Book Book — Goose!

I like to read. I love bookstores, I like to wander, and to find things that I didn’t know existed. But bookstores don’t have every book that exists. Amazon has most books, but search is a terrible way to discover new things. Amazon’s recommendations most likely maximize purchases, but are a terrible way to find something you didn’t know you were looking for (look at a book like Effective JavaScript, for example, and you get recommendations for Async JavaScriptBuilding Node Applications with MongoDB and BackboneJavaScript Enlightenment). Similarly, top 100 lists are great at showing you popular things that you’re probably more likely to buy, but not very good at helping you find a book with a story or idea that’s unlike anything you’ve read lately.

There must be a better way to explore books.

A random way to explore books would be a good way to start.

Hence, bookbookgoose. Browse randomly. Enjoy!

 Hint: use the ‘n’ key to go forward quickly. I find about .2% of the books are awesome.

Update: you can now find @bookbookgoose on Twitter, sharing one random book per hour.

Update: Dustin Kurtz at Melville House had an eloquent writeup of the beauty in this random literature.


  • sleepless

    My Umlauts are broken :)

    On the amazon page they are there, on bookbookgoose they are missing.
    ###amazon###/German-Angst-Friedrich-Ani/dp/3426620545?SubscriptionId=1XJTRNMGKSD3T57YM002&tag=quasika-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=3426620545 Nice Project. Love the Technology Stack :P

  • Isaac Xin Pei

    is this truly random? it might be nice if we can spray some metrics such as google search trends, categories, most cited, or giving it some plus 1 clicks etc

    • http://www.hilarymason.com Hilary Mason

      It’s as random as Amazon’s Product API – books without covers and descriptions filtered through python’s pseudo-random shuffle operation. So, mostly random. :)

  • Books

    Also chucks up the odd cd

  • evanjacobs

    Cool hack. Instead of randomly selected books, how about flipping through books that are currently being referenced by bit.ly links?

  • ChrisJefferson

    This is really fun. It’s there any chance of being able to choose Amazon.co.uk, or even only setting books with kindle versions (which could get really dangerous!)

  • http://twitter.com/wfm Bill Murphy

    It’s a fun site, thanks for making it!

  • http://twitter.com/seinecle Clement Levallois

    nice! I am curious if you considered the Google Books API?

    • http://www.hilarymason.com Hilary Mason

      I didn’t realize google had a books API. I’ll take a look.

  • Tomgeraghty

    I’d also like this format with a “bookshelf in the store” analogy – sometimes it’s not the bestseller or the book I came in looking for, it’s the one next to it in the category. Also, jumping from the business section to the travel section…

  • laurenhat

    Nifty!  Feature request: ability to limit genre.  (I like random browsing in some areas of the bookstore, but there are some sections I never venture into. :) )

  • Skiz

    Add a few google ads so you can get a few books for your work ;)

  • http://riffraff.info/ gabriele renzi

    awesome idea. 
    You may want to enforce a limit on v1/get_books, I think I accidentally requested 100k books and it appeared to hang the tab

  • Sharjeel Ahmed

    that a goood initiative.. but i am missing the like feature! i would like to find books similar to my liking, i know its now an easy algorithm to see that, but i am sure i will soon get bored by random selections

  • Brittany Turcotte

    This is awesome!  My amazon account still recommends nothing but programming books and learn to speak russian books because of college.  Sometimes filters and trackers just pigeonhole users.

  • http://twitter.com/spinchange spinchange

    Absolutely love this and all the work you are doing at Bit.ly. It was a few years ago that I tweeted “Bit.ly is the new Del.ico.us” and you guys fulfilled that. Keep up the great “day job” work and fun side stuff like this. Cheers! 

  • http://twitter.com/emckean Erin McKean

    Love this!

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  • Kathryn Neel

    This is sort of scary … the first book it recommends is on Catholic mysticism …how did it know I was Catholic? Did they shrink the mind of a nun and put it into the algorithm to wait for fallen away Catholics to come by browsing books? Things that make you go hmmm.

    • http://www.hilarymason.com Hilary Mason

      It’s random, I promise! :)

  • Carl

    I would find this useful if I could narrow by genre. That is what I do in a physical bookstore (or did back when they existed :(  ).

  • Harkanwal Hothi

    This is fantastic. Though like few other commenters, I too think selection by genre would make it a lot more useful.

  • DianeCourt

    There’s a bizarre and beautiful collision of expectations in this hack that I love. It’s like wandering through the stacks of a used bookstore where shelves are piled high with uncatalogued and unorganized finds from estate sales and fleamarkets. But the selections are all books currently in print. The jumble of junk and joy is wonderful.

  • jack

    Very nice to discover new books!
    I also found http://shoppingrandom.com which browses random items
    from Amazon, not only books. The site endlessly shows random items in a compact view until you find what you want. May be helpful for gift ideas…

  • Anil Kurmi

    Yaaa!. I thought random reading anything don’t make sense.