Created 11 October 2005
WHOA is the Writer’s Homepage for Obsessing about Amazon.
My wife wrote a book, and we wanted to know how it was doing on Amazon. Reloading the Amazon page and scrolling down to the sales rank was a pain. If we wanted to look up other books (by friends, for example) we had to load their pages, and scroll down to their sales ranks.
So I created WHOA, the Writer’s Homepage for Obsessing about Amazon. It displays statistics for a number of books simultaneously.
Although it’s called a “Writer’s Homepage”, it’s handy for anyone who want to track a number of books. Publishers can see how their books are doing (recent Shambhala promotions), Political junkies can track trends (Franken vs Limbaugh and O’Reilly smackdown). Harry Potter fans can wonder why book #1 is more popular than books 2, 3, and 4 (Harry Potter hardcovers). You can create any book list you want, and share the URL with like-minded others.
When you first launch WHOA, it displays a handful of books, but you can customize it to display whatever books you like:
- Click the Customize button.
- Add books by entering their ISBN numbers into the “ISBN numbers” section. Click “Add books”. You can find ISBN numbers on the Amazon page for the book, in the “Product Detail” section. You can paste in a number of ISBN numbers, separated however you like.
- Remove books by clicking the individual “Remove this book” buttons. You can’t remove all the books, so add one of your own books before you remove all the default ones.
- When you have the set of books you like, click “Done”.
- Bookmark your page.
The books are listed in sales rank order, so the best-selling book in your list is first. A handful of different statistics are presented:
- The title of the book is a link to the Amazon page about the book.
- The sales rank is your book’s position in the list of all books sold at Amazon.
- Reviews are summarized, and then the most recent 5 reviews are listed.
- If the books is included in any Listmania lists, up to 10 of them are displayed, with links to the lists.
- The subject categorizations are displayed, with links to the best-sellers in those subjects.
WHOA uses Amazon Web Services to pull information from Amazon. The raw XML returned is transformed with an XSLT stylesheet into the beautiful and useful page you see. A little bit of PHP code glues it all together.
If you really want to dig in, here’s the code: whoa-1.0.zip.
- My blog, where similar tools and technologies are discussed.