Get Goodreads Ratings using API: Tips and Tutorial

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Guide: Get Goodreads Ratings using API: Tips and Tutorial

For book lovers who like a particular genre, they will likely check a friend’s recommendation than follow a bestseller list. That’s why Amazon’s Goodreads is a bookmarked site for avid readers. It’s a place where you can find an extensive database of books, recommendations, and reviews from fellow book lovers.

Goodreads also provides an API for developers access his data and further personalize it it according to our application. Today we will see how to retrieve Goodreads book ratings through the Goodreads API using the ISBN number or International Standard Book Number, which can be used later while displaying book information and the like on your website.

To get started, log in or sign up with a name, email id and password to Goodreads and go to https://www.goodreads.com/api/keys (link). Enter an application name and company name and generate your API key. Then verify your account via the email received in the email address you entered.

View the Developer Terms of Service for the API. They also have a list of API methods on their API page, some of those methods require OAuth authentication, the rest only the developer key, like the one we’ll be looking at in this post.

The response type of those methods varies, it is either in XML or JSON only, or an option to choose between the two using the format parameter.

book.review_counts is a Goodreads API method that retrieves all review statistics for a list of book ISBNs. The response type is JSON. The request URL is as follows: https://www.goodreads.com/book/review_counts.json.

Four parameters are needed:

  • key, developer key
  • isbns – an array or single comma separated sequence of the ISBNs of the books for which we want the review statistics
  • format – the format of the response (although frankly I’m not really sure why this exists as the response will always be in JSON. Planning for future implementations?)
  • callback, the function that will wrap up the JSON response

Let’s take the two books; Head First Java, First edition (ISBN: 0596009208) and JavaScript: The Good Parts, 1st edition (ISBN: 0596517742) and get their rating statistics. The request URL is as follows:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/review_counts.json?key=vragenapikeyaatsen&isbns=0596009208,0596517742

And the answer Text after embellishment looks like this.

{“books”:[ { “id”:231262,“isbn”:”0596009208″,“isbn13″:”9780596009205”,“ratings_count”:1842,“reviews_count”:3599,“text_reviews_count”:124,“work_ratings_count”:2016,“work_reviews_count”:3943,“work_text_reviews_count”:136,“average_rating”:”4.16″},

{ “id”:2998152,“isbn”:”0596517742″,“isbn13″:”9780596517748”,“ratings_count”:4430,“reviews_count”:8921,“text_reviews_count”:363,“work_ratings_count”:4990,“work_reviews_count”:9821,“work_text_reviews_count”:381,“average_rating”:”4.22″}]

If you want the review of the Head First Java, First Edition book, it is in myJSON.books[0].average score. The ratings_count and reviews_count keys in the objects represent the total number of ratings and reviews released for that particular edition of the book.

Likewise, text_count_count represents the total number of text-only reviews of the specific edition of the book. While work_ratings_count, work cialis_count and work_text_count represent the total ratings, reviews and text reviews of all editions.

Clicking on JavaScript Review Details: The Good Parts (1st Edition) in Goodreads will bring it up.

You can use all that extra review information if you want, or you can just display a star rating for the book using the key average value.

Note: According to the API documentation, “The Goodreads API gives you full access to metadata owned by Goodreads, but does not give you full access to book metadata provided by third parties such as Ingram. Images, descriptions and other data from external sources can be excluded as we are not licensed to distribute this data through our API. “

After preparing the book covers and descriptions, you can view the book information similar to below.

goodreads api

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The time to complete the Get Goodreads Ratings using API: Tips and Tutorial tutorial is 10+ minutes.

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PC Laptop or Desktop


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