Tuesday, September 6th, 2005

Social features (2); Amazon

I’ve added a few more requested social features:

  • Profiles now show users with overlapping libraries, so you can spot who has similar tastes.
  • When you look at someone else’s profile you can now see exactly what your “shared” books are.
  • When you browse someone’s library you can click on to add a book to your collection.

On the Amazon front I’m waiting for word whether LibraryThing can bend their terms of service.

The problem: Amazon’s terms seem to preclude users modifying data. If Amazon says a book is by C. S. Lewis, LibraryThing users ought to be able to change that to Clive Staples Lewis, but this seems forbidden. Amazon also requires that most data be “refreshed” every 24 hours, which would wipe out any changes anyway.

Refreshing has its own problem: you can only make one request a second. In less than a week LibraryThing has acquired 8,100 books(!). That’s a lot of back and forth with the Amazon servers, and once LibraryThing hits 86,401 there won’t be enough seconds in the day to refresh everything, let alone add new books.

LibraryThing’s “competitors” (about which more in a later post) all use Amazon and seem—correct me if I’m wrong—to allow changes. So maybe there’s an exception for sites like ours. Or maybe they just turn a blind eye.

If Amazon won’t do it, I’ll take the data from somewhere else. Booksense would be my first choice. Although they don’t have an API I can find, I could screen-scrape. Better, I could not only give users the info but also hook it up to their nearest independent bookseller.

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