Stupid Amazon RSS Tricks

 amazon, amazon power search, dover, onfocus, rss  Comments Off on Stupid Amazon RSS Tricks
May 172008

I’ll admit it. I’m an RSS junkie. I wrote a web-based RSS feed reader when RSS barely existed, and nowadays my Google Reader subscriptions number close to 100.

One of the things I think RSS feeds are (or should be) useful for is announcing when manufacturers or sellers have added a new gizmo or book or game or whatever to their store. Many retailers are catching onto this: ThinkGeek and American Science and Surplus both provide RSS feeds of new items for sale at their stores. But other sellers are slow to add these services. For example, I love Dover books. They’re incredible bargains, and every year or so I go on a binge where I buy like $100 of them or so (which is a lot of books at Dover’s prices!). But their website is pretty old-school, and they don’t provide a “new publications” RSS feed.

Enter Amazon, which provides a useful combination of partnering with just about every company around, customizable RSS feeds, and power searches. Problem is, Amazon doesn’t make them easy to use. So a whole cottage industry has sprung up which provides feeds for items on sale at Amazon, sorted by discount, coupon codes, you name it.

One such site is OnFocus, which provides a free web interface that allows you to roll your own Amazon RSS feeds. For example, let’s say that I want to create a feed that lists, say, new Dover books for sale at Amazon.

I could use OnFocus’ “Amazon Feed Generator” with a keyword of “Dover”, with Store set to “Books” and the sort method set to “Publication Date: New To Old”. This gets me what I want: an RSS feed of the latest (and yet-to-be-released) “Dover” books available at Amazon. However, it includes too many books; not just the ones published by Dover, but any with Dover in the title or written by someone named Dover, etc.

But there’s another, better way to create the RSS feed: using the “Power Search Feed Generator”. This uses Amazon’s “Power Search”, which isn’t as user-friendly (and only works for books, not video games or DVDs or anything else Amazon sells), but is useful for creating a very specific search.

Amazon’s Power Search works by letting you tie a search term to a specific area. For this example, I want to tie my search term “Dover” to publishers, not authors nor titles nor any other fields. So, I type this into the Power Search window:

publisher: Dover

and then set the sort method to “Publication Date: New To Old”, then click the “Create Feed” button. Voila! My new RSS feed is exactly what I want: new books at Amazon from Dover Publications.

The Power Search has several different areas you can limit the search by:

  • author: name, for example, author: Wolfe and Gene
  • isbn: number
  • keyword: words, I have yet to figure out how to get this field to work
  • language: language, for example, language: Spanish
  • pubdate: date, for example, pubdate: 2008
  • publisher: name, for example, publisher: Penguin or Tor or Baen or Dover
  • subject: subject, for example, subject: history
  • title: words, for example, title: Ringworld

You can use “and”, “or”, and “not” plus parentheses to combine these. For example, to search for books on Portugese Fado music that are written in English:

subject: fado and language: English

More details on Power Search terms can be found by scrolling to the “Power Searches” section near the bottom of this Amazon page.

BTW, here’s the Atom feed for this blog.

 Posted by at 7:55 AM