One of newest API directory listings is the LibraryThing API, a programmable interface to the popular book lovers site LibraryThing. The service, started as a personal project by Tim Spalding allows users to catalog their book collections now has over 23 million entries. In 2006 Abe's Books bought a 40% interest in the company. Earlier this month the site was a pick over at the Wall Street Journal which points out that the site has 350,000 members, indexes for 252 international and 39 US libraries, and has over 700,000 user-uploaded book covers.
The API is a fairly straightforward REST API with three primary methods:
- thingLang: a "a simple, pragmatic API for determining the language of a book. thingLang uses LibraryThing's MARC records, when it can. When it can't it uses the Group Identifiers embedded at the start of the ISBN format. Rather than returning XML, which--ssh!--I don't really like, LibraryThing returns a naked three-letter string, following the MARC standard." Ex: http://www.librarything.com/api/thingLang.php?isbn=2070525570 (Harry Potter in French). Tim's blog post on this includes some interesting, obscure trivia about ISBN's.
- thingTitle: Feed it a title and it will return all the ISBNs from the most likely LibraryThing "work," the LibraryThing title and a link to the LibraryThing work page. It should prove useful for people who have uncontrolled, ratty or ISBN-less data." Ex: http://www.librarything.com/api/thingTitle/The Hobbit.
- thingISBN: Given a specific ISBN, this method will return a list of associated ISBN's. Ex: http://www.librarything.com/api/thingISBN/0553212583 (Wuthering Heights).