Reading Radar API mashup

Boing Boing guestblogger Connie Choe is a health and culture writer by day and a professional kimchimonger by night. 

"Mashup posterboy" John Herren has created a site called Reading Radar that splices The New York Times bestseller list with selected, up-to-date information from in one clean, clutter-free place.

This is stupendous because the NYT bestseller list basically just tells you that a lot of people are buying a particular book, but it never tells you how many of those people sincerely regretted purchasing the aforementioned book. For example, the current #1 bestseller on the hardcover fiction list is Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, which famously sold 1 million copies in its first day of release. High sales volume doesn't automatically mean it's worth reading though. Especially when Reading Radar juxtaposes its NYT bestseller status with its Amazon customer review status (a measly 2.5 out of 5 stars).

Herren -- who created TagCloud as a weekend project a few years ago -- says that Reading Radar took just "a few nights of hacking" and describes the process in detail on his blog. "It was trivial to slap together," he comments, "To the point where I'd hardly consider it programming. But hey, at least I deployed something."


  1. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d LOVE to see people start using alternatives to Amazon. What happened to the famous Boing Boing love of small bookstores — the kind that Amazon puts out of business through its very existence? What happened to buying direct from the artist/author, or through those same small stores, which by their very nature give much higher percentage of the profit to artists/writers than megastores?

  2. Do you have any evidence to support your claim of authors having higher profit margins by selling through locally owned bookstores? I don’t think it’s rational to automatically make that assumption, regardless of whether it turns out to be true.

    I’d be interested to see what the average margins are based on how they are sold, along with the number of books you’d need to sell to make a respectable wage to put the numbers in perspective.

    1. Boyhowdy: It comes down to one thing. Price. I was looking for a particular programming book about 2 weeks ago, and on Amazon it was $31.99. In two “regular” bookstores, the same book was $49.99.

  3. Oopsie doodle about the duplicate… thought I hit “stop” in time.

    Also, it’s easily believable that buying directly from the author would provide the highest profit margins, which is why the webcomics profit model has been successful, thanks in part to the internet’s ability to boost the volume of sales significantly.

  4. @v21 Good call. I should’ve used this quote of Herren’s instead, “…it was a fun way to spend a few evenings doing what I love: making mashups.” He makes it all sound so easy.

  5. I’ve never set much store by Amazon’s automatic recommendations – last February, I was exhorted to treat myself with a romantic gift for Valentine’s day. Suggestions for said romantic gift included “Struwwelhitler”, “LAN Cabling, 2nd Edition” and “The Complete Cisco VPN Configuration Guide”. Steamy stuff.

  6. Mark – click on any of the “See the full list” links to go to a page which shows ratings, prices, and the review. For example:
    Here is the one for Fiction bestsellers.

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