Along with the new stores, I’ve fixed a bunch of little bugs and added more availability messages to prices (Just hover your mouse over the price – not super obvious I’ll grant 😉 )
It’s been a long night – the generally excellent Slicehost apparently had a network outage tonight, taking Booko down with them. They kept their blog, forums and twitter up-to-date which was appreciated. The outage, not so appreciated. When Booko came back up, naturally Fishpond was down, leading to some errors on Booko’s side. I’ve updated Booko to be more resiliant to 3rd party outages likke this and things are definitely improving.
In addition, I’ve added Melbourne University’s Bookstore to Booko – they sell both books and DVDs so it’s a great addition to have. This brings us to 32 stores searched for books and 7 for DVDs.
It’s been a busy week with a bunch of updates for Booko. Check it:
Major new feature for Booko released tonight as a beta feature – we now search Fishpond, Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk for DVDs and grab pricing from 6 stores. This will be expanded as things settle down. You can search by Title or by EAN/UPC (like ISBN for books). There’s plenty of work to be done to make this better, but the basics are now in place. If you find any errors or weird behaviour, have some questions or just want to say hi, send me some email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a comment below.
Booko is caching more agressively with Memcached. It now remembers your search query between clicks and keeps the search field populated. Search results are cached for 5 minutes currently – this means if you search for the same query, for the same type of item (Books or DVDs) the resutls will be available instantly. Additionally, currency conversion rate information is now cached for an hour. I had assumed my conversion library did this already but apparently not – this has sped Booko up significantly, and the cart especially is much snappier.
Another Store + Updates
I’ve added another store to Booko – Amazon.ca bringing us to a total of 31 stores for books, and 6 for DVDs. Finally I can say “Searches more than 30 online stores!” 😉 In addition, query timeout are now set on all stores. During the last few weeks there have been a couple of online stores go offline – this would leave Booko waiting for far too long for responses, slowing the site down significantly.
Recently I set up email notification for errors with help from this blog post. Since then I’ve been getting the occasional email from Booko telling me when things go wrong. It includes the URL accessed and a bunch of useful information for tracking down bugs. Highly recommended for anyone running a RoR site. Helps you catch all sorts of errors which you can then, naturally, write tests for. So as a result, I’ve fixed several bugs recently, introduced one that slowed search down by a factor, then removed it.
In addition, I’ve added shop number 30 – Text Books Oz who specialise, (this won’t be a surprise) in text books.
Due to popular demand, I’ve added The Co-op Bookstore. I initially investigated the Co-op and decided against adding it, due to the fact that to get the member pricing you have to pay $20. Quite a few people have requested I add them, so add them I have. You’ll have to follow the link to their shop to get the member pricing however. I’ve also added Chaos.com to the list, bringing Booko to 29 shops indexed.
You’ll be shocked to see I’ve added some colour to Booko. I know it’s bold and out there, but I think it’s time.
I was talking with Jeremy (the brains behind Booktagger) about what kind of features an online bookstore could have to help affiliates do a better job. After documenting some, I thought they might make an interesting blog post. So, good features for a book site to have, to help affiliates do a better job:
1) An API. The API should accept two types of query – ISBN and a text based search. They could be separate URLs or they could be combined into a single URL and just intelligently recognise if an ISBN or search string has been submitted.
1a) If an ISBN has been submitted, return an XML formatted document including ISBN, title, author, publisher, format, availability, link to cover image and price. If the ISBN isn’t found, return an XML document explaining that there were 0 matching records.
1b) If a search term has been submitted, do a search and return a list of matching items. The items could either be complete – multiple records of the type above in 1a, or an abridged version, requiring the user to resubmit the individual ISBN to get a detailed version of the book.
2) A method of allowing an affiliate to add multiple items to a users carts. To see an example of this, add a few books to Booko’s cart – make sure the books are all available at one of the sites which include this functionality such as the Nile or an Amazon. Once you’ve added a few items, click the “the Nile” or “Amazon ..” link in the cart and you’ll be taken to a page where you confirm that you’d like to add all the following items.
3) Easy to read and generate links to books which can be created based on the ISBN. Like, http://site.com/books/isbn/123123123.php
4) An Affiliate program. The affiliate program should make it easy to create dynamic links to any book in store. Perhaps within the URL or as an argument ?refid=123 style.
These features would make it a book store easy to work with, and helps the end user’s experience by integrating the shopping carts.
I’ve added DStore to Booko this morning. Two other shops, Emporium Books and Glee Books were also added earlier in the year bringing Booko to a total of 25 stores.
Thanks to Anish for a couple of suggestions I’ve implemented including Favicon to help those of you with more browser tabs than desktop space and clearer page titles.
I’ve added a couple of new stores to Booko: Abbey’s and Elsevier. Enjoy!