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For techies: data feed of book prices

Last week, the University of Maryland team (who are conducting research on BookMooch) told me they wanted to see if they could answer the question: "does a used book's price effect whether someone mooches it or not?"

I thought this was an interesting question, but I wasn't providing the data in the API to obtain a solution. So...

The "best price" data is now available in various forms:
1) as part of the XML and MySQL database exports
2) with a new API call, to obtain the best price for a single book

Note that the data provided includes the best new-book price, best used-book price, and Amazon's own new book price. It also provides data from all the various Amazon worldwide stores. In the future, if I add other sources for buying books (such as ABE or Alibris) those prices will appear in the data feed as well.

John Buckman
4 years ago


Pretty nice John.

Keep it up!

4 years ago
I'm under the impression most people add mostly inexpensive books to their database, paperbacks, etc.? That being so, wouldn't all books here virtually cost around the same?
Also, if you aren't interested in a book at first, why would you mooch it just because of its price? If it's for selling or making a profit out of it, then it defeats the purpose of the site...

Well, personally, I don't find it very attractive seeing the Amazon price of a certain book in red and all, but since others might find it useful...
Keep up the good work =)

4 years ago
Now that "Amazon-value" prices are displayed, I'm now beginning to wonder whether to list some books on BM or attempt to sell them on Amazon first.

If there are insufficient books circulating, should I list a book wishlisted by several people but one that is unlikely to go back into circulation, or should I sell that book secondhand on Amazon and use the proceeds to buy a couple of other secondhand books that would be more likely to circulate on BM once read?

And to answer the original question, no, I am not influenced by the used book price in terms of whether I attempt to mooch or not.
4 years ago
The Amazon price isn't that useful for those of us living in countries other than the UK / US when we're deciding to mooch. The postage costs are generally far more than the second-hand book price.

However, I will certainly use it when considering whether to SEND a book overseas. It costs me around $15 to send to the US, and if the moocher could buy that book for a few cents on Amazon, I'd think twice about accepting an international mooch request from them.

4 years ago
Cost of the book doesn't have anything to do with what I post in my inventory or what I request from others. I base my requests solely on obtaining books that I want to own or that I want to read at my leisure without worrying about returning it to the library in 2 weeks. Many of my books have been obtained at book sales so I don't really care if I'm sending someone a $20 book if I only bought if for a buck. I send books that I don't want to keep and it's more important to me that it goes to someone who will appreciate it rather than wondering if I can resell it at a fraction of the cost.

It will be interesting to see what the research shows...but I suspect many members are not concerned with book prices.

4 years ago
I have Amazon prices set to "Off", they don't affect what I Mooch.
But I do fear that having them available may well make people think twice about adding a title that they could get a reasonable amount for by selling.
In UK, at least, the seller would also make a profit on the postage too - books rarely cost 2.75 pounds to post within UK but that is the amount charged for postage.
I have 1,000+ books on my WL - mostly "Global Reads", but I rarely get an e mail saying books are available - perhaps two per week.
Are all these books being sold off?
Not much use to people who don't live in an "Amazon Zone".

My vote would be not to include this info, I think it reduces books available within BM.

4 years ago
I post any book I don't want anymore. Could I possibly make money selling the books on Amazon or eBay? Sure. But I don't want to start a new business and I think the ROI for me wouldn't be high enough and there'd be enough risks (buyers that don't pay or payments are rescinded) that I'm not that interested in doing that. I have done some selling on eBay -- but I don't see myself being a regular at that.

I wish books that I want to either own and/or read.

And with a TBR pile that is over 50 books long, I'm usually in no hurry to get a book. (Unless it's for a book club I belong to.)

Tess of San Diego
4 years ago
@E Thayer - I think Joe_in_Australia was just suggesting that it seems a bit illogical to send a book for $15 that could be purchased for $4. Presumably "Joe_in_Australia" could, rather than send the book, purchase the book for you on Amazon, and have it shipped to you for less than a third of the cost. .

Which may be a legitimate approach for people in other countries interested in international mooches. . . Certainly more energy efficient.

Sarah Swift
4 years ago
I wish the point for feedback was still in effect, but only because I want to know when a book has arrived, and some folks need a lit'l reward for thier actions... lets just say...I'll leave feedback because i employ the ethic of reciprocity, as oft as i can. I wish I were more technically's like you fellas are speaking another language...well yeah...i know you ARE...but i want in, me too!
4 years ago
I don't really see that this would be much of a problem. I often don't even consider the used book price when mooching. I buy almost exclusively from amazon (I have a kindle, cheap prices, ect) but I find most books, unless it's something I absolutely have to add to my bookshelf, I would much rather mooch then buy. On amazon, even when the book I want is only a penny, I still have to pay 3.99 shipping or more and the price only gets higher when considering my kindle. Unless it is something I have to read right this minute I have always found that will bookmooch eventually answer any book need I might have.
4 years ago
I LOVE the concept of being able to buy a book from Amazon for 0,001€. I've just ordered six books (much wishlisted, by the way!) with a total price for the books themselves of 4.38€. With shipping to France, the total price is 25.31€. I've bought the six because they're parts of series, and it doesn't look as though they're going to turn up here. My reading them might remove some logjam for these books, when they finally find their way into BM.

Did the appearance of Amazon prices on BM influence my purchase? No, not at all. The Amazon price shown on BM is misleading, as it doesn't include shipping. In general a 0.01€ book will cost at least 3€.
4 years ago
To respond to dip166, some of us simply don't have the room to store books.

My husband came up with a criteria: if it's $50 or less, we list it on Bookmooch or give it away. We don't have the room to store books until a buyer comes along "one day". Every 6 months or so, I try to take some of books that aren't moving and Freecycle them, freeing space for other books to be listed.

I listed an obscure book worth $44 on Amazon that was wishlisted and the user was extremely happy to have received it - on his birthday, no less! It's called paying it forward. :)

Inventory: vintagebooks

4 years ago
I am a very forthright and candid person, so i won't be coy here... I for one did very much appreciate the aspect of being able to see the amazon pricing for a book. I guess i should not use the past tense...i DO, appreciate that here, at bookmooch. It seems that anyone would because, for instance, if you really want a book on your wishlist. I mean REALLY want it! AND you see it with a bold red mooch by it, you are happy that it's available, right? THEN you scroll down and oh wow...there is another mooch available! YaY! But which would cost moi more, if I were to buy it?

Of course it makes good common sense to work with your desire along with the pricing of the two books. DESIRE may win out with me, on it's own, on occasion, BUT not if the least desired book is out of print and selling for forty dollars at

Number one...Out of print makes pricing go up, but also means the book may be found far less often, in here, or anywhere. Mooch that one baby, says I,(to me) on the sly. Number two, I am mainly mooching these books to keep. I stock my lit'l library for a future referance library, for i long to write when I am older and wiser? (When I decide I am good enough):} and I enjoy having a library with great books on the shelves about.
The idea behind knowing the price should not be underestimated. It can be a handy tool. STILL...there are some funny inflated books about and here is an example...MARY JANE BUTTERS Books are very popular these is back in fashion to be a "farmgirl" a "tramp" and such...haha
The first of her books has been unavailable at amazon and these were recently listed at, ebay, and amazon used at HYPER~INFLATED pricing...I decided i wanted some of her books and looked out for a decent price, after one week I found her website...(easily found in a search) where you could get them from her NEW and autographed! for only

Then, I was diligent (about wanting it really cheap!), willing to do more searching and waiting... after two weeks i found one from goodwill, in for .98 plus shipping. I grabbed it.
Others were selling that book for $99.00...and well just really high at 45.00 in fair shape &, 75.00 good, 125.00 used, just all over the place.(Not unlike my point here) ANYWAY! ~ I picked up two of her (FABULOUS) books for less than 11.00, now I am looking for two more at rock bottom prices.

So, even though I know that hyper~inflated pricing on books may happen,
that does not mean that the pricing on books at amazon does not have any affect on me...especially when I know (seriously) that one day I may need to resell some books for some fast cash, and who wants to get laughed out at the used book shop, for having nothing that they can resell?.

Books are heavy to be carrying about, so I would want to show up with some that they'll want. It just makes sense to mooch the higher priced first..unless, your DESIRE for another book is Deeper, which totally happens too.

4 years ago
I think a few of you might have missed the my opinion, when they say the price of the book might influence a mooch most likely they mean that if a book is expensive a person would be more inclined to mooch it than buy it. It's more economical to mooch a book and have given your share of postage (for books sent) than to go and buy a book that costs anywhere from 15-20 maybe even 25 euro. With that money you send not one but aprox. 5-7 books locally and 3-5 books internationally. You also do good to the environment and the postal system what with e-mails and such I would think they are going towards extinction LOL.

Keep up the good work,


4 years ago
I think this new feature will encourage people not to list books with a higher resale value. Also, because I have listed higher-value books on Bookmooch, I'd rather not have a bookseller snatch it up so they can resell it. It's one thing if they have to go to the trouble of looking the book value up themselves on Amazon, and then decide to mooch it, but I just feel like displaying the value of the book easily on Bookmooch detracts from the experience of giving and mooching books.

Edited to add: Over the years, I have also been able to mooch some very expensive books I really wanted, because someone was generous and willing to give away a higher-value book.

4 years ago
Yes, I didn't mean to imply that every book posted here is inexpensive, and I also hope it isn't so! I know many people give away very expensive books, whatever the reason they might have, if not just for pure generosity.
Still I feel the average value of the majority of the books here, as in used condition, doesn't go much higher than say, $15? But I could be wrong.

Like Mimalgato, I feel this display of Amazon prices detracts from the experience of giving and mooching books. From the moment you see the virtual price of a book, automatically add up the shipping costs and start considering, for instance, if it's worth sending internationally for someone who would pay lower SC if buying it from Amazon himself/ herself... I mean, it's not a book for a book anymore, is it?
Well anyway, the subject doesn't seem open for discussion.

You have the price display turned off? Can I ask how do you do that?

4 years ago
You have the price display turned off? Can I ask how do you do that? From your wishlist, use the pull down menu, select "hide Amazon prices>.
4 years ago
The Amamzon prices don't affect me when listing or mooching books. I don't tend to have or want/need expensive books. Currently only have about 4 books on my wishlist that cost over £10 to buy on Amazon and only 1 over £20.

Before I started swapping books online I did look into selling on Amazon but found that a lot of my books are being sold for £0.01 or only slightly more by larger, more professional sellers. I can't compete with that as even if it doesn't cost me the whole £2.80 postage charged to send out the book it still means that I make a loss after I've paid the completion and closing fees to Amazon.

The only thing I use the Amazon price details for is when I really want a book and either no one is listing it or it's very popular and is being mooched before I can get onto the site. In those cases if the book is being sold cheaply I may decide just to buy it (and most probably list here or the other site I'm a member of) rather than wait and hope I get hold of a copy through swapping/mooching.

4 years ago
I have hated the addition of Amazon prices. I have had requests turned down because the book is cheaper on Amazon. What these people don't realize is that most books on are not available to Canada, and the ones that are cost $12.49 to ship. Some are available on, but the selection is much worse, the price is almost always higher, and the shipping is $6.49 within Canada. In order to get free shipping, you also have to spend $39 on

Contrast this to the United States, where the selection is better (the book I want might not even be available on, the prices are lower, the shipping is $3.99, and you only need to spend $25 to get free shipping. People turning down a request because it's cheap on Amazon fail to recognize that the cost for a Canadian to get a book on Amazon is usually 2-4x as high, and that's if the book is available at all.

I've also seen new members empty their inventory altogether. Several times, I have received a reply from a new member that they changed their mind about BookMooch and have decided to list their books on Amazon instead. It seems that adding the Amazon cost is a much bigger obstacle to having new books listed than the dreaded "surplus points" ever were.

4 years ago
The Amazon price does not modify my requests, nor does it change if I am adding books I am willing to allow others to mooch and enjoy. I find the addition very distracting and wish it was not there. As for the scientific research, there are many other factors to include than the price on Amazon. I hope the researchers are including all the variables.
4 years ago
I joined Bookmooch because I thought the idea of being able to 'swap' books with other people in this day and age was a good one. There are several books on my wishlist that I've waited faithfully for for almost 2 years. I don't like the idea of posting amazon prices next to the books, if I wanted to get them from Amazon I would have done it in the first place. Amazon prices -mostly- don't encourage increased Bookmooch traffic from my standpoint ... it seems like it should encourage people to spend the extra $2 ($4 for a sale minus the $2 or so it costs to send cross-USA) to have recourse if their book goes missing or shows up in less-than-optimal-condition, and they don't have to worry about waiting a week or two or four for the shipper to ship it. It seems to me that listing Amazon prices largely encourages book-sharking for higher value, already-hard-to-find books, and probably acts as a factor in decreasing the number of people who are willing to list anything that's not already over-listed anyways. : /
4 years ago
So far as my way of thinking goes, amazon pricing should remain for those of us who appreciate and use that. I too have not mooched books on other people wish lists here when it is only one cent plus shipping at amazon. I think that maybe they may want it more than I do so i wait. If it is only four dollars to buy it, I feel more friendly about not worrying over grabbing it up.

Maybe I'm funny but it just makes it more easy to be generous when it isn't somethng that would be hard to acquire. The same idea behind a greater price value on the book being a way for me to see that the book is more rare and i may want to mooch it or lose it. (If not reprinted, which could always happen too).

Anyway, not sure it should be an issue at all since now we know it can easily be foregone by removing it from your page. No one should worry over controlling how everyone else does their mooching, if you want to do that,no offense but, may I suggest you get a book on co-dependancy issues...everyone has a right to play it the way they see fit, no?

Assuming it isn't against any rules, of course. How come everyone seems to want to say how the site should be run? Was it some sort of agreement before, that John would always comply with people ideas on the site? I really feel sort of sad for him!

I's a nice idea, that the wishes of "everyone" (with a stated opinion) on this site be honored, but an impossible task to be sure, since basically everyones different. Does anyone put themselves in his shoes, what his experience of all this infighting must feel like...I dont know, but I would be feeling so pressured, were this my site, and thats not fun or right. Not a very cool way to say thanks for a great way to get books!

4 years ago
In message number one, the proper verb should be 'affect,' not 'effect.' Hey, this is vocabulary, people.
Jim Thomson
4 years ago
I don't think the price affects whether I mooch or not. I mooch based on what I want to read not how much I could get it outside of Bookmooch.

However I was reviewing my wish list and thought I might start buying some amazon used that are not currently available to mooch, and that are not only on my wishlist but on several wishlists to "get them in the system" after I read them. :-)

In this case, I do notice the price. I would be more likely to buy the cheaper used ones first to keep costs down.

4 years ago
I think that someone sweet, and lovely has given me a smooch for what I wrote above. I did not mean it to dry up all conversation, but if thats the way of things than so be it! I wanted to come by and give a big cyber hug to Eliot for the smooch ~ I Love smooching!!! haha

I was very happy to see a Madeliene L'Engle book on my wishlist available today, and I want to thank you for giving it to me my friend.
I would smooch you right back, with my next point, but seems that you have vanished like a soft breeze blowing over me hot shoulders!

Thank You for the gift!

4 years ago
not to me - I'd rather wait for a book to come here, and get points to someone else - as go and buy it.
4 years ago
Ethnocentric Americans may have the option of listing books on Amazon and possibly Brit do too. BUT there is also a big world out there, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, who do not have this option. We "lesser breeds without the law" turn to Bookmooch to get books otherwise unavailable to us -- and to reciprocate. Even the lowest priced books on Amazon, by time the postage and "handling" are added on come to far more than the postage we expend to send books to other countries; nor would we get these books faster. For example, last month I ordered a long wished for book from Abebooks UK, priced 7 pounds, postage was 4.50, sounded OK. Then came an email, additional charge of 4 pounds please; OK, in for a penny in for a pound. Order processed, I can expect the book in mid-April!! I send books everywhere, even to the U.S. to people who send only in their own country, or at least, don't send to mine.
Does anyone know how many "other countries" members there are in Bookmooch & what per cent of the total?
About books a long time in the inventory -- I am guilty of having books for two years -- one of which was just recently mooched. There is not such a thing as an "unwanted" book, especially if there is only one copy (or even two) being offered.
4 years ago
Back to the original discussion - no 0.1 point for acknowledging receipt of a book
If someone doesn't mark the book as received, how long do we have to wait until the book is considered received by BM? I see pages and pages of books waiting to be acknowledged at the result of this. I'm still acknowledging mine, isn't it basic courtesy to do so?
4 years ago
Mark Twain said There are 3 kinds of lies: white lies, damned lies, and statistics. Statistically, a woman giving birth and a newborn baby girl are both 4-1/2 months pregnant.
All those charts just make me cross-eyed. All I wanted to know is whether Bookmooch is primarily an American show, and how many active actual members are outsiders.
4 years ago

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