Swaroop C H

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isbn.net.in open-sourced

31 Dec 2010

I have been getting many emails regarding isbn.net.in since I put it out 9 months ago. For example:

Hi Swaroop, I am following your blog for last year. I have visited and used ur isbn.net.in service. It is a good idea.

To easy of mobile phone buyers, I wanna create a application like isbn.net.in for the mobile phone availability and comparison.

Can i do this as a Final year project? Is it take that much work? To create that what should I know!

I have knowledge in Open source softwares, LAMP and basic python (From A Byte of Python).

and this:

Hi Swaroop,

Love your site isbn.net.in!

I am planning to start an online bookstore to sell used books. I need help to acquire book info like title, author etc. based on ISBN. Will you be able to help? Do you have an API that I can use? I see that you use Amazon. I was not sure if Amazon would have the details for books published in India. Please let me know your thoughts. Appreciate your help.

I actually wrote isbn.net.in as a means of learning Ruby, so I had written some hacked-up code using Sinatra. As it was my first Ruby project, the code was very amateurish and was not something I wanted to share.

Since so many people have been asking how it works, I decided it would be easier to just open source it. I took this opportunity to rewrite it using Rails 3 and try out Heroku as well. So, voila, Rails 3, Heroku and using MongoDB for tracking background jobs (to do the screen scraping) means a brand new isbn.net.in that is now live.

And the source code is now at https://github.com/swaroopch/isbnnetin (Note that this software requires Memcached and MongoDB to run).

The code is under an Apache license, so use it as you please.

Now that the source code is out there, there are some contributions that can make the site better:

I would love any help on the above. If you're interested, please fork away and when you're ready, send me a pull request on GitHub :-)

Still Spreading

I am surprised to still see the response to isbn.net.in, mainly because I do zero marketing, and yet I still get 1-2 emails per day about it. That is amazing considering that the site has been there for nearly nine months and I didn't do much other than write a blog post about it. I don't tweet it or facebook it and all that jazz. I guess it's a case of "Build it and they will come"?

For example, it was featured in startup articles, it was even mentioned in interviews of new online ecommerce stores that are coming up.

My favorite part is that people are using it as a bookmark URL (which was a use case that I had in mind), see @xrivatsan, @PurpleFoodie and @Shalin10

And I get emails and tweets when the site used to go down for even a few hours!

Oh, and thanks for all the feedback:

Shashank ND says:

"isbn.net.in saves a ton of time when trying to buy books online. Indian e commerce needs more of them. Thank you @swaroopch.""isbn.net.in saves a ton of time when trying to buy books online. Indian e commerce needs more of them. Thank you @swaroopch."

Swaroop Hegde says:

"Been searching for Kochan's Objective-C book for a day now but hitting out of stock everywhere. And oh, Kudos to @SwaroopCH's isbn.net.in"

Nandan Dubey says:

"http://isbn.net.in/ best site to compare price of the books visit it once before buying any online books"

Vinay says:

isbn.net.in is one simple and great site which is give you the best prices online. Great service for book lovers

The greatest flattery, though, is when it has inspired many other book price comparison websites.

For example, take the story behind mySmartPrice:

I chanced upon a book price search engine by Swaroop through a post on Flipkart. I will always remain thankful for that since I have gained a lot of insight by going through his blog. If you intend to ever start your startup then do subscribe to his blog.

A lot of users of Swaroop’s project liked the product. However many of them were asking for a way to start with the title of the book instead of the isbn number. I guess Swaroop has not made the changes since it was not his idea to start with and he might be busy with his new job at Infibeam. Coincidentally I am on the exit mode from my job to get into the startup phase.

One of the biggest inspirations for working on this project has been my own desire to prove to myself that I continue to be a geek even 5 years after I stopped coding to go to IIM Bangalore. There are many improvements that are required even now and I will talk about them in future posts. However I am already proud of the product that I have.

I will close this post by wishing myself and MySmartPrice luck and by thanking Tapas for introducing me to the wonderful blog of Swaroop and Swaroop for providing me such a nice homework to bring out the coder in me

There have been other sites such as MyDiscountBay that also seem to have taken inspiration from isbn.net.in. Update: confirmed via twitter.

And we seem to be spawning many more.

The irony is that I myself was inspired by isbn.nu. We all stand on the shoulders of giants :-)

Oh, and isbn.net.in is certainly just a side project, definitely not meant as a competition to these startups.

The single biggest crib that I hear is that one needs to know the ISBN number to use isbn.net.in - it seems that most people forget that I have a bookmarklet which solves that problem, sigh. I really don't see the need to make a completely new search engine when all these ecommerce sites are already putting in effort to make a great search engine. But I guess people want everything online and don't want to even use a browser feature, such is the Net effect! (If you do have an idea in mind how to solve this, as I mentioned before, fork away ;-))

This was my list of updates about isbn.net.in. Feedback welcome!

Update: Someone has written a Flipkart to isbn.net.in link greasemonkey script. Nice to see people building on top of isbn.net.in! On the same note, if you ever want to get the prices from isbn.net.in, just append .json to the URLs, example http://isbn.net.in/0142000280.json for the JSON data of the prices.

Comments

@ashwinm says:

@ved_a hum,then i like isbn.net.in more simply bcz its opensource ;) cc @swaroopch

Sandip Bhattacharya says:

Screen scraping changes needed? The flipkart and homeshop18 prices seems to have some error. Using the json URL that you have given at the end of the post:

{"isbn":"9780142000281",
"when":"2013-05-15T01:39:35.118Z",
"price":
{"flipkart":2147483647,
"homeshop18":2147483647,
"infibeam":449.0,
"bookadda":449.0,
"crossword":599.0}}

swaroop says:

Hey Sandip, Yes it needs re-work, sorry I haven't had time to look into it yet.

Feedback

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