Book Recommendations

I like good books. I like short books. But, finding good short books isn’t easy. For most needs, sorting Amazon search results by sales rank or average customer review works well. But, there’s no easy way to filter or sort by book length.

Given a book’s ISBN, Amazon’s Product API allows one to download the following characteristics of a book: number of pages, sales rank, price, title, author, etc. I have downloaded this information for the books on NPR’s list of Best Books for 2013, 2014, and 2015. The table below is designed to accommodate custom sort orders. Each book is assigned a score, which is a weighted sum of normalized book attributes:

$$ \text{Score} = \sum_{k} w_k \frac{x_{k} - \bar{x}_{k}}{s_{k}} $$

The table is sorted with the ten highest scores at the top. As a default sort order, I have set $w = (-1, 0, 0)$ so the table shows the books with the lowest sales rank (bestsellers) first. Setting $w = (0, -1, 0)$ and updating the table will present the shortest books first.

Title Author Sales Rank # Pages List Price Score

PS I wish Amazon’s Product API provided customer ratings for each book. This Stack Overflow answer describes a potential work-around.