Going API

Amazon has stuff.  A lot of stuff. 

They also have a lot of information about that stuff. 

Amazon also lets people sell their stuff.  You can do it, if you want.  You just sign up here:

Amazon Associates Program

So, Amazon lets people use something called an API (Application Programming Interface) to find things at Amazon and put them on their own websites to sell.

Perhaps not surprisingly, people found other ways to use it.  They might have used it to pull up a picture and a description of a book, and then offered it for sale through competitors (hypothetically).   They might have just used it to find information, with no intent of selling the item at all.

Recently, Amazon made some changes to the program. 

They changed the name of it, but they also starting requiring that it make “signed requests” as of August 15, 2009.

One of the impacts of this is that people who downloaded something that used the API probably couldn’t use it any more.  The downloaded version might not send the same “signature” that the website version might send.

Some pretty well-known sites used the API for at least some of their functions: Jungle-Search and Library Thing for two.

On September 17, in a Library Thing blog post, that said:

“Amazon is requiring all websites, as a condition of getting any data from them, to have the primary page link to Amazon alone. Links to other booksellers are prohibited. Secondary pages—pages you go to from the primary page—can have non-Amazon links.”

Some people have questioned whether that is fair or not.   Amazon has no obligation to share their software.  Undoubtedly, there are some costs involved (interactions with the users, for example).  While the new policy may make some things more difficult for some consumers who use those third party sites and services, I think Amazon is within their rights to do that.

If you want so see what Amazon says about the change, it is here:


This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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