I’ve been using ISBNdb.com to provide a link from library pages for a known item book to a vendor-independent way to buy a book online. I don’t like letting Amazon or any other particular vendor get a monopoly. ISBNdb.com provides a list of a variety of vendors, with prices.
ISBNdb was the first thing I discovered that will let me do this. And ISBNdb has a really nice API, although I don’t really use it for much other than linking to the page. But I like supporting them (they get the Amazon affiliate ID etc), because the guy seems like a good guy, and the API is nice and I might want to use it some day.
The problem is that the ISBNdb.com interface is kind of messy. And it only updates prices ‘on demand’, so if you ask for prices for an item that hasn’t been looked at for a while, they might not be up to date (but will trigger ISBNdb’s crawlers to go fetch new prices, which will be there in a few minutes — which is too late for ‘just in time’ for the user!).
So then I discover BookFinder. Similar service as far as providing prices from multiple vendors. Much cleaner interface. The ads are more subtle. It does have a direct linking syntax, but doesn’t actually have an API. BookFinder actually conducts the web crawl really just-in-time, before showing you the answers. Which I think is a better interface, but leaves no good way to pre-check to make sure BookFinder had a page for the relevant ISBN. — but experience with these ISBN-based services tends to be that if if the ISBN exists, they WILL have some data.
So what do you think, should I swap ISBNdb.com for BookFinder in Umlaut?
update. Hmm, one downside of the BookFinder interface is if I just feed it an ISBN, it doesn’t actually give me feedback as to what book I’m searching for, to make sure it was the right one.