Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

LibraryThing does Borders product codes

Short version: I’ve added an option to parse “BINCs,” the product code Borders (and Waldenbooks?) paste over the ISBN on the back cover.

If you use a barcode scanner to enter your books into LibraryThing, or even if you don’t, you periodically run into a Borders barcode, pasted over the book’s original ISBN barcode. It can be extremely aggravating.

LibraryThing now has an option to read these stickers. You can either scan them with a barcode reader or type the printed BINC, shown here:

To do this, either (1) turn on this option in Add books:

Or (2) put “binc” into the search box, in front of the number (eg., “binc 5106509”). Note that if you check the checkbox, you can ONLY enter BINCs. Everything else will fail.

For LibraryThing to parse BINCs, it needs to run a quick search on Borders’ website, and fetch the ISBN. Technically this is “screen scraping,” which some webmasters will try to block. Since users of this feature are by definition Borders customers, I’m doubt they’ll raise any objections. I’m writing them this morning to tell them about it. To sweeten it, I’ve added Borders to the list of merchants and libraries on work pages. Their website can’t hold a candle to Amazon on ecommerce features—and, indeed, they use Amazon as their main online presence—but it has a nifty function to check whether your local Borders has it in stock, and reserve it if they do.

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