LibraryThing in the time of coronavirus

March 30, 2020



At the end of last year, I joined LibraryThing, mainly out of dissatisfaction with the recommendations on Goodreads, which I found to be very hit and miss (more miss than hit, to be frank).  I was going to wait a while before doing a review of my experience to date, but LibraryThing has just announced that it is now free (partly in response to the coronavirus pandemic and everyone being in lockdown), so I decided to put my thoughts down now.

Better at recommendations than Goodreads?

I'm afraid the jury is still out on this one and it may be that I need to work at it a bit more.  I think it is probably a bit better and I suspect that LibraryThing's dataset and tools are more sophisticated in some respects than Goodreads, but my trouble is that I want something out of these recommendation engines that I doubt they can actually deliver.  Both Goodreads and LibraryThing tend towards "read-a-likes" - whereas I want to be pointed in the direction of something different from what I've already read (but that has enough in common with it that there's a reasonable chance of me liking it - because, yes, I want to have my cake and eat it).  I don't think either of them is that good at highlighting these kinds of books - but that may well be inevitable because the books that would tick my boxes would not necessarily tick those of that many other people.   

On the positive side, I do find LibraryThing a lot more manageable than Goodreads, mainly because it has fewer users.  So where I see a book in the recommendations that I think might be interesting, I can look up what others thought of it and instead of there being so many reviews you can't possibly read them all, on LibraryThing there is generally a smaller number.  This means you can read a fair few of them and come away with a better impression with whether the book might be for you or not, usually featuring a broader range of opinion.  The trouble with Goodreads in my view is that there are so many reviews that you don't get any sense of which ones provide a representative sample of opinion (or you have to work at it a bit more by filtering out 4-5 star reviews in favour of more negative reviews).  In that respect, I don't regret defecting to LibraryThing.  Nor do I believe that the vast numbers of people who read this blog (ha ha) will suddenly result in LibraryThing becoming more popular than Goodreads as a result of my ever-so-slightly lukewarm endorsement - thus undermining the main thing I like about LibraryThing....

LibraryThing also has a number of ways in which you can filter your recommendations, which is helpful - for example, you can filter out recommendations of books by authors you've already read (those have always struck me as a bit pointless anyway, because once you've found an author you like, it's generally not hard to find other books they've written).  And you can take a look at other users' lists if that helps e.g. users whose reviews you found helpful etc (although that's no different from Goodreads).

Transferring from Goodreads

Of course, for LibraryThing to be any use to you at all on the recommendations front, you will need to tell it what books you have already read.  Here I have good news.  I thought I would have to re-enter these manually, but you can just export your Goodreads list as a spreadsheet and then import that into LibraryThing - which seemed to work pretty well on the whole (barring a few errors).

Finally, I am not going to say anything about coronavirus because I don't think I have anything to add to the existing tsunami of words on the subject.  I hope it was nice reading about something else for a change.

 

Micro-reviews (January 2020)

January 29, 2020
Myxocene, The Last and Spaceman of Bohemia



Myxocene by Troy Ernest Hill 

“Myxocene” is a name that some have proposed for where we might end up if we continue to degrade the planet at current rates (the “myx” comes from the Greek “muxa”, meaning slime; adding “-ocene” on the end gets you “age of slime”).  Anyway, that’s the jumping off point for this excellent and thought-provoking speculative thriller (which, by the way, is also self-published).  Freelance journalist Sara...

Continue reading...
 

The end justifies the means: a bad motto to live by

December 28, 2019

Some thoughts on the UK election

Well, what a massively depressing result – for many reasons, not just the fact that we have to put up with this odious cretin as Prime Minister for 5 years:  



First and foremost amongst them is that (as I feared) the election has not really moved us on from where we were after the EU referendum, 3 years ago.  OK, sure, it has made it clear that Brexit is going to happen – that’s hard to dispute.  But the Conservative Party manifesto did not set out how it ...

Continue reading...
 

We don't need to talk about Brexit (apparently)

October 30, 2019


It’s October 2019, more than 3 years after the EU referendum and the UK still hasn’t managed to sort out the mess it’s got itself into.  I’ve been on yet another possibly futile Anti-Brexit March (see photo).  Understandably, almost everyone is sick of the whole thing – and there are many calls to just “get it over with”, no matter how it’s resolved.  But I’m going to do a blog post about it anyway.  

Why?  Because it matters how Brexit is resolved.  Unlike electing a governm...

Continue reading...
 

My self-publishing mid-life crisis

August 17, 2019


Here's a guest post that I was asked to do for a blog run by an outfit called Imprint Digital, that specialises in short run book printing (including for self-published authors).  They've run a number of guest posts by other self-published authors, which are also worth a look.  A common theme from those posts seems to be a general disillusionment with traditional publishers (not that this should come as any great surprise...).

UPDATE 12.2019:  As Imprint Digital seem to have removed my article...

Continue reading...
 

Micro-reviews (July 2019)

July 21, 2019
Dreams from Before the Start of Time, Bad Blood, The Secret Barrister



Dreams from Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock

This is a thoughtful, episodic novel following the lives of several generations from 2034 to 2120, focusing on potential advances in reproductive technology – and critically, how they lead to changes in the way that people feel about their lives.  Although slow-paced, it drew me in sufficiently to keep me reading and I enjoyed it - but a little Googling around suggests t...

Continue reading...
 

User Not Found

June 3, 2019



Last week I went to see “User Not Found”, an impressive production by a small theatre company called Dante or Die, which specialises in performances designed for unusual locations.   This one was in a café next to Battersea Power Station.  It’s about what happens to our digital/social media presence after we die.  

The play opens with the main character, Terry, sitting in the café with his mobile phone and his headphones on (playing the sound of waterfalls through his favourite app).  ...

Continue reading...
 

R.I.P. Feedbooks

May 7, 2019


A rather terse email from Feedbooks confirming that - as I had suspected for a while - it is dead as a self-publishing platform.  Not very impressed that I had to contact them to ask what was going on - they didn't see fit to email any of the many hundreds of authors who have contributed to their platform, nor have they even bothered to put up a notice on their website about their decision.  And they could at least have provided an explanation.

The site had been going downhill for a few years,...
Continue reading...
 

Micro-reviews (April 2019)

April 29, 2019
Semiosis, Court Out and A Gentleman in Moscow



Semiosis by Sue Burke

The initial premise of this novel is a bit of a hoary old sci-fi cliché:  idealistic refugees from an Earth beset by environmental disaster travel to an alien planet (which they name Pax) and attempt to create a better society there, aiming to live more in harmony with their environment.  But it was very well reviewed, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Things get off to a rocky start for the colonists when Pax turns out to be...

Continue reading...
 

I'm British and I'm on a march - something must've gone badly wrong

March 24, 2019


Went on the anti-Brexit march yesterday - this is now my third since 2017, but prior to that, I'd never been on a demonstration before and didn't see myself as the kind of person who generally did that sort of thing (which is where the headline of this piece comes from - it's from a placard at one of the earlier marches).

For anyone inclined to dispute the figure of over a million demonstrators, all I can say is that there were a lot more people than previously.  On the first march I attended,...
Continue reading...
 

About Me


Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books and occasionally blogging about other stuff.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Make a free website with Yola