Amazon-enhancing your library

By: Jeremy W. Sherman. Published: . Categories: Small Bytes. Tags: amazon hack library.

You have a great Amazon wishlist. But Amazon books cost money, and you can’t read them till someone delivers them. Lame. I demand free and instant gratification!

Enter the library! But if your library website is anything like mine, the online browsing experience is nowhere near as awesome as Amazon’s. And who wants to laboriously search each and every title they’ve wished for on Amazon? There’s gotta be a better way to figure out which of your Amazon books you can get for free.

Enter Ruby! With a little prep work, you can fetch all the titles from Amazon, run them through your library’s search interface, and get some useful information:

Fetching Amazon wishlist… 39 titles found. Searching library for 39 titles… Found 9 titles with results: - The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair: For Road & Mountain Bikes (2 results) - The Weed Tree (2 results) - Broken Bells (9 results) - Capacity (24 results) - Civilian (27 results) - Cults (38 results) - High Society (54 results) - A History of Reading (89 results) - Mirror (373 results)

I started with a wishlist of 39 items and winnowed it down to just 9 that the library might have. The frustrating part has been done for me: checking book after book only to find the library has absolutely nothing for 30 of them. Sure, I still have to check whether Enon’s High Society was actually among the 54 results for that search, but at least I know there are results. More hacking time could undoubtedly improve the false positive rate and add a “request this for me” feature, but as-is, this quick hack will pay off over and over.

Grab the source to “dekazon” (Dekalb county library district + Amazon) and use it as a starting point to hack something similar up for your library/college/home. Bringing datasets together is a beautiful thing.