Adding a book found in another's library

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Adding a book found in another's library

Dez 1, 2008, 2:49 pm

Right now, when you search for a book "on site," and click the "add" icon, you go to the regular search screen. But the reason I searched on site was because the book wasn't being found in any of the searchable sources. It doesn't have an ISBN. How do I copy the information another user has already entered to my library?

Dez 1, 2008, 2:53 pm

Right now there's no good way.

I know. I know... :)

Dez 1, 2008, 2:55 pm

But the reason I searched on site was because the book wasn't being found in any of the searchable sources

You can go directly to the other person's library and check what source they added the book from. If it was manually entered, then, yes, there is no good way.

Jan 16, 2009, 6:33 am

The book is already in the system, in other members' libraries, yet I have to search for it again via external websites like amazon etc (which don't have the books I'm entering) or type them it manually?

This is incredibly irritating and surprising. I've been trying to enter a bunch of books which I see other members have, and not being able to, because of this, and thinking "Surely there's a way to do this, and I'm just not finding it in the user interface." But there's not a way? Really? I am boggled. If I have to manually re-enter data for all these books, it will simply not be worth the time and frustration, when I see the data is already in the system!

I hope this is very high on somebody's priority list to fix. Seeing a book in the system and wanting to simply click to add it to one's library seems like an awfully obvious common use case... It is not worth the frustration to start using librarything if one can't even do this basic task of simply adding a book that's already in the system to my library.

Jan 21, 2009, 12:02 am

4> Have you tried expanding your Search Where? criteria to include other search sources besides Amazon and the Library of Congress? LT has nearly 700 other libraries and other sources available to search and add books from, besides those two.

If you wanted to add more books in Esperanto, for example, you might try adding some libraries from countries where Esperanto is popular...

Jan 21, 2009, 12:47 am

Perhaps someone with an inordinate amount of time to kill could create a separate page in WikiThing for each of the frequently requested features and extremely frequently asked questions, and list links to every single thread in which they are asked...

Editado: Jan 21, 2009, 1:10 am

>6 rsterling:

There is a page that was charting frequently requested features here:

but, as with so many Wiki projects, I don't know that it is updated regularly...

I know that I started to keep a list on MY WikiThing page (we each have one) here:
for things that I personally requested - but, as with so many Wiki projects, it is NOT updated regularly...

Jan 21, 2009, 1:19 am

I know. I was thinking that it would be interesting to see exactly how often the same questions were asked again and again - and expand that page with links to every single thread. Just for a laugh. :)

Editado: Jan 23, 2009, 10:43 pm

This is the problem I´ve ever had when trying to add books.
And really amazes me that the librarything database isn´t used to check books info.
It obviously should be the main source for book info. Not Amazon, LibCongress oe anything else.
I do understand that, in the beggining, it was necessary to have an external source, because librarything didn´t have that kind of database, YET.
But... NOW?

Fev 25, 2009, 9:06 am

The loophole to this is that there is no way to find manually added entries, which are the only ones currently in the system for Wil Wheaton's new book, Sunken Treasure (the linking thingy is not working for this title). One of the advantages of a system like LibraryThing is that we can all save time by copying the catalog records from other sources. I find it to be an ironic limitation that we can't do the same with records created by LibraryThing users themselves.

Fev 25, 2009, 9:25 am

I'm with goulo (#4) on this one. I entered quite a few books manually and it's my fault I never thought of adding from data already in the system. But had I thought of it my reaction would have been the same on finding it can't be done.

Fev 25, 2009, 9:43 am

This member has been suspended from the site.

Fev 25, 2009, 1:41 pm

In the meantime, if you ~do~ find a book's information that you want to add to your own catalog, open another connection to LT, go to Add Books, and cut-and-paste from one to the other.

Abr 7, 2009, 8:50 pm


That's a shame. Thank you for being frank about this failing of LibraryThing's, though, Tim.

I just don't have the luxury of time to waste re-entering the same data, so those books (which I unfortunately have plenty of) will just have to go uncatalogued.

Abr 22, 2009, 1:55 pm

This shortcoming was the ONE REASON I am abandoning this site and looking for another way to catalog my collection. It's simply ridiculous that you cannot add a book already in the database!

Editado: Abr 22, 2009, 1:58 pm

15 > it is one of the things Tim & Co are going to fix after collections are done.

however I added over 1000 titles by hand, it isn't that bad.

Abr 22, 2009, 2:09 pm


You most certainly can add a book already in LibraryThing -- with over 4 million unique works it would be extremely restrictive if you could only add one that nobody else had!

What you can't do is add a book directly from another users' catalog. For most people, that doesn't matter -- you can add it from the Library of Congress, or Amazon, or from one of almost 600 other sources. There are a few cases, like those discussed upthread, of obscure old books or editions that can't be found in any of LT's sources, when it would be convenient to be able to "clone" someone else's entry, and that's what you can't do. When you could do this, though, most people weren't using it for those cases, but for cases when perfectly good data was available through the normal methods, and the "cloning" mechanism ended up creating more problems (in the propagation of bad data) than it solved.

What I think would be far more useful in most cases than re-introducing cloning would be to have a fall-through search, so that users could say "Search A first, and if you find zero results, search B, then C...." rather than needing to go through and select the second and third choices every time. Most of the time even the obscure books are findable somewhere, it's just that users understandably run out of patience before they run out of sources -- manual entry is, after all, faster than searching a dozen different sites.

Abr 22, 2009, 7:43 pm

15. Abandoning after less than a day? Did you try the site out or try to learn how it worked? Can that even be called abandoning?

Editado: Abr 22, 2009, 7:49 pm

I found the mass-import function very useful when I first joined. It will check more than one source, and it will also tell you which ISBNs don't work. It's easy enough to use by grabbing the html of amazon/other bookseller purchase history or wishlists. I just made text files and typed a bunch of ISBNs, one shelf at a time, then imported them all in batches by copying and pasting the list of ISBNs onto the import page. If I'd had a Cue Cat this process would have been even more efficient.

What surprises me is that people don't go to "add books" first to add books; people seem to search for the book on LT and thus in other people's libraries, and then try to add it. Since there's an Add Books tab at the top of every page, that seems like the most obvious first port of call.

Abr 22, 2009, 7:57 pm


What surprises me is that people don't go to "add books" first to add books; people seem to search for the book on LT and thus in other people's libraries, and then try to add it. Since there's an Add Books tab at the top of every page, that seems like the most obvious first port of call.

You'd think so (and I've said as much numerous times) but people persist in doing it the hard way, then complaining when Tim doesn't bend over backwards to make the hard way easier, instead of just using the easy way to start with.

I can see the "Add to your library" being useful for wishlists, the "oh that looks interesting" scenario, but certainly not as a primary mechanism.

Editado: Jul 15, 2009, 2:51 am

I'm having this same issue.

I have been buying the "Faction Paradox" audios (eg: ), but these do *not* have an ISBN -- and so they're not discoverable by the normal search methods. There are members on Librarything who have these titles in their libraries, but when I go to "add this book to your library" link, I'm taken to the "Add Book" page with the (in this case) useless search.

It doesn't make the site unusable by any means, but it is a real rough edge on the site that needs sanding off.

Jul 15, 2009, 11:19 am

these do *not* have an ISBN

That is not surprising, as they are audios of radio shows, apparently? Such occurrences, I'm sure, are rare enough where they don't outweigh the value of having good, reliable data on LT, right? What would be the use of copying someone else's data if all the data on LT became unreliable and messy?

Jul 15, 2009, 11:39 am

do *not* have an ISBN -- and so they're not discoverable by the normal search methods

An ISBN is not required to use the normal search methods. However, the normal seach methods (i.e. library and bookshop sources) are primarily geared to books, which is probably why normal search methods aren't working for the items you mentioned.

Jul 15, 2009, 8:29 pm

Equally, what is the point of duplicating good data by retyping it -- potentially introducing more errors, and possibly requiring extra work for others, such as combining?

It's not discoverable by title either -- it's an obscure item. Original audio drama is a small market as it is, when it's an Doctor Who spin-off by a small company, it's absolutely miniscule.

Jul 16, 2009, 4:45 am

it's an obscure item. Original audio drama is a small market...

Important as it is to you and to others with this interest, it is not a book. LT is primarily about books rather than libraries of other media. Users can catalogue anything that they like (be it audio, perfurme or bobcats) but it is designed for books.

Jul 16, 2009, 12:03 pm


Users can catalogue anything that they like (be it audio, perfurme or bobcats) but it is designed for books.

Well, it's physically possible to do this, but that doesn't mean they should. Especially at the perfume-and-bobcat end of the spectrum I think it's an absolute travesty that degrades the site.

Jul 16, 2009, 6:16 pm

26> Curiously, you were in my mind as I typed that sentence. And I do sympathise with your 'purist' stance although I am not sure where the line is drawn: audiobooks are OK but audio drama is not? Audio drama is OK but movies/DVDs are not? Movies are OK but music is not? And so it goes...

Jul 16, 2009, 6:41 pm


The answer is that there's not a hard and fast line; there's a continuum of bookishness. Unabridged audiobooks are books in another format, and clearly okay; audio dramas, music, and DVDs aren't books, but at least are some form of media, and at any rate that's a losing battle; but perfumes (as an item cataloged here, not as a thing) are an Abomination Unto Nuggan, and as far as I'm concerned are no better than spam -- they pollute the catalog and make legitimate searches harder to do. (Done a search for Good Omens lately?)

Jul 17, 2009, 1:57 am

I find it both appalling and delightful to find perfumes mixed in with books in the Good Omens search. Clearly, the perfume lister is no librarian: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is not identified as the publisher of these perfumes, the author/designer is not identified, and the series name is used as the author name. No wonder they keep their identity private!

Jul 17, 2009, 2:15 am

Significantly -- I feel -- audiobooks and (most) audio-drama has an ISBN; most other products do not.

Jul 17, 2009, 5:36 am

ISBN cannot be a reason to call something a book or not... :)

Jul 17, 2009, 6:18 am

International Standard Book Number! What else could it signify? :)

Jul 17, 2009, 6:30 am

Having it means that it is a book. Not having it does not mean that it is not a book :)

Jul 17, 2009, 7:57 am

>33 AnnieMod: I've got plenty of DVDs with ISBNs.

Jul 17, 2009, 8:19 am

ISBNs or ISANs? Technically only books can have ISBNs.

Jul 17, 2009, 9:01 am

I don't have any on hand to check, but I'm pretty sure that I remember seeing "ISBN:" followed by a regular 10-digit number.

It does make combining DVDs a lot easier, when they have them. :)

Jul 17, 2009, 9:39 am

Yes many of my DVD's (and other media) have actual ISBN's.

Jul 17, 2009, 11:04 am

Who knew? I am astonished to find DVDs with what I assumed to be ISANs but starting with the 'bookland' identifier (978).

Set 8, 2009, 3:38 am

Tim and all:
I know for a fact that we used to be able to add other peoples listings and books with covers to our libraries. This is unbelievably aggravating. Can you please give us a reason why we can no longer do this and if the problem has any back door fix or upcomming solution?


Set 16, 2009, 11:16 am

@BodleianLibrary: we can add other people's covers.

those who think this is an incredibly rare issue obviously don't have hundreds of ebooks to be catalogued -- many of those don't yet exist on amazon or in the LoC, and certainly not in university libraries. and those are, pardon me, actual books (not perfumes or other non-bookish things), and many of them even do have ISBNs these days. it'd be nice to add these efficiently on librarything, instead of the kludge i am using right now. i don't even mind entering data manually (heck, when LT was new, i had to do that with many books) -- but it seems a shame that every single one of us with a copy of the same ebook has to re-enter that data manually.

it's been almost a year since this was brought up in this thread. tim, could we please have some sort of response -- is this a real nightmare logistically? on the list of things to do? some kind of estimate as to when we might see it, if at all?

Editado: Set 21, 2009, 6:28 am

I just came across this thread, and I am greatly disappointed about the impossibility not to add books from other LT members by simply using the add/search function.

I my case I have to add dozens, if not hundreds of books manually, because they don't have an ISBN (for examples publications by Japanese museums or monographs by Japanese photographers) or are not listed in any libraries available at LT (Japanese books again). Of course I have to add all the covers too.

Adding the books is ok for me, because I did not expect that the books would be available via LT. But it's really unfortunate that I can't share my work with others easily.

Set 25, 2009, 11:15 am

I agree with pirhana@40: people who don't think this is a problem must also not have lots of old mass-market paperbacks that don't appear in "real" libraries.

(rsterling@19 and lorax@20, it's a fairly basic principle of UI design that if people keep doing something a different way than you expected, it's a design problem, not a people problem. The desire to add a book might not begin at the page "add books"; it may begin at the page "look at that interesting but obscure book in lorax's library; I wish to add it to mine!")

Set 25, 2009, 11:34 am

I echo what a lot of the people above said: if you have old (pre-ISBN) US paperbacks, the choice is generally getting weird data from Amazon or entering them manually. (I, for example, have approximately 200 pre-1970 books, and another almost 350 from the 1970s. I was able to get library data for most hard cover books, but not for paperbacks, except for some textbooks, although few were in paperback at that time. Also paperback publishers often keep the ISBN but change the covers over time, which confuses Amazon no end.)

I still would choose to enter such books manually rather than pick up the data from someone else's collection, but I certainly think it would be great if this option were available for those who would like it.

Set 25, 2009, 12:24 pm


Sure, that's a legitimate use-case for adding books -- to a wishlist, as I mentioned before, or in the "oh yeah I read that" case. But I don't understand people who are using the "search LT, find the work, navigate to the page, click the green plus" method for the initial entry of all of their books, when doing the initial search on the Add Books page would be so much faster and easier! Clearly people do it, but I just can't wrap my mind around the concept.

Set 25, 2009, 1:24 pm

(I may go on and add this as a separate functionality thread, but I'll start by tangenting here.)

lorax@17 expressed concern about propagation of bad data; fair concern, and apparently from experience.

Suggestion: It should be possible, from the Work page, to add to one's library a "minimal" entry for a work, consisting only of the Work-level information for the book, and specifically not including any edition-specific information. There may be warnings that this is not a preferred method and that it's better to search for a real edition, but it should be available.

Use Story: (My present situation.) I have entered all of my on-hand books, and all of those for which I had records. Next, I am using the author-view, CK:Series-view, etc. cool LT functions, to identify "oh yeah I read that" and "wishlist" books. I do NOT (vehemently!) want to add a specific edition, unless I have some way of determining that it really was the specific edition; I'd rather add a generic instance of the work that contains *only* the canonical data.

Seems to me this addresses the "adding a work through browsing" while propagating only Work (presumably canon) data.

Set 25, 2009, 1:31 pm

45: This has been suggested before, and I still think it's a good idea. :)

Set 25, 2009, 1:37 pm

The work level details can also be wrong (title and author)...

Set 25, 2009, 7:23 pm

Unlikely the search would have located it then, or that it would trigger the desire to add it.

Is there a shortcut way (or shortcut workaround) to add a nonspecific instance of an identified work?

Set 26, 2009, 5:19 am

Manual add - fill in the title and author only and that's it :)

Out 9, 2009, 5:15 am

The problem lorax mentioned in 17 was people who'd add a copy of, say, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to their library - then add 6 more copies and change the titles. So you'd have six books with incorrect ISBNs, publication dates, etc - but the title and author were correct, so the owner didn't care. The pure 'add by clicking the green plus' made this much too easy, so it got chopped down to a search help. A not-very-helpful search help (wish it would use ISBN if there is one; take out colons in the title; add the author...), but at least the garbage data stopped being mixed in.

Tim has talked about creating an edition level in between the book and work level items, and if that happens making a way of adding a generic edition (title and author only). Until then, yes, manual add is the only solution.

For obscure paperbacks, some of the library groups (Link+, ILCSO) are amazingly helpful. But I must admit that 90%+ of my books were added through Amazon (and then edited to actually have decent data - but other sites had no data at all. Tossup between manual entry and Amazon for amount of typing necessary).

Out 23, 2009, 9:58 am

What I think is being ignored in this discussion is what happens when one is unable to find information for *most* of his books. See my case: I'm in Brazil, so most of my books are Brazilian. But there's no source for searching Brazilian titles. The ones for Portugal sometimes work, but mostly they don't. Hence, it's such a cumbersome thing to add these titles all by hand when I could simply copy the content from someone else who've already added it, that I follow the path of less resistance: I simply type the English title of the book I have in the search box, find some edition of it in Amazon that has a nice-looking cover, and add it instead. This way I still get meaningful recommendations, but the downside is my cataloged library isn't real. Or you can think of it as what my library would maybe look like if I lived in the USA.

Having LT itself as a source is a must. Even if I get some incorrect information with it, it's better than getting "completely wrong" information (as far as a factual representation of my library goes) the way I'm doing now. A way, I'm sure, other English-speaking Brazilians also adopt, for lack of better alternative.

By the way: the lack of a built-in copy feature is so damaging that since getting an account I hardly add books anymore. My library is in the 50 books range, most of them wrong. It could be well into the 500 books range by now weren't for the time I'd have to spend typing, typing, typing, typing, typing...

Out 23, 2009, 10:35 am

>51 alexgieg:
I am Bulgarian, half of my books are in Bulgarian. There is no source and these books cannot be found on any other country (no other country speaking the language). So when I am adding a book, I am adding it manually, then combine the author name (we use Cyrillic alphabet so the author names are written differently), then combine the books). In this way I have the proper data and the recommendations.

I am usually adding a few books per evening - slowly and carefully. If you want to give this a try, I can help with the combining part?

Out 29, 2009, 11:37 pm

I followed a recommendation link which was a book I have in my collection I loved, but haven't added to LibraryThing yet.

However when I try to add it - via search the ONLY book from Amazon which shows a cover image is NOT the edition I have.

I want to add the edition I actually have - wanted to do so quickly and easily (while I was in front of my computer and thinking about it)

Instead it appears the only possible way I might add this is either to select a copy which is not, in fact, the edition I own (in this case the book is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, I have the First American Edition long before his Newberry Award - the only copy that shows a cover from Amazon is a Large Print edition (or I think some Audio CD editions).

WHY CAN'T I JUST SELECT THE EDITION FROM ANOTHER PERSON's LIBRARY? Or directly from the Recommendations list?????

Very frustrating.

And among the many reasons I'm rarely logging into the LibraryThing and haven't actually entered my full collection here - the process of doing so just seems so painful as to not be worthwhile. I have 1000's of books - from the 16th Century to modern just published editions - searching for & selecting the right cover images for each - from the ugly search results (most without covers it seems) or the like just isn't worth the time.

Editado: Out 30, 2009, 12:33 am

If I understand your problem correctly, you don't have to accept the cover Amazon offers when you use the Add Books page. I suggest you Add it using the isbn you actually have, and then you can Change Cover on the LT work page to one of 30-some covers offered there, which probably includes the one you want.

1687 is 17th century, no?

Out 30, 2009, 6:43 am

#52 rycaut

If you care about accurate data I would recommend changing your source. Amazon actually change their cover images sometimes so the ones in your catalogue might not stay the same. (They also change the ISBN to match what they think fits the cover you choose!)

As you are in the USA I would probably say choose Library of Congress (as default); a large state/city library (ILSCO is pretty good) and also a university library (I have seen that one of the California ones is pretty good for sci-fi but can't remember offhand which one).

Or you can change the cover - pick a member uploaded one or scan in your own.

Nov 3, 2009, 10:26 am

If you care about accurate data I would recommend changing your source. Amazon actually change their cover images sometimes so the ones in your catalogue might not stay the same. (They also change the ISBN to match what they think fits the cover you choose!)

That's not Amazon, that's LT. I forget which Talk thread discusses it, but LT recently changed so that if you pick an Amazon cover it rewrites the ISBN in your record (without warning.)

Nov 3, 2009, 10:51 am

Seconding the other recommendations. For recent books, search by ISBN on the "Add Books" page, and use a library source like Library of Congress or British Library. If you're concerned about accuracy, don't rely on cover images, since these change (and are notoriously unreliable when using Amazon especially), and instead click "more" and check the publication details. You can also pull up more accurate search results sometimes by adding details to the search separated by commas: for instance, add the title, followed by a comma, followed by a word from the publisher, comma, followed by the year.

As for rare and out of print books, you may have seen that there are member projects here to catalog the collections of Thomas Jefferson and other famous people. I know from working on that project that it's often possible to find accurate data for rare and out of print books at certain library sources: Library of Congress and Columbia (CLIO) are quite good. Most university library systems also include their rare books collections in their catalog details. If all else fails, I also found for rare books that it can be useful to search WorldCat in order to see which libraries have them, and then use those libraries as a source if they are sources in LT (not all libraries are because of the format in which the libraries keep their data).

Nov 3, 2009, 10:52 am

56: Is that not something about the way that Amazon supplies their data now, though? I.e. not a change LT could do anything about or avoid making?

Editado: Nov 3, 2009, 11:09 am

58: LT has always changed your ISBN when you pick a different Amazon cover. I believe its because that's how LT knows which Amazon cover to link to, but Tim could have come up with another scheme that would avoid this (say by storing the ISBN used for the link in a different field from the ISBN displayed in the catalog). There used to be a warning about this but at some point in the past (I wouldn't call it recently anymore) it went missing.

Nov 3, 2009, 11:25 am

Oh, sorry, I thought we were talking about the cover-changing problem from the Amazon data (where the images in your catalog can change when Amazon changes the images on their site). You're right, the fact that LT requires your ISBN to change if you change your cover to one from Amazon is longstanding. I agree it would be good to get the warning back.

Nov 7, 2009, 1:16 am

I'll risk an accusation of lèse majesté for saying this, but ISBN appears to be a second-class citizen among the data fields. Most fields, if I enter them, are inviolate -- my data is regarded as having value. ISBN, even if I entered it very carefully and quite intetntionally, is overwritten without warning and for reasons that are not obvious.

Nov 7, 2009, 9:52 am

The only reason I know of that LT changes the ISBN is when you change to an different Amazon cover. There's also when you search for an ISBN when adding a book that you might get a different ISBN (when there are multiple ISBNs in the library record) but needing to edit the data after import isn't that uncommon.

Jan 25, 2010, 12:48 am

I think this is a big problem.

I wish we had a streamlined way to add from other peoples libraries.

It would be good also to have a list of books (and editions) by author, then simply click 'got it' for every one you have by that author.

Editado: Fev 2, 2010, 2:13 pm

I have to concur, I'm new to LT as of last hour and already frustrated enough to have stopped entering or adding my books. I don't care about edition etc. I only care about correctly recording author and title (i.e. the "work instance") as I'm after recommendations and want to enable others with the same reding tastes to gain recommendations from my collection. After the first 50 or so books many ofthe automatic recommendations are books already in my posession which I'd like to add to my LT collection. But it is extremely frustrating to click once, see on the LT book page that it is indeed the book you recall you own and enjoyed reading, then click "add book" and be referred to this search engine wich, even if it's already filled in with the title, takes some time to "find" the book and it may get worse in that you have to go through several search result pages with similarly titled books. In the end, adding a book which should take maybe 10 seconds max gets aborted out of frustration after the seventh search result page doesn't show THE VERY BOOK SHOWN ON THE LT PAGE and one usually adds the first version of the work (i.e. author and title match) one finds in the result page. As I'm talking hundreds if not thousands of books you'll understand that I don't want to go through this IMO superfluous search engine hassle.

My suggestions:
1) Enable "one click add book" if the data on the recommendation or LT member collection page stems from an external source.
2) Enable the ability to "one click" add the basic "work instance information" as outlined in message #45 in this thread.
3) Do not close the search results page after click-selecting one book to add it, if you've searched by author name you'd most likely want to add more than just one of the search results to your collections and the need to once again click the search button and click through the result pages to get to where you've already been adds ever more frustration.

Meanwhile I'll say good bye for now. I've followed a recommendation to LT and am a bibliovore so I should be at home here but the frustrating hassle in adding my books has scared me away for now. I'll check back in a few months (if I do remember to do so) to see whether you've enabled a sensible hassle free way to add books to your collection.

Fev 2, 2010, 4:05 pm

I might say something, but I'm not going to bother since the guy says he left already.

Abr 3, 2010, 10:49 am

The case I'm running into is my large collection of older Science Fiction Book Club books, most of them editions that do not include ISBN's.

Any suggestions on how to filter for or find SFBC books? We can import from, does anyone have any contacts to help LibraryThing import from

Abr 4, 2010, 1:40 am

I've found them reasonably well with title, author, SFBC on Amazon. Though I don't have all that many, and most of them are omnibuses - and so unique to SFBC. Worth trying, though.

Ago 30, 2010, 10:57 am

I'm similarly annoyed by LibraryThing's inability to copy works from other people's collections to my own. I've got a significant number of books--including graphic novels (books, NOT floppy single issue comics)--that are published by small independent presses or published by the comic artists themselves. Some have ISBNs, some don't, but they aren't available for sale/reference on Amazon and similar distributor sites. I wouldn't mind adding the book info manually if it meant other people could use the information, but I hate to take the effort for just my catalog alone. And it's incredibly frustrating to see a book I own in someone else's catalog with all its info already there--and then to have to re-enter all of it myself again!

For instance, I own the graphic novel Project Blue Rose: Human Touch by Rachel Manija Brown & Stephanie Folse, which was published independently by the authors, has an ISBN, and already has an informative entry on LT. But all the people listed owning it had to enter it manually, and I'll have to do so too. Grrargh!

Mar 18, 2011, 11:16 am

My concern is pre-release copies (ARCs, egalleys). I just got an egalley, but when I tried to add it, it wasn't found in any search. Anywhere. If we can get ARCs and egalleys, they should be in somebody's system, right? Doesn't the LoC have an entry for a book before the publisher's official release date? The final printing has to have LoC info, so why can't we search it in their database? It's not like that info gives away any spoilers. Trust me - I've read some of those entries. Blech - bo-ring.

Anyway, that's my view. At the very least, ARCs and egalleys should be copyable. Unless Amazon offers them for pre-order (usually only bestselling authors from big publishing companies), you're not likely to find information for pre-release copies anywhere except someone else's LT library.

Mar 18, 2011, 11:21 am

It doesn't take that long to add a book manually.

Maio 19, 2011, 11:46 am

I'm having exactly the same problem as octopedingenue here - I own a lot of books that have been independently self-published by Japanese graphic novelists, and thus categorically aren't searchable by any of the available sources (but I see a LOT of people on LT that already have them, so please don't tell me they aren't "real" books.) I tried manually entering one as a test (using the copy-paste method from an existing entry in someone's library), but now it's made a duplicate entry which shows up on the author's page, etc. (It's Hinako Takanaga's ある日、森の中。 (1) if anyone's curious)

What's confusing me even further is that the touchstone mentioned by octopedingenue above, Project Blue Rose: Human Touch is now listed as being owned by 4 people. How can they all have the same book according to the system if it isn't possible to add to your library directly from a LibraryThing custom entry? (Unless this problem has been fixed and/or that particular example finally became searchable through conventional methods...?)

Anyway, someone please help... I got on this site because I thought it'd finally be possible to easily list all these neat independently published books somewhere. I don't mind doing manual entry but if it's going to create duplicates all over the place that doesn't seem very efficient or desirable...

Maio 19, 2011, 12:08 pm

>71 Akaitsuru: How can they all have the same book according to the system if it isn't possible to add to your library directly from a LibraryThing custom entry?

It is called combining --once you have both books in the system, LT can automatically combine them or if it fails to do that, there is a manual process as well.

Maio 19, 2011, 12:09 pm

Alright, I managed to swim through some more FAQ entries and such, and found what seems to be the solution to my particular problem - it appears to be using the Book Combining feature, detailed at:

So, make a manual entry, go to the author's page, and then combine the entry you made with the rest of those manual custom entries people have put in.

Ultimately this still means you have to do some manual entry work on your own, but it won't create straight-up duplicate data... at least that seems to be the case, I am a beginning user but this certainly seems like it worked. The duplicate entry for ある日、森の中。 (1) has disappeared and I'm listed as one of 4 people on LT that have the book.

Maio 19, 2011, 12:10 pm

71 > there is a thing called combining. It is a process of being able to tell LT that to books are really the same book.

on the right side below the green text you'll find

Improve this author
Combine/separate works

Hinako Takanaga

Click on the authors name and it will allow you to combine and separate his books. I'd have done it for you on this one but I don't know Kanji

Maio 19, 2011, 12:15 pm

Thanks for the help, everyone.

On a purely theoretical note it does seem a little silly to not be able to press a button saying "I have this exact same book!" and have it auto-transfer to your library... but having read this whole thread I can kinda see some reasons why. It's not exactly obvious or straight-forward using book combining, but... as long as there is a work-around that does it for me, I'm satisfied. Hope eventually there is a solution that does it for everybody.

Maio 23, 2011, 11:12 pm

Hi, I am very new so apologize in advance if this isn't the right place to ask this or if it is really obvious. I tried clicking on the little "add this book to your library" green cross next to a book in someone else's library that I have read and wanted to add to mine. I went to a different page that asked me to "choose a source" and then had this (I assume) error message:
Choose a default source for adding books from other sites.
 Warning: include_once(inc_user_search_sources.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /var/www/html/inc_librarylist.php on line 4 Warning: include_once(): Failed opening 'inc_user_search_sources.php' for inclusion (include_path='/var/www/html:.:/php/includes:/var/www/html/phpQuery/:/var/www/html/phpQuery/plugins/') in /var/www/html/inc_librarylist.php on line 4

Is this because this is a new feature and the bugs haven't been worked out? Or is it just me;) Thanks for any help

Maio 23, 2011, 11:45 pm

This is definitely not a new feature, the way that "add book" green plus-sign works has been that way for a long time now.

I'm not sure about the error... I think sometimes that happens if the default source searched (usually Amazon) doesn't find the book. You can bypass the error by just adding the book through the Add Books tab, but if you keep seeing the error you might want to post a bug report in the Bug Collectors group.

Maio 23, 2011, 11:53 pm

I think I saw a bug report for that error message earlier today.

Maio 24, 2011, 12:50 am

>77 Heather19: It happened with more than one book, so I don't think it was a book search problem
>78 sqdancer: Thanks, if someone else reported the bug, hopefully it will get fixed!

Maio 24, 2011, 1:08 am

Sorry for omitting to link to the thread I meant. I was called away before I could look for it.

Bug thread:

Editado: Out 15, 2011, 1:11 pm

octopedingenue: My thoughts exactly. But I guess things ain't changing as this thread is almost three years old now.

Nov 1, 2011, 2:34 pm

So why hasn't it changed in three years?

Nov 1, 2011, 8:00 pm

Because there's no obvious solution. When the green plus first came into use, it did what you want (what many of us want) - direct-copied whatever the other user had put in. However, Tim found that there was a heck of a lot of garbage being copied that way. The problem is users who only care about the titles were entering, say, all of Harry Potter by entering the same book multiple times and then editing the title - which means that six of the books had wrong ISBNs, publication data, etc. If someone then did a quick green-plus copy from that user's library, the garbage data (the info which is very likely to cause mis-combinations and other confusion, both to the system and to users) got spread to another library. And another, and another... So Tim crippled the green plus (and the pink one) to merely take you to the Add Books screen and search (poorly, so nobody's happy...that's what I don't understand. If there's an ISBN, why not search on that? Sheesh). There's still no solution to the problem. So those of us with unique items, that can't be found in any database LT can reach, are stuck entering manually. On the other hand, entering manually is not all that difficult - and at least you can be sure that the details are actually correct for your copy. I've entered probably a hundred items manually, usually in batches; it's a pain, but it's better than having stuff randomly auto-combining all over the place or not being able to trust the info in LT's database. In my opinion, anyway.

There have been some options suggested - doing an ISBN search instead of a title one, which would help with things that can be found; being able to do a true copy, but only getting the title and author from the other book ("generic edition"); possibly being able to copy from a book page, which is a single edition, rather than from the work page (where the green plus is now), which is a concatenation of editions and couldn't copy as a book anyway. But all of those have their problems too, and Tim's been dealing with other stuff. At some point he'll come up with a solution; he always does.

Mar 19, 2012, 10:44 pm

This is a complete deal breaker for me, as I have a couple of thousand pre-ISBN books to list (mainly vintage Penguins and Pelicans). Many have been manually entered by other users, but when I try to add them to my library the external sources return only other editions -- and no cover scans. I guess this is never going to be fixed, so sadly I'm off.

Mar 19, 2012, 11:44 pm

84 - You might try other methods.

Several library sources have good data on pre-ISBN books. Try typing in a phrase from the title, followed by comma, followed by the date, comma, word from publisher (or some combination, using commas to separate different types of info).

Or, you can put the information in a CSV file and import it. See the import page for a sample CSV file, which shows you the format you need to use.

Even if adding by copying from other people's libraries were available, it would be a slow and inefficient way to add things, especially if there's a good library source that has the data so that Add Books could be used as normal.

On the cover scans, I'm afraid that's always going to be an issue, however you add the books. If books have ISBNs, LT will "guess" the cover and use an image from Amazon (not necessarily the one for your book, just whatever one Amazon currently supplies for that ISBN). If you want it to do anything other than that, you always have to add/change the cover yourself. Once you have the book in, if someone else has added a cover that you want to use, you can use "change cover" to select it.

Stick around, check out the Tour, instructions, etc. and try adding a few of your books. You may find it's easier than you think.

Mar 20, 2012, 8:00 am

I've found that the title and publisher almost always serves up the correct edition. Think positive!

Maio 3, 2012, 4:32 pm

Still don't get why I can't add a book someone else already has perfectly described in their library. Some books just aren't in a (regular) library. Out of the Netherlands with adding from the largest bookseller ( broken, it's hard to add any kind of semi-rare book. I can't even add Javier Marias, Your Face Tommorrow in the Dutch edition. Why hasn't this problem been resolved? I should be a simple copy past.

Maio 14, 2012, 2:00 pm

I just registered since I thought librarything is really a cool way to store books. But now I found out that you can not copy any books from other members.

Are you serious? And this problem has not been solved since 2008?

I thought this is the main reason for a online library that you can share and compare with friends. When I fiend a book in librarything that I think is interesting, I want to add it to my wishlist or something. And that is not possible?

What is librarything for if such an essential feature is lacking? Its like a cloud storage service without the possibility to sync your data....

I completely dont understand this....

Maio 14, 2012, 2:33 pm

You can, if you really want to, copy and paste from someone else's entry to the Manual Add page (the link to it is at the bottom of the Add Books page). But LT is designed to catalog _your_ books, accurately and completely, not to copy someone else's book which may or may not be the edition you have. Adding to your wishlist, editions matter less - but copy-and-pasting just author and title is quick and easy and the most accurate form available. Yes, I wish this was a one-button thing, to add a 'generic edition'; it's been in process for a while, but other things have come first.

Editado: Maio 15, 2012, 2:32 am

#88> I've been a member since 2006, and I share your frustration...

And I second jjmcgaffey's suggestion to be able to add a 'generic edition' (Title, author, and cover). I guess it has already been suggested as a 'site improvement'. But it is indeed the most important thing to do! (Much more important than Common Knowledge database, for instance, which has been developped in the last years...)

BTW, jjmcgaffey, what do you mean by copy and paste from someone else's entry to the Manual Add page? I've just tried, to see if I had missed a possibility, but I do not see what you mean...

Maio 15, 2012, 12:27 pm

90 - I assume she means that you can open the other person's entry in one window and the manual add page in another, and copy and paste the info from each field, one at a time.

Although there's no LT official feature to copy all the data at once, you might try this user-designed hack, designed by brightcopy:

It's a greasemonkey script, so you have to install greasemonkey first. I haven't tried it, but others on that thread have good reports.

Maio 15, 2012, 3:29 pm

#91> Thanks, rsterling. Hacking Librarything... I didn't know there were such threads... Perhaps I'll try this on my PC when I have solved a disk problem.

Maio 15, 2012, 6:40 pm

Yes, brightcopy's script is great, and I use it a lot. I was trying for simpler - and yes, I meant open the book and the Manual Add page in two windows/tabs and just go back and forth with copy and paste. If you're only doing it once in a while, that's probably simpler than installing Greasemonkey and the script. Also - the script works specifically with an individual book - so if you find a book by searching works, you then have to find it again in an individual user's library to use the script. That's the only way it can work - there's nothing to copy-and-paste (which is really most of what the script does) from the Work page.

Generic edition (which would probably not include a cover - that's something you'd probably have to choose yourself) has been suggested and is being worked on. But Tim's treating it as part of the major new feature Edition Layer (between books, in people's catalogs, and Works, which combine all the (same, theoretically) books), so he's working slowly towards Edition Layer and Generic Edition is waiting on that. All the new Other Author stuff, Tim says, is steps toward Edition Layer, for instance. And the date of your edition, at the top of the page, and so on. Someday... (in "two weeks"!)

Editado: Maio 16, 2012, 12:17 am

I don't see why "finding" a particular book on the Add Books page is so much harder than "finding" it in someone's catalogue. On Add Books (as has frequently been pointed out) you get to choose the exact edition you want.

If you could add a book directly from another's catalogue, would you want their tags and comments? would the isbn and pic be right? So, all you want is the author, title, publisher and date? But they're just a click and search away on the Add Books page. What's the attraction with cloning from a user catalogue??

Maio 16, 2012, 1:29 am

I almost always use the Manual Add page, because whenever I use Amazon for instance, most fields are absolutely irrelevant to my copy of the book. So, afterwards, I need to clean everything... Or I forget and leave it as it is, with wrong ISBN and so on. So, what's the so-called advantage of using the regular Add Books page if you don't own a commercial edition?

Editado: Maio 16, 2012, 2:41 am

94> Most (though not all) of the complaints about not being able to add from others' catalogs are talking about books that are not easily found in outside sources - stuff that was put in LT originally as a manual add, and either doesn't exist in any source or exists only in some very obscure one.

Say someone else wanted to catalog a copy of Xenofilkia #1, for instance (it's a music magazine - fanzine, sort of - that I've cataloged manually). As far as I've been able to find, none of the sources available to LT has it cataloged (and I'd be quite surprised if one did). So they can either go to Manual Add and type it all in, or copy (via script) from my cataloged copies. The script doesn't (unless you modify it) copy tags or comments, though it does copy ISBN if it exists (Xeno doesn't have one). So it's one click (plus maybe a little typing) vs a lot of typing.

I can see the usefulness - and as I say, I use brightcopy's script quite a bit. I modified it so it _does_ copy tags, and use it for things like cataloging a new Xeno - copy from the previous one, change the number and the month and done.

And Pepys (95) has another version of the same thing - what's wanted does not appear in LT's sources, but if there were a nice clean copy already cataloged on LT - that's the perfect use for a true copy-from-catalog.

ETA - now, for stuff that does appear in LT's sources, I much prefer Add Books. But even commercial books, sometimes, are too obscure to appear in the easy sources - LoC, British Library, half a dozen library aggregations, a few college/university libraries...and two Amazons (.com and If something doesn't appear in any of those, I usually just go to Manual Add - but if I was started off looking for it by seeing it in someone's catalog (or in a touchstone, or recommendation, or...), I'd likely go copy it from there.

Maio 16, 2012, 9:12 am

95> I almost always use the Manual Add page, because whenever I use Amazon for instance, most fields are absolutely irrelevant to my copy of the book.

Then you aren't spending the time to find the right edition. The Add Book page will show you all the editions from the source and it is up to you to pick the one that matches your book. You might try Overcat instead of Amazon.

Maio 16, 2012, 9:20 am


Most (though not all) of the complaints about not being able to add from others' catalogs are talking about books that are not easily found in outside sources - stuff that was put in LT originally as a manual add, and either doesn't exist in any source or exists only in some very obscure one.

I don't think that's true; most of the persuasive ones do, and most of the ones from long-established members, but I think most of the complaints are from brand-new people who haven't figured out that to add a book they should go to the cleverly hidden "Add Books" tab.

Maio 16, 2012, 10:29 am

>96 jjmcgaffey:
Xenofilkia is in the Library of Congress, though as a serial publication. So if you want to catalog individual issues you have to modify the records after import from LoC. This is a typical problem with library sources and periodicals.

Maio 16, 2012, 12:37 pm

> 95,96 Point taken about adding obscure uncatalogued items. I have this problem too, but just use Manual Add, though if I had a ton of manuals to do, I might want the pony feature or the greasemonkey script. But I think Lorax is also right that most of the shocked complaints are from people who haven't thought it out.

Editado: Maio 16, 2012, 12:42 pm

I almost always use the Manual Add page, because whenever I use Amazon for instance, most fields are absolutely irrelevant to my copy of the book. ... So, what's the so-called advantage of using the regular Add Books page if you don't own a commercial edition?

I never use Amazon. I use library sources such as Library of Congress, British Library/Talis, Overcat (which now includes Harvard's immense catalog), various university libraries, and public library catalogs and networks. (I've found ILCSO, ACCESS Pennsylvania, and Pasadena & Glendale Libraries are good for recent-ish paperbacks, while Overcat, LoC, BL, and university libraries are good for older books, academic books, and non-English-language books).

I search for the ISBN if there is one; if there isn't an ISBN, I enter a phrase from the title, then a comma, then some other details from my copy, such as the publisher, author, or date (with each type of info separated by a comma). Then, if needed, I click on "(more)" next to the results, to check whether the details match my edition.

For instance, searching Overcat for "Samuel Pepys: The Saviour of the Navy, 1953" turns up several libraries that have exactly the same edition that you cataloged (London, Reprint Society, 1953).

This process is very quick, and I almost always find a record with fields/detail that match my copy. It's much easier than typing in a bunch of stuff by hand onto the Manual Add page, and the accuracy of records from library sources is much better than from Amazon or from other users. Basically, LT's whole cataloging model is built on the availability of this library (and library-quality) data -- it's what distinguishes LT from the competitors.

It's true that there are some items not often found in library sources -- comics, for instance; or very newly released books -- but for many books this method works very well. It takes a small amount of trial and error to find the library sources that best match your kind of books, but that's a minimal amount of time compared with adding every field manually or changing inaccurate amazon data.

Maio 16, 2012, 2:27 pm

98> Ok, true. Most of the complaints that I actually pay attention to (rather than correcting a newcomer's wrong impression) are about putting in obscure works that are already properly cataloged on LT.

99> Really? Oh, neat! I'll have to try that. But yeah, I do want to catalog the individual issues - the aim is to (eventually) list what songs are in which one.

Maio 16, 2012, 4:12 pm

100> But I think Lorax is also right that most of the shocked complaints are from people who haven't thought it out.

I really wouldn't put the onus on users here. Tim has designed an interface. the pluses on work and books pages, that is counter-intuitive. It doesn't work the way that most people would think it would work. That problem is on Tim.

UI design is the art of giving the least surprising result.

Editado: Maio 16, 2012, 5:07 pm

I think there are three issues that often get mixed up:
1. The merits and problems of external versus internal sources for adding various kinds of books.
2. The fact that the option to add from work and catalog pages exists, but doesn't function well or as expected.
3. A difference in style between systematic and casual catalogers. The former are likely to see adding books as a separate function from using the rest of the site, the latter will want to be able to add books as they come across them in general use.

Hopefully the new add books function currently in the works will address these issues.

Maio 16, 2012, 5:27 pm


I agree that the function of the pluses is counter-intuitive.

But when a user sees "Add Books" in plain sight on every page, when they first enter LT, and they decide when they want to Add a Book that they will instead search the site for it, that can't be blamed on UI design; those are expectations that are pre-set from elsewhere.

Jul 6, 2012, 6:19 pm

The green plus for "add to your library" (e.g. from other people's lists) is extremely disappointing. I'm utterly baffled why this topic is over 3 years old and unresolved.

Brand new user here. I started using LT just a few hours ago and I'm not liking this very much so far. First I tried to add a bunch of books to my library with a list of ISBN numbers and it told me I'd have to wait 9 hours or something. O...kay...? I can't really comprehend that. There was only a few hundred ahead of me in the queue. Zip zip zoom, it should take two seconds.

A bit later I tried the green plus from someone else's inventory and ... I have to search? What? I have the exact book they have, why can't I just add it with the plus thingy? It makes no sense.

I'm sure this is a fine site and y'all love it, but so far I'm finding it very difficult to use and not meeting my expectations at all. I'm leaning toward giving up and going back to my spreadsheet system. No replies necessary!

Jul 6, 2012, 9:26 pm

Yes, the green plus is basically not worth using. Personally, I wish they'd just scrap it, if they're not going to improve it. It just gives people the wrong idea of how the site works.

Use the Add Books page. It's pretty straightforward. If you really need to add something from someone else's catalog, and you can't find it in any of the sources on the Add Books page, then look into the greasemonkey script mentioned in post 91.

Jul 6, 2012, 11:19 pm

Yeah. Put the ISBN into the field on the Add Books page and it really is zip zip zoom. The import thingy has a queue, I think because of how it searches it can only do a certain number of searches in a period. It's so much faster to do a direct Add Books add. Use Overcat for your source - it's a compilation of all the successful library searches that anyone's done on LT since Overcat existed, plus the Harvard metadata and some from Library of Congress.

I agree, I wish they'd take the green plus out completely. And pink, too.

I had a spreadsheet system, and had tried literally a dozen programs, and in every case I hadn't finished cataloging my books before I'd done enough buying and getting rid of that my catalog was outdated. LT was the first one that I actually managed to get everything cataloged and can keep it up to date. I've used the green (and pink) pluses occasionally; I use the greasemonkey script quite often, now that it exists; and I've never done an import. I did buy a CueCat and use that for some of my entry - it was very useful in the initial mass entry, nowadays when I'm only entering 5-10 books at a time it's almost faster to type rather than swipe. For me, anyway.

Ago 1, 2012, 1:41 pm

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Dez 23, 2012, 2:17 pm

I think my question is related to this topic....

My daughter forgot to log off her LT account yesterday and I didn't realize I wasn't logged on until AFTER I added roughly 100 books.

Is there a simple way to move those books to my account and remove from hers? (actually that's the easy part, deleting them from her account.)

It appears the answer is no?


Dez 23, 2012, 3:05 pm

Afraid so. There are some workarounds - you could tag those books, export the whole library in CSV format, use Excel or something similar to find and make a separate file with just those books, then reimport the books...which would get you at least some of the info (it'll search on the ISBN, if the book has one, and put in that data for author/title/publication etc). Or you could (again, after tagging the books so you can look at them in a group) get brightcopy's Add to Library script - (if you use Firefox, or Chrome), find the books in your daughter's library, and copy each to your library. Or it's possible, if you asked Jeremy (jbd1 - on the Contact page (from the bottom of every page)), that he might be able to shift the books to your account. Not sure he/they can do it, or will, but it's possible.

Or you could just delete them from her library and re-add them to yours. Time-consuming, but likely to be simpler.

Dez 23, 2012, 3:53 pm

I think if you email or msg Jeremy or Tim they would be able to get the books moved for you. They're very good about that sort of thing.

Ago 9, 2013, 2:53 pm

It seems this "add books" issue is still unsolved more then four years after it was first commented on... Hum! It seems I'll have to enter the rest of my 1000+ portuguese language Amazon-Congress-Overcat-etc.-UNKNOWN titles by hand... and no one will be able to profit from my labour...

Ago 9, 2013, 3:11 pm

113 - Try some academic libraries directly when OverCat doesn't have something: Yale, Harvard, University of California libraries, etc.

Also, though there's still no official method to copy others' manual entries, there is an unofficial way that seems to work quite well: brightcopy's script linked in post 111.

If I'm remembering correctly, brightcopy had also designed a script that adds a link to WorldCat on the LT Add Books page. That will open up an external search for your book on WorldCat, so you can see which libraries hold it, and then you can go back and see if any of them are listed in LT's sources. I haven't used that one in a while, but used to find it very useful when I was adding a lot of obscure books for a Legacy Library project.

Fev 5, 2014, 1:15 am

I can't believe this is still open since 2008 and it's 2014. Find the book (even with cover, somebody bothered to even upload a good picture), I even have the "add" icon like described in the first post but I can't add it.

Ago 9, 2014, 7:07 am

Ping! :-)

Ago 9, 2014, 8:20 am

Many pre-ISBN books have an LC number in them. That also works to search on, at least in Library of Congress and British Library.

Ago 10, 2014, 12:37 am

Try the script in >111 jjmcgaffey: - if you use Firefox or Chrome, brightcopy (and others, but mostly brightcopy) has a lot of incredibly useful scripts that help LT make more sense in spots.

>115 v12345: Have you checked what source the people who have added it used? If it's manual add, you'll have to do the same, but if it comes from another source not only can you add the book but you'll now know of a new source for books you have.

Ago 30, 2014, 6:45 pm

Very odd and confusing, when trying to add my second book, When Google Met WikiLeaks. Two people have it already, and I simply want to declare I have the same.

Tim, please update your response from Dec 1, 2008! Are there IP issues around user-added records, such as not wanting to contaminate LibraryThing databases with potentially infringing data?

Ago 30, 2014, 7:53 pm

>119 lorp: The ability to directly reproduce another user's catalog entry was discontinued, because of the amount of bad data (incorrect ISBNs, bad authors, etc.) it was propagating.

LT isn't really set up for being able to "simply...declare" you have it, you have to enter it in your catalog.

The way to add books is from the Add books page. If the book's got an ISBN, put that in the search field. Then in the results field, click on the edition you want to add to your library. You can edit the info once it's entered, if it's not all to your liking.

Jan 3, 2015, 12:09 pm

This continues to be annoying, because even where books are catalogued *somewhere*, the way LT searching works doesn't play especially well with unusual books. There are hundreds of possible sources, and if the first few major ones don't have your book it is time-consuming and frustrating to search multiple ones, even if you've already added these to your list.

For certain languages, very new books, ebooks, audiobooks, or self-published works - all increasingly common - there can easily be no catalogued copies to find and no copies on Amazon. Even worse when it's a combination of these. If you have any significant number of books like this, then manually copying someone else's data across into a new record is both tedious and pointless repetition.*

So the option was removed because people were using it to add books in a clunky way that propogated bad data, by copying inappropriate records and then fiddling with the fields. Okay. Why not shortcut around this, but leave it available for books where no external record exists?

You could set it up so that the option "Clone this record" appeared only for records which are manually added. There's probably some other parameter you could set which would help minimise inappropriate use; perhaps looking at whether a non-manual record also exists, or counting total number of records?

This way, people looking for Harry Potter can't pull up the wrong record, clone it and rename it. However, people trying to catalogue unusual books which don't have library records to import can still benefit from the work of other members.

I'd also suggest, it's really very misleading to have buttons called "add this book to my library" which don't actually add this book to your library, but searches the Library of Congress for books with the same title. Surely a more accurate name could be subbed in?

*(I'm aware of the Greasemonkey script. I just tried it, and it wasn't copying any data, so I've posted requesting advice. So as well as requiring a certain amount of tech-savvy and faff, it's also not a reliable solution.)

Jan 23, 2015, 2:50 am

I'm running into this a lot here as I add a stack of roleplaying publications to my library. Right now I'm trying via site search and checking what data source was used.

This is a pretty slow process, because the steps are:
*search site
*click on correct result
*click on name of another user with the item, go to their page
*click into their search box, re-enter search, go to results within collection
*click on the item you want
*click on Book Details
*scroll down to data source

I'm trying to decide whether, hypothetically, it would be beneficial if the names of users listed by "other users with this book" were linked to their copy of the item, rather than to their record.

I'm pretty sure this data must be collected by the search already, because to be aware that they have the book, it's presumably detecting the work-book relationship and then grabbing the user who owns that book. However, I could be wrong.

Also, some people presumably use the "others users with this book" function to actually look at the user record, so it would sabotage that.

Any thoughts?

Jan 23, 2015, 3:19 am

Yeah...I entered all my RPG books early, so did it through Amazon (mostly .com, though at least one is About half the time, for me, being able to go directly to the book from that Member link would be very helpful...but there's the other half, too. Though I suppose it would be only one click to their profile or full library, if it went to their library filtered to that book. Hmmm.

There's also a suggestion/hope for an addition/equivalent to Overcat for manually-entered books. But that's complicated - your suggestion is pretty simple. It would mightily confuse everyone who's used to having the links work the way they do, but it would add some very nice functionality - I'd post in RSI and see what the reactions are.

Jan 24, 2015, 2:44 pm

Good thought. I have done (

Jun 3, 2015, 6:47 pm

This thread has been going for six years and still no way to copy another users data/reference for a manually entered book? Six years!

Forcing users to manually re-enter the same book just leads to dirty data with the same book described in may slightly differing ways.

Jun 3, 2015, 9:13 pm

There is that Greasemonkey script which if you download it will allow you to add the way you want. I don't have the link that tells about it but someone here does...

Jun 4, 2015, 3:07 am

Actually, the links in this thread won't work - went kaput. Now it's at . Except that doesn't _quite_ work, it needs some fiddling - look at the last few posts in to see what needs editing. The ones _before_ the ones where I promise to make the changes and upload it to webextender. I'll get it done, at some point...

Fev 1, 2017, 2:05 pm

practically, you are surrendered

Maio 15, 2017, 11:50 pm

I NEED THIS FEATURE SO BADLY. I'm transferring a lot of really obscure medieval references from another account, and it's like slow torture. Even direct import and export WON'T WORK! :(

Maio 16, 2017, 3:33 am

Direct import works, for a few, limited fields. If you create a .csv file (in Excel or equivalent), with exactly these headers, in this order:


then populate them from an export from the other account, except leave off ISBN for any books that have one (probably none, of yours),
then use Universal Import and tell it to add books without ISBNs, it will add the books with exactly the info you have in your file. It's far from being a complete import, but it's better than copy-and-paste field by field, or manual add ditto.

Maio 20, 2018, 11:52 am

One hundred thirty messages and 9 1/2 years later, no solution. Clearly, there is no will to fix this.

Why? After scanning the discussion, my conclusions are:
1) there is a belief that copying existing LibraryThing records leads to bad data in LibraryThing.
2) there are other ways to create new records that are good enough for most cases, and these ways may produce better data.
3) adding data manually is so much better than copying existing data that copying data must be prohibited.

What I don't understand is why external data is preferred over internal data. Why is a book record from say, the U.S. Embassy Library in Uzbekistan preferred to any book already in LibraryThing. OverCat is all very good, but OverCat is again composed only of external records. Internal records are excluded.

It seems silly to build a database catalog of books, but to trust that database so little. If the data in any of over 2000 external sources is presumed to be better than that data in LibraryThing, why does LibraryThing exist? If the point of LibraryThing is to share information about books among users, why can't LibraryThing users share (copy) information between user libraries. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Maio 20, 2018, 1:31 pm

>131 cbedgar: The purpose of LT is to let people catalog their books. Those catalogs can be as bare-bones or as complex as the individual desires. There is no data-checking of the individual user's data. Fussbudgets like me use library sources and then edit their data so it reflects my volume most exactly. Other people enter whatever crap that gets sent over from Amazon and they are perfectly happy with that.

So the purpose of LT is not to create a database of books that can be used as a database, the purpose is to let people catalog their books in any way they see fit. Which means there is no guarantee whatsoever that the information for any particular work is particularly correct.

Maio 21, 2018, 9:03 am

>132 PhaedraB: PhaedraB: Good points. LibraryThing provides a way to catalog one's own books and share them. Because user catalogs are not trusted, allow import only from external (library) sources. To some extent, that makes sense.

I am, like you, probably fussier than some, so I have spent some time figuring out how I want to catalog my books, what others do, and what are LibraryThing best practices. So when I come across a (member's) library that I like, I want to use their data as a starting point, not Amazon's. Even the Library of Congress' data does not always come over the way I expected, and I rarely have the same format or edition of a book that they have. In frustration, I looked for a member who had the same book, cataloged well, the way I wanted for myself. Great! I will copy that. No! you can not copy other member's records; you must important them from one of the 2,000+ sources. LibraryThing is not a source.

Argh! Very, very frustrating. Summed up nicely in message >104 eromsted: so (paraphrasing with liberty), different users have different expectations, of both the tool and the database, but in no case does the green plus button do what is expected or desired. Finally, I note that some users wanted/needed this functionality badly enough so that they created a GreaseMonkey tool just to get around the restriction.

So, still frustrated, disappointed, but perhaps I understand a little better.

Maio 21, 2018, 3:51 pm

>133 cbedgar: No! you can not copy other member's records; you must important them from one of the 2,000+ sources.

This is not true. You cannot do this with the click of a button, but you can most certainly do manual entries with no source, and copy someone else's data - you just have to do it yourself.

Maio 21, 2018, 5:21 pm

>133 cbedgar: All you need to do is have two tabs open and copy and paste.

Maio 26, 2018, 8:27 am

+1 on this being a really annoying "feature" -- I am finding a bunch of books that are already in the LT database, but I can't seem to find using Add books search. What is the easiest way to find the source that someone else added the book via? I find I click and click and click and still am not always finding it.

I just found one - did eventually get to the source (, but when I search that source ( books), it doesn't find the book I'm trying to add. I'm going to go ahead and add it manually (and hope it combines - because I've already updated the Common Knowledge for it based on the other person's entry!)... but I'd like to know the simple way to do this, as I have more old books (pre-ISBN) to do.

Maio 26, 2018, 9:42 am

What is the easiest way to find the source that someone else added the book via?

Go to the book listing in the person's catalog. You may need to change the view to see the "Source" column, but that will tell you where they got it.

Often, the reason you can't find something on an "Add books" search is that it isn't in any library or on Amazon, and you'll find that the person entered it manually.

(I have found that the best source when trying to add a book is usually Overcat.)

Maio 26, 2018, 12:45 pm

>136 peralb: Adding to Common Knowledge doesn't help auto-combination, but it will definitely help with manual combination.

If you don't know how to do the combination yourself, post the problem in the Combiners! group.

Look for the current Fix This Book thread. People will be happy to help.

Editado: Maio 27, 2018, 3:08 pm

Thanks >137 lilithcat: - realised the problem I meant to write is how do I find the other person’s copy of the book? Example: I find the book, and member xyz has it. So I get to member xyz’s library, and they have 800 books. Do I just have to scroll through until I find it? I can’t seem to find any way to search someone else’s library! If I can find it manually then, it works to find the source...but sometimes I’ve skimmed too fast I guess and couldn’t even find it in thelr list. And even when I have found it, and have seen the source....I still can’t add the book from that source sometimes. :-(

Maio 27, 2018, 3:31 pm

>139 peralb:

I can’t seem to find any way to search someone else’s library!

Go to that person's catalog view, and over on the right, you'll see a search box, in the same place that it is in yours. It's the one under the site search box.

Maio 27, 2018, 3:39 pm

There is also a search box on their profile. Over on the right.

Jun 5, 2018, 6:50 am

I second >136 peralb: I understand that there is no "official" record in LT for a book, but it would be easier to duplicate someone's entry with "Add book" and then proceed to modify the fields if needed. After all, when I add a book from Amazon or Italian National Library Service I'll end up doing the same thing.

Jun 5, 2018, 8:13 am

>142 .mau.:

it would be easier to duplicate someone's entry with "Add book" and then proceed to modify the fields if needed.

The problem is that a lot of people won't do that, and so the ratty data gets replicated.

Jun 5, 2018, 8:31 am
This is also a known and running complaint that we've asked multiple times to address.

Mar 6, 2020, 12:26 pm

Here's from another immediate quitter.
90%+ of my books are pre-ISBN Russian books. They NEVER can be found on Amazon, and if they make it to English-interfaced libraries most of the info is distorted to the level of being useless.
It would be fine to add them manually for the purpose of making the info re-usable by other collectors.
But there's zero sence in doing that work for my own catalogue exclusively. I have MS Excel for that, paid already for, and totally controlled.
As of today there's NO effective online resource i'm aware of for cataloguing old Russian books, while contributing to and benefitting from the community's effort. There's one large website with a vast database and quite a number of features but it's so drowning in aggressive advertisement that i don't find it usable.
Well sticking with Excel then… :(

Для поиска: русским книгам здесь не рады

Mar 7, 2020, 7:15 pm

>145 yxo: If you are only using US sources, I can understand having difficulty finding the books. However, we do have 19 Russian sources that might find what you're looking for. Did you perhaps check any of those? We have way more sources than Amazon, and usually long term users encourage you to look anywhere but Amazon if possible.

Jul 10, 2020, 12:47 pm

Thank you, christiguc, this is a very helpful suggestion!

I concur with other members this is a BUG and should be fixed ASAP!

Editado: Jul 22, 2020, 6:03 pm

The green plus still doesn’t work? I’m trying to catalogue video games and - tantalisingly - I can see other members have them but I can’t just click and add them to my library. And search in the ‘add books’ page invariably does not find the video game.

Editado: Jul 22, 2020, 6:26 pm

>149 superboy: It works, it just doesn't work in a way that most people expect it to. From the Work help page:
Because a work is typically an amalgamation of different editions, ISBNs and publications, this link does not immediately add a book to your catalog - there's no way of knowing which edition is correct. Instead, it takes you to the add books page and does a search on the book title, allowing you to select which version of a book you'd like to add.

Your best bet for video games will probably be to select Amazon as your source. Or you can add them manually, as I'm sure many of the people who have catalogued their games did.

Jul 23, 2020, 12:30 am

>150 amanda4242: Fair enough. Unfortunately (I’ve only tried three so far) it still doesn’t find the game even using media.

*sigh* Looks like I’ll have to do them all manually. At least I may be able to copy-and-paste if I can find them in other members’ catalogues.

Does any know if video games have an equivalent of ISBNs and how I would identify them if so?

Jul 23, 2020, 9:43 am

?151 if the videogames are present on Amazon they would have their ASIN, as everything there.

Jul 23, 2020, 10:57 pm

>152 .mau.: We didn’t get them from Amazon but I assume I could search for them on Amazon and then copy the ASIN to the Add Books search bar?

Jul 24, 2020, 11:46 am

superboy (#153):

No, that won't help. "All media" for Add Books means music and movies (or, well, video; it would include TV as well). It doesn't include everything Amazon carries - if you want to add shoes or electronic gadgets or video games, having an ASIN won't help, you still need to add them manually.

(Just so you know, I have a long history of being vociferously against people using LT to catalog random doodads like dresses or perfumes (both real examples), largely because of a few people who did so horribly and cluttered up search. So while I'm just a random user, pleas that LT really is the best possible place for you to catalog an arbitrary collection aren't going to be something I have a lot of sympathy for, and for me, suggesting "add them manually" rather than "go elsewhere" is already a massive concession.)

Nov 22, 2021, 7:21 pm

>2 timspalding: When I search for and find and antique book in LT already, why doesn't the "Add to My Collection" button add it to my collection. I'm confused. And cannot find in a dozen other sources I've searched so far...

Editado: Nov 23, 2021, 3:17 am

It would not be easy to make that button add a book to your collection, unless all you want is title and author. Any such change would have to work for common books as well. Jane Eyre Look at the editions page. Which of the over 50,000 entries do you want copied?

Even my husband's The Polyphase Slide Rule has 11 entries. Our copy has c1938, but a review indicates that another is c1925. There are a range of titles. Which entry do you want copied? It isn't as straight forward as you seem to thinkit is.

With older books that only have one copy on LT. Is it the same edition as yours?

Any new feature would have to deal with all these cases.

Fev 5, 2022, 10:58 pm

>156 MarthaJeanne: When I find a book on library thing, either by searching or via browsing another's library, i click on the book. for example:
The only thing that changes about this page after i then click "add to your books", am pulled away to a new page, and must search for the book from a source, add it to my "to read" collection, is that now when i click on the book say from my collection, there is the new info field "Your book information", which includes info about the particular edition etc as you mentioned. Would it not be very easy and simple to make that "add to your books" button, work so that when u click it, it asks, 1. what collection(s) do you want to add it to? 2. What edition of the book do you want to add? Maybe this would list the most popular specific editions of the book in collections on LT, and then give an option to go to the current method of searching other sources, if you didn't like any of the ones other people have already added there.

I just now discovered that something almost exactly like I describe here already exists in the "quick links" section, when I click "amazon" or "worldcat" for example, i dont immediate leave the book's main page, but a dialog pops up that asks "choose an edition", which then links me to the external source for that edition. Seems like it would be the easiest thing in the world to have the "add to your books" button work in a similar fashion?

Ago 7, 2022, 9:49 pm

I just started with LT and was wondering the same thing. Someone has added the book I have to the database, but if it's not on Amazon or any other source, then I have to enter it manually??

Ago 7, 2022, 9:52 pm

>158 KitanaOR:

if it's not on Amazon or any other source, then I have to enter it manually


What you can do is check the person's catalog to see what source they used, and then use the same one.

Out 5, 2022, 11:44 am

Kind of astounding that 14 years after this issue was first raised in this thread it still hasn't been fixed. It seems patently obvious that if there's a book in someone else's collection then I should be able to add it to mine by clicking the "Add" button.

Also, "check the person's catalog to see what source they used" doesn't work when there's no data source listed.

I'm trying to add this book to my collections:

Somehow 21 other people have figured out how to do it, but I can't. The workarounds listed above don't seem to work for me, as far as I can tell. There must be a way to do it but I can't figure out what it is.

Perhaps someone could walk through it step by step.

Out 5, 2022, 11:59 am

The book hasn’t been published yet. Sources don’t usually list them until available.
All must have added it manually, which is an option at the bottom of the Add Books page.
Goodreads seems to know the title - Future Collapse. Still not found using that info.
Even Martha Wells hasn’t listed it on her website.

Editado: Out 5, 2022, 12:07 pm

You can always add it manually. It appears that this book does not (yet) exist. If it is ever published, I assume the usual sources will have it with whatever title it ends up being published as. If you really want to enter this work. Go to the add books page. Down at the bottom left is a link to "Add manually". That opens a page where you can fill in whatever details you wish.

This is not an issue of 'hasn't been fixed'. LibraryThing is not a source for entering books. That is a deliberate choice. In fact, this is just the sort of poor data that not using LT as a source is meant to help limit.

Out 5, 2022, 12:05 pm

>160 jikamens: It's not waiting to be "fixed", this is how the owner of the website intends for the site to work.

The work you linked to, "Untitled (The Murderbot Diaries, #7)" does not exist. It has not been published and is not available for preorder, so it will not show up in any source. The users who have added it did so as an import from Goodreads, which encourages users to add books that do not exist yet to their account. LibraryThing does not encourage that.

However, you can add literally anything you want to your catalog by clicking "add books" at the top of the page and then clicking "Add manually" at the bottom left.

Out 5, 2022, 12:10 pm

>160 jikamens:

Your example is an excellent reason against allowing this.

As others have stated, the book is not yet published so rather than having the actual title, everyone has put "Untitled". Allowing others to simply use the "Add" button would just replicate this incorrect data.

Out 5, 2022, 1:08 pm

>160 jikamens: Technically, the work you linked to was three different books, which I have taken time to separate.
That would also be a good reason for the site to NOT fix that Add to Library button. Because that work was broken and we don't want to share broken data.

Nov 10, 2022, 7:44 am

>164 lilithcat: I think users should still be given the choice to replicate/copy others' data. And also, in my particular case, I have Bengali books which can't be added from any source. Because, Bengali books are usually not sold from Amazon here and libraries also don't contain that data. So, I was adding them manually. But, it has frustrated me so much to learn from here that my fellow bibliophiles can't copy the book data I have added. So, this is a much necessary and wanted feature. If you don't want to change how "Add" buttons function, I think there should be a third button which will allow users to directly add and copy someone else's manually entered book data. Hope LT will consider the issue.

Nov 10, 2022, 8:34 am

>166 CuriousLearner:

I think users should still be given the choice to replicate/copy others' data.

Except that doing so affects data at the work level, and so affects other people as well.

Nov 10, 2022, 8:53 am

>167 lilithcat: I mean users should be able to simply import others' data to their own library without modifying them.

Nov 10, 2022, 9:19 am

>168 CuriousLearner: -

You're missing the point. If enough people import ratty data to their individual libraries, it will bubble up to the work page and thus affect everyone.

Nov 10, 2022, 9:44 am

>169 lilithcat: Well, because I'm a newbie I don't understand how it affects work page. But still, if people can't copy others' data, they will add that data manually anyways. It's just for convenience, right? I don't think that should be a concern against implementing that feature. And, I personally check book data carefully before and after adding, and keep them polished. Bad data can also come from existing sources. After adding those books, we can fix them. But even if someone's data is perfect, we still can't import them and have to waste our time.

Editado: Nov 10, 2022, 10:53 am

Manually adding is not as time consuming as people seem to think. Yes, it's often more convenient to use a source, but by the time I've checked everything and corrected things that don't match my copy, (not to mention combining if I've entered the first German copy) it doesn't make that much difference.

Nov 10, 2022, 10:55 am

>171 MarthaJeanne: When adding multiple books, it can be time-consuming. But whatever, I'm surprised that such a convenient feature isn't added on LT intentionally. What could be the reason?

Nov 10, 2022, 11:02 am

>172 CuriousLearner: The site owner and chief designer does not want to add it - the usual explanation is that each user's copy is unchangeable (ever - a lot of things can be changed on the Work level but the book level is yours and noone can touch it) so the ability of someone else to copy one's data can lead to the proliferation of bad data on the site. One messed up copy (with a weird title or author) is not an issue; 20 of them in the same work may become the majority variant and become the Work title/author.

The problem are not the good copies where people had done their due diligence and so on - the problem are the ones which got edited to fit whatever the library owner wants (adding things into the title or using weird author names).

Nov 10, 2022, 2:28 pm

>173 AnnieMod: According to you, if the ability to copy book data is given to users, there will be proliferation of bad data. But, people can already add bad data manually. And, bad data can also be found in existing sources, and people still need to fix them after adding the books from them. Just like that, if a book contains bad data, people will fix it after adding it. If the data is really messed up as you said, containing weird author/title names, I think people won't be inspired to add the book at all. Bcz in that case, adding the book manually is the best option. Now, all these arguments aside, would you please test the feature for a certain period and observe what happens? I think that'd be the best way to deal with this issue. Because many users already want it and it will be a very convenient feature. So, please consider it. I sincerely request LT devs on behalf of everyone who is asking for this feature since 2009.

Nov 10, 2022, 2:30 pm

>174 CuriousLearner: Nope, not according to me. I am just the messenger because I had been around long enough to had seen this discussion and the response by Tim (the site owner) enough times.

Nov 10, 2022, 8:52 pm

Cut-n-paste is your friend. Why is that so hard?

Jun 8, 5:11 am

This question is regarding the feature of adding books from another person's library / catalog.

How do I automatically utilise the manually added photo and edited metadata (which is already in the person's catalog) instead of the typical amazon database info?

Such a feature would be helpful especially for regional reprints of popular books which have varying publisher info and cover art, which has already been painstakingly added by fellow locals.

If the data fetched during the "add book" feature is the amazon metadata, I suppose there isn't a difference adding it from another person's catalog vs adding through the search function.

Pls advise!

Jun 8, 5:37 am

>177 Sujith.S: If you click on Advanced, you'll see if the book might also come from a library instead of Amazon.
Technically, you'll never take details directly from another library. You'll always be asked to draw from a source or to enter it manually.

Jun 9, 8:59 am

Exactly which page or section is this "Advanced" option found?

Under the "Advanced" sidebar section of a book, I see the following:
Work-only work page

Recalculate cover

Recalculate title/author

Add work to workbench

Jun 9, 9:11 am

>179 Sujith.S: When you click on add book and the window pops up, there is a link on the bottom of the pop up window that says "Advanced"

Jun 13, 9:43 am

Not sure whether this is the right place to raise this issue but here goes...
I've been using Librarything for years and find it incredibly useful but only recently have I become interested in the series function. I have a lot of books and other media that I've added to my collection (mostly through searching through libraries, otherwise added manually) that are parts of series, but many (especially comics) are not recognised by Librarything as such. On the Work Page of these books, there is no "Belongs to Series" link.

I then click on the "Add/Edit" under the "Series and work relationships" heading. A pop-up window prompts me to "Add This Work To A Series", which I proceed to do. I'm then taken to the Series Page, when I see that the book I've added is already listed in the series. At this point I figure I'm making a mess of the Series Page by doubling up on entries for the same book, and delete my entry.

I click on the already existing book in the series that is the same as the one in my collection, and click on the green "Add" button. I'm presented with a message that states "Could not find any results? Go to the Add Books page." So it seems that Librarything doesn't find the copy in my collection and is prompting me to add another copy of the book, so I figure I must be missing something in my understanding of how this function works, because when I then do reluctantly but with curiosity add another copy of that book to my collection, that book also is not recognised as part of the series.

I'm really lost and feel like I'm going around in circles trying to figure out how to have Librarything recognise books that I have added to my collection but not recognised by Librarything as part of a series, even though I have a book with the same title on the Series Page in my collection.

Any suggestions or help would be much appreciated.

Editado: Jun 13, 9:54 am

If you give us a few examples it would be easier to help you.

I suspect that your copy needs to be combined with the work listed in the series.

Jun 13, 9:55 am

>181 bolinski: First thing that comes to mind is make sure you copy is combined with those in the series already, especially with comics it is likely the auto-combiner hasn't been triggered. If not combined, add both your copy and the one in series to workbench, open workbench and combine.

Jun 13, 9:56 am

>181 bolinski: It's likely that the books in your catalog are not properly combined with other people's copies of the same work.

I'd recommend posting in this group to ask for help: , though with a private catalog there's only so much other users can do for you.

Jun 13, 9:57 am

>181 bolinski: A specific example of a book in your collection where this occurred would be helpful so we could see what is going on. First impressions are that perhaps the book in your collection isn't combined with the overall work. ;-)