APIs have a wide range of uses, from allowing us to play games on Facebook to transferring information securely between financial institutions to synchronizing bank data. In an article for Digital Book World, Emma Barnes discussed how APIs are being used in the publishing industry to improve data integrity and improve efficiency.
Barnes’ metadata web app, Bibliocloud, takes advantage of the ability of RESTful APIs to move data easily between computers and sends data to e-commerce Platform Shopify using an API. The API also allows publishers to populate their own web apps with up-to-date metadata by requesting it form Bibliocloud.
Similarly, Bibliocloud is able to get book reviews and ratings from Goodread’s API, and also from Google Book’s API. It also collects and stores author information from Twitter, while cross-checking a publisher’s titles against Amazon’s API, flagging any mismatches. This huge supply and interoperability of data means that there is more information available to consumers, who can make more informed decisions about the books they select, while drastically easing the task of monitoring and managing inventory data and product information for publishers.
The most important point in all of this is how the different systems are able to communicate with each other. The programmatic transferring of data over RESTful APIs via the user-friendly JSON format allows web services to populate their pages with the correct information, get sales data, and send orders to other devices or platforms. All of this creates an ecosystem of shared data that can drastically improve ROI for publishers.