Jon Udell brings up some interesting issues with his latest LibraryLookup notes. There are definately problems with using ISBNs to search. You can read Jon’s post for details, but a single title can have multiple ISBNs (hardcover, paperback, editions, etc). Here is one specific problem that Jon notes:
Another is that, book titles being non-unique, there is no universal identifier for the genus. I wonder if there’s a need for a Web service to solve this. Given an ISBN (for, say, a mass market paperback), it would map from species to genus, collect all species in the genus, and return a lists of ISBNS (paperback, hardcover, audiocassette, etc.)
Think of it as a on-the-fly search result dashboard. Now extend that to include more than just books. I’ll try to implement this when I get a chance, but I know there’s someone out there that could whip this up in 10 minutes, so feel free to do so if you get bored.
In conclusion, it’d be nice if Amazon implemented a web service like Jon spoke about, but they don’t neccesarily have to. We might be able to do pretty well on our own (with the help of their web services, of course).