In the process of developing this site — migrating my massive book wish lists from Amazon > WordPress and trying to grab some useful metadata by any means necessary — I’ve grappled with a few different APIs that purport to offer bibliographic data.
I can’t say I’ve tried them all, but I’ve tried several and none of them really are what I’d call excellent. I should probably write at length at some point about my experiences with each (I think so far: Amazon, Google Books, Open Library…and been meaning to try Goodreads as well) but for now I’m curious if anyone else has experience with some kind of programmatic book data gathering experiments, and if so what you found useful / not worth it / what you wish said APIs could do better, etc.
For what it’s worth, I would of course love a universal comprehensive database with clean and complete data of all books ever — even just the metadata promised by the thwarted and aborted Google Books project would be an awesome start — but I’m pretty sure it definitely does not exist. Open Library has a long way to go, but is an exciting and commendable project that seems to aim at something like this!