Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

Introducing the thingTitle API

As noticed below, the Mashing up the Library competition is drawing to a close. LibraryThing tried to stoke things by releasing its thingISBN API, which takes an ISBN and returns ISBNs for all the other editions. Here’s one more API. Go do something interesting with it, eh?

thingTitle. Announcing another simple LibraryThing API. Feed it a title and it will return all the ISBNs from the most likely LibraryThing “work,” the LibraryThing title and a link to the LibraryThing work page.

It should prove useful for people who have uncontrolled, ratty or ISBN-less data. I plan to use it to mine the syllabi and playlists at H20. A company like IMDb could use it to provide ISBN links for movies “based on” a novel, or dating services for their members’ favorite books—it works well with The Unbearable Lightness of Being. (Note, however, the no-commerial-use license.)


http://www.librarything.com/api/thingTitle/The Hobbit
http://www.librarything.com/api/thingTitle/Jonathan Strange
http://www.librarything.com/api/thingTitle/The Curious Incident

It’s flexible with how you do spaces:

http://www.librarything.com/api/thingTitle/The Hobbit

It’s not perfect. It can’t read your mind and it learns toward popular things. If you give it “The curious incident” it will guess you mean Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, owned by over 2,000 LibraryThing members, not The Curious Incident Of The WMD In Iraq (4 members), or the parody The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress (1 member).

The output is simplicity itself:

<title>The magician's assistant</title>
<license>By using this service you agree to its license.</license>

Note that it doesn’t always return a title. If LibraryThing only knows the title from Amazon data, it omitts it per the Amazon TOS.

Improvements. At present, it only returns one result. It could return many, in descending order of likelihood. Nor does it accept any other hints, such as the author name. It could accept these, and take them into account.

License. As with thingISBN, thingTitle is available for non-commercial only. (Commercial use requires our written permission.) You can only make 1 request/second, and if you plan to hit it more than 1,000 times/day for an extended period, you must notify us of what you’re doing. In fact, we’d love to hear anyway. Needless to say, it’s provided “as is” with no guarantee whatsoever. If you use thingTitle to run a lathe, we are not responsible for missing digits.

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  1. Stephen says:

    This is a great idea.. but for my needs it won’t work since I have titles that match multiple books and this only returns one book (most popular). If it were possible to include author, or return all possible books, that would be great. Thank you.

  2. Stephen says:

    Oh never mind just found “What Work?” which does the job.

  3. Brilliant service — kudos (again)! I’m trying to figure out an oddity. A search for “Charlotte’s Web” retrieves only the single ISBN for the the movie storybook (work:2279736) which is 449,236 in popularity rather than the ISBNs for the original book, popularity: 109. Thoughts? (other titles with apostrophes work as expected).