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"Amazon Hacks": Tips and Tools for Tapping into Amazon's Power

August 20, 2003

Sebastopol, CA--"The largest river in the whole world!" exclaims Benito Garral to his friend Manoel Valdez as they anticipate their journey down the Amazon in Jules Verne's spirited novel "Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon." To which his friend adds, "And along its whole extent, like the thousand tentacles of some gigantic polyp, two hundred tributaries, flowing from north or south, themselves fed by smaller affluents without number. And in its course, five hundred and sixty islands...forming a kind of archipelago, and yielding of themselves the wealth of a kingdom!" And yet, as they gaze at the water flowing peacefully at their feet, Benito and Manoel simply see the river they have known all their lives.

Mention "Amazon" today and most people will think of something quite different. But, as with Benito and Manoel, they may have to exert themselves to visualize the full extent of the power lying beyond the familiar facade of Amazon.com. As Paul Bausch, author of Amazon Hacks (O'Reilly, US $24.95) says, "The common conception is that Amazon.com is a web-based bookstore. While that's true, once you begin to look beneath the surface a bit, you realize that Amazon is really a complex web application. Instead of viewing the site as a series of pages offering items for sale, I hope readers of 'Amazon Hacks' see Amazon as a tool they can customize and adapt to their own uses; whether that's participating in the Amazon community, earning money through Amazon's Marketplace and Associates Program, or just improving the way they interact with the site."

The latest addition to O'Reilly's popular Hacks series shows Amazon readers of every level how to tap into the vast power that Amazon offers. Through its collection of industrial-strength tips and tools, the book helps readers get the most out of Amazon.com, including how to:

  • Find just the product you're after among the millions available at Amazon

  • Access, control, and fine-tune your Amazon preferences, recommendations, and information

  • Participate in the growing Amazon community and integrate Amazon features into your own web site

  • Become an Amazon Associate, develop your own online storefront, and hone your recommendations for better linking and higher referral fees

  • Sell products online using Amazon's billing, inventory, and marketing infrastructure

  • Build full-scale desktop and server applications on Amazon's Web Services API

Bausch hopes that "Amazon Hacks" will help people see Amazon in a new way. "Over its lifetime, Amazon.com has invested $900 million in technology," he explains. "Though they're often thought of as an online 'shop,' they're a technology company. And more and more they're in the business of providing technology to other businesses, as well as their customers. For instance, thirty percent of Amazon's business is from third-party sales. That means other businesses, and sometimes even 'competitors' are making money through Amazon.com."

"'Amazon Hacks' is much more than a guide for getting the most out of Amazon.com as it is today," states the Amazon.com Technology Team in their foreword to the book, "It is a call to all true hackers out there to innovate on the platform." In closing, they add, "By lowering the barriers to entry and experimentation on top of the Amazon platform, we invite true hackers to extend and enhance the platform for all to enjoy--including us!"

"One can easily imagine the progress which commerce will one day make in this immense and wealthy area, which is without rival in the world," wrote Jules Verne of the Amazon River. Armed with a copy of "Amazon Hacks," Amazon.com users of every sort--from bargain hunters to power hackers--may find themselves thinking the same thing.

Additional Resources:

Amazon Hacks
Paul Bausch
ISBN 0-596-00542-3, 280 pages, $24.95 US, $38.95 CA, 17.50 UK
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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