At its core, Amazon.com is a great big database concerned with lots of stuff--books, of course, but also tools, clothing, films on DVD, kitchen equipment, and lots and lots (and lots) of Harry Potter paraphernalia. Want to wear an Anna Kournikova exercise brassiere while juicing celery (presumably with considerable vigor)? Amazon can help. Need a cricket bat, radar gun, dietary fiber supplement, or vibrasonic molechaser? Amazon has what you need. Which is all great, but the real value of Amazon.com isn't that these things are in the database. The real value of this site lies in the information about all that stuff--reviews, sales rankings, recommendations, and the like--and the large number of ways to access it. Amazon Hacks explains how to get the most out of Amazon.com as an ordinary customer with a Web browser and as a software developer interested in the site's considerable collection of Web Services.
In Amazon Hacks, Paul Bausch documents most of the avenues Amazon.com has opened up for exploration of the database. A lot of his coverage borders on the obvious: Sections on how to "Power-Search for Books" and "Put an Item Up for Bid at Amazon Auctions" aren't too different from Amazon's own explanatory articles. Coverage of how to add an Amazon search box to your own site, and add Amazon Associates item links to various kinds of Weblogs (including Blosxom and Moveable Type) are much handier. Bausch really shines when explaining Amazon.com's Web Services (AWS), the remotely accessible software interfaces that enables programs to search the database. He includes AWS-enabled programs in PHP, Python, and Perl. --David Wall
Topics covered: How to use Amazon.com as a Web surfer, Web site publisher, and software developer. Detailed coverage goes to advanced product search techniques, managing the characteristics associated with your Amazon login, selling through Amazon Auctions and zShops, and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) API for Perl, PHP, and Python.