Tuesday Thingers

Missed last week’s because day job was hectic and I was too wiped out to even read blogs, let alone compose a post. This week’s prompt is:

Today’s topic: Book-swapping. Do you do it? What site(s) do you use? How did you find out about them? What do you think of them? Do you use LT’s book-swapping column feature for information on what to swap? Do you participate in any of the LT communities that discuss bookswapping, like the Bookmooch group for example?

I don’t use the book-swapping sites, for two simple reasons. One is that “swapping” implies that books will leave my possession. This is against the natural order of things, and not to be countenanced. The other is that until recently I lived a very short walk from a large used bookshop specialising in non-fiction and genre fiction, and I could buy books in there for less than the cost of postage on the book-swapping sites.

As a direct consequence of the second reason, I’m having to budge very slightly on the first. The To Be Read pile has grown to the size of a small mountain range, and I have been told by Other Half that I am not to buy any more bookcases, and that I am not to leave the books in piles on the floor, either. Thus, I must discipline myself and make some feeble gestures in the direction of a new book into the house means an old book leaving.

Which still leaves me with no good reason to join a book-swapping site, because the only reason I’m going to be getting rid of a book is that I’ve just had a shopping accident and need more space on the shelf. Swapping books will not reduce the actual book population as required…

Tuesday Thingers

Late with Tuesday Thingers again. My excuse is that I was already past a deadline for a short story, and was trying to get it finished so I could send it out to my crit group. Anyway… this week’s prompt from Boston Bibliphile:

Why did you choose to open and maintain an LT account? Do you/did you use other online cataloging/social networking sites, like GoodReads or Shelfari? Do you use more than one? Are they different or do they serve different purposes?

I wanted a catalogue of my books for insurance purposes. Yes, you need to separately list anything with serious value if you want your insurance covered, but there’s also the problem of insurance companies refusing to believe that anyone owns several hundred paperbacks. Having a list of what you’ve got, plus some photos, makes it easier to persuade them that you’re one of the mutant freaks. I’ve had to claim on shipping insurance after a long-distance move, and the company paid out without a murmur on the detailed list I provided of water-damaged books, with notes on whether they were a total loss or whether I was just claiming the reduction in their value. At least there I still had the books, but sometimes you get complete loss. I was also running into the problem of buying duplicate books because I could no longer remember what I already owned.

I already had a small database on my own computer, but I wanted something that would let me just type in the ISBN and let it look up the details of the book online, rather than having to type in all the details by hand. So I asked around my friends, and someone suggested LibraryThing.

Tim knows what he’s doing with that free account covering up to 200 books. It’s a big enough number to let you think you can do something useful with the free account even if you never upgrade, so it’s worth your while putting in a few books to try it. I had my credit card out half an hour later. The system is easy to use, and it’s fun. And even in that half hour I could see all sorts of other ways it could be useful.

Since then I’ve got involved in the social side of the site. You don’t need to ever go near this to get a lot out of the system, but it’s a good place to talk to like-minded readers.

I don’t use other book-orientated social networking sites, although I can see the appeal of something like BookCrossing. One is enough of a timesink for me, and LT’s facilities suit me extremely well.

Tuesday Thingers

This week’s prompt: “how many books do you have cataloged in your LibraryThing account? How do you decide what to include- everything you have, everything you’ve read- and are there things you leave off?”

Right now I’ve got 907 books catalogued. My default is that if I own it and it’s a book-like object, it gets catalogued. I’ve now catalogued most of the books I currently have physical access to (a lot are in storage), and I usually add books to the catalogue as soon as I acquire them.

“Getting rid of books” was not part of my worldview until recently, but I’m facing up to the fact that I need to be realistic about whether I will read a book again. As I dispose of books, I’m going to leave them in my LT catalogue, but tag them as disposed of (probably with an annotation as to how they were disposed of). If nothing else, I want a record of the fact that I once owned the book and was willing to part with it, so that I don’t accidentally buy another copy.

So far I haven’t added books that I’ve read but never owned. My original reason for getting a LibraryThing account was to have a catalogue of my book collection for insurance purposes, so what I wanted was an accurate record of books that I owned, or had owned but no longer did. And I haven’t read many books that weren’t my personal property in the two years I’ve had a LibraryThing account — something to do with an excellent second-hand bookshop being closer than local library at the time I started the account. But I’ve been writing reviews of the few library books that I have borrowed, and I’d like to post the reviews on LT; plus it would be useful to have those books in my catalogue to feed into the various useful social networking features. So I may start adding “read but not owned” books, suitably tagged. I might have done so already, but I wanted to wait for the long-promised collections feature.

So far I haven’t left off anything, but I did think long and hard about some of the books I’ve bought for writing research. They’re not books I really want to have conversations about with workmates and family… If collections ever happen, they may end up in a private collection.

Index post for the blogring’s responses to this week’s prompt.

Tuesday Thingers

Yes, it’s Wednesday. By the time I got around to checking the master post at our esteemed host Bostonbibliophile, I was too flattened by the day’s distractions to write something sensible. Prompt for the week is:

Discussion groups. Do you belong to any (besides Early Reviewers)? Approximately how many? Are there any in particular that you participate in more avidly? How often do you check?

22 that I’m a member of or have on my watch list, though I’ll dip into others from time to time. The first group I joined, and the only one I was active in for a long time, was Folio Society Devotees. What got me out of there and active on some of the groups about the site itself was an early spam incident. I received a friend request from an author that was clearly purely an attempt at promoting his new book, and I went looking for somewhere to complain about it… I’m moderately active in Early Reviewers, Site Talk, New Features and Recommend Site Improvements — i.e mostly geeking about the site itself.

How often I check depends on how busy I am and whether I’m in any active conversations. I’ve been known to check every ten minutes when I’m desperately trying to avoid work and there’s a fast moving conversation going on. :-) More typically, every day or two for the four I’ve mentioned above. Others I sometimes check only every few weeks. I’d read the Folio Society group more often, but I’m trying to avoid temptation as we’re currently in a small flat and I have been told that I am not allowed to buy any more bookcases, and no, I may not leave the books in a pile on the floor instead.

One of the things I like about the groups is that it’s generally interesting conversation that mostly manages to stay good tempered. I have other places to hang out on the net where I can find that, but it’s always good to have more. Not bad for something I only joined so that I could easily catalogue get my books for insurance purposes.