Category Archives: Shops

Sometimes we talk about the shops that Booko searches

The best of the EOFY sales

Ohhh you’ve got to love the end of the financial year where stores all dramatically lower their prices and we can all reduce our wish lists by snapping up a bargain or two. We’ve browsed the online world for books and are happy to share top picks of the EOFY sales… you’re welcome!

First up, the usually very pricy beautiful arty books for coffee tables…

Monochrome Home by Hilary Robertson

Decorating in black and white is perennially popular and eternally chic. Hilary Robertson demonstrates how, whether used alone or together, these contrasting shades can create dramatic effects at home, from the classic to the eclectic. Sought-after interiors stylist Hilary Robertson celebrates the stylish simplicity of the monochromatic home, elegant interiors in black, white, and every shade of grey in between.




All in Good Taste by Kate Spade New York

In this charming guide to entertaining, Kate Spade New York throws rigid rules out the door and shares unpretentious ideas for the modern day hostess that are easy, festive, authentic, and always with an air of deliberate polish. Filled with how-tos, personal essays, anecdotes, recipes, and a liberal dash of style, All in Good Taste will transform you into the hostess everyone wants an invitation from. All in Good Taste is the modern classic you’ll treasure for years. Disclaimer: The wine stain on the cover of the book is a design element and is intentional.


Urban Pioneer by Sara Emslie

More than half the world’s population now lives in cities as we flock to urban centres in search of jobs, easy commutes, cultural institutions and a thriving social life. The resulting pressures on housing mean that homeowners and renters are boldly converting ex-industrial and non-residential spaces into innovative contemporary homes. In Urban Pioneer, Sara Emslie investigates the practice for transforming non-residential spaces into homes, the key elements of the look and the related rise in the popularity of industrial design. She then explores twelve inspiring and varied real-life homes that showcase the very best of the Urban Pioneer look.



Art of the 20th Century by Karl Ruhrberg

It was the century that changed art forever. Who could possibly have forecast on New Year’s Eve 1899 that, one hundred years later, painting and sculpture would be only options, not prerequisites? The term “art” has been defined and redefined so many times over the last 100 years that it has gained entirely new social, political, and technological meanings. Ranging across the full spectrum of disciplines available, including photography and new media, and thematically chaptered to highlight relationships between works and movements, this readable and encyclopaedic masterwork does just what it says on the cover. An undertaking as immensely ambitious as this one deserves to be owned by everyone.



Capture Your Style by Aimee Song

With 3 million Instagram fans and counting, Aimee Song knows a thing or two about taking the perfect Instagram photo. In Capture Your Style, Song reveals the secrets behind creating the ultimate feed and breaks down the technical and editorial essentials for creating an account that will draw thousands of followers to earn you likes and brand attention. Organised by lifestyle categories, including fashion, travel, food, decor and more, the book presents the best apps and filters for processing photos, improving your voice and capturing your story on Instagram. There is also how-to information for propping and styling food and fashion photos. Whether you’re launching a career or simply sharing a gorgeous meal with your friends, Capture Your Style empowers you to become a master mobile photographer and shows you how to turn everyday moments into Instagold.


…for those with a green thumb, or a hammer…


Urban Jungle by Igor Josifovic

This beauty is a source of inspiration, ideas and a manual for all of those who want to bring more plants into their home. The book guides the reader through different “green” homes in five European countries and shows how beautiful, unique, creative and even artistic living with plants can be. More than that the reader finds endless ideas for styling from the bloggers of the “Urban Jungle Bloggers” community. To complete the topic of indoor plants the book offers easy help for taking care of the plants and DIY tips. Super handy!



Grand Designs Australia Handbook by Peter Maddison

An inspiring and practical handbook for everyone who has ever dreamed of renovating or building their own home. An inspirational and practical guide to building exciting, beautiful and extraordinary homes. It is a bit of a must-have book for all homeowners, builders, renovators and dreamers. Showcasing the striking homes that appeared in Grand Designs Australia television series 1-3, this book is packed with practical guidance, advice and ideas.. From the initial vision through to the planning, construction and finishing stages, Peter Maddison steps you through the principles and practicalities involved in creating your own dream house.


…and for those wanting to curl up and drift into another world…


Wonder by R J Palacio

‘My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.’ Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all? WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.



Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival, about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain and heals a different heartache. Readers are taken through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and find sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.






A virtual tour of the world’s most beautiful bookshops

There’s a subculture of book lovers who tour the world’s most beautiful bookshops.  Who wouldn’t?  We use beautiful in the figurative sense because although some of these bookshops are breathtakingly beautiful (such as Liberia El Ateneo Grand Splendid), others like the Honesty Bookshop are striking in their simplicity.  Here are our recommendations for a virtual tour of the world’s most beautiful bookshops:

Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina from m4caque’s photostream/ /CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

What’s more amazing than a bookshop built from a disused theatre?  Theatre boxes are used as reading rooms, there are comfy couches scattered throughout the area and many of the original features are intact.  We love that the red stage curtain is a centrepiece, which adds a touch of theatre to the room.  Walls feature intricate carvings and the ceiling contains beautifully painted murals.  Buenos Aires appears to be a city for bookworms with many snug cafes encouraging a love of reading.  We can’t wait to visit…

Poplar Kids Republic, Beijing, China from

If you’re designing a bookstore for children, there’s a great opportunity to play with structure, design and colour.  Well, this bookshop in Beijing, China, completely nails the brief.  There are a ton of interesting areas for children to explore the wide range of books and to find a comfy spot in which to read them.  Opened by the Beijing POPLAR Culture project, the premise of the building was to encourage cultural awareness, with a focus on multicultural picture books.  Designed by SAKO Architects, this organic and maze-like bookshop turns the idea of the conventional bookstore on it’s head as it is built around the needs of it’s customers.  A+.

Cafebreria El Pendulo, Mexico City, Mexico

Image from

Books, coffee and gardening!  Whoever designed this bookshop certainly took into account some of my favourite things!  Named after the pendulum that hangs from the ceiling, customers are invited to give it a nudge as they pass by, which allows it to swing back and forth, making patterns in the sand as it does.  This double-level cafe houses books in both Spanish and English in shelves that are packed to the brim!  Casually laid-out, books are placed in piles on the floor, giving the cafe a lovely casual atmosphere.  Containing novelty gifts as well as books, DVD’s and CD’s, the friendly staff are on hand to offer some assistance in selecting the perfect gift.

Corso Como Bookshop, Milan, Italy

Image from Pinterest

10 Corso Como resembles an art gallery in it’s most minimalist sense.  Designed by American artist Kris Ruhs, it’s becoming an institution with outlets now also in Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul.  A shopping and dining complex, it offers a range of shops that display works of art, fashion, food, design and other cultural elements.  Hosting a wide range of events and exhibitions, 10 Corso Como is a regular haunt of the culture vulture!

Honesty Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye

Image from Nexxo

For some reason, the small Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye is a hub of bookshops and literature-related events.  Its literature festival was described by the then US President Bill Clinton as “the Woodstock of the mind”.  Housing over 30 bookshops in narrow streets, many tour groups offer tours to this fabulous little town.  We love the Honesty Bookshop, which is basically sets of aged shelves full of books that can be purchased with a donation.  All funds go towards the restoration of the town’s Norman castle – whose grounds house the Honesty Bookshop.  Such a beautifully simple little shop!

Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Image from

“Be Not Inhospitable to Strangers Lest They Be Angels in Disguise,” is the theme of the bookshop; it’s written above the entrance to the reading library.  So strangers do come – some of them sleep in beds tucked behind the bookshelves, often helping out around the bookshop in place of board.  Since opening, an astounding 30,000 people have slept in the bookstore.  Quite often they are artists and aspiring writers who make Shakespeare and Co their home for a while.  For these reasons, we feel this bookshop is quite extraordinary.

Shakespeare and Company is actually the name of two different bookstores that have opened on Paris’ Left Bank.  The first one closed during WW2 but was, in its day, a gathering place for such imminent writers as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce.  The second still operates today at 37 rue de la Bûcherie.  Operating as an antiquarian bookseller, selling new and second hand books, it also doubles as a free reading library to the public.

Bugs, Outages and a new shop.

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.

New Booko beta feature released – DVD pricing

It’s been a busy week with a bunch of updates for Booko. Check it:

DVD pricing

Major new feature for Booko released tonight as a beta feature – we now search Fishpond, & 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 ( or leave a comment below.

More Caching

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 – 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.

Bug fixes for bug fixes and a new shop – Text Books Oz

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.

New shops, some colour

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 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. 🙂

Bookstore features to help out Affiliates

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,

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.