You are what you read

David Edelman decided to create a photo-mosaic of himself, using the bookcovers of all the books he owns (HT: Librarything). This was simply too good not to copy. Even better (given my recent resolution), thanks to LibraryThing, it took me less than five minutes.

So here is my version – not of myself, but of my favourite book (click for the full size):
Don't Waste Your Life

It’s generated using Librarything and AndreaMosaic.

Engadget as a great tutorial for AndreaMosaic. The explains how to use the software. But you’ll need all your book cover images first. Let me just show you the quickest way of getting your book cover images.

Sign up with LibraryThing. (LT is a great site – far more useful that just creating mosaics!)
Sign up to Librarything

Add your books onto your account (you can just use your ISBN numbers, so it’s really quick.)
Add books

Go to LibraryThing’s All Your Book Covers page. If you’ve got a big library, it may take a while! If some images don’t display (they just show the red cross) just hit refresh and try again.
All Your Books

Wait for the page to look, then save the page. Do this by choosing Save page from the File menu (in Firefox and IE6) or from the Page menu in IE7. Before you confirm the file name, make sure “Web page, complete” is selected. You might find it easier to save the file in your My Documents folder.
Save page as

IE/Firefox will then save the webpage, and then create a folder with all the images (and a few other files in it). If you’ve saved the webpage as Library Thing All Your Covers.htm then the folder will be called Library Thing All Your Covers_files. Close IE/Firefox, and go to that folder. Make sure Thumbnails is selected from the view menu.
View Thumbnails

You’ll probably see that some of the book covers are blank. There’s a simple way to get rid of these. You don’t need to get rid of them, but it does speed things up, and means you can use the folder for a slideshow, or even a screensaver. Choose Arrange Icons by… Size from the view menu, and all your blank pictures will magically jump to the top of the folder. Scroll up to the top, the click on the first black picture. Then go to the last of the blank images (scroll down if you need to), an click on it whilst holding the shift button. This selects all the blank images, and you can now press delete and watch them disappear!
Delete the blank images

We’re now almost done. There’s just one or two extra images that get saved in the folder. They’re the images on the webpage that aren’t book covers (like the LibraryThing header, and the Catalogue Your Books picture you can see in the screenshot). Thankfully there’s an easy way to find these other files. Just choose Arrange Icons by… Name from the view menu, and all these extra files will magically jump to the end of the folder.
Delete the extra files

Just a few more more tips for using AndreaMosaic with bookcovers.

  • The algorithm usually works best when set to Max. Don’t let it flip your books!
  • Purists don’t like repeating images if they can help it. If you have a large library, limit the number of times an image can be repeated (I used 1 for the portrait, 4 for the book cover).
  • Changing the number of tiles per row has a big impact on the number of tiles (book covers) required. Make sure the number of tiles is less that the number of book covers multiplied by the number of duplications you allow
  • Unless you have a really huge and varied library, let AndreaMosaic modify the images for you. If you set this to 10% you’ll hardly notice a difference in the individual covers, but your image will thank you for it.
  • AndreaMosaic rotates all your book covers by 90 degrees. To get around this, rotate your source image 90 degrees counter-clockwise before you run AndreaMosaic. Then when AndreaMosaic has finished, rotate your finished image. (You can rotate an image from the Thumbnail view we saw earlier. Just right-click on the file.)
    Rotate image

That’s it. You now have a whole folder full of your book images, ready to make your Photomosaic, or display as a slideshow. You can even do a mosaic of yourself!


  1. Great instructions! Thanks. Here are a few of mine! One of moi and another of Spitzweg’s painting, “The Bookworm.”

  2. Comparison of selected photo mosaic software