Store-agnostic book linking
August 9, 2017 4:20 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by this question: if I wanted to link to information about a book, but I didn't want do so in a way that was tied to Amazon or any other bookseller, what would be a good way to do so?

Some options I’ve considered and rejected:
  • linking to the publisher’s page (URL likely to change, and probably only good for books in print)
  • GoodReads (owned by a bookseller)
  • Book’s entry in Wikipedia (not every book has a Wikipedia page, plus who knows how that page will change in the future)
  • ISBN search in Wikipedia (doesn't list the title or author in the resulting page)
Any other ideas? The goal here is to not favor any store over another, or even to favor stores at all over, say, a library.
posted by Ampersand692 to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's always WorldCat, which is an international combined library catalog, but they won't have too much information beyond the basics like author, publication info, etc. If you want more than that, you're probably not going to do better than a publisher's page or a book review somewhere. Books that are out of print might simply not have an online presence beyond an entry on Worldcat (and some especially rare books may not have any online presence at all).
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:36 AM on August 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'd add maybe the Open Library page for the book, if it exists. Users can help to add a book description as needed, so you have some control over quality of page.
But all web pages/URLs could change, and some books will not have a page on any particular site, so no thing on the internet will 100% meet those requirements. You'd need sources you want to privilege and a number of alternatives.
Link to a publisher's page, if not that then Wikipedia, if not that then Open Library/something else?
posted by sacchan at 4:39 AM on August 9, 2017

I link to the publisher's page for the book, a book review (if available) or the author's website (again, if available) when I'm posting about books on my blog precisely because I don't want to funnel even more business to Amazon.
posted by spamandkimchi at 4:40 AM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

LibraryThing is a GoodReads-esque site but is its own company and does not sell books itself. It does link out to some seller sites (such as Amazon, but also to AbeBooks) and presumably gets revenue from the Amazon Associates program, but also gets revenue from membership fees. (A free membership allows you to have up to 200 books in your personal library; more than that requires a paid account, $10/year or $25 for a lifetime membership.) Here's an example page for To Kill a Mockingbird.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:44 AM on August 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Your library might also have access to NoveList. Like Goodreads, it provides a description of the book as well as read-alikes. If your library subscribes to it, it also links to your library catalog so you can click through on any given book's page to see if it is offered in your library. NoveList is an Ebsco database.
posted by donut_princess at 5:14 AM on August 9, 2017

Authors often have their own websites. Have you looked for one?
posted by Carol Anne at 5:36 AM on August 9, 2017

I was going to suggest Wikidata, but I had to add so much detail to the book I searched for, it's hardly a useful locator.
posted by scruss at 6:00 AM on August 9, 2017

The librarian answer to this is "WorldCat" as shapes says above. They have a commitment to linked data. They are a non-profit. I would not suggest Open Library (I worked there for a few years) because I don't trust them to not change their URL structure. There is also LibraryThing which I trust more but is owned partially by ABE Books so they might be linking to booksellers. If I was in the US and doing this, I'd probably link to Library of Congress. They have nice permalinks like this one:
posted by jessamyn at 6:36 AM on August 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

I always use for this purpose.
posted by adamrice at 7:24 AM on August 9, 2017

(since a few people have brought them up, just a note that AbeBooks is - like GoodReads - completely owned by Amazon, so anything AbeBooks-related is Amazon)
posted by brainmouse at 8:08 AM on August 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

Carol Anne: this is just for links to books in general, for future blog posts. I don’t have a specific book to link right now but I probably will at some point.
posted by Ampersand692 at 8:09 AM on August 9, 2017

Not the best suggestion, but the book pages on Google Books generally have links to a number of sellers plus WorldCat (under Get this book in print->Find in a library).
posted by clawsoon at 9:25 AM on August 9, 2017

I came to suggest LibraryThing, too. Disclaimer: I'm a LibraryThing member and author.

Alternately, you could use WorldCat or, for American imprints, the Library of Congress catalogue. Both of those will provide bibliographic information but not social media info such as reviews.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:57 AM on August 9, 2017

A Wayback Machine link to the publisher' page might work, if the publisher allows them to archive - that gives you "info at time of blog writing." Wayback link to any other info site would also work; it removes the direct commercial connection and won't disappear over later drama or site changes.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:23 AM on August 9, 2017

I'm going to go with LibraryThing. This example page is pretty much exactly what I'm looking for — everything you would need to find the book in either a library or a bookstore. I wish the upper-right sidebar had links to other bookstores than Amazon (or Amazon-owned ones), but other than that it's pretty much perfect for me.
posted by Ampersand692 at 11:00 AM on August 9, 2017

I wish the upper-right sidebar had links to other bookstores than Amazon (or Amazon-owned ones),

If you create an account and are signed in, that sidebar becomes editable and you have a choice among hundreds if not thousands of sources to show over there. Although that wouldn't make a difference for people you're sending there from links in blog posts unless they have an account (they'll see the default if not logged in, or whichever ones they've set up if they're logged in and have changed it from the default), it may be of interest for personal use.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:29 AM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

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