Better Amazon RSS Feeds

A few years ago I put together a little tool to help assemble RSS feeds of Amazon products called the Amazon RSS Feed-Builder. I've been using feeds generated with this tool for about three years, tracking the latest books, music, and DVDs across series and artists that I like. Because publishers often announce books to Amazon well in advance, I know about new books in the Hacks Series well before O'Reilly announces the books on their own website. Amazon also offers pre-built feeds on their Amazon Syndication page.

These old-style Amazon feeds have worked well at alerting me about new products, but they are fairly limited. I just see the title, the author, and a price in my newsreader. I decided to upgrade my Amazon feeds so each item includes a product image (if available), a product description, and product details. And I figured if I was going to go through the trouble of upgrading my feeds, why not just upgrade the Amazon RSS Feed-Builder? So here's the new thing:

Amazon Feed Generator

It's hot off the assembly line today, and I'm sure there are bugs to be worked out. (It's also powered by orange gradients.) If you want to give it a shot, feel free to try it out and post any comments/problems on this post. As an example, here are the latest books in a Polar Exploration Feed. I subscribe to this feed, and I'm notified whenever new books about polar exploration show up in Amazon's catalog.

This uses the latest version of Amazon Web Services, with a custom stylesheet and Amazon's server-side XSLT service. And I want to say thanks to Alan Taylor for his recent article subtitled, AMZN-XSLT-JSON-AJAX (AXJA?). His stylesheet is a perfect example of consuming the new, more-complex AWS responses with XSL.

Comments

Hey Paul... it's been ages since I've commented, but I can't hold back: this is pretty damn impressive!

I ( heart ) my new Amazon feeds!

: )
I notice that âââ after I've marked Amazon feeds as "read" âââ they have nasty habit of showing up again and again. And not just the one's you create... but my Wish Lists as well. Any idea why this isâ
I've noticed that too. Unfortunately, because there is so much information associated with each item, if one data point changes that item appears as "updated". For example, if the new or used price goes up or down, even by a penny, the whole item is listed as updated.

I've solved this by ignoring updated items in my newsreader. You can do this with Bloglines by choosing "edit subscription" while reading a feed, and setting "Updated Items" to "Ignore" instead of "Display as New".
Brilliant... Thanks, Paul!
( Now, if only NetNewsWire allowed this. * gack * )
is there a way to embed an Amazon associate ID in the feed so that if someone clicks through and purchases, the associate's account gets credited? I experimented by editing the feed URL in NetNewsWire, but the associate ID didn't seem to get picked up when I clicked through on a feed item.

Even if that doesn't work (it's something I'd use for a commercial site), the feed generator is extremely cool for personal use! THanks!
Hi Greg, you can use your own associate ID. Here's how it's done:

1.) Copy the stylesheet I wrote--it's linked in the post.

2.) Put the stylesheet on your server, and edit the file so it uses your associate ID instead of mine. Note the URL.

3.) Build the feed you want with the feed generator and copy the feed URL.

4.) Edit the feed URL, replacing my stylesheet URL with your new stylesheet URL at your server.

5.) Subscribe to your new feed URL, or use it however you want

That's it! It's not as complicated as it sounds--most of the work is done for you. You don't have to dig into the nitty gritty XSL, or even build the Amazon request URLs. You just need to do some text searching and replacing to start using your associate ID.
Perfect - thanks!