Goodreads Librarians Group discussion

Policies & Practices > Setting up series order...(comma?, #?, etc)

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message 1: by Kathrynn (last edited Nov 28, 2008 05:57AM) (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Starting to see different styles used and people redoing work to their preference, so what is the preferred style on GRs:

1. Book Title (Series Name, #4)

2. Book Title, Series Name, 4

3. Book Title Series Name 4

4. Book Title (Series Name 4)

5. Book Title (Series Name, Book #4)

I prefer the first way. If we don't want to stipulate a certain way, then can we agree to use ONE way for the same author?


Christina Stind | 60 comments I prefer Book Title (Series Book 4)

message 3: by rivka, Former Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 45529 comments Mod
I agree with Christina. Regardless, 2 & 3 are specifically excluding by the existing guidelines.

message 4: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 595 comments It would be nice to see a standard. I've basically kept which ever format was started for a particular series.

But if we're voting for one standard, I think 4 would be my preference. No extraneous characters.

message 5: by Lori (last edited Nov 30, 2008 03:37PM) (new)

Lori Ehrman (lorilei) | 40 comments I also have been making lots of series updates, but like Brenda and Mlady, I have basically been using whatever format has been already used the most within that series so there at least is some consistency.

I definitly would like there to be a definitive standard (although that's not always possible, there always are exceptions to every rule).

I think I like number 1 best - here's why. Many series have novellas in anthologys and in my mine at least they are not books. So for example:
Bite (includes: Undead / Queen Betsy Series #2.5, Mageverse Series #4, Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series #15, and Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Series #6) not books but parts of series. The word book could be misleading.

My 2cents


message 6: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 595 comments Lori, I know authors like Sherrilyn Kenyon shift around their official book order to accommodate shorts, but I don't think all of those authors do so.

I would list the Anita Blake story as #8.5, as it comes chronologically after "Blue Moon". I'd change the Sookie Stackhouse short to also be a "between the books" designation.

message 7: by Kathrynn (last edited Dec 01, 2008 06:48AM) (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Sometimes, I see brackets in lieu of parenthesis. I don't think it matters--at this point--but believe using parenthesis as the standard would alleviate any possible problems in the future.
What is the consensus (Brackets or Parenthesis)?

I've also seen: "No. 4" or "No 4" for order number. (I don't care for this, but wanted to be sure and mention this alternative. I've been doing it this only when I noticed another Librarian began an author's books that way.)

From reading the few responses it looks like the preference is:
Book Title (Series Name 1) No comma, no # sign.

If more than one series (anthology), then:
Book Title (Series Name 1, Series Name 4, Series Name 5)


message 8: by rivka, Former Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 45529 comments Mod
Agreed, Kathryn. Also, no brackets. Brackets are for HTML, and they confuse things like sorts.

message 9: by Lori (last edited Dec 03, 2008 04:48AM) (new)

Lori Ehrman (lorilei) | 40 comments Then if the agreed format is

Book Title (Series Name 1) No comma, no # sign.

If more than one series (anthology), then:
Book Title (Series Name 1, Series Name 4, Series Name 5)

I'll start changing to that as I go through more of my authors today.

I'm working on Paranormal and romance authors right now so here are the ones I will be working on this week

removed list.

message 10: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 595 comments Since I didn't get a solid answer in another thread, I'll ask again here:

What are we using to determine series order when the books themselves aren't numbered? Is it publication date or chronological order of events? Or is it the way the author herself numbers their books?

For example, Lori's assertion that the short story by Laurell K. Hamilton in "Bite" is Anita Blake 15, is contradicted by the fact that the author only uses numbers for the full length novels. So 15 is "The Harlequin" in her eyes. The new books are referred to by their number before the title is nailed down.

I'm afraid if we don't make a decision on this, or have GR make a decision, we will be working at cross purposes, endlessly correcting each other.

message 11: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments For series order, I go to the author's website first. They (usually) know the order for their books.

However, some authors do not order their books. :-( If that is the case, I've seen people that read the series here put them in the correct order.

If I'm not familiar with an author and his/her Site does not indicate series order, I go to the Romance Series List Group which was put together by people that READ the series.

Amazon has too many mistakes in series order, so I do not rely on them--at all.

I would not order a series if I wasn't sure what I was doing. I think it is better to leave them alone than to do it incorrectly.

My two cents.

message 12: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 595 comments Thanks for the link, Kathrynn.

message 13: by Kathrynn (last edited Dec 02, 2008 04:06AM) (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments One more thing!

I've found Fiction to be an excellent source for book info and series order.

One thing I've noticed on SOME book and author websites is that if a short story in a series comes out in an anthology, they don't count it. STRANGE. As a reader, I count it in the series order.

However, I've noticed that Fiction DB has been correcting this (S L O W L Y) and including anthologies in series order.

Barnes and Noble have been the best at including the number of pages. Amazon, the worst, IMO.

I rely--heavily--on the Romance Series List Group because the people that read the books, know the order.

I try to stay within my comfort zone on books when ordering, so I'm primarily in Romance. Not sure what to recommend for other genres.

message 14: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments You're welcome, Mlady_Rebecca! :-)

One of the things I love about Goodreads is the willingness of people that share similar interests to discuss books they loved (or hated). That, for me, has been the #1 source of book series order. And, by far the most accurate. Some author's have helpful Websites, others...not so much.

I would like to recommend a book to you (and anyone else interested) "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything." It was written before GRs was a factor, but talks about how the masses put together (usually volunteering) vast databases of information, or researching science, etc--on their own time for the good of many. And how much more accurate the information is because the people doing the work do it because they care and they know.

message 15: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 595 comments One thing I've noticed on SOME book and author websites is that if a short story in a series comes out in an anthology, they don't count it. STRANGE. As a reader, I count it in the series order.

I have authors that fall both ways. If the author doesn't count the short stories, I think the "between the books" notation is best. Like book 8.5, rather than book 9.

Fiction looks like a cool site, but I disagreed with the reading order for the first two series I tried checking.

message 16: by Lori (new)

Lori Ehrman (lorilei) | 40 comments I started a group - not for discussion but a place to post authors series (romance and Paranormal).

What I post there is the order that I would be using to annotate titles I work on.

Sourse is a combination of Essence of Romance, Fiction DB, the authors website and my own knowledge of the series.

I fully agree with Kathryn about using the between .5 for anthologies not listed as a book in series sequence. As I am updating my book inventory, I am being very through in my research for each author, so I believe my series listing to be pretty accurate.

message 17: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Lori,

There is already a group on Romance Series Listing. It was created months ago and many (many, many) participated in its creation.

I do not care for the 1.5 series order, that was someone else who posted that. Sorry. I think the series should be whole numbers (no fractions or decimals).

message 18: by Mont'ster (new)

Mont'ster | 5 comments I have also found Wikipedia useful in determining what number a book is in a series. I found out a couple of the books I was looking for were "Special Edition" seasonal releases and not numbered. I think for the kid's books that I'm looking at the inclusion of Special Edition will be less confusing for than numbering them 22.5 or 31.5, etc.

So now I will go back and start taking out all those # signs. :-)

message 19: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments I think using fractional numbers (or decimals) can be unnecessarily confusing. If an author wrote a book or story, then give it a whole number if it's part of a series.

For instance: The author Kresley Cole (pictured below) writes the Immortals After Dark (IAD) series. It begins with an anthology. So, would her series start with a ".5" or "5/10"? What about people accidentally leaving off the "." so now it looks like 5?

And, if a person is trying to read a series and see they are numbered 1,2,3,4,5 they know when they are missing something. Right? If there is a 1.5 or 3.5 (.5) it's not readily apparent unless a person knew to look for it.

Kresley Cole is one of the author's that does NOT maintain her Site. Sadly, she doesn't count the anthology that begins her IAD series and for several years she had TWO book #4's. Go figure.

If a person has read the series, they KNOW the correct order and include the anthology as the first. Every once in awhile a Librarian (albeit with good intentions, but usually someone who hasn't read the series--especially the true first story) will change the order removing the true first story from the series. Baffling.


Kresley Cole

message 20: by Lori (last edited Dec 02, 2008 12:12PM) (new)

Lori Ehrman (lorilei) | 40 comments Kathrynn,

I don't personally have a problem with it either way. Whatever everyone agrees to is fine.

How do we handle authors who do number there series and do use the .5 annotation?

My only concern is consistency and understandability! (is that a word - must be spell checked didn't protest :)

message 21: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 595 comments I like the X.5 notation mostly to stay consistent with authors who don't "count" their short stories.

If I'm reading the author's blog and she's talking about the 17th book in her series, I want to be thinking of the same book she's thinking of. Personally, that's more important to me than the fact that a new user may miss one of the short stories on their initial reading.

With most of the authors I've read, short stories supplement the overall series, but could be more easily dropped than a regular series book. Is that something that is consistent across authors? Are there series where you loose things if you miss a short?

Here's another author to look at: Janet Evanovich Her Stephanie Plum series has the book numbers embedded in the titles. And, yet, she's now doing "between the numbers" shorter-than-normal books. It would look pretty strange if you included the "between the numbers" books and suddenly the book titles conflicted with the numbering used here.

In other words, I think either shorts need to be inserted with X.5 notation, or they need to be in a separate list. Like Series Book 1, 2, 3 vs. Series Short 1, 2, 3.

message 22: by Julianna (last edited Dec 02, 2008 04:37PM) (new)

Julianna (authorjuliannad) | 15 comments My husband is a programmer, and I was just talking to him about the formatting issue. He says that from a programming standpoint having some kind of delimiter such as a comma and/or # sign is the best way to accurately parse data later on. Just having it say "Series 1" would make it very difficult to do that. I don't know if Otis and Co. intend to parse when the book series/number fields are completed, but it's definitely something to consider before making tons of changes to existing data that could potentially turn them into an unfriendly format. Perhaps they should be consulted for their opinions first as to what format would be most helpful? Just a thought. In the meantime, based on my husband's expertise, I would recommend sticking with Kathrynn's example #1.

Also, to be honest, this seems like a lot of extra work, when it is likely that someone else may come along later and change it right back. The participants in this thread only represent a tiny number of the GR librarians, and even if a particular format was implemented sitewide, you still wouldn't have 100% participation. It just seems to me that it would be more efficient to at least wait for some kind of official word on this or for the series and book # features to simply be implemented first. As long as the correct info is there it really shouldn't matter what format it's in. I don't usually mess with it unless the info is incorrect or incomplete. Just my opinion of course.;)

I'm afraid I don't have any good suggestions for the short stories. I know all too well from working with my husband on my own website that this is tough problem which is hard to solve. We still haven't found a good answer for it. ;) For what it's worth though, I think I prefer whole numbers especially if that's the way the author lists them.

This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments I agree with Julie. Since the series implementation was rumored to be soon (of course author pseudonyms have also been "close" for at least 10 months), it seems better to just wait and see how that's implemented before attempting a wholesale renumbering/formatting.

Also, all of this ignores situations where books do not have a logical chronological order, e.g., if two different books/stories take place at the same time or one takes place "within" the timeline of another one. There will never be a perfect system which encompasses all cases, which is why publication order is extremely important to maintain an option.

message 24: by rivka, Former Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 45529 comments Mod
We have a delimiter (if I understand the term correctly) -- the parentheses.

message 25: by Julianna (last edited Dec 02, 2008 06:45PM) (new)

Julianna (authorjuliannad) | 15 comments Actually rivka, the parentheses are only a partial delimiter. There are three pieces of information represented here: Book Title, Book Series and Book Number. The parentheses differentiate the Book Title from the other two, but without a comma, # sign or some other character in between the Book Series and Book Number, there is no differentiation between those.

My husband says that "Book Series, #1" is a very good parsing-friendly format, but we don't presume to know the full intentions of the GR programmers. That's why I suggested consulting the powers that be before arbitrarily changing a large amount of series data to a format that was agreed upon by only a few people who probably have limited programming experience. I'm honestly not trying to step on any toes here. I've just watched my husband deal with many headaches in his 20-some odd years of programming, and I'm simply trying to get everyone to think carefully about making changes that appear to be based on personal tastes that could cause problems down the road. Though I guess that all GR librarians tend to do that to an extent since there are so many different formats.;)

As I said before I really don't see a problem with simply leaving the data alone until an official format is requested or the series fields are implemented. It all may be a moot point anyway depending on how that goes. In the meantime users who have taken the time and effort to enter data in a neat orderly fashion (even if it isn't uniform) won't feel like their work was for nothing, and you'll be saving yourselves a whole lot of work too, since it may have to be changed again after the implementation.

message 26: by jenjn79 (new)

jenjn79 | 565 comments I like the idea of there being a standard way to do this, but I think it was Julie that said only a few people will actually notice this. You'll end up with people changing things back and forth because of personal preference and whatnot. For adding new info, it makes sense to have a more standard way...but to go back and start editing existing data? I think it's better off to wait until the series feature is implemented (whenever that is) then make changes according to how that feature works.

As for me, personally I prefer simple when it comes to series info:

Naked in Death (In Death #1)
...which looks short and simple, as opposed to something like:

Naked in Death (In Death Series, Book #1)
...which just takes up space and looks tedious.

But that's just my opinion.

message 27: by rivka, Former Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 45529 comments Mod
Julie, thanks for that explanation. :)

Isis, agreed.

message 28: by Julianna (new)

Julianna (authorjuliannad) | 15 comments You're welcome.:)

This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments I hadn't really thought about it, but Julie (and/or her husband) is correct about the auto-parsing. The word "book" is not necessary and there are inconsistencies anyway since some people use "volume" instead, but from a programming standpoint, a comma and # would make it much easier to find and separate the number from the series name, in the event someone wants to auto-parse the titles.

message 30: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Yeah Julie! I like it. Agreed. Let's leave things alone until we hear otherwise from Otis and staff.

It was heartbreaking for me to see all the work I already accomplished being redone by people who just joined and decided they liked a different way. Insulting really, but that's life and I was prepared to role with it. :-(

Mildly concerned at the ease at which some people are climbing up the Top Librarian ranking simply by redoing others work to suit them, too. The information is already there and it's easy to shift stuff around, click save and move on.

Thank you--all--for the input and a voice of reason.

message 31: by Otis, Chief Architect (new)

Otis Chandler | 315 comments Mod
We do have some standards about this listed here:

I'm saving this thread for when we start to work on series information. I think we need it soon!

message 32: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 595 comments Otis, glad to hear that series will be in work soon.

message 33: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Otis, some authors have multiple series, so it became necessary to insert a series title. Could the standards be edited to show this, please?

And do you think the word "book" is necessary to insert?

message 34: by Ron (last edited Dec 09, 2008 12:35PM) (new)

Ron Mohring | 2 comments Regarding series titling, I'm wondering what standard should be used when the series itself is numbered? For example, The Kent State University Press publishes the Wick Poetry Chapbook Series, but as each "volume" of the series is completed, the series itself is successively numbered. Here's an example:

Karen Craigo's book, Stone for an Eye, is Number 5 in the Wick Poetry Chapbook Series Three.

From what I've read on this subject thread, I would assume that the title should be entered as:

Stone for an Eye (Wick Poetry Chapbook Series 3:5)?

Thanks, all.

message 35: by Julianna (new)

Julianna (authorjuliannad) | 15 comments Based on the info you provided, I would do it this way:
Stone for an Eye (Wick Poetry Chapbook Series Three, #5)

I admit that poetry isn't my strong suit though, so everyone else feel free to weigh in with opinions.;)

message 36: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Based on the info you provided, I would do it this way:
Stone for an Eye (Wick Poetry Chapbook Series Three, #5)


message 37: by rivka, Former Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 45529 comments Mod

message 38: by Ron (new)

Ron Mohring | 2 comments Kathrynn, rivka, Julie--That's the way I've been doing it, but some of the discussion looked like we were edging away from using "#" so I wanted to check in. I'll look back and make sure that I've been consistent, anyway. Thanks.

message 39: by Kathrynn (last edited Dec 11, 2008 02:40PM) (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments I think the # sign and the words "book" or "series" could be omitted. Seems redundant to me. Thoughts? (I, personally, like the # sign, but see the points made earlier.)

I do think the "," should be between the series number and series name, though. For example:

Book Title (Series Name, 4)

Because, when I was looking at a book that was:

Book Title (Series Name, Volume 3, 4) the comma seems necessary. Thoughts?

message 40: by Julianna (last edited Dec 11, 2008 07:24PM) (new)

Julianna (authorjuliannad) | 15 comments I think the comma should be used as well, and I personally prefer the # too. I also agree that "book" or "series" isn't necessary, although I have seen a couple of occasions where the word "series" was actually part of the series name, in which case I think it should be used.

As we discussed earlier, from a programming standpoint, ", #" is a much better delimiter for parsing data than the comma alone, because it is much less likely that the three characters will show up anywhere else in that combination. If there is a comma within a title or series name, or as in Kathrynn's example above where there is a comma between volume numbers, then a parsing program probably wouldn't catch it.

message 41: by WK (new)

WK | 25 comments From a data management point of view it appears to me that at this point the programmers are going to have quite a bit of difficulty trying to pull out Series names and numbers. Since according to the guideline within ()could be series & numbers, as well as edition formats. In some cases the series name precedes the word series, in other cases it proceeds the word series, and yet in other cases the word series is omitted all together.

Certainly using a standard will help until separate fields are available for this information.

It would be beneficial if the agreed upon format was immediately listed in the Librarian Manual and a message was sent to all Librarians informing them of the new standard and it's importance.

Hopefully there will be separate fields for series name, series number and format. The format type should be chosen from a drop down list - there could be the ability to add "other" with a fill in option, if the format type is so unusual it is not among the choices given.

In the meantime I would suggest:
Stone for an Eye (Wick Poetry Chapbook, Series #3, ##5)

This would keep the series # format similar to what is recommended for the series without sub series.

This #, ##, and even ### (if there is such a thing as a three tear level) is similar to the spacing format currently being used to separate same name authors.

Until retiring I was a Database manager who worked with data and programmers almost every day for more than 30 years - does it show???

message 42: by Nick (last edited Dec 20, 2008 02:40AM) (new)

Nick Black (dankamongmen) | 8 comments From a data management point of view it appears to me that at this point the programmers are going to have quite a bit of difficulty trying to pull out Series names and numbers. Since according to the guideline within ()could be series & numbers, as well as edition formats. In some cases the series name precedes the word series, in other cases it proceeds the word series, and yet in other cases the word series is omitted all together.

A genetic algorithm combined with regexes would handle this nasty bit of SNLP adroitly, given the number of librarians who'd be happy to train it and the low number of matching states.

...back under my rock...

message 43: by WK (new)

WK | 25 comments Great to hear, Nick, where were you before I retired!

message 44: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Houston, we have a problem.

Another new librarian (with good intentions) is changing titles to put the series information FIRST, followed by the book title.


I noticed this on Fern Michaels books and was in the process of correcting when I decided to drop him a note and post here. However, this person has already reached #8 in the Top Librarain status and I fear it may now be simpler to revert to his format.

Kidding! But, dang, it's going to take awhile to fix this little snaffu.

message 45: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Once again, I want to say it may be a good idea to NOT grant Librarian status to new people UNTIL/UNLESS they have been active for a specified period of time and get the feel of things.

Please, reconsider the verdict on this in an earlier discussion--in the Feedback Group.

message 46: by jenjn79 (new)

jenjn79 | 565 comments Great...the person is even going through and retitling each edition of a book. Not fun. Someone really should contact him and point on the GR policy on series naming.

...meanwhile, I'll start redoing the titles on Fern Michaels.

message 47: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments I sent him a nice PM a few minutes ago.

She wrote a lot of books!

You go, girl! I'm popping over there to give you a hand.

message 48: by jenjn79 (new)

jenjn79 | 565 comments I feel like banging my head into a wall...there's like 200 books for Fern Michaels that now have to be corrected...

And I just did work on these a few days ago, too.

message 49: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Yup, all editions were also changed. I worked on her books many months ago, too. Only stumbled across by accident when looking at my own shelves and saw some of her books--twisted around--and took a peak.

Oh boy.

This is a total bummer, but I feel it's going to be the tip of the iceberg because he's been so active in librarian edits.

(shaking my head)

message 50: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 595 comments Save us from people with good intentions.

Can GR temporarily pull librarian status from someone who is doing damage but is unresponsive?

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