Big news for bookworms: HarperCollins, one of the “Big Six” New York publishers, has launched its OpenBook API Beta (not to be confused with the “Openbook” Facebook parody site), giving developers access to a wealth of data about their books and authors.
While there’s lots of coverage to the impact of electronic distribution to the world of mainstream book publishing, Bookboon has been quietly transforming the world of textbook publishing. Bookboon uses a self-developed API to deliver their electronic books to Facebook users via their custom Facebook app. Additionally, they use the same API to make their titles available to partner bookstores, allowing resellers to integrate the Bookboon product line into a general catalog of available titles.
Berlin start-up Readmill, is providing a platform for eBooks that connects readers regardless of what platform they are using. Readmill’s core offering is a free bookreader that competes head to head with Amazon’s and Apple’s offerings. Unlike other eReaders, Readmill is based on a device-neutral, API-driven platform that integrates social recommendations, annotations and geolocation services.
Publisher Pearson recently launched its new API program with three of its top titles. The new platform provides a common set of tools that developers have grown accustomed to: documentation, sample code, app showcase, blog, forum and FAQs, for example. Pearson has a lot of content to pick from with its core offerings, as well as its numerous partners, and they decided to start by launching three very different content APIs: FT Press API, Longman Dictionary API and Eyewitness Guide to London API.
I’vRead is a service for keeping track of what books you’ve read. Seems simple, but it can be rather useful for those of us obsessed with reading like myself. Its web site offers the service for free, and using it is already pretty simple. There isn’t even another account to register for. All a user needs to do is add a specific tag, @ivread, to a Twitter post mentioning the book. It allows for some basic searches of the data on their website, but the I’vRead API is where the service really shines.
The eBook market is publishing’s fastest growing sector with an ever increasing list of reading devices ranging from Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iPad, a standard Mac or PC or any number of smaller mobile devices or tablet alternatives capable of viewing documents in a number of formats. Getting good data about eBook availability, format and pricing is hard; Luzme and its Luzme API make it easy.
It’s always exciting to see those outside the web industry using an API to improve their sites. NY Times First Look blog has a great example of what Dallas Public Library has done with the Best Sellers API.
Most mashups rely on some type of API that’s freely provided by a public web site. ProgrammableWeb tracks thousands of these resources across dozens of categories. Generally, these interfaces are SOAP or REST-based, but they may also work in cooperation with other open formats like RSS or Atom. In an enterprise setting, mashups have a more diverse set of protocols to potentially leverage including JDBC/ADO.NET (databases), SMTP/IMAP (email), and SNMP (network monitoring). Unless you are building a data mashup, one of the participants API’s is usually focused on visually representing the data. It could be the classic Google Maps API, or perhaps some type of charting (Google Charts is a great resource).
Last week we reported on the release of another API by The New York Times: the Times Bestseller’s API. Well it didn’t take long for the API to make its way into a neat book recommendation engine called Reading Radar.
Last month The New York Times released its own map mashup: Represent. This month the major media player has released a Best Sellers API, which provides developers with access to best sellers lists from several categories (view our new Times Best Sellers API profile).