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Help me plan a giveaway!

December 10, 2008

So it looks as though LibraryThing’s Secret Santa is probably not going to be happening this year…

This makes me very, very sad for several reasons. First, the two books picked for me by my Secret Santa last year (The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey and Talyn by Holly Lisle) were both very good – Talyn‘s a strong contender for my top five of the year – and both were books I probably would never have picked up on my own.

But more importantly, I loved going through looking at other people’s libraries and making suggestions about what I think they’d love.

I don’t have the time (or knowledge, or particular desire) to organize a full-scale program like SantaThing, where everyone gets books. But I was thinking about whether I could morph it into a giveaway…

The way I imagine it working is something like:
– First commenter looks at my library, recommends a book for me, and includes a link to their library.
– Second commenter looks at the first commenter’s library, recommends a book for them, and includes a link.
– Etc.
– Once the time period closes, I pick a recommendation for the last person. (Or I take myself out of the running, and I contact the first commenter to get a recommendation for the last commenter.)
– I let random.org pick the winner, and they get whatever book was recommended for them, AND I buy whatever book they suggested for the person above them. Pretty good, right? Two people get books picked out just for them, and two people get to have their recommendations implemented.

I foresee several problems with this, though.
– Discriminates against people without an LT (or similar) account, and people who don’t have all of their books entered, don’t enter books that they read but don’t own, etc.
– No way to quality-control recommendations – people could enter without bothering to look at the library of whoever they’re recommending for. (although this is true for every Secret Santa ever)
– Possibility of people coming back and leaving additional comments of “oh, I’ve already read that book”, “I don’t like that author”, etc. etc. – messes up the comment thread, takes the Secret part out of it, and just generally complicates things. (On the flip-side, non-winners could still come and look and then buy themselves their recommendation.)

What do you think, readers? Does this sound like any fun? Do you have any ideas for getting around the potential issues? A different way to organize it? Do you think it’s worth trying anyways? If it happens, it probably wouldn’t happen until after the holidays, but I’d appreciate any input you’ve got.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2008 3:22 pm

    This is an interesting and fun suggestion! One way it might work is to set this up in a forum somehow. I’m not sure if the comments would get in the way there or not. Another thing would be to require more than just a book title. “Since you have X, X, and X, I think that X would be great for you because …” I would be interested in helping you work on this. I think it sounds like fun. It could make for a good challenge. You get a certain amount of people to sign up. Randomly draw the name of the person you make your suggestion to and then you make the suggestion (and allow for one or two runners up in case the book had already been read). The person would either buy the member the suggested book or not, and then reads it and reviews it.

  2. December 10, 2008 3:49 pm

    LH – Oooh, you’re thinking on a much bigger scale than I was. Setting it up as a forum would also allow multiple people to make recommendations for each person, and then the “Santa” gets to be the one to make the final pick. This sounds more like the original SantaThing. Interesting idea turning it into a challenge, though!

    I also just found out that wordpress.com is coming out with support for threaded comments sometime soonish – so it could work that an “entry” is a comment to the main post – and then any “no, I’ve already read that”/”how about this book instead” discussion could be threaded in response to each “main” entry comment.

  3. December 10, 2008 5:28 pm

    I’d participate if you went ahead with this. I’m always recommending books to friends and family after asking them what they’ve read that they’ve really liked. It seems to work. And I always welcome suggestions from others, especially if they have any idea of what I’ve already read. I think it’s a great idea as long as you can simplify it so it’s not too much work for one person.

  4. December 10, 2008 7:02 pm

    I love the idea. And maybe those who don’t have Librarything or GoodReads or Shelfari accounts could have others look at their blogs instead and suggest something based on what they see there? There’s no way for sure of telling if the person’s already read the book or not, but it could still work. Especially with Literary Housewife’s runner-ups idea.

  5. December 11, 2008 9:35 am

    this sounds like a great idea…what if you just put a caveat in the project that says once you’ve recommended a book, you can’t come back and see what others recommend for you…though that would be like telling a kid don’t touch that! LOL

    maybe have people email the recommendations to you directly, rather than leaving a comment with the book title. the comment could just be a link to their library thing or good reads for the next person etc.

  6. December 11, 2008 10:30 am

    This really has a lot of potential! The person sending the book wouldn’t have to be the one making the recommendations. Like I said, I would really be interested in helping out on this whatever shape it takes.

  7. December 11, 2008 12:33 pm

    I really like the idea. It won’t be that secret anyway, people will be able to see what others have recommended, so I guess you could just ask the winners if they have any strong objections to the chosen book for any reason and request that people NOT make comments about that in the thread (even under the threat of removal from contest consideration if you want). It is hard if someone doesn’t have LT or GoodReads or something, but I don’t think you HAVE to include EVERYONE, there’s not much way to work around that that I can think of.

  8. December 14, 2008 2:14 pm

    All – Well, SantaThing’s back up, so that takes some of the pressure off. I might still run this as a giveaway after the holidays, though. For people who don’t have LT accounts, they can describe their tastes and take their chances, and if people don’t like the book they got recommended, then they can suck it up and hold their own damn giveaway to get rid of them. :)

    LiterateHousewife – Turning this into a challenge is an interesting idea, although I think it would be better to divorce it from the “buying books for other people” thing, to keep the address-swapping and other headaches to a minimum.

    I see it working kind of like SantaThing now – in a forum format, everybody who signs up has their own topic. Part 1 of the challenge is to go make recommendations for 50% (or whatever) of the other participants, Part 2 is to go find one of your recommended books (mooch, buy, library, whatever), read it, and review it.

    We could have repeated iterations of it… one round every two or three months?

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