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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Reading List Content Management System Updated

The home-brew Perl content management system I use to maintain the Reading List Web tree has been revised and all documents it generates updated accordingly. If you're using this program to manage your own reading list, you may wish to download and install the new release. Principal changes are:

In addition to these changes in the Web tree generation process, I have also revised all of the book entries back to the start in January 2001 to use XHTML text entities for special characters such as quotes, dashes, and ellipses, and fixed a number of typographical errors and instances of infelicitous formatting I came across in the editing process.

Starting with January 1st, 2008, and the item below posted on that date, I will cite thirteen digit ISBN-13 references (for example 978-0-375-75875-1) for all books in the reading list, even if the book was published prior to the mandate of ISBN-13 in 2007. Any ten-digit ISBN-10 can be expressed as an ISBN-13 by prefixing it with the EANBookland” prefix of 978, then recomputing the final check digit with the EAN/ISBN-13 algorithm. An ISBN-13 which begins with 978 can be transformed back to ISBN-10 by the inverse process. Note that ISBN-13s which begin with the new Bookland code of 979 cannot be expressed as ISBN-10s. Books published prior to the adoption of ISBN will continue to be cited by their Library of Congress Catalogue Number, British Library Number, or other catalogue identification.

For some incomprehensible reason, Amazon.com does not accept ISBN-13 specifications in associate links. When presented with an ISBN-13, you must convert it to an “ASIN” (Amazon Standard Identification Number) which, for a 978-prefix ISBN-13, is identical to the ISBN-10 it encodes. But since 979-prefix ISBN-13s cannot be programmatically converted, there's no alternative to looking up the book on Amazon, noting the ASIN, and manually specifying it in your link. Fortunately, almost all existing ISBN-13s are of the 978 flavour (I've yet to encounter a 979), so for the moment they can be automatically interconverted as required. I've written a little Perl program to convert back and forth between ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 values, which you're welcome to download; it preserves embedded delimiters within ISBN values and also displays them in canonical form with all delimiters removed for applications (hello, Amazon!) which require them thus.

Posted at January 2, 2008 01:18