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Tuesday Thingers has moved since I last took part, and is currently hosted by Wendi's Book Corner. This week's question:

Do you use a rating system on your blog? How do you feel about using the rating system provided on sites like Library Thing and Amazon? When looking up information on a book you are interested in, do you use the ratings provided by these sites (or similar sites) to help you make the decision on purchasing the book?

I don't bother using a rating system on my blog nowadays. This is partly because if I don't like a book, I'm not always sure whether it's me or the book -- I suffered some memory damage a few years ago and couldn't read at all for a couple of years, and although I've recovered, I still occasionally bounce off books for reasons connected with that episode rather than either the intrinsic quality of the book or how well it matches my reading tastes. I think it's also a lot more useful to both myself and to other people to set out what I did or didn't like about the book, and why.

There are also occasional books where it would be unfair for me to give a star rating, because my personal rating of the book doesn't match how I think the book might work for other people. A particular example of this would be the manga Confidential Confessions 1. I didn't even finish it, because it simply wasn't my thing; but I'm not the target audience and I could see that it was probably a good book for those who are. How do you give a simple star rating in those circumstances?

With looking up books on LT and Amazon, I can find the star rating useful, but it's really the spread of ratings that's useful rather than the average, and even that is in connection with the text reviews rather than by themselves. For example, sometimes there's a clear love/hate divide on a book, which is useful to know as long as there's enough information in the text reviews for me to assess which camp I'm likely to fall into.

Amazon requires you to give a star rating to post a review, and LibraryThing doesn't. This is why I have more book reviews on LT than on Amazon nowadays.
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Today's question from Bostonbibliophile - Blog Widgets. Do you use them? Do you have them on your blog? Do you know what I'm talking about? :-) A blog widget is that list of books "From my LibraryThing" and such, that you'll sometimes see on someone's sidebar. If you use it, do all of your books show up or do you have it set to only show certain books? Do you have a search widget, which would allow your blog readers to search your library? Have you ever made a photomosaic of your book covers? You can find widgets and photomosaic information on the "Tools" tab in LibraryThing.

I'm deeply boring, and have only the very basic blog widget that shows random books from my LibraryThing account, and that only on my WordPress book blog, not on my LiveJournal. This is mostly because I started a new job not that long after the LTER blogcircle started up, and ever since then I've not had the time or energy to fiddle with my blog layouts. Besides, some of my readers would be after me with a wet noodle if I was spending time on fiddling with layouts that I could be spending writing the next book... It doesn't help that both LJ and WP aren't terribly widget-friendly, and I'd need to do a certain amount of beating into submission to get them to show anything at all. But I think I'd like to have the "search my LibraryThing" widget, as I think that would be genuinely useful to some of my blog's readers.
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Today's question, hosted by Bostonbibliphile: LT Things- t-shirts, bags,cue cats- are you into the "stuff"? Do you use a cuecat to enter your books, or do you enter them manually? What do you think of the stuff?

I've got a cuecat, and I thought it was wonderful when I was trying to enter a large number of books in a hurry last year. It only works on books with a standard ISBN barcode, and it takes a bit of practice, but you can run through a stack of books very quickly once you're set up. For only one or two books it's quicker to type the ISBN by hand, so I'm not using it much at the moment, but I don't regret buying it.

The rest of the stuff... It's nice stuff, and if I really needed another tote bag or teeshirt (and lived in the US, because postage adds up), I'd be perfectly happy to play walking billboard for LT. I like the designs, and I like the site. But I've been going to sf cons for over a decade, and already have more than enough of that sort of stuff. Pretty much a lifetime supply, in fact. So I'm not really tempted to add to the collection.
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Today's question: Series. Do you collect any series? Do you read series books? Fantasy? Mystery? Science fiction? Religious? Other genre? Do you use the series feature in LT to help you find new books or figure out what you might be missing from a series? -- as ever, hosted by the wonderful Boston Bibliophile.

No, I didn't forget this week, and I wasn't too tired. I was too busy writing. Writing a guest blog post, admittedly, but at least I had the energy to write 1300 words of something. However, a day late, here is this week's Tuesday Thinging.

Um, yeah, I read series. A large chunk of my LiveJournal friends list is the result of reading one particular series, namely Terry Pratchett's Discworld. One of the things I did on the first day I had net access at home was subscribe to the Pratchett groups on Usenet. (Hi, guys.) I've read a lot of sf series over the years, though I don't try to collect that many of them these days.

And I tend to read mystery series. One of my recent obsessions is the Dalziel and Pascoe series. I vaguely knew that it existed, but had never read any until I picked up Dialogues of the Dead from the local library's "why not try this" shelf near the front desk while I was house-sitting for a friend for a few days -- and was blown away. I'd picked up a couple of other books in the series at the same time. I read those, then went back to find any more the library might have. And after that I started buying them. I got my LibraryThing account a few months later, so that was the first series where I started using LT to keep track of which ones I'd read, and which ones I'd bought my own copies of. (I intend to get all of them, but some of the early ones weren't in print in the US at the time, and I was accumulating them as they appeared in the local second-hand bookshop.)

What I like in a series is the ongoing development of the world and its people. I'm not really looking for the same book over and over, although those can be fun when done well. I'm looking for growth, in the writer and their world. And when I find a series that offers me that, I'll stick with it for a long time.
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And... I remembered to go and look at this week's prompt for Tuesday Thingers, in spite of being spaced out on cold medication and lack of sleep.

Today's question: Early Reviewers- do you participate? How many books (approximately) have you received through the program? Have you liked them generally? What's your favorite ER book? Do you participate in the discussion group on LT?

I signed up for Early Reviewers very early on in the programme, but then didn't put in for books for a few months because I was in the throes of moving. Once I was settled again, I started putting my name in for the draw, and so far I've received two review copies through the programme. Both were relatively early on, when the ratio of requests to copies available wasn't quite so high.

I've enjoyed both books I received. Gents is one I might have bought for myself anyway -- in fact, I think I may have read a review of it when it was first released back in 1997, and thought then that it sounded interesting. Pandora in the Congo is one I might not have picked up if I'd seen it in a bookshop, but the blurb intrigued me when I was reading the descriptions of the books available in the ER programme that month, and it ended up as my third choice of three I thought I might enjoy. So for me ER has brought me one enjoyable book I might otherwise never have read.

I used to be fairly active on the discussion group, but that was before I went back to working full-time at a day job with a much longer commute than I've ever had before. I just don't have time and energy at the moment for a lot of my usual online discussion, although as I get less tired just from the shock of Having A Job, I'm picking some of it up again. I miss the ER group. Maybe if I score a review copy this month...
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Today's question from BostonBibliophile: Awards. Do you follow any particular book awards? Do you ever choose books based on awards? What award-winning books do you have? (Off the top of your head only- no need to look this up- it would take all day!) What's your favorite award-winning book?

I tend to follow the Hugo Awards, voted on by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention each year. This is partly because a) I'm moderately active in sf fandom, and thus the awards show up on my radar without my even looking for them, b) one of my friends shows up in the nominations on a regular basis. :-)

I used to follow the Nebula Awards ( voted on by the US professional sf writers' association), but that was back in the days before the internet, when they were both timely and the anthology was a good way of getting your hands on the best short sf of the year if you were living somewhere where the magazines were unheard of.

I own a number of award-winning books (and am rather pleased that one of mine was short-listed for something, though in a moderately obscure award). Off the top of my head, the one I'd plump for would be Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, which won the Carnegie Medal. It's a children's book, but it's a children's book that can be enjoyed by all ages, and that does not spoonfeed its readers. It's a fantastic piece of work, and one I recommend checking out if you've not read it.
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This week's Tuesday Thingers prompt, as ever hosted by TheBostonBibliophile:

Today's question: Favorite bookstores. What's your favorite bookstore? Is it an online store or a bricks-and-mortar store? How often do you go book shopping? Is your favorite bookstore (or bookstores) listed as a favorite in LT? Do you attend events at local bookstores? Do you use LT to find events?

My favourite bookstore is Bookbuyers in Mountain View, California. It's a large second-hand shop specialising in genre fiction, and non-fiction, although it covers other areas as well. In particular, the fiction department has a massive science fiction and fantasy collection, including many titles that are out of print and thus not available new. Just to make things perfect, next door is a branch of Books Inc, a local independent chain selling new books. So if it's not in one store, you can try the other.

The first time I went in there I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. It was the biggest selection of sf&f I'd seen (though I've seen bigger since), and it had a whole lot of books I'd fallen in love with in my local library as a teenager. And more books by the same authors.

I'd never seen some of those books on sale before. They hadn't made it out of the US rights area, as far as I know. I had a bit of a buying binge. And I kept on buying books -- sometimes books I already owned, but which I'd had to leave in storage when I first moved to the uS for what was *supposed* to be a couple of years. Or cheap second copies of something I already owned and had access to, but wanted to take on a trip with me. If they were a cheap second copy, I wouldn't mind if I had to abandon them halfway through due to weight issues.

I've moved back to the UK now, so I don't go shopping there any more. But I have fond memories still, and when LibraryThing Local was introduced, I went to add it to the database. And found that someone had beaten me to it. :-)

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I've missed the last few Tuesday Thinger prompts because I've been so knackered when I get in from work that my brain turns to mush and I don't even remember to check what the prompt is, let alone write a response. But today I've managed something. This week's prompt from bostonbibliophile:

Today's question is only marginally about LibraryThing but I thought it might be a fun question anyway. It's more about blogging. Everyone who participates in Tuesday Thingers has a blog- some have a book blog, some have several, some have blogs that are more personal, etc.- and we've all chosen to participate in this particular way of networking to build traffic, get to know each other, etc. So my question is: what other weekly memes or round robins do you participate in? Is this the only one? Why Tuesday Thingers and not some other weekly Tuesday meme? Or do you do more than one?

This is the only weekly meme I participate in. I'm not that interested in memes in general, but this one grew organically out of an existing social group and conversation that I participate in, and as such tends to cover topics that I find to be an interesting prompt both for writing my own contribution and for reading what others have to say. It's also something that seems to appeal to some of the non-LTER people who read my blog, which is hardly surprising given how many of them are also of the "You will have to pry my books from my cold dead hands" persuasion.

Of course, I started a new job not long after Tuesday Thingers started up, and promptly dropped out of much of my online activities (mostly through lack of energy when I got home rather than lack of time). So I skip Tuesday Thingers more often than not at the moment. But it does say something about how much I enjoy the meme that I will still wander around and read some of the other responses.
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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...
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And today's Tuesday Thingers prompt is that ever-popular meme, which books have you read from a list. :-) This version is:

Here is the Top 100 Most Popular Books on LibraryThing. Bold what you own, italicize what you've read. Star what you liked. Star multiple times what you loved!

I'm going to skip the starring, because it's late here and I'm tired....

Read more... )
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Missed Tuesday Thingers last week, but am back this week. This week's Tuesday Thingers prompt:

Last week I asked what was the most popular book in your library- this week I'm going to ask about the most unpopular books you own. Do you have any unique books in your library- books only you have on LT? How many? Did you find cataloging information on your unique books, or did you hand-enter them? Do they fall into a particular category or categories, or are they a mix of different things? Have you ever looked at the "You and none other" feature on your statistics page, which shows books owned by only you and one other user? Ever made an LT friend by seeing what you share with only one other user?

I've got 27 titles shared with only one other user -- and oddly, it's the same user in the case of "Star Cops: Little Green Men" and "Rome Insight Travel Map"

For the ones where it's just me, it's quite a mix, covering a wide range of categories:
Read more... )
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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.
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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.
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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.


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