December 06, 2004

ISBN Tricks

OCLC's Jeff Young wrote me in response to a recent post of mine about xISBN to let me know about a few nifty uses of xISBN:

I'd really love to see a really simple web service where a developer could feed the service an ISBN, and the service would return some very basic bibliographic information in a structured (XML) format.

Turns out that OCLC has something kinda sorta similar to this, only it returns HTML, not XML. Check out (Without the Frame.) This is a view into OCLC's looks like the view was actualy put together for Google.

So, if I had this service, plus xISBN, I could build the little booklist manager I've been writing in my head for the past few months. Basically, to add a book, you'd just need to punch in an ISBN. The system would reach out to WorldCat and find the basic info about the book (title, author, publication info). Then, it would create links to my local library and Amazon. The upshot is I could keep a better list of books-to-read (the combo of an Amazon wishlist and my library's hold queue isn't cutting it for me right now).

Granted, I could probably do this pretty easily through Amazon's web services, but the sheer scope of WorldCat is pretty compelling ("57 million quality records and counting").