never buy a pig in a poke: the bookish adaptation

I love all things electronic, but when it comes to buying and selling books on the internet I see room for improvement. To be fair, that improvement is coming along nicely. In most areas.

Don't make Jane angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.

Don’t make Jane angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

I’ll demonstrate with (what else?) Pride & Prejudice. There must be a couple hundred editions of P&P in English alone. Poorly done editions, leather-bound editions (and sometimes those two things aren’t mutually exclusive), editions on paper so cheap it makes your fingers itch just to turn the page, critical editions (put together by academics with special care to detail and authenticity), abbreviated and illustrated and annotated editions. Most people don’t realize how different editions can be, or that one might be better than another. If you’ve read one copy of Pride & Prejudice you’ve read them all, is the general belief. This is a widely held misconception, and one that technology is not doing anything to rectify. Just the opposite. Continue reading…

LibraryThing … you don’t know me.

I post about LibraryThing every once in a while, because well, I love the place. It’s not just a way to keep track of my books (3,000+), it’s a place to think about books and research about books and talk about them.

One of the most delightful things is this: every time I get over there (which is not as often as I’d like) there’s some new feature. This is one of those rare cases where the early adopters (of which I was one) provide feedback — and the people running the show actually listen. All the early quibbles have been addressed, and they keep adding on new features.

Once in a while a feature doesn’t work so well. In my case, they’ve got a new thing going where you look up a book — say you’ve heard about Edward Sawtelle — and click on a “will you like it”? button. This only works if you are registered and keep an account there, of course. At any case, it seemed like a good idea to me.

And then I tried it out.

I looked up Lake in the Clouds and here’s what I was told:

Lake in the Clouds:

willyoulikeitThen I looked up The Story of Edward Sawtelle, and here’s the prediction:

Edward Sawtelle:


So you can see that this particular feature is not working for me, as it got both guesses wrong — and in a huge way. I happen to like the novel I wrote, and to really, really dislike Edward Sawtelle.

If you don’t have a LibraryThing account — and they are free — you might want to think about getting one. Even failing that, it’s a huge source of information. If you look at the detail page for any book you get scads. Here is the (partial) page for Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day.

The Given Day

The Given Day

Clicking on the small image will take you to the actual page at LT, where you’ll find links to book details, alternate covers, member reviews, discussions that mention this book, members who own it, and all the different editions (this has been tremendously helpful to me). The author’s name is a link to his author profile page, which includes links to all his published work detail pages.  There is also a tag cloud — contributed by those who have added the book to their libraries — a list of books that are similar, the “will you like it” feature (use with caution), member reviews,  links to bookstores, swap sites and libraries where you’ll find the book, and the most unusual (and very useful) feature: the ‘common knowledge’ section.  This is information contributed by readers that may include a list of the characters, places, the book’s awards, its epigraph, any honors received, the first paragraph, the last paragraph, blurbs, important events in the course of the story, formatted citation for the book (MLA, Chicago, etc)… and the list goes on.

Another really useful feature is this: any series of books can have a ‘series’ page in which the books are listed — in order. If you’ve been scratching your head on where to start with Lynn Viehl’s Star Doc series, this is the place to look.

So there you are. A place not only to find out about books you own or want to read, but to contribute to the pool of knowledge. Because everybody’s a librarian over at Library Thing.

Pajamarama Photographers, your prizes (Jacqui & Elias are up):

(post moved up top by r — AND I need addresses from y’all. I know, you’ve probably given your address to me before, but I need them anyway. Pronto.)

The stuff to pick from:

  1. signed copy of Pajama Girls Patty & Heather
  2. signed copy of Pajama Girls Wilma
  3. signed hardcover copy of Homestead Malbrec82
  4. signed softcovers of Fire Along the Sky AND Queen of Swords Beth
  5. signed softcovers of Fire Along the Sky AND Queen of Swords Soup
  6. signed hardcover of Queen of Swords
  7. signed hardcover of Queen of Swords
  8. signed hardcover of Tied to the Tracks Judy
  9. signed hardcover of Tied to the Tracks
  10. grabbag pile o’ really good romances Wolfy
  11. grabbag pile o’ really good novels, some romances Jennifer M.
  12. LibraryThing lifetime membership

Hola, Pajama Girls

EDITED TO ADD: This post should answer part of Judy’s question.

The Mathematician is in England, because his father had to have open heart surgery. That was a few days ago and he is doing very well, so much of the tension and worry is gone. Also, the computer is back and working perfectly. Except (you knew this was coming) things did get lost.

I worked really hard to keep my updates current and everything backed up, but when I restored the hard drive it turned out that some things did slip through the cracks. A few documents are gone  — not book six, but the most recent finished chapter, which made me hyperventilate for oh, a day or so. And a lot of email. There’s a huge gap between December 2 and January 8, and maybe earlier than that. I haven’t got to the bottom of the problem yet.

If I remember correctly, the following things are waiting to go out: the ARC of Pajama Girls; the pile of American history books along with some of my novels; the two LibraryThing giveaways (books, memberships, etc). There may well be other things. If you are one of the people who are waiting to receive things from me, please email me at and tell me (a) what you’re waiting for and (b) your mailing address.

By way of apology, I can send all of you patient people a surprise, because today three boxes of t Pajama Girls of Lambert Square landed on my doorstep.  I’ll send a copy out with the other things that are so late.

Now, if you aren’t one of those people, how do you get a copy of Pajama Girls? It’s a full month until the pub date, after all. Three possibilities:

1. Sign up for the WIN IT AND READ IT BEFORE YOU CAN BUY it contest. I’ll be pulling five names at random over the next three weeks. Two of those winners will also get to pick out a pair of Goody-Goody bonbon slippers. You can sign up here.

2. On Monday I’ll be announcing a bigger contest, one that should be a lot of fun. You could win a copy of the novel that way, along with some other goodies.

3. To celebrate the arrival of the Pajama Girls, I’m giving away two copies right now. Today. Leave a comment here and your name will be in the hat. I’ll draw two winners tomorrow morning about 8 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time), and as soon as I get the mailing info, those two books will go out.