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Refreshing Amazon book data

In redoing the recent books feature to be more graphical, I started noticing that a lot of books at BM don't have book cover graphics, but do have covers visible at Amazon.

I researched this a bit, and it turns out to simply be that Amazon has added a LOT of book covers to their database, and since BM only reads the Amazon database when the book is first added to BM, we haven't been seeing all the new covers Amazon has added.

Also, I noticed that Amazon has really cleaned up their crazy "Topics" data, on many books, which is a continual source of irritation to moochers.

So, I've made a few changes to help with this problem:

1) every time a book is added to an inventory or a wishlist, if the Amazon data is older than a day, BM now automatically checks to see if Amazon has updated info about the book.

2) there is a "refresh data" button on every book details page, that you can click. If the book details are pretty scarce (ie, no cover, no description), you can click it, and if Amazon has data now, it'll plop right into BM! Go ahead and click "refresh data" on all the books in your inventory or wishlist, if you want to see more covers!

3) And finally, I'm having BM do a refresh of every book in all inventories. Once that's done, I'll do a refresh of all wishlists and save-for-later too. As there are 12 million books in BM, and it takes about 1 second to fetch the data from Amazon, it'd take 133 days to refresh all the books in BM's database. Since we don't want to wait that long, I'm prioritizing books-that-can-be-mooched first.

All in all, this should give us a much more graphical mooching experience!


John Buckman
1 year ago


That's wonderful! Thank you very much!

Been wanting to see those covers that has on BookMooch for ages.


Emily Martha Sorensen
1 year ago
Thank you - BM is making good progress. Could you also import the Amazon book description too? Many books listed on BM are missing descriptions, and these descriptions are a good way to enhance a book's listing making it more "moochable".
1 year ago
That's really great news. I've just checked my inventory:) and noticed that some books show broken links where the cover should be on BM, but on Amazon, they have covers, for example:

Robert Weinberg : A Calculated Magic (Today's Sorcery)
William Shatner : Star Trek: The Academy--Collision Course (Startrek, Starfleet Academy)

And updating book descriptions is a very good idea too.

1 year ago
This is awesome!
1 year ago
Yes, book descriptions and topics are both being updated as part of this process. About 1/2 the books in inventory have already been updated since last night, so all should be done by the end of the day today.

re: Doville -- both books you gave as examples now have working covers, so I think it's working!

Note that topics, I believe, are entered by the book publisher, so they will still vary hugely in quality, but it seems that the worst offenders have been cleaned up.


John Buckman
1 year ago
Thanks for all your upgrading work.
I really like seeing all those bright colorful cover pics.

[Mon 8Jul2013 edited to add only showing a max of 10 topics (genre) per book' YEA!!!thanks...looks LOTs better, and is easier on the eyes...] Hopefully you'll pdq do a tweak to control/shorten that occasionally way too long genre (topics) listing...

Today, 4Jul2013, noticed that some books in my inventory that didn't previously have a cover have covers. yea. Still, a few don't display a cover. Perhaps those are some that don't have a cover at Amazon?

Awhile back I'd 'discovered a coding way' to add a missing cover in the book condition field when adding a book to my inventory. Yippee...that's fun... Additionally, I'd found that I could use this same 'trick' to put a missing book cover pic in the REVIEW area, as once a book I'd added a pic to in the conditions area was mooched, the pic disappeared.

I do WISH that 'something' could be done about the international mooching/high postage costs...perhaps re-institute the incentive-bonus point for sending internationally? I'm one of those that can no longer afford to mail internationally from the USA. (nor do I mooch internationally either, as that wouldn't be fair, eh?)

Still, once a year for the month of Dec, I make sure all the heavy books are off my inventory and I open up to international mooching. (don't seem to get much 'action'...but still I feel that I'm contributing in a small way be doing this)

Again, thanks for all your work maintaining the site. Glad it's here.

Lou B
1 year ago
Yay! thanks.
1 year ago
Nice one!
1 year ago

thanks for this recent change, it's nice to see so may new covers:)
I just wanted to ask if book titles and author names will be refreshed too? For example, these two books from my WL have no authors, and one of them also has a wrong title, so they won't appear in the results if I search my WL:

Ansel Adams/
Ashes of a Black Frost/

I tried manually refreshing both, but nothing changed.

1 year ago
John...?Question?...since there currently isn't the ability of folks to directly edit/add/correct missing &/or incorrect book data & pics on the BookMooch site/listing, 'if' that data &/or pic is edited on Amazon, then will 'refresh' pick up the NEW data or only just the NEW pic?

Lou B/justloux

Lou B
1 year ago
I have just tried this refresh feature. On one book it worked fine and now there is a picture. ON another book it did not. I want to explore that not working here:

That book is here:

Anonymous : Great Tales of Fantasy and Science Fiction

when I look on Amazon I see this:

There the book is listed with a picture. When I search via Amazon through book mooch it finds the book on Amazon and tells me the book is available to be purchased or added to my inventory, BUT DOES NOT show a picture.

Why is this? 1. Amazon not showing the pic when searched for thru bookmooch AND 2. Amazon not finding the picture when refreshing from bookmooch, BUT yet Amazon finding the book WITH THE PICTURE when making exactly the same search on's site directly.

I do not actually know. I have some speculations. Maybe someone who knows better can look into these and perhaps others have this problem too. SO here goes my conspiracy theories ;)

1. Bookmooch looks in a chached list of Amazon - and in Amazon's cache there is no picture.

2. Although there is a picture in Amazon's database, there are also copies of the book listed there WITHOUT pictures, Bookmooch when searching Amazon finds the first copy of the book, which happens not to have a picture so it does not search any more for a version with a picture.

3. There are different Amazon caches / servers depending on where you are living, so mine looks for an Amazon server in Europe / through a European interface. Yet when I search on it goes through the American website based on an American server, using a different address, and only finds the American version, which has a picture, for some reason when refreshing bookmooch it does not refresh via the American one with the picture OR vice-versa.

There could be other reasons, maybe the picture is the wrong sort of image file (JPG instead of GIF), maybe the picture is in the wrong format somehow (too big, too small, too high a quality), maybe restricted to only NEW BOOKS by the poster and so available on Amazon, but not off Amazon.

OK that is a few off the top of my head speculations. Any other ideas would be good. I am more interested to fix the issue than to understand it, but I am curious especially as we do not seem to be able to add pictures and details (which we can in the free software called Datacrow)

PS I would love it if I could actually put my datacrow caalog of books linked in with Bookmooch and they I mark which books are moochable and which are not from them.
PPS As when I search for a book Amazon gives me a price for buying it if it is not moochable, I would love if books I list are also listed on Amazon at the same time either as AVAILABLE FROM BOOKMOOCH or with a price I set.

markus petz
1 year ago
Hi! Does anyone know how to add a picture to a book description? If so, please share. Thanks!
Rob Larson
1 month ago
Hi Rob,
you should open the inventory menu and choose the option "show cover" (if I understood correctly the question). If the cover is different from the one present in the database and you want to insert it manually, then you shoud add the "embed code" directly in the description space.
1 month ago
Thank you for the reply. The book is hand entered, and does not have a picture on Amazon or anywhere else that I could find. I don't know how to do the embedded code, either. Is there a tutorial, or can someone explain it? I'm scanning a picture of the item, it's a word puzzle magazine actually. Thanks again,
Rob Larson
1 month ago
We are not able to add pictures on Bookmooch.
1 month ago
Bast wrote: "We are not able to add pictures on Bookmooch"

- - - - -
fyi: True, members are not able to add images in that upper right spot, where most pictures usually display. [except to refresh via that 'Refresh Data' button, which will produce an image if there's one on Amazon already)

However there are two other places to put a book cover image.
You CAN insert the book cover image of your choice in the CONDITION area or the REVIEW area by using html code & an image link.

For example: with a book in my inventory, 044021873X Windy City Blues by Sara Paretsky, illustrating with adding a different cover image.

- - - - -
For a scanned image located on your computer, image needs to be put online somewhere, like a photo saving place or put your scanned image here, free to join:

OpenLibrary. you can right click on the image where you've loaded it onto the openlibrary site, thus obtaining a suitable link for using with the html code.

Or, locate an image online:
ie: Google the book title & author...
* click on 'images'
* choose/click on the desired image
* then click on 'view image'
* right click on image and choose 'view image info'
* highlight and copy the image info
* save this link on a notepad document for ease of usage when working...'s the saved image link from googling:

... here's the html code for adding an image: < img src=""/> ...
...this code has a 'space' added after the first < so the code won't realize while describing the process. When using the code, be sure and REMOVE the SPACE before finalizing...

- - - - -
The process is the same for putting an image in either the 'CONDITION NOTES' or 'REVIEW' areas:
At the book page, click on CHANGE CONDITION NOTES or REVIEW.
Copy and insert the saved link between the "" of the html code:

< img src=""/>


Highlight and copy this newly created info line (with that first SPACE removed) and put into the condition notes or review box.
Then go back and check the page to make sure the image is showing correctly.

Have fun with images...

Lou B/justloux
ps: just for fun, here's that image...

Lou B
1 month ago
Thanks Lou, just the information I needed! I knew there was a way to do it!!
Rob Larson
1 month ago

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