DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Mar 19 2010


by Jesse M

For today’s post, I am featuring a simple, fun, and library related game called CoverGuess. Brought to us by the “social cataloging” website LibraryThing (where users can catalog personal collections, keep reading lists, post book reviews, and chat to other users who have the same books), the game is not only a pleasurable way to pass the time, but also serves to build up a database of book cover descriptions.  Eventually, this pool of information can assist booksellers and librarians when confronted with questions like “Do you have the book whose cover art has a red wax seal on ripped parchment, above the U.S. capital building?” (The book being described is Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol).

Interested in playing? Here’s how it works: you are given a book cover to describe using as many tags as you like. Try to pick out the most significant elements in the picture and include those terms in your description. Colors are always good to identify as well. You receive points based on every term you use to describe a cover that has also been used by a previous player. So, if you are describing the cover of the book Watchmen and you say “yellow” and “blood spatter”, and two other players said “yellow” and one said “blood spatter’, you would receive three points.

Sounds fun, right? And as I mentioned above, by playing you are contributing information to a database which can be used to assist booksellers and librarians find the books their customers and patrons are seeking. All the data gleaned through the game is released under a Creative-Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License. That means any non-profit entity, like a library, can use it without charge. The same deal is available to any bookstore with less than $10 million in sales.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

joe m. March 19, 2010 at 1:18 PM

nifty! it’s easy to see how this can be both a useful tool for library workers as well as an amusing way to pass one’s free time.

Jean L March 21, 2010 at 3:10 PM

I’m one of those book store/library patrons who asks crazy questions, but mine aren’t usually about the cover, but instead vaguely about the author or subject! Do they have a site for me?

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