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New York Times Opens "Best Sellers API"

The New York Times on Tuesday opened up its “Best Sellers API,” offering programmatic access to best-seller data (going back to 1930!) from the Times:

The Times Best Sellers API gives you quick access to current and past best-seller lists in 11 different categories, such as Hardcover Nonfiction and Paperback Mass-Market Fiction. The initial launch offers every weekly list since June 2008, and in the coming months, we plan to add data going back to 1930 (thanks to the hard work of our Books staff). The API also offers details about specific best sellers, including historical rank information and links to New York Times reviews and excerpts. And these aren’t just canned responses; they’re searchable and sortable, with even more robust options coming in the next release.

I’m a huge fan of what the Times has done to embrace open architecture and data formats (and Nick Bilton, from the Times’ R&D Lab, will be a keynote speaker at next month’s TOC Conference), and this is a great example of what content creators and curators (i.e., publishers) can do to give customers the opportunity to create new value on top of that content. We’ve offered an API for our Safari Books Online product for several years now, and have some very interesting internal projects percolating to take things a step further.

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Comments: 3

  1. Andrew,

    I was initially quite interested in this bit of information but on reflection it seems they have missed a huge opportunity. WHAT ABOUT THE REVIEWS? Maybe I am missing something but with all the reviews sections closing all over the country the NYTimes has an opportunity to enable access to their reviews database via api staring them in the face. Surely, knowing the book was a best seller for 23 weeks back in 1982 or 2002 is useful but the title is likely to have that stated on the cover anyhow (few publishers challenge such obvious marketing opportunities). Even if I know that its a best seller wouldn’t the review be far more useful? On top of that there are many books that weren’t on the charts that were nevertheless reviewed well by the times so what of them? I give up…

  2. I just put up a site using the Best Seller API, and augmented the listings with Amazon data. It was really easy using the NYT ISBN data to query books using the Amazon API. Interestingly, the NYT API has link fields in the result sets for editoral reviews, first chapters, and other useful links, but most of the listings I spot-checked were blank for all of these fields. I’m willing to blame it on the fact the API is new. I’ve seen some other inconsistencies as well with the history ranks–zero weeks on the list?


    There’s also a write-up on my blog describing the guts of the mashup:


  3. @Personanondata

    Currently we are linking back to the review on the Times website in the node. Not all of the books on the list have been reviewed and we are working to add the ones that have been reviewed to the data set.

    Please feel free to check out


    and leave your feedback/suggestions there.