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Moving books between accounts

Talk about LibraryThing

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Mar 24, 3:30pm Top

Now LibraryThing is free to all, I've opened a new account to take the books that I have until now catalogued on my main account for various projects.

Please can anyone tell me whether I can move all the books and their meta-data en masse from one of my collections in this account to my new account?

Mar 24, 4:07pm Top


Been asking for this for years, to a resounding silence. I've given up on bumping the relevant RSI since it was clear that they had no interest in implementing an "import the export" feature.

Mar 25, 1:03pm Top

What >2 lorax: said.

You can always try and contact kristilabrie and see if staff is willing to copy the relevant collection over to the new account for you. I'd do that before I started transferring things manually (either complete records, or copy-pasting fields into the minimal records created by the importer).

Mar 25, 2:29pm Top

>3 Petroglyph: Thanks. I'll try that.

Mar 25, 3:09pm Top

People have asked that before, to no avail. I mean, it couldn't hurt to try, but don't get your hopes up. (Frankly, I don't blame them. I don't want them to be in the position of judging whether Person X really truly owns Person Y's account that they're asking to have duplicated into theirs, or spending a significant portion of their time fielding this sort of request.) Really they should do it right once - let us import the export - rather than half-assedly a hundred times by individually doing it on a case-by-case basis.

Mar 25, 3:20pm Top

>3 Petroglyph: and >4 Cynfelyn: I'm afraid I can't, alas. I'd rather us have a full import-export loop, but as lorax mentioned that's been "on the list" for some time. I will celebrate the day it happens! The developers know it's a top-requested feature. I'm sorry for the trouble in the meantime.

Edited: Mar 25, 3:32pm Top

I'd rather us have a full import-export loop, but as lorax mentioned that's been "on the list" for some time.

I mentioned no such thing. I know it's on your personal list of desired features, but that's a far cry from being on a list of features that anyone intends to actually implement -- is there really any intention of implementing this? Because you're the only staff member that's so much as acknowledged the existence of the request.

No, I take that back. Tim did, in order to mock me for it as though I thought LT was just a big spreadsheet, which sort of made me think that there was no intention of trying to implement it. So I'm glad to hear otherwise?

(Edited to add: the link to Tim dismissing anyone asking for a closed loop as naive and thinking LT is just a spreadsheet. )

Mar 25, 7:50pm Top

A round-trip export/import would be one way to do this but it could also be done entirely within the app as an export of a collection from one account to another. Having the user enter the password for the second account would deal with any security issues.

Mar 26, 8:32am Top

>7 lorax: Excuse me, I conflated your "been asking this for years" comment with my knowledge that we do have the import-export loop "on the list", it just hasn't been implemented yet: partly for prioritization reasons, partly for the level of work involved that I've heard Tim say he wants to put into it to do it "right"*, and probably parts I've admittedly yet to know.

(*Right, timspalding's comment in the thread you mentioned above: https://www.librarything.com/topic/292718#6510748 explains this point.)

Mar 26, 12:53pm Top

>8 jjwilson61: I'm not sure I follow your suggestion here. The LT app doesn't have any import/export functionality?

Mar 26, 2:12pm Top

>10 kristilabrie: We're suggesting the functionality of selecting an LT collection (say, by checking a box) and clicking an imaginary button that says "Export to the account USERNAME". No import/export of records, but transferring an entire collection within LibraryThing, between two accounts.

Edited: Mar 26, 2:23pm Top

You mention no import/export of records, but also naming the button "Export to the account USERNAME.", which is essentially what we'd be doing to achieve that.

Mar 26, 2:39pm Top

I think you're getting too hung up on the word export. In this case it doesn't mean exporting it out of LT just to another account. You can call it moving copying a collection to another account if you'd like.

Mar 26, 3:37pm Top

At the moment we have the ability to add selected books into a collection in our own account via power edit. The easiest way may be to allow this to copy (or move) the books to another account (to which you have a username/password)...

Edited: Mar 27, 9:43am Top

I'm not sure how else to put this, but we can't simply "move" anything between two accounts without doing an export/import of that data... there's no magic button.

ETA: Okay, I correct myself. timspalding says that with no other data changes the process would be more of a move than export/import. I was misunderstanding the question/process. I'll see if he can comment more.

Edited: Mar 27, 10:12am Top

LibraryThing doesn't currently have the ability to "move" books between users.

We had a process that we used in the past, but it was manual and it is out of date now. The problem is that the information about who owns a book and how is complicated. There are lot of threads that need to be torn up and restitched.

First, there's simply a lot of places to change. While it would be simple to have the owner of a book marked in one place, many of the tables that store the data repeat the owner to increase look-up speed. (That is, the primary index of most book tables is not the auto-incrementing book number, but the user number and the book number, allowing all a given user's books to live next to each other in the data structure, rather than scattered like raisins amid 150m books.)

Other issues creep up. Moving books involves moving not only the book, but changing various secondary things. For example, you have to recreating any user-created collections the book is in, with their preferences. I believe we discovered that one after we moved books and introduced some subtle oddness.

Lastly, we'd need to automate the process--to have "agree" buttons on both accounts before it happened. Previously we just did it by email and asking people to comment from both accounts. That doesn't scale.

Anyway, "moving" isn't currently possible.

"Closing the import export loop" is not going to happen in the near future. It would be good to have, but I'd rather get LT2 out, and a number of other things. It's not trivial. LibraryThing data is not a spreadsheet. It's not rows and columns. We *reduce* them to rows and columns for export. It's like taking a photo of a statue. That's easy, but information is lost. "Closing" the loop would be like making a sculpture from the photo--harder.

Mar 27, 10:07am Top

Tim, really? The sneering "spreadsheet" dismissal again? Do you really think we're that stupid? You're fixated on the hardest 10%, when most of us would be happy with getting to 80% rather than the 20% we have now.

Mar 27, 10:15am Top

I'm sorry you think the explanation is a sneering one. I think it's a rather clear one myself.

As for 80% and 20%, the problem isn't that some data might not go through, it's that something much worse could happen if you don't do the 20%.

To take the collections example, if the system expects a collection and there isn't one, it might show it in some circumstances--where the collection wasn't checked--but have it be invisible in others--where the collection was.

Mar 27, 10:41am Top

15: I never said that you could move books between accounts now, the point was that it might be easier to code a function that did that then it would be to finish the import/export loop. If Tim thinks it would actually be harder then that's that, but it's not a crazy idea.

Mar 27, 10:54am Top

Yeah, note my correction on the post. I hear you, just didn't understand what you were asking at first.

Mar 27, 11:54am Top

>16 timspalding: I know we cannot do it now and I understand the technical reasons (or most of them anyway). I was just saying what would make sense if it is implemented. :)

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