From the book lists at Adware Report:

All information current as of 00:45:56 Pacific Time, Thursday, 6 January 2005.

Amazon Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips and Tools

   by Paul Bausch

    20 August, 2003


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Editorial description(s):
At its core, is a great big database concerned with lots of stuff--books, of course, but also tools, clothing, films on DVD, kitchen equipment, and lots and lots (and lots) of Harry Potter paraphernalia. Want to wear an
while juicing celery (presumably with considera" vigor)? Amazon can help. Need a cricket b", ra" gun, dietary fiber supplement, or vibrasonic molechaser? Amazon has what you need. Which is all great, but the real value of isn't that these things are in the database. The real value of this site lies in the information about all that stuff--reviews, sales rankings, recommendations, and the like--and the large number of ways to access it. Amazon Hacks explains how to get the most out of as an ordinary customer with a Web browser and as a software developer interested in the site's considerable collection of Web Services.

In Amazon Hacks, Paul Bausch documents most of the avenues has opened up for exploration of the database. A lot of his coverage borders on the obvious: Sections on how to "Power-Search for Books" and "Put an Item Up for Bid at Amazon Auctions" aren't too different from Amazon's own explanatory articles. Coverage of how to add an Amazon search box to your own site, and add Amazon Associates item links to various kinds of Weblogs (including Blosxom and Moveable Type) are much handier. Bausch really shines when explaining's Web Services (AWS), the remotely accessible software interfaces that enables programs to search the database. He includes AWS-enabled programs in PHP, Python, and Perl. --David Wall

Topics covered: How to use as a Web surfer, Web site publisher, and software developer. Detailed coverage goes to advanced product search techniques, managing the characteristics associated with your Amazon login, selling through Amazon Auctions and zShops, and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) API for Perl, PHP, and Python.

Book Description
Amazon Hacks is a collection of tips and tools for getting the most out of, whether you're an avid Amazon shopper, Amazon Associate developing your online storefront and honing your recommendations for better linking and more referral fees, seller listing your own products for sale on, or a programmer building your own application on the foundation provided by the rich Amazon Web Services API. Shoppers will learn how to make the most of's deep functionality and become part of the Amazon community, maintain wishlists, tune recommendations, "share the love" with friends and family, etc. Amazon Associates will find tips for how best to list their titles, how to promote their offerings by fine tuning search criteria and related titles information, and even how to make their store fronts more attractive. And the real power users will use the Amazon API to build Amazon-enabled applications, create store fronts and populate them with items to be picked, packed and shipped by Amazon. And just about anyone can become a seller on, listing items, deciding on pricing, and fulfilling orders for products new and used.

Reader review(s):

A super "hacker" guide to getting the most out of, September 19, 2003
Mention the word "Amazon" today and most people will not necessarily think of the largest river in the world, especially the very young. The common perception of is that it is a web-based bookstore, but like its namesake river, is much more than merely a place to buy books.

Today, is really a complex web application. Instead of just a place to buy various items, is a tool you can customize and adapt to your own uses. This includes participating in the Amazon community, earning money through Amazon's Marketplace and Associates Programs, as well as improving the way you interact with the site.

This latest addition to O'Reilly's very successful Hacks series shows readers of every level how to tap into the power that Amazon offers. Through these industrial-strength tips and tools, readers will learn how to get the most out of

Over Amazon's lifetime, the company has invested $900 million in technology. Though is more often thought of as an online "shop," today the company is really a highly advanced technology company. More and more, is in the business of providing technology to other businesses, as well as their customers. For example, 30% of Amazon's business is from third-party sales. This means other businesses, and sometimes even competitors are making money through

In this super new "Hacks" title, we have a call to all true hackers out there to innovate on the platform. By lowering barriers to entry and experimentation on top of the Amazon platform, true hackers are invited to extend and enhance the platform for all to enjoy.

There are tools and tips here that will appeal to a wide variety of audiences, including online shoppers, web site owners, sellers of products, and software developers. Readers are also encouraged to remember that some of the hacks in the book will continue to evolve. You can always find the current ingredients for any serious software development, the API, at

When first opened its virtual doors on July 16, 1995, it was one of several online booksellers. As Amazon embraced the technology to categorize and display millions of books in one space, people embraced the ability to search for and purchase books in a new way. The experience of building a successful business based on an open system like the Web has influenced Amazon throughout its history.

Amazon has consistently pushed the technology envelope in their quest to provide a satisfying, personalized experience for their customers. What started as a human-edited list of product recommendations has morphed into a sophisticated computer-generated recommendation engine that tailors product choices for tens of millions of individuals by analyzing their purchase history and the patterns of other Amazon customers. As the Web evolved into a two-way space for discussion and community, Amazon developed features that let anyone post information and advice about products.

With this intriguing history, it should not have been a surprise when on July 16, 2002 Amazon released a free Web Services interface that gave developers programmatic access to Amazon's vast collection of product and customer data. With this interface, Amazon combined their core features of recommendations, affiliate marketing, and marketplace commerce into a single technology platform that can be used to build applications and businesses.

"Amazon Hacks" is not intended to be merely an exhaustive explanation of Amazon's features. Instead it's intended to highlight some lesser-known features, show some tricks for working with Amazon efficiently, and document ways to access Amazon programmatically. Developers are already creating new features for Amazon through the Amazon API, and it is this book's intent to convey some of their creativity and excitement, inspiring the hacker in you.

Summary of Table of Contents

The 100 Amazon hacks are organized into 6 chapters, including the following:

1 - Browsing and Searching
2 - Controlling Your Information
3 - Participating in the Amazon Community
4 - Selling Through Amazon
5 - Associates Program
6 - Amazon Web Services

Key Topics Covered

This book will show you how to do the following:

Find just the product you are after among the millions available at Amazon

Access, control, and fine-tune your Amazon preferences, recommendations, and information

Participate in the growing Amazon community and integrate Amazon features into your own Web site

Become and Amazon Associate, develop your own online storefront, and hone your recommendations for better linking and higher referral fees

Sell products online using Amazon's billing, inventory, and marketing infrastructure

Build full-scale desktop and server applications on Amazon's Web Services API

Book Contents

304 pages; foreword by the Amazon technology team; preface; figures; tips; sample scripts; index; cover colophon


Paul Bausch

About the Author

Paul Bausch is an accomplished Web Application Developer, and is a co-creator of the popular weblog software Blogger ( He co-wrote "We Blog: Publishing Online with Weblogs" (John Wiley & Sons), and posts thoughts and photos almost daily to his personal weblog onfocus (


August 2003 First Edition

Interested in Web Services?, September 8, 2003
There are 3 types of people who might benefit from this book. The first is someone who wants to use Amazon in a non-technical context. Suppose you are interested in posting reviews of your favourite books, or in selling via Amazon's fixed price Marketplace or using its auctions. You can directly follow the instructions on their website. But maybe you want an independent assessment that is easy to understand? If so, here is the book.

The second case is someone who runs a website and knows some programming and is interested in perhaps earning some extra income by directing traffic from her site to Amazon. Or maybe using the gigabytes of data that Amazon makes available via its Web Services [AWS] in some fashion that adds value to her site. The beauty of this book is that for a given task [which the author calls a "tip"], 2 key things are supplied. Most importantly, Bausch shows that the task is possible. The proof of concept, if you will. Experienced analysts know that this is often the hardest step. Next, he shows a way to do that task. He has carefully written these in various languages, like perl, JavaScript and ASP. If he wrote a particular task in, say, perl, and you don't particularly care for perl, you can easily recode it in C, C++ or whatever. Straightforward.

The third type of reader is someone who has no interest in Amazon, per se. Rather, you are acutely interested in learning and writing Web Services. This is such a nascent field that there is a paucity of real life applications that an arbitrary user on the net can experiment with. Amazon is one of the few companies that currently makes available Web Services with a rich pool of data. If you are keen, Bausch has several tasks where he integrates AWS with those of Google, USPS and other sites. Well worth studying carefully for inspiration. Of course, ten years from now, we will all laugh at how primitive the current Web Services are. But perhaps you can take some ideas gleaned from this book to bring about that very outcome. The whole field of Web Services is so inchoate that maybe just as Jeff Bezos came up with the idea of selling books online several years ago, you might do likewise with an innovative service.

All your bases are belong to us, October 5, 2003

Awesome collection of, August 30, 2003
Having posted over 200 reviews on Amazon over the past three years, I thought I was reasonably familiar with what Amazon had to offer on its site. While I was familiar with wish lists, posting reviews and the like, this book proved me wrong, as I learned about numerous other features (especially movie show times!) that Amazon offers. Among the features are finding individual ASIN's (Amazon Standard Item Number) for each product listed on Amazon, switching to a text-only Amazon (good if you want Amazon's site to load quickly), "power searching" on books, linking to personal Amazon reviews from your own web site, and countless others. There are also hacks designed to make it more convenient to sell items through Amazon, or participate in the Amazon community, even some hacks designed to let you use Amazon's Web Services. I'm not a programmer, so I'm not interested in those hacks specifically, but they do show how Amazon's Web Services can be used to create alternative interfaces that may be of use to Amazon or other fellow programmers.

Amazon Hacks shows how by using some "tricks," you can make your own use of Amazon and its numerous services that much more enjoyable and useful. This book is a wonderful "guide" to some interesting "hacks" that can be used while browsing the site.

Amazon's secrets laid bare, September 23, 2003
While we all know that is a massive online retailer, it is capable of much more than just helping a customer load up on new DVDs. In fact, learning to effectively use Amazon allows the user to harness an incredible array of information concerning an enormous variety of consumer products. While more intrepid adventurers may be content to machete their way through a jungle of online help documentation, searching for that ever-elusive nugget of information to aid them in their quest, those of us not a part of the "bullwhip and fedora" crowd would prefer to have Amazon's secrets laid bare for us without all the hassle. If you are such a person, then "Amazon Hacks" is the treasure you've been searching for.

"Amazon Hacks" gives the reader the tools to make Amazon work to their advantage. Even if all you ever want to do is make purchases or find product information, there is something in this book for you. The more-than-casual Amazon user will want to make use of Amazon's community features, and once again this book shows how to get the most out of these. If you wish to sell something on Amazon, or if you are an Amazon associate, then the information in this book is a goldmine. For web application developers, "Amazon Hacks" discusses Amazon's Web Services API, allowing them to leverage Amazon's database for their own applications.

I would have liked to see more information about how Amazon's recommender systems work, and I would have liked to see some acknowledgement of Java in the numerous code examples, but these are minor quibbles. If you are seeking to bend to your will and force it to do your bidding, there really is no better place to start than "Amazon Hacks".

Turning an Amazonian-sized Store Inside out, October 18, 2003
This book joins the O'Reilly Hacks series, a worthy series. The name Hacks in the series isn't synonymous with "bad" because a hack is also known as a trick or add-on for adding more power to a program or system. The tech-speak is kept minimal, which makes the hacks easy to read and reference. The series has tips for beginners, moderate users, and experts and each hack is represented by thermometer's temperature (high for expert and low for easy) for easy reference.

Amazon lives up to its name as it has grown to Amazonian proportions with the addition of apparel, toys, sporting goods, wish lists, reviews, listmania, and marketplace. That barely scratches the surface and it's easy to overlook many of its features.

The first part of the book provides hacks for customers as chapters 1 through 3 address browsing, personalization, and community. Each product's page is flowing with plenty of details. The first few pages of the book explain the features that typically appear on a product page. Products have a unique name and it's not just the product name, but rather an ID in the form of an ASIN. Knowing the ASIN unlocks many shortcuts.

Many of us, me included, have probably made it a habit to just enter the product's name in the search box and go. A couple of hacks demonstrate how to search more effectively to get the results you want and fast.

One of the powerful features of Amazon is the ability to adapt to your preferences so it can make recommendations. Fine tune those recommendations and check out the movie show time listings. Be on time with birthday and event reminders.

"What do you want for your birthday?" It's not always comfortable to answer that question, so Wish Lists come in handy. You can do much more than just add items to the wish list. Get hacks on prioritizing it, adding multiple items, and managing it.

If you've posted reviews or created lists, then you're already part of the Amazon community. Since you're reading this review, you must value such reviews in helping you decide whether or not to make the buy (I hope this helps!) Chapter 3 covers the community features of reviews, Listmania!, guides, friends, product advice, and sharing the love. Those familiar with these features might be in for a surprise on additional things they can do.

Amazon isn't the only one that sells products as anyone can be a seller or an associate as explained in chapters 4 and 5. Explore behind the scenes of selling with details on billing, inventory, and marketing. Get the lesser known secrets for developing a store and sharpening recommendations for improving linking and referrals.

Just one chapter covers Web Services, so customers and sellers not interested in it won't feel slighted when they buy the book and have no use for the last chapter. However, the introduction will help anyone better understand Web Services and what Amazon can do with it.

Though the book does its job in acting as a help manual for understanding Amazon's features, it does more by sharing tips and tricks you might not have considered until reading the book. My knowledge of using Amazon has grown over the years and the book pleasantly surprises me with things I didn't know. Amazon Hacks has done justice to the O'Reilly Hacks series.

For Customers, Sellers, Amazon Associates & Web Developers, November 29, 2003
In "Amazon Hacks" author Paul Bausch presents 100 "hacks" that will help customers and sellers get the most out of Amazon's vast database. The book is organized into 6 chapters. The first three are dedicated to hacks that customers will find useful: "Browsing and Searching", "Controlling Your Information", and "Participating in the Amazon Community". Chapters 4-6 present hacks that will be useful to Marketplace Sellers, Amazon Associates, and web developers: "Selling Through Amazon", "Associates Program", and "Amazon Web Services". The complexity of each hack is rated beginner, moderate, or expert. Most of the hacks in Chapters 1-3 are suitable for beginners, with some moderate and advanced hacks in there as well. Chapters 4-6 contain mostly moderate to expert hacks, with Chapter 6 leaning toward expert.

I commonly spend several hours per day on Amazon (ahem, cough, cough!). The site is constantly changing, and there is always something new to discover. But I have acquired a decent familiarity with Amazon through all of my countless (and they shall remain that way) hours of clicking around the site. From this standpoint, I would say that the first 3 chapters of "Amazon Hacks" don't provide any understanding of the Search, Community features, or Account information that someone who has been around a while would not already have. In fact, the book's information on Amazon Community features isn't comprehensive. On the other hand, there are hacks for getting additional utility out of Amazon such as: configuring Internet Explorer to search Amazon from its address bar or any web page, adding an Amazon sidebar to Mozilla, prioritizing your wish list using a third-party service, sorting recommendations and items by average rating, finding a purchase circle by zip code, tracking the sales ranks of items over time, and how to perform a lot of tasks remotely.

I am not a programmer or an Amazon Associate, so I am not in the best position to judge the helpfulness of Chapters 4-6. But it looks to me like Amazon Associates who want to integrate more information from Amazon's database into their site could benefit immensely from Chapter 5. You will find how to: allow customers to purchase items or add them to Amazon wish lists through your site, do that using pop-up windows, create Amazon banner ads that include product recommendations, show Amazon search results on your site, add an Amazon Box to your site, measure and publish your Associates sales statistics, and more hacks along these lines. Chapter 6, "Amazon's Web Services", basically provides hacks that web developers can use to acquire any information from Amazon's database in machine-readable format. Amazon released their Web Services API in 2002, so they are inviting developers to build applications using the Amazon platform. You will need a developer's token, which you get by opening an Associate's account, then screen-scrape to your heart's content!

Excellent for the serious Amazon user, March 7, 2004
If you have to ask if you are a serious Amazon user, you probably aren't. Serious amazon users are most likely vendors selling on or through Amazon. For those types this book is chock full of hints and tidbits about how to use Amazon directly and how to automate their usage through Perl and the web services API. So if you knew that Amazon had a web services API and have used it, you will get a lot out of this book. Otherwise I would recommend hanging back because you probably won't get a lot out of it.

Use all that Amazon provides, October 16, 2003
To start, it must be mentioned that the usage of the word hacks in the title does not refer to the media, "unauthorized access" form of the term. It is used in the classic sense in that is describes ways to quickly and efficiently perform authorized operations that are not otherwise available. The managers of have demonstrated a great deal of foresight in making so many of their methods of doing business freely available for all to use. Therefore, all of the tips and code in this book are authorized and encouraged by Amazon. The only "restrictions" are that they want you to perform timely refreshes, so that the information you obtain is current. Given that the data available on is so volatile, this can hardly be classed as a restriction.
As someone who is very active on the Amazon site, I was impressed by many of the tips in the book. There have been times when I have wondered if it was possible to extract specific types of data from, in other words treat it as a database and perform additional queries on it. With the code given in this book, it is possible to extract and organize a great deal more information than can be obtained by using the online tools on the site. While most of the code is Perl script, there is also some ASP code in VBScript and a few segments of XML and XSL code.
With this book, you can become a power user of Amazon, taking full advantage of what is offered on the site. If you are someone who relies on a great deal, then you simply must read it.

Another excellent "hacks" book., June 2, 2004
By looking at the home page, one might assume is a simple site for such a large portal. Search for the book, put it in your shopping cart, and buy it.

But there's actually a lot more to Amazon, which you can see by reading this book. Many small timesaving (or just plain fun) features and tips have been added to this excellent title.

Amazon Associates in particular will love this book because of the extensive coverage of both Associates, linking to Amazon, and Amazon Web Services. But it's also nice for average users who want to know more about the coolest features of Amazon.

A must for any Associate, and a good read for anyone else.

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