Book Business Extra! Q&A -- The President of LibraryThing.com Talks About the Web Site’s Growth
Extra!: Why should publishers sit up and take notice of the interest shown in a Web site such as yours?
TS: I think publishers are well aware that books are social and that the Web can leverage that in remarkable ways. ... LibraryThing’s focus on people’s entire collections should also remind them that books persist -- that a library like mine is half things that fell off their backlist. LibraryThing book and author pages are already invaluable for publishers doing market research. In the near future, we hope to have publisher-specific data reports.
I hope publishers take note of the opportunity presented by having their authors put their libraries onto LibraryThing. Fans might enjoy a personal chat with a favorite author, but a publisher-supplied interview is a far cry from that. Checking out your favorite author’s library online is almost as good as doing it in person. Besides, author interviews almost always ask about what authors are reading or what influenced them. LibraryThing can answer that to the sort of depth that might satisfy the most devoted fans. Oh, and we’re not charging any kind of fee. That would be icky.
Extra!: Social networking sites on the Internet seem to be all the rage these days. Why do you feel book lovers have taken to the Web when there have traditionally been book clubs, libraries and book stores where people can congregate and discuss books?
TS: You can, perhaps, ask people at a cocktail party whether they’ve read “Harry Potter” or “Memoirs of a Geisha.” But you can’t sidle up to someone and inquire about “Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army.” There are eighteen people on LibraryThing I can talk to about that book. The best analogue to LibraryThing is when you go over to someone’s house and spend time browsing through their shelves. You can get a picture of the whole person and talk about where your connection is strongest.