A while back, I released a side-project called http://isbn.net.in – a simple tool for comparing book prices in India. I received lots of feedback, suggestions and praise. I have updated it with fixes for the bugs reported and implemented most of the suggestions.

It was interesting to see people writing blog posts and linking to the corresponding book page on isbn.net.in as a “canonical page” about the book. I hadn’t thought of that.

Feedback

Lots of bug reports, suggestions and praise came via email, such as from Onkar:

“Nice idea with simple implementation. I am sure this will make my father happy. Thanks for your work. :-)”

And as expected, Twitterers were most vocal about it:

@saurabh says: isbn.net.in is awesome #recommended #ftw #awesomeness

@kranium256 says: isbn.net.in is actually quite bloody awesome!

@kr0y says: For all those who love to order books online, this site can really help you get a good deal http://isbn.net.in/

@abhinittiwari says: Awesome book price comparision engine! http://isbn.net.in/

@vineetmundhra says: A wonderful tool for comparing book prices in India http://isbn.net.in

@l0nwlf says: http://isbn.net.in -> a pretty neat site to compare prices of book

@yarooruvann says: http://isbn.net.in/ very good tool to compare book prices in India

@jasdeep says: isbn.net.in is awesome, thank you @swaroopch

@tan1337 says: Awesome!

And some of the blog comments were heartening to note as well, especially this one:

Chandan V says: I was searching for a book from past 1 week and was unable to find it. Thanks to you, finally I was able get my book at flipkart. It was like, I thought I’ll not get that book any where in Bangalore and I open my google reader to see your link. Bingo, I have placed an order and eagerly looking forward for the delivery. Thanks a ton. You do not know how much it meant for me to have that book.

Note that last sentence. That is the stuff that creators love! :)

Search by title

The biggest feedback was: “Getting ISBN numbers is a little difficult for everyone. Consider taking a book title as your input and searching prices based on that directly.”

I understand the motivation behind this. But unfortunately, this was what I was exactly trying to avoid! I do not want to build a search engine! That is a non-trivial task, as I’m sure you can imagine.

My idea was to piggyback on top of people who are already doing that well. For example, Flipkart and Infibeam are supposed to have the most titles for the Indian market. So my idea was this: Why not use those search engines which are being constantly updated and tweaked by those companies to search for the books, and then use the bookmarklet + isbn.net.in to compare the actual prices. I actually don’t want you to use isbn.net.in as the starting point.

If you still want to search by book title, then head on over to the new Google Product Search for India. The reasons why you would use isbn.net.in over Google Product Search, is that isbn.net.in is comprehensive, accurate, has latest prices (as much as possible), and helps you decide whether to buy the book using the full description and Amazon rating.

Fixes and Updates

Regarding the fixes and updates based on your suggestions, here is the list:

  1. Fixed error on multiple pages such as http://isbn.net.in/8190453025 (via @sudhiru) and http://isbn.net.in/0074637762 (via email from Abhinav Sood)
  2. Fixing fetching of prices from a1books, thanks to bug report from Amit Sharma
  3. Added link to Google Product Search for India, because of many queries to allow search by title.
  4. Added CoralHub.com to the list of online book stores that is searched.
  5. Linked to iglooo.in and bookase.com in the about page under the list of similar projects.
  6. Added a “generic grep” to make the bookmarklet try a little harder for sites that is not known in its default list – IIRC, this was a suggestion by @talonx
  7. Bookmarklet now works with Amazon pages, but for this, you will need to take the bookmarklet again from http://isbn.net.in frontpage
  8. Added Kindle prices.

Favorite New Feature

My favorite new feature is Kindle ebook prices because, sometimes, buying the Kindle edition is cheaper than getting the paper book. That’s what I did with Seth Godin’s new book.

Further suggestions and feedback are welcome.


I had the privilege of visiting the Total Kannada Store in Jayanagar today. What is amazing is that it is an entire store dedicated to only Kannada entertainment – whether it is movie CDs, CDs of plays, CDs of comedy series, magazines, books, classic literature and even T-shirts!

The truth is that my diction and hold of vocabulary of Kannada is at such a nadir now (thanks to never having the need to read Kannada), that I don’t think I’ll be going back for the books. I will definitely be going back for the good old Kannada movies though.

I’m just waiting for my copy of Venkata in Sankata, which was sold out at the store. That is one good Kannada comedy movie, thanks to Ramesh of course.

Heartfelt thanks to Thejesh for letting me know that such a store exists.

What I admire about places such as Total Kannada and The Egg Factory is that they’re not just enterprises, they are a result of labour of love (of Kannada and eggs respectively). And it shows.