Amazon Deals!
May 9, 2011 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Amazon Deals!
After browsing through my Wish List daily for used book deals, I decided to write a program to do the work for me.

This is a no-frills script that takes any Amazon wishlist id and finds what the best deals are for you. (my wishlist is 9 pages long, and the program goes through all of the pages.)
It factors in the $3.99 shipping cost within the U.S.A. in to the used price because I assume if you buy from Amazon you will get free shipping.
The results are weighted based on the priority you have assigned to the item in your list. Score = percentage of savings off the Amazon price, multiplied priority factor. 5 for highest, 1 for lowest.
Role: programmer
posted by Theta States (32 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

Worked perfectly on one of my wishlists. The longer list, it just said

"Wishlist spans page(s)...

Love it on the one-pager though!
posted by Kronur at 1:51 PM on May 9, 2011

I have been waiting so long for something like this! Unfortunately my wish list has been active for twelve years and is huge...
posted by jtron at 5:01 PM on May 9, 2011

jtron, can you link me to your wishlist so I can make sure it is compatible? My list is 9 pages long and it works fine with it.
Yours too, Kronur?

Also, I plan on adding extra sort options over the next week.
posted by Theta States at 6:43 PM on May 9, 2011

Doh! I realized there was a problem because my lists that weren't working were only 4 pages...but, it was because they were HIDDEN! (I have a gazillion book lists, but only keep the stuff I want as gifts public, not the books for my job, or crappy fiction to read in secret!). Your app worked perfectly once I unhid my the list.

One more idea for your wish list app. When it gobbles my wish list, anything added by the universal wish list thingamabob just says "Universal wish list button by...". Makes it look like I want a lot of universal wish list buttons. (you can see it action on mine--1L2C8JXHW4ALX).

I can't wait to see future developments!
posted by Kronur at 7:11 PM on May 9, 2011

Thank you, I will look in to that over the next week. I noticed that a few things screw up the scrape, like entries that no longer exist but are still listed with placeholders and items that have names but no stock info.
I've never used the universal wishlist features before, but I be sure to filter around them in the future.

Once I get it all ironed out to be fully compatible with most public lists, then I can start adding the gem: keeping history of items that are only available used to note changes for you on those items when you come back and search again.
posted by Theta States at 8:28 PM on May 9, 2011

Neat idea!

Sadly doesn't seem to work on my wishlist.

Be cool if you could add that feature at some point? Mine is IT409TDZC3UF if it helps test?
posted by chrispy108 at 3:00 AM on May 10, 2011

Hey crisp108, I can definitely make it compatible with wishlists. I tested with .ca ones and the wishlists worked fine via .com, but not so with ones. I will add a domain selection and post here when that is up.
posted by Theta States at 4:40 AM on May 10, 2011

If I get the database working this week, anyone want to be on a private beta that will track used book price fluctuations in your wish list over a year?

Big changes coming later tonight. Bigger changes should be up by Sunday.
posted by Theta States at 11:31 AM on May 10, 2011

Hi everyone, that's for being my defacto beta testers!

New version up right now, includes:
- searches if it can't find you at (also accounts for regional shipping and currency differences)
- search options (add shipping costs, what to sort by, what to show) (turning off shipping costs dramaticaly highlights $0.01 books...)
- options are saved to URL, allowing you to bookmark specific configurations for any list
- safely ignores another type of bad Amazon item entry (there are still a number that need to be accounted for, though, still need to deal with Universal Wishlists...)
- slight rejig of scoring equation

Someone even sent me their wishlist link that was 92 pages. Worked! (after blowing it up. Then I fixed my code.)

Please send me any bugs or suggetsions. I am mostly happen with it's current state.
Once I get it working with all wishlists, I will then move to private beta in regards to tracking used book prices over time.

Anyone know anywhere to post this? I'm sure it'd be useful for some other people too.
posted by Theta States at 4:54 PM on May 10, 2011

I fixed the "Universal Wishlist" option by just limiting the tool to BOOKS for the time being. By this weekend I will incorporate separate searches for DVDs and music as well, but have to account for their differing default shipping.
posted by Theta States at 8:33 PM on May 10, 2011


Added support for books that are greater than $1k.
Added a drop-down to select books, DVDs, music or video games, and entered the variant shipping for each, including the UK variations. Although this seems somewhat non-standard for video games, but alas, you can always turn the shipping charges off for that search.
Also added a bit more detailed reporting at the bottom so you know what's up.
posted by Theta States at 3:25 PM on May 11, 2011

Mine was 73 pages. And that was just for books. Loved the text:

"Gobbling yr wishlist...
Wishlist spans 73 pages.
Eating page 2...
Eating page 3...
Eating page 4... "

This is really nice :)

And oh, what does this mean by the way: "168 hidden due to low scores. 302 not available new."
posted by pleasebekind at 5:28 PM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

The 162 hidden due to low scores means it is under the current scoring threshhold. Usually, that is set at 0. So if a book is available used, but the used price plus shipping is greater than the price you can get it for from Amazon (with free Super Saver Shipping), then it has a negative score.
You can change the options from the default (0) to showing all regardless of score, or just showing the ones that have a score of 100 and above.

The score is the discount percentage multiplied by the priority, plus the dollar amount saved.
So if you have a book that is $80 at Amazon, and $60 used and at medium (default) priority, it would score 25*3 + 20 = 95.
At highest priority, that book would rate 25*5 + 20 = 170.
I like using the amazon priorities to control which books I want to keep the tightest watch on.

The 302 not available new means that they are only available as used books. Since there is no Amazon price to compare against, I can't currently offer insight in to their prices.
This will change in the next few weeks when I implement historical tracking.
I plan on keeping a record of the used price for each day a book is examined. So if you load my tool every day (or even just sporadically), it will eventually start giving you trending data on books that are only available used.
That's the plan. It will probably take me a few weeks of beta to implement that though.

Thanks for using it! You can thank jtron and jtron's 92 page wishlist for having me fix it up so it doesn't explode with gigantor lists. It just takes a few minutes for the giant ones. :)

Anyone have any idea where I should post this up? I actually do want it to be useful for a number of people.
posted by Theta States at 6:30 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're ready to release your baby into the wild (now there's a metaphor) I would be glad to FPP this.
posted by jtron at 8:02 PM on May 11, 2011

Please do, I think we have most of the bugs worked out. :)

This will exist as a stand-alone tool. The next phase, historical tracking, will be a different tool that has more involved reporting. And I will probably employ user accounts to limit abuse by dealers.
posted by Theta States at 8:10 PM on May 11, 2011

Wow, this is neat. Thanks, Theta States!

Teeny suggestion: when the used price is, say, $5.40, it shows up on the page as $5.4.
posted by box at 5:45 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks, box! I fixed the formatting issue.
Also removed some odd characters that were embedded in some Amazon titles.

I also signed up for the Amazon Affiliates program. I hope that will decrease the odds of them blocking this eventually.
posted by Theta States at 7:41 PM on May 12, 2011

I have now implemented tracking of historical price data, to be used at a future date.

If anyone knows stats, I would love some help figuring out what to do with the pricing data to make it useful.

If you load your wishlist with this tool every day, it will log historical price data for your products for each day. That way, when I implement the analysis tool, you will have a full body of stats to show you if prices are going up or down for the stuff you want.
posted by Theta States at 7:21 PM on May 13, 2011

Send me a MeMail if you want to be on the beta for tracking price fluctuations of your the used books...
posted by Theta States at 1:55 PM on May 14, 2011


Each day you visit the page it stores the historical info for your books.
Books that have a lower (and historically lowest!) price are highlighted. Books that are more expensive than average (and the highest price) are highlighted.
If you hold your mouse over a book, you get the stats breakdown in the title text.

There is a new section for used-only books, as well as for books with no known list price.
Everything is in a columnar format.

Still to do: For large wishlists, I want to give you an option to limit the number of pages consumed. (We look at the top-priority items first, anyways)

Can anyone suggest better colous (hex values please) for the row highlighting?
posted by Theta States at 8:49 AM on May 16, 2011

I love you.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:25 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thank you. :)

Be sure to go back to it each day, the seems even better to me when it has 3+ days of data in it and starts highlighting the books.
posted by Theta States at 7:30 PM on May 16, 2011

Posted on the blue.
posted by box at 7:31 PM on May 16, 2011

I apologize for not thinking to phrase the post in a way that would counteract the paranoia in the thread on the Blue. Seriously, wtf.
posted by jtron at 10:37 PM on May 16, 2011

Thanks for posting it, and that's OK, I do not think anyone would have predicted that kind of response from the Affiliates program being in there. :)
posted by Theta States at 4:44 AM on May 17, 2011

hi everyone, I added some requested features:
- you can now sort by price (high to low, low to high)
- you can now use wishlists, I created a separate pricing database for that historical info. ( coming soon!)
- you can now just cut-and-paste your whole amazon wishlist url in to the box if you don't want to extract it yourself.
- fixed IE6 formatting issue

Please let me know if you have any issues or feature suggestions.
posted by Theta States at 7:30 PM on May 17, 2011

I think people who use Librarything and GoodReads could go nuts about this
posted by adamvasco at 11:27 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hi Theta, thanks for the reply and all the hard work that you've been doing. I've shared this with my friends already! :)
posted by pleasebekind at 4:40 AM on May 20, 2011

Nice project. Have you thought about adding Abebooks support? Amazon has a great wishlist service but it would be useful to compare their used prices against Abebook's. They also offer an API and affiliate marketing system.
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:24 AM on May 27, 2011

Thanks, ChrisHartley. I don't like abebooks since any book I want is suddenly "no longer available", but more to the point the tool is just focused on the Amazon wishlist and the interface that allows.
Hope you find it useful!
posted by Theta States at 2:11 PM on May 27, 2011

This is very useful. Is it possible to limit it to Prime-eligible results (or at least, to take into account the $0 shipping for Prime items)?

I've been purchasing a lot of used books (so they're cheap) that are fulfilled by Amazon, via Prime (so they arrive very quickly). It's the best of both worlds.
posted by yesno at 5:30 PM on October 5, 2011

This is really cool - thanks for putting it together. I will be exnading my wishlist now!
posted by laukf at 9:25 AM on October 11, 2011

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