Export purchased books list from Amazon

Sunday, September 18th, 2011 | Author:

If you happened to buy books from Amazon.com (or, in my case, Amazon.de) and maybe used the recommendation engine and the wishlist (and and and ...) then there will be lots of data about your books on the Amazon website. Have you ever thought about organizing your library with a different tool? May it be Google Books or LibraryThing or Shelfari, you will have to export this precious big amount of data from Amazon to the other service. Luckily, some intelligent people invented ISBN, so you basically need to extract a list of ISBNs to identify the books (neglecting your reviews and tags for now). Not that luckily, Amazon doesn't offer such export functionality to the layman. Searching the internet yields a Greasemonkey script that enables you to export wishlist content - but no ISBNs, so import into other services is not so easy.

The solution is to save each website of "your purchases" (or other such lists of books) as HTML file and let a smart script do the extraction work. This way, you're not violating Amazon's terms of service (which most likely don't allow any robots scraping the website) and on the positive side, it works.

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Category: English | 4 Comments

Managing Books

Thursday, March 24th, 2011 | Author:

Today in the series "How to do XYZ with software?":

How to manage books?

You read books at work, you read books at home, you lend books, you buy and sell books. If you do at least one of these tasks, you need to think about a metadata management system. For most people, this is just a (wooden, real-life) bookshelf, where all possessed books are displayed, easily to be sorted by author or colour of the cover. Even then, some help with software might be justified, since you need to package the books for every relocation anyway.
Now let's take a look at a quick&easy way to use software for organising a private book collection.
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Category: English, Not Mathematics | 4 Comments

Review – Seife: Decoding the Universe

Monday, August 16th, 2010 | Author:

I just finished Decoding the Universe - How the new science of information is explaining everything in the cosmos, from our brains to black holes, written 2006 by the former mathematics student and now associate professor of journalism Charles Seife, apparently well known for his other books Zero and Alpha&Omega (which I didn't read).
The book in Google Books and a much shorter review I wrote in German on Amazon.de

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Category: English | One Comment

Problematic elections

Sunday, January 24th, 2010 | Author:

Since I recently finished reading Donald G. Saari's wonderful book "Chaotic Elections - A Mathematician Looks at Voting" (published by the American Mathematical Society), I decided to give a short example of what goes wrong in elections, so you'll know how voting paradoxes influence our lives and why you should know something about it. This is about Germany, but I tried to design the example such that you don't have to know anything about Germany to understand it.
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