Book Business Extra! Q&A -- The President of LibraryThing.com Talks About the Web Site’s Growth
Tim Spalding first launched LibraryThing.com in August 2005 as a means for bibliophiles to catalog their book collections and network with other passionate readers on the Internet.
Now, 55,000 registered users later and countless visitors later, the site is a hit around the globe. In May, Abebooks.com, an online marketplace for books, based in Victoria, Canada, purchased a 40 percent stake in LibraryThing.com. Spalding, its 35-year-old founder and president, chatted recently with Book Business Extra! about the past, present and future of this unique site for book lovers.
Book Business Extra!: What do you see as the benefit for someone coming to LibraryThing.com to catalog their personal library of books?
Tim Spalding: It’s a two-part benefit. Some people just want to catalog their books. LibraryThing gives them an easy, high-quality library catalog, accessible anywhere -- even their cell phone. Many others are principally motivated by the social and recommendation features that listing books provides. These work even if you list only what you’re reading now, or just your favorites. Bloggers also love showing off their libraries on their blogs, another social feature. We don’t have to be the social hub. You can show your library off on MySpace.
Extra!: You obviously are a fan of print, with your love for books, but you’re also someone well-versed in technology. Will the printed page survive the onslaught of e-books, digital editions and the other technological innovations that publishers are rolling out?
TS: There are some real changes in store, most of which will come from new, Web-based models of writing and reading -- blogs and open source particularly -- rather than new “technology” per se. I can imagine the economics of publishing, or segments of publishing, could suffer real upheaval. But the physical book is not in any immediate danger.