Posts Tagged With: LibraryThing

E-books: this is between me, my son and Maurice Sendak

I bought myself an e-reader for Christmas this year. I thought it would revolutionize the way I read and buy books, but I basically use it to surf the Internet, check Facebook and play stupid games.  I’ve written before about my awkward conversion from analogue to digital as it applied to music. However, this transition is beyond uncomfortable—I am ready to just abandon e-books for the familiar, heathen wilds of books with paper pages.

Why is the written word harder? First, CDs are basically just diminutive imitations of vinyl records. If you’ve compromised once, it’s much easier to compromise again. Secondly, I have retrospect; I know about unexpected consequences. I gave up CDs and gained more room, but I lost record stores. In the case of beloved Governor’s Awards in the arts recipient Ear X-tacy, we all lost. Given this failure of progress,  I can give at least four good reasons why e-books and I are doomed to part ways: Poor Richard’s; The Wild Fig; The Morris Book Shop; and  Joseph-Beth Booksellers. These are just the places I like to go to. I know there are more—Carmichael’s, The Black Swan, etc. We can take a poll right now.

Another reason this is not going to work is that I get tired of sifting through all the dross and detritus in the ether. E-books are a “dime a dozen” and occasionally they cost even less than that. I don’t want to hurt any feelings, but it is easier and less costly to publish or self-publish and distribute an e-book. The benefit of this democratization of text is cool stories like the cult-to-mainstream success of books like “John Dies at the End.”  The drawback is all the junk you have to wade through to find something good. I don’t have time for that, as the next paragraph will indicate. It’s easier just to go to a bookstore, strike up a conversation with a patron or clerk and see what’s good and why. It’s not fool proof; there are certainly ink and paper duds printed everyday. However, if you’re bent on making e-books work and you love a digital life, there’s always quality-control help from communities like Goodreads and LibraryThing (which Heidi can tell you more about).

Lastly—most importantly—I am not going to be reconstructed for the very same reason it was easier to “change my tune” with music. I have a one-year-old. The late Maurice Sendak was a curmudgeon about many things, but he was scathing when it came to e-books.  I can’t reprint his  quote here due to all the cursing—but you get the idea—and I agree with him when it comes to kids’ books. Obviously my son can’t read, but one of his favorite things in the world is a board book about baby animals, and each example includes a piece of felt, fur or feather you can rub to learn about texture.  You can’t “pat the bunny” on a Nook; you can’t lift the flaps to help Spot find his Easter eggs and you can’t hone fine-motor and manipulation skills pulling stacks of Kindles off of a bottom shelf until mom gives in and reads one to you.

I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I just wanted to share a personal struggle with a change in the world of literary art. Whatever you decide about e-books, just read! Kentucky is certainly ripe with opportunities to find a good book. I haven’t bought or borrowed a real book since December. This is a shameful streak, which I intend to break the second I get paid.  How do you feel about e-books?


Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Literary Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Social networking for booklovers: five reasons to check out LibraryThing

LibraryThing, a popular social cataloging and network website, is marketed toward people like me who are crazy about books. Case in point: I’m in my late twenties and my idea of a fun Friday night is browsing the shelves of a bookstore with a cup of coffee in hand. When I learned of the existence of LibraryThing in early 2010, I knew I had found an outlet for my bibliophilistic leaning.

Why did I give LibraryThing a chance? Read on.

#1 – Share Your Collection

Like it or not, our choices in books communicate messages about ourselves to other people. Have you ever peeked at someone’s book collection when visiting their home for the first time? Or slyly glanced at the books held by another person in a bookstore? One of the fun aspects of LibraryThing is choosing what books to include in your online catalog. Opening this collection to other LibraryThing members offers you the chance to shape an image of yourself and your tastes.

LibraryThing allows you to enter up to 200 books for free or an unlimited number for $10 (yearly subscription) or $25 (lifetime subscription).

#2 – Connect with Readers Like (and Unlike) Yourself

Besides the act of reading, the flip side to being a booklover is discussing books with other enthusiasts. LibraryThing offers you a wide platform to voice your opinions. You can join discussion groups on topics ranging from the Twilight series to winners of the Man Booker Prizes. Start your own threads and converse with people from around the globe. Write reviews of books in your catalog and read other people’s reviews. Debate, analyze, and question. It is this dynamic exchange of ideas that makes LibraryThing a fantastic tool for deepening your reading experience.

#3 – Let New Books Find You

With thousands of books published every year, it is difficult to choose which ones to invest your time in reading. Based on the books in your catalog, the website makes recommendations and provides a list of members with similar preferences.

You can even enter giveaways for free books in exchange for reviews. Through this program, I learned to appreciate a genre that I was determined to snub: adaptations of literary classics. Imagine the look on my face when I received a free copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls in the mail last year. I grudgingly gave the novel a chance and have since bought other similar works (Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Android Karenina, The Meowmorphosis).

#4 – Not Just Hype for Authors

If you are an author, LibraryThing is a means for you to make connections with potential readers. The website claims to have over 1 million members, some of which are libraries, publishers and bookstores from around the world. You can become an official LibraryThing Author with a page dedicated to your work. Post a bio, a photo, links to your website, information about your books, and a catalog of your personal library for readers to peruse. Publish information on your readings, book signings and other events on LibraryThing Local (see reason #5).

#5 – Leave the Computer Behind for Awhile

LibraryThing offers a Local page that can be customized to your location, with listings of libraries, bookstores, author readings and literary events up to 100 miles away.

So Why Did I Give LibraryThing a Chance?

LibraryThing celebrates the pleasure of being a person who loves to read. Years and years ago, I felt like an oddball as the child who always seemed to have her nose stuck in a book. I’ve since accepted myself as a true “bookworm” and take pride in the name. The success of LibraryThing only serves to validate this passion. If you share my feelings, take a look at the website. Who knows? A few weeks from now, you may find yourself involved in a world-wide readathon or doing flash mob cataloging.

Heidi Caudill, adminstrative associate

Categories: Literary Arts | Tags: , , ,

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