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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

by 'Anil' Radhakrishna
A seasoned developer's little discoveries and annotated bookmarks.

Search from over a hundred HOW TO articles, Tips and Tricks

Search for free eBooks from the Google Books collection

I & my wife have a fascination for Web APIs that return results in JSON or JSONP format. We noticed that Google Books doesn't readily show if a out of copyright book is available for free download in PDF or EPUB format. You have to go through multiple steps using Advanced Search to find this.

Luckily, Google provides a Google Books API that exposes this information and it returns the results in JSON format. We wrote a web app that searches for free eBooks from the Google Books collection.

It uses a responsive HTML5 Boilerplate template generated using Initializr.
The H5BP template's view for Mobile

Some other interesting things we discovered while building this app:
  • Results returned by Google Books API may vary by country. When a programmatic request is made to their book search API via the app, the same code will return different results for different countries. 
  • Project Gutenberg doesn't have an API but they provide one huge file that contains the RDF data for all books
  • Open Library has a RESTful API that provides useful information about books.
  • Calibre is free and open source e-book software that can convert ebooks into many formats 
  • Flipkart lets you download over 9000+ ebooks for free but you will need their app to view. 
  • Programmable Web maintains a directory of Web APIs & tracks news about mashups built using those APIs. The site is a treat for developers who like Web APIs & creating mashups.

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