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Book review

Amazon Hacks, by Paul Bausch

Published by O'Reilly, 2003, ISBN 0596005423. Order from or

Reviewed by Jean Hollis Weber

Cover of Amazon HacksO'Reilly are publishing a great series of "Hacks" books faster than I can read them and put the tips into use. Even worse, each book has been full of great ideas I want to use, so I keep spending far too much time trying out the tricks I'm learning, but it's paying off. Within the first 12 pages of Amazon Hacks, I'd found two tricks I could put to use immediately to make my work easier.

This book addresses three audiences: buyers, sellers, and programmers. I use the term "buyers" to include people who not only purchase goods from (and its related sites such as, but also participate in the Amazon community by contributing product reviews, lists, and guides.

Chapters 1 through 3 provide tips on ways to browse and search more efficiently; how to set up your account to improve the recommendations you receive and the way you purchase; how to use Amazon for a variety of purposes other than purchasing -- all not only allowed but encouraged by Amazon, which makes opportunities and tools available to anyone who is interested.

Chapter 4 provides tips for sellers using the Amazon marketplace and auctions.

Chapter 5 discusses the Associates program, whereby people link from their own websites (or from email) to the Amazon site and get a payment for any goods sold. I've been an Associate for years, but I haven't spent the time to keep up with the improved ways to link, so this chapter was of considerable interest to me, and I've already started putting some of the tips into practice. The techniques are quite easy, once I knew what they were and why I should use them.

Chapter 6, about Amazon Web Services, is for the XML programmers among us. It made my eyes glaze over, but I was happy to note that I have at least a vague idea of what most of the topics are, even if I don't know much about them or want to spend the time right now learning how to implement them. If you have the need and interest to use these services, I'm sure the tips in this chapter will be very useful.

In conclustion -- if you use Amazon, whether as a buyer or as a seller, you'll likely find lots of useful tips in this book, far more than enough to justify the (low) cost.