Category Archives: Amazon

Word Statistics Links

For my What’s New with What’s New presentation for the Boston Regional Library System:

Book Information

  • Amazon: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down — The Amazon page for this book is an example of some of the ways that Amazon is playing around with text analysis
  • LibraryThing — This social cataloging site is doing some very interesting work analyzing and comparing its members’ collection data, and collecting and organizing data through their Common Knowledge fielded wiki [Example: John Steinbeck]


Tagging is the primary method of organization for many social media sites, including Flickr, LibraryThing, Delicious, and many others. Tags are keywords users assign to their own items, which can also be used to search across the whole system. Because of the lack of a controlled vocabulary or standard cataloging rules, tagging is an imperfect system by design, but the use of natural vocabulary is quick, flexible and powerful.

Collections of tags can be presented in any format, but are often presented as tag clouds. Here are a couple of typical examples:
Flickr | LibraryThing | Delicious

Similar clouds can be made by analyzing the frequency of words used in any piece of text, like the example below.

This is a tag cloud made by uploading the text of the Declaration of Independence to the TagCrowd website

created at

Amazon Windowshop Beta

Amazon’s Windowshop is a beautiful, visual interface for the exploration of new releases in books, music and DVDs. It’s an immersive experience — this may be one of the biggest buzzphrases of 2008. It stands on the shoulders of giants like Coverflow and CoolIris (formerly PicLens) and SearchMe, all my favorite things. I love the way you select titles of interest and instantly get multimedia content — book descriptions, movie trailers, music, and it’s easy (way too easy!) to click through and buy things.

If only our library systems could work like this…

Amazon Windowshop

Book Burro

Book Burro is a Firefox extension extension that works on Amazon and some other book sites. When you are on the information page for a book, Book Burro adds a little box which shows the price information for that book on other bookselling sites, and the availability of the book at nearby libraries.

For example, when I look up a book on Amazon, the semi-transparent yellow Book Burro bar appears in the upper lefthand corner of the screen :

If I click on the bar, it opens up to show me links, availability information for library catalog and prices for other booksellers. Yes for a library catalog means the title is in the catalog; there’s just a blank if the title is not in the catalog. For a bookseller, the price is listed if the title is available, and there’s a blank if it’s not. Book Burro works on ISBN, so it won’t work on titles without ISBNs, which includes most media materials, and it won’t be able to detect other editions of the same work.

Clicking on the link will take me directly to that title’s page on the library catalog or bookseller’s site.

After you download the extension, you will have a Book Burro option in your Firefox Tools menu. Select this to customize which bookselling sites and library catalogs you want to search. You can also click on the Tools icon on the yellow Book Burro bar to change the settings at any time.

For NOBLE, you can select any scope to search a single library or combination of libraries, or the entire catalog.

There’s also an option for WorldCat. If you enter your zip code here, for each search you’ll get links for the five closest libraries who own the title, based on WorldCat holdings (which may not be complete.)

Book Burro — This is a link to the Book Burro home page, which has more information about this Firefox extension, and the download link.

If you are currently running an older version of Book Burro, including the original Greasemonkey script, you should remove it before downloading the current version.