edited: Apr 1, 2013, 8:57 pm

>342 DugsBooks:

I do wish Apple would put LibraryThing tags and reviews in iTunes. I can't find anything there, and there are no reviews. $2.5b unnecessary.

Apr 2, 2013, 7:14 am

Well I am probably the choir. I am an independent bookseller. I just signed up with Library Thing because of it's relative Independence of Amazon. I hope you are able to continue. I will be spreading the Library work with friends, FB, and in my store. I hand sell books and will hand sell your service. Keep up the good work

Apr 2, 2013, 10:36 am

This was my thought as well after reading this. Although I'm not yet ready to pull my account information just yet from Goodreads, it definitely is starting to make me more aware of what will be happening, even, within the next 6 months.

Apr 2, 2013, 10:42 am

I hope for the sake of Android users that an iPhone app isn't the only thing to be a potential project.

Apr 2, 2013, 10:43 am

A change in the "dead salmon" color would be a good idea lol

Edited: Apr 3, 2013, 9:46 am

Suggest two variations from the current poached dead salmon color, a bright fresh, luxurious, salmon-sashimi and a darker, serious only, smoked-salmon.

Apr 3, 2013, 11:10 pm

How about pickled herring colors?


Apr 5, 2013, 4:01 am

Amazon at the moment has a quantitative global domination in the businesses it does. The efficient disregard for quality in exchange for lowest competing cost price is possibly going deeper than the business needs to or deeper than a significant number of the customers really want. As an unhappy customer who paid about $10 for a penguin and was disappointed to find problematizations systematically introduced into the text and the follow on rapid ITIL templated response when I reported the errors and locations, I'd be happier to pay $1 or $2 extra for no errors at all verified by professional proof readers. If Amazon won't do quality may be somebody else like Rakuten will. Below is a snip from the boss about a fish.

The blackness of the horizon. The gray and colorless ocean floor. Only the occasional deep sea fish broke the illusion.

Jeff Bezos

Apr 5, 2013, 5:23 am

#351: I don't understand; if you're talking about Kindle book from the publisher Penguin, you really need to look at Penguin to blame for the quality of the proofreading.

I think a lot of the public domain stuff is going to get really crunched. It used to be paying an editor and some footnotes was a fairly small marginal cost, and people will buy a nice $7 book over a not-quite-as-nice $5 book pretty easily. Not many people will pay $8 for a electronic file with introduction and footnotes over one without for free or $1, and if Penguin isn't turning out well-proofed materials, that edge disappears.

Apr 5, 2013, 6:26 am

For public-domain fiction, I've turned to Gutenberg at the like. I have a hard time seeing a continuing market for for-profit publishers here.

For nonfiction it's a bit different because I'm more willing to pay for annotations and the like. But I can hardly see myself paying for something like my minimally-annotated Wordsworth Thucydides today.

Apr 5, 2013, 6:31 am


I suspect Penguin sent Amazon a quality copy of the book in electronic file format then bozos (not Bezos) programmatically substituted the character sequence ‘toc’ with ‘normal’ as unintended consequence of work to transform the table of contents (toc) and text for presentation on Kindle, resulting in errors like arisnormalracy (for aristocracy) and snormalk (for stock). A technological fix would be to use computed checksums to verify the integrity of proofread content, that it has remained unchanged when it left Penguin and arrives on the Kindle. Keep the bozos away from the payload.

Apr 5, 2013, 8:48 am

#354: I suspect Penguin sent Amazon a quality copy of the book in electronic file format

No sympathy. If you're going to put your name on something, at least take a look at the proof copy, which in the case of an ebook should be identical to the original. Moreover, if you're a professional publisher, you don't send your "printers" anything but print-ready copy; i.e. Penguin should have sent Amazon a MOBI file.

A technological fix would be to use computed checksums to verify the integrity of proofread content, that it has remained unchanged when it left Penguin and arrives on the Kindle.

That's not feasible; it may be that conversion for the Kindle has to tweak table syntax, or convert certain characters to others better supported internally, or add no-break spaces or zero-width spaces where necessary. The technological fix would be to not screw up this stuff in the first place.

Apr 5, 2013, 9:27 am

That's not feasible

I expect checksums are used in the hops over the Internet from Penguin to Amazon's Kindle, like this
… packets that had been corrupted would still be propagated through the network, so a jabbering station could continue to disrupt the entire network. The eventual remedy for this was a return to the original store and forward approach of bridging, where the packet would be read into a buffer on the switch in its entirety, verified against its checksum and then forwarded
The technological fix would be to not screw up this stuff in the first place.

And when the screw up happens at the last place it needs to be detected then thrown away and who ever did it needs to learn from the mistake.

Apr 5, 2013, 9:50 am

I'm in trouble for violating the thread limits, but I wanted to answer some of the comments about G+ and hangouts.

G+ did have a big thing about Pseudonyms, but the fuss was huge, and it seems to have more or less gone by. I see a lot of them. If they look like a legit name, they stand even less change of being noticed, but they don't have to.

Hangouts can be done with complete anonymity. Anyone who wants to see how it's done, contact me and I'll show you all about it. They are also great for meetings and chats. Lots of people use them for various things, including "living room concerts" and watching podcasts.

G+ doesn't do the "friends" thing, but uses circles instead, which work somewhat differently. You circle people and you can see whatever they post in public. You circle people and they can (if they wish) see whatever you post to that circle. If someone circles you, they can see what you post in public. If someone circles you, they can send you stuff to that circle, but you don't have to see if if you don't want to see it. You can limit who can share what you post, you can turn comments off and on, and you can control most of your content. You can mute individual posts and uncircle people at will without any notification (you are notified when you are circled, but not when you are uncircled). There are limits, of course -- it's still a social network and there's always a trade of data for function -- but it's not very obtrusive.

Most importantly, while there are games, they are in an entirely separate stream. You have to go to that stream to see posts. If you don't want to see games, you never have to. No one will bother you with invites or requests to buy cows.

Apr 5, 2013, 10:17 am

I asked MJ to post this because I was totally behind in what I knew about G+. It actually sounds like it might be quite neat for author chats and stuff now that I knew you can actually be anonymous.

She was also telling me about a screen-sharing feature, which could be used in some interesting ways. One thought that occurred to me was helping people with their really tricky bug reports. Another might be so that during an author chat, LT staff could click on the author page, click on individual works as they were talked about, etc. Might be a way to show off LT features if there were people on the chat who weren't on LT yet.

Apr 5, 2013, 11:11 am

I suspect Penguin sent Amazon a quality copy of the book in electronic file format then bozos (not Bezos) programmatically substituted the character sequence ‘toc’ with ‘normal’ as unintended consequence of work to transform the table of contents (toc) and text for presentation on Kindle, resulting in errors like arisnormalracy (for aristocracy) and snormalk (for stock). A technological fix would be to use computed checksums to verify the integrity of proofread content, that it has remained unchanged when it left Penguin and arrives on the Kindle. Keep the bozos away from the payload.

There was a similar one where a book had "kindle" changed everywhere to "nook"—as in "He took sticks and flint and nooked a fire."

Apr 5, 2013, 11:18 am


To add to the discussion of public domain books:

The ones from Amazon are often directly from Gutenberg and many are full of errors as you have said. I usually check or first because they have human proofreaders checking books and formatting (and they are free). I also go to I am not sure if they proofread, but they do check formatting. If you need a kindle book that is not in the public domain because it is annotated or whatever, then Amazon is your only choice. In all fairness, it is the publisher's responsibility to give them a good copy. Amazon will refund your money if you let them know and sometimes they will pull the book from their offerings until it is fixed. I have also had Amazon email me when they have a revised version, even if I never asked for a refund. I can always download the improved version for free.


Apr 5, 2013, 2:39 pm

360> Gutenberg does have volunteer proof readers variable as the results may be and any errors that get reported do get corrected.

The mistakes are of course generally OCR software artefacts. and can on occasion be bad. but I have encountered commercially published ebooks that are as bad or worse.

The lack of care that many publishers lavish on their ebooks is an astonishment to me. They seem to lack the procedures and understanding that are the basis of professionalism.

Edited: Apr 5, 2013, 3:25 pm

I'm professionally involved with the publishing industry, and at the managerial/executive level there seems to be an illusion that ebooks somehow avoid the need for the sort of quality checking that was routine for print texts. Effectively, introducing a work to a digital platform is the equivalent of fully re-typesetting the book. It may be that the "typesetting" itself is automated, but that's all the more reason to have humans review it carefully. Does it happen? Hardly ever. It's one of the many reasons that I'm profoundly disinterested in ebooks as a consumer.

Edited to add: This neglect is especially painful to me, because I am often involved in the production of digital versions of books. But the way such projects are managed, no allowance is made for the time or the money that would be needed for quality checks to take place.

Apr 5, 2013, 3:35 pm

361, 362> Hopefully, as the interest in ebooks grows, publishers will put more resources into them. k4k

Apr 5, 2013, 4:35 pm

For the 100th anniversary of Tom Swift in 2010 we published special editions of the first five books in the series. We started with Gutenberg texts and spent several dozen hours comparing the etexts with the vintage copies in our collection. It was amazing how many errors we found even after a considerable amount of time in the system.

My mother in law has a nook and got some "free" copies of classics (Dickens, etc) and the OCR-based errors were significant.

Most ebooks, especially the public domain ones, are a question of lowest price and not best quality. When these flawed texts are "published" in print on demand form without careful editing, the result casts a negative light on the whole publishing method. Haphazard methods which involve grabbing a text or an PDF and simply sending it without editing the text or page images up to a PoD company to be "published," often at extraordinary prices, is unfortunately very common.

The traditional publishers have shown time and time again that they are not far removed from these slap-dash opportunist publishers. They grab some of the worst 19th century public domain translations of Jules Verne and publish it as "complete and unabridged" when they are often anything but. The publishers don't even look for the best of the public domain translations.

More recently I have been involved in issuing first book editions of scarce and early Edward Stratemeyer stories. The editing work takes a surprising amount of time. To this we add extensive notes, illustrations, maps, and introductions. However, the number of copies sold is very small and will be unlikely to recover the time to produce them, even at the lowest hourly wage allowed by law in the U.S. We'll still do it. If nothing else, we will have nice copies to put on our shelves.


Apr 6, 2013, 6:44 am

I am both a collector of books and a bookseller. I just opened a new bricks and mortar store in West Dennis, MA and I sell on eBay. I am not a huge fan of ABE Books (other than as a source for pricing), and I do not like Amazon at all. Does Library Thing have a vehicle where I can list the books I have for sale?

Lew Taylor

Apr 6, 2013, 7:22 am

>365 Rebellew: - We don't, sorry - using LT commercially to sell books isn't allowed (per our Terms, see

As we note at, "Booksellers may list books, but not use LibraryThing to sell books. They are strictly forbidden from soliciting other LibraryThing members. Suggested uses include tracking staff picks, posting events and socializing with neighbors."

Apr 6, 2013, 9:58 am


As a side note, using any used book database for determining prices is risky at best. The copies listed have not sold. You don't know how long they've been listed most of the time. However, the price listed is higher than people would generally pay or it would be gone already. The best you can say about ABE and other used book database prices is that they are lowest prices at which the book will not sell. Some "sellers" don't care if they sell any books and price them to the moon, distorting the perception of value by other sellers who don't know as much about the books. The buyers, obviously, don't agree with them or the books would sell and the listings be removed.

There are also the nuances of comparing what you have with the book listed. Is it really the same thing? Same publisher, same printing, same condition? A common book club in your hand is going to be very different in sale value from a first printing, even if the book and DJ condition are the same. As a bookseller and collector you may be aware of some of these cases but it is very hard to be aware of all of them.

If you list books as a bookseller (I'd use a separate paid account from any collections but moving books from one account to another would be tedious) you can do a tab-delimited export and then see about formatting the file and uploading to the listing service of your choice. It's not a perfect solution but it's easy to see why one would care to use the features and data sources of LT after using it to catalog one's collections. I am certainly so inclined. As a programmer, I figure I can write a script to rearrange the columns of data in any form I like. Of course there are issues of column usage. Where to put the price and condition summary, etc.? The tab-delimited export is not complete yet. You'd have to figure out how to handle photos, etc.

I was a full-time antiquarian bookseller managing a children's book specialty store for a dozen years (1988-2000). I've always been a collector. Now, aside from programming, I sell at book fairs and occasionally online. I'll do more of the latter in time.

Just as LT members don't want to be "sold" or "marketed" by authors and publishers, except in specific places and ways, they don't want to be similarly approached by booksellers, new or used. It is an important part of the ecosystem and one worthy of respect.


Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 8:15 am

#367: However, the price listed is higher than people would generally pay or it would be gone already. The best you can say about ABE and other used book database prices is that they are lowest prices at which the book will not sell.

That's working with an idealized continuous market that doesn't match the low volume of much of the book world. Many books may not sell because literally, a customer for them doesn't come by every day or even month, at any price. That fact does not necessarily mean the right person won't pay good money for them, just that they won't necessarily sell quickly.

Some "sellers" don't care if they sell any books and price them to the moon, distorting the perception of value by other sellers who don't know as much about the books. The buyers, obviously, don't agree with them or the books would sell and the listings be removed.

What books? Seriously, on Amazon when I hear of a seller doing that, they don't have a book to sell; they just figure they can get someone else to ship you the book and collect the arbitrage, sometimes ignoring the fact the reason the customer didn't buy that book in the first place was the condition.

Apr 7, 2013, 6:43 pm


My experience and knowledge of prices (after being a full-time antiquarian bookseller for a dozen years) is tied to old children's books. There were certain sellers, including one with two exclamation points in their business name, who would routinely ask $300-$500 for an ex-library copy in fair to good condition that most sellers, even specialist ones, would ask $30-$75 for it. Sure their copy didn't sell too readily (unless someone had more dollars than sense) but the damage came when other sellers happened to come upon one of these overpriced titles and figured that !! must know something more than they did so they'd price theirs at 75% of the massively overpriced volume.

In 2001 when I created a Palm Query App to work with my Palm VII that allowed me to search the used book databases, I specifically had to code around this seller by showing results and price ranges with them and without them.

Other fields, e.g. science fiction, have sellers to whom every book gives them delusions of grandeur, even if it is an ex-library or a book club or is not very tough to find. They are not persuaded when the sale doesn't come in a year or a few or when others list it for a fraction (and sell it). They are prices to keep instead of prices to sell.

On Amazon used books you see either massively overpriced books or common modern books where there's a race to the bottom with copies offered for $1 or less. The seller, with little investment in the book, figures they'll make up the difference between the shipping charge collected and the media mail paid if they send it in a plain envelope. I have not found this works very well but it's the only explanation (other than loss leader which would only work if you got repeat business) for micro pricing. It does work if someone buys multiple books because the shipping is multiplied by the base amount rather than factored by weight. Most Amazon sellers don't refund the difference, unlike most eBay sellers who will.

Any person trying to use the used book databases to price their stock or evaluate their collection should realize the limitations of the data available.


Apr 11, 2013, 8:31 am

The only thing that I'd really love to see, that would make me use LT as much as I use Goodreads, would be a LT mobile app. I do the vast majority of my bookish updates and other stuff from my phone (and I know tablet users would love this, too), and navigating the LT website from a mobile device is hellish. I am very rarely on a PC, and I don't want to have to get on the PC every time I want to update my books on LT (I'm a fast reader). A mobile app would be fantastic.

(Also, I personally am fine with the look of the site as it is, but it's certainly not vision-impaired friendly. I see a lot of comments about not wanting to make book cover images/links/buttons larger, but I know there are people who use GR over LT because it's easier for them to see/navigate. Just a thought.)

Sep 4, 2013, 5:58 pm

I'm just busy reading the threads here on Library Thing sharing your vision. Give me a platter and I can take or leave the ham sandwiches, I always try a cheese and love a good egg and cress, keep up the good work this website is really interesting. Thanks for sharing many of your models here in this thread, it's definitely a ray of light in space full of fresh air.

Jul 25, 2014, 3:59 pm

I agree. The format is clear. It also takes up a lot of screen space, just to get the job done. What would you omit if you added other stuff ?

Jul 27, 2014, 11:06 am

I know most of the world buys their books from Amazon, but is it worthwhile to do more to appeal to the non-Amazon customer? I have a Nook and love it. I buy my books from real bookstores. I have other reading apps on my Nook, like Kindle, Google Books and Axis, but I much prefer the clean, uncluttered look of the B&N website when shopping for eBooks. I don't know how many Nook users are out there, but I'd love to see organizations quit referring to eBooks as Kindle books, and cater a little more to my device and preferences.

On another note, I read this past week that Amazon's sales are way up, and so are their losses. Amazon has been operating near the break even point or at a loss for some time. Surely they can't go on forever. Maybe we have nothing to worry about.