User talk:Fixer

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Contents

Welcome!

Hello, Fixer, and welcome to the ISFDB Wiki! I hope you like the place and decide to stay. Here are some pages that you might find helpful:

I hope you enjoy editing here! Please sign your name on talk pages using four tildes (~~~~); this will insert your name and the date. If you need help, check out the community portal, or ask me on my talk page. Again, welcome! MHHutchins 06:19, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Fixer says "Thanks!" while adding record number 288,005 to the target list. As you can imagine, he is too busy munching on data to answer questions here, so he authorized me to speak on his behalf, at least for now :) Ahasuerus 18:26, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Fixer is a "he"? I never would have guessed. I am curious about the name though as while there's multiple meanings for "fix" and "fixer" none seem to match up with what your bot does unless it's the source of product for the penguins. That reminds me, I have not heard any recent news about what Dextre has been up to recently. http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/missions/sts-123/dextre.asp. --Marc Kupper|talk 21:57, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, the original idea behind Fixer was to automate mundane housekeeping tasks like adding EDITOR Titles to MAGAZINE pubs, thus "Fixer". I even managed to teach it to find and merge duplicate titles some time during the summer. However, like so many other projects, this one mutated along the way and now most of Fixer's logic deals with finding new ISBNs at library catalogs and online stores like Amazon.
As far as Fixer's gender goes, let's be realistic. How many female contributors do we have here again? Besides, I am not even sure that Fixer belongs to a species with 2 sexes. The way he talks to 50 catalogs at the same time suggests almost Eddorian abilities... Ahasuerus 00:49, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Using this page for comments

Just thought I'd go through the formalities of creating a talk page for your new incarnation. Should we use this page to bring up any issues or concerns when approving (or disapproving, as the case may be) these automated entries? MHHutchins 06:21, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Sure, that will work. I check "Recent Changes" all the time and it's probably better to keep things separate so that verification requests and administrivia do not muddy the waters. Ahasuerus 18:28, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Next of Kin by Russell

The steps taken to approve this submission:

  1. Removed the "large print" from the title (in the pub record and the title record) MHHutchins 06:27, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    Unfortunately, there is no easy way to determine where the real title ends and where Amazon's "creative contribution" begins. Every time I think I have found a reliable way to separate the two, they come up with something different. My fear is that if I make the AI too complicated, it will eventually start dismembering legitimate titles, so I figure it's better to leave these issues for human moderators to handle. I'll probably add code to strip "known offenders" like "(Large Print)" later today, though. Ahasuerus 18:51, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
  2. Changed the author name from "Eric, Frank Russell" to "Eric Frank Russell" (in the pub record and the title record) MHHutchins 06:27, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    This is another example of something that Amazon does that I have no control over. If they add random punctuation or misspell words, I have no way of telling what the intent is, so I can't do anything about it programmatically :( Ahasuerus 18:51, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    After stripping the "(role)" which is in parentheses you could hunt through the authors table to see if the Amazon author string could be arranged to match a canonical author. If so, rearrange if needed and add a note that's one of
    • Amazon credits "abc" which matched "abc" in ISFDB and is assumed to be the same.
    • Amazon credits "abc" which is assumed to be "cba" in ISFDB. (a rearrangement matched)
    • Amazon credits "abc" which was not found in ISFDB. The author credit may be in error or this is a new author.
    The same logic would be used for processing titles so that the moderator knows if manual merges, etc. are needed. Titles are far more likely to not match as people append add series names, etc. and sometimes a series is named after the first book in a series meaning parts of the Amazon title will be found in a scan of titles for the selected author.
    My own author and title parsing logic looks for a "(" and whacks off the entire remainder of the string (trimming off the trailing space too). I've been using this method for years to look up the Fantastic Fiction and AbeBooks records and it's very rare that I end up pointing at no record or the the wrong record as a result. --Marc Kupper|talk 21:31, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    I am hesitant to delete everything after the first "(" since, as you pointed out, the parenthetical section often contains useful information, e.g. "(Vampire Lover #7)". I guess I could move it to Notes, but won't that increase the probability that the approving moderator will miss it entirely? As far as the Author field goes, Amazon abuses middle initials and punctuation in all kinds of creative ways -- see the Russell example in this section -- so I am afraid to touch it for fear of confusing the approving moderator. Hm, let me sleep on it... Ahasuerus 03:32, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
  3. Removed the Browse node, but kept the link to amazon. (I wasn't sure how to handle the pub notes. Let me know what should be kept and what should be removed.) MHHutchins 06:27, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    Well, the original idea was that everything below the words "MODERATOR NOTES:" would be deleted after approval/massaging, but if you think that something should be preserved, let me know and I will move it above that line. In this case, the reason that I included a link back to Amazon was to make it easier for the approving moderator to see what the Amazon record says -- e.g. check user reviews to see whether the book is really SF -- without having to open a separate window and search Amazon. Once the pub has been approved, it is automatically linked to Amazon.com (and other online sources) via the navbar on the left, which works off the pub's ISBN, so I figured another link to Amazon would be redundant. But again, nothing is cast in stone and all ideas are welcome! Ahasuerus 18:51, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    One suggestion is that the initial "Data from Amazon.com" be "Data uploaded from Amazon.com 2008-11-27 13:09" so that down the road someone can compare this record against Amazon to see if things have changed. For example, the price often changes. --Marc Kupper|talk 21:31, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    I like the idea of adding the date too. BLongley 00:11, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
    Good point, added! Ahasuerus 01:29, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
    I personally like the browse nodes stuff. --Marc Kupper|talk 21:31, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    Amazon is apparently in the process of making Browse Nodes much more dynamic and therefore less reliable, which is one reason why I decided to pounce sooner rather than later. Also, leaving the Browse Node information in the Notes field after approval would increase the size of our backup file significantly. Ideally, we would create tags based on that information before blowing the details away. Unfortunately, you can't trust Amazon's node and subject codes any more than you can trust the rest of their data :( Ahasuerus 01:29, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
    BTW, the "Detailed information available here" link should not include your Amazon subscription ID as that's somewhat of a "secret." I personally link by the ISBN/ASIN using http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/#isbn# as it's a short URL format that's been used by external links to Amazon for so long it's likely they will never remove support for it. --Marc Kupper|talk 21:31, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    Thanks, I will fix it shortly! I am using a throwaway account in case Amazon disapproves of my activities, but still. Their guidelines are somewhat ambiguous in this area. Ahasuerus 01:29, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
    Fixed, although I had to use the ASIN field and not the ISBN field since they occasionally differ. Supposedly, Amazon.com has been known to changes ASINs on rare occasions, but I don't think we have to worry about that too much. Ahasuerus 03:32, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
  4. Merged new title record with the current title record. MHHutchins 06:27, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
    As this example makes abundantly clear, Amazon's data is so dirty that it's hard to be sure what the actual title is and who the author of the book is. If I were to try to create an "Add Pub" submission instead of a "New Pub" one, I estimate that I would be linking to a wrong title in a small number of cases. I can do it either way, but would you say that it's better to merge new titles all the time, which would ensure a low error rate, or to unmerge incorrectly merged titles when warranted? The latter would involve fewer cases and therefore would be faster, but it would also be likely more error-prone. Ahasuerus 18:51, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Pretties

I'll leave the submissions in the queue. You are not checking to see if the title exists but maybe that's because the title includes "(Thorndike Press Large Print Literacy Bridge Series)" and that was assumed to be part of the title. --Marc Kupper|talk 08:51, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Yup -- see my responses in the Russell section above. Ahasuerus 18:52, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Capitalisation and special characters

These needed fixing: "Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince" - capitalised "Blood", "ATLANTIS" - changed to Initial Capital only, " Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - changed to real apostrophe. Could any of these have been easily done before submission? BLongley 12:06, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Also "The Witch's Boy" and "Lucinda's Secret" . BLongley 13:57, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
Apostrophes are a known issues since XML doesn't like unescaped single quotes and the Web API doesn't like it when I escape them. If I can't find a way around it today, I'll have to ask Al to look into it.
As far as capitalization goes, there are cases of weird-yet-legitimate capitalization that the software can't predict, e.g. earlier today Fixer submitted Screams BeNeath Pandora and there are always things like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. or SuperHero ABC. If I were to change the logic to enforce "regular" capitalization, I suspect that we would garble most of these cases. The only sub-case that I think is safe to always capitalize is the post-hyphen one. Ahasuerus 14:06, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Animorphs / Submission order / Large print

It looks like no Mod wants to touch the Animorphs submissions. I'm not happy to add "Katherine Applegate" as a variant of "K. A. Applegate" which the covers seem to show, I think Amazon might be looking at Copyright pages, which do show the "Katherine" now. Unfortunately Look-inside isn't showing Title pages so there's no real way to check. I'd abandon those entries for some things we're happier to deal with. BLongley 01:01, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

OCLC reports that the "responsibility" -- which usually reflects what's printed on the title page -- is "K. A. Applegate"'s, so I have approved the submissions and changed the name to the "K. A." version. Ahasuerus 04:38, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Which brings me on to a second topic: can you order the submissions by title and author? I've seen a group of submissions that I can recognise as being by the same author, and can go do all the merges at once after approving the entries rather than do them individually, and recently you've added 2 editions of the same title on the same day: but you've been adding several L. Frank Baum and Roger Zelazny titles over multiple days, whereas they could be more easily dealt with in one go. BLongley 01:01, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

I am submitting records in the order they were downloaded from Amazon.com. Since I was downloading by "browse node" and then by subject, we are handling large print reprints at the moment, which I thought was a decent start since most of them would be well known books and easy to adjudicate. However, I can order submissions in all kinds of ways, we just need to decide what we want to be processed first. Let me see how many, um, lets say Zelaznys we have in the queue...
I have been extremely busy making the world safe for genre bibliography over the last few weeks, so all I could do at night was create 10-20 submissions, reject the obviously non-genre stuff and perhaps approve 1 or 2 submissions. I am likely to remain equally busy through mid-January, but I will have a few hours on weekends and during the holidays, so I can make relatively simple changes to Fixer. Ahasuerus 04:38, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Oh, and while I'm moaning, can you find something more interesting than Large Print editions of stuff we've already got? It's always more interesting for me when I discover a new title or especially a new author during Moderating Activity. Otherwise, I seem quite capable of finding such by looking at obscure anthologies and searching a little harder. BLongley 01:01, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunately, looking for new authors in the 290,000 records that we have sitting in the queue is likely to produce more cases similar to "Katherine Applegate", but I can give it a try :) Ahasuerus 04:38, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Can Fixer take requests?

One of the things that comes up with the DAW list is I'll know the ISBN of a book and would like to have it uploaded to ISFDB. For example the title Moon In The Mirror does not include a publication record for Amazon.com 075640486X which is a paperback reprint. I've been uploading these by hand. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:53, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

If you happen to have a list of ISBNs that we are missing, Fixer can use it to upload any matching records that I have on file, i.e. the 290,000 ASINs that I have downloaded from Amazon.com. If any of the ISBNs are not among the 290,000 on file, Fixer can query Amazon.com directly and submit the results, but that will take a bit more time. Ahasuerus 04:49, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
Maybe that'll motivate me to write that auto-snagging of data from Amazon I've been meaning to do for a couple of years... In my personal book db I have a set of fields that capture selected Amazon data and I keep running into putting time into keeping the db up to date manually vs. time into writing code that would automate some of keeping the db up to date. --Marc Kupper|talk 23:23, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Related would be if I could give Fixer an ISBN where a record already exists and Fixer would report if things like the price have changed. It's pretty common that a book will be announced at one price and later released at a different (and nearly always higher) price or for an in-print title for there to be a price increase. --Marc Kupper|talk 00:53, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Amazon.com allows you to retrieve different types of prices: "current prices", "offer prices", "list prices", etc. I thought that Fixer was capturing list prices, but I'll have to double check. I would be leery of asking Fixer to create automatic submissions for price changes since Amazon's price data is not the most reliable in the world, but we can give it a shot and see what happens. Ahasuerus 04:49, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
I've generally found Amazon's list prices to be accurate but that the publishers are indecisive, particularly with yet to be released titles. The only data field I'm entirely skeptical of is the page count and then the binding type. --Marc Kupper|talk 23:23, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
I've got lucky this week in that I've actually been paid to research web-service capabilities from our current (work) infrastructure. So I chose Amazon as an example (as the in-house capabilities aren't available yet), and therefore wasted two days dealing with Proxy Authentication and WSDL incompatibilities, etc. But I've seen list-prices from Amazon and even when they're not the generally available ones (they won't list them for things they can't sell) there's no way to match them to anything official for many years. There might be some years you can trust, but I'd not yet take an Amazon price of any kind over something we have here that might have come from Locus or a publisher website. Even I (as a "If you tell people where the data came from, they'll trust it as it's got a Source") sceptic would add notes. Actually, I wouldn't add it unless it had a new confirmable ISBN of something we already have. Which is probably why I don't do that - another version of something we already have is not really interesting. BLongley 00:35, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
Just a note that I have confirmed that Fixer extracts "Listed Price" from the XML. How accurate Amazon's data is, well, that's a different question :) Ahasuerus 06:27, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear

I've no objection to these. But I also have no desire to go add them to any Star Wars Series/Sub-Series/Sub-Sub-Series. Or create a new one. Good work on finding a new-(ish) Author though, I'm just not so keen on fitting this into a series I have no interest in. I did the Pratchetts though. And some other recognisable but uninteresting authors. Try harder on Interest-levels for Mods please? BLongley 23:42, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

The Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear series pubs was easy enough to process but I'm concerned about the number of children's books as they are often hard to evaluate sight unseen. For example, I just approved Hot Stuff by Hazel Townson but as there are no Amazon reviews for this, nor for a pb edition. wikipedia:Hazel Townson has many specfictish titles which is a good sign but for all we know these are "ghosts and aliens are not real" moral stories. --Marc Kupper|talk 06:27, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
True, children's books can be hard to pigeonhole, but I can't think of a simple solution.
As far as Bill's request for "interest-levels for Mods" goes, well, I can do it by author, so feel free to submit requests. Last time we discussed this issue, I believe I found a few hundred Zelazny ISBNs that we didn't have on file. Would you like me to submit all of them? Ahasuerus 06:51, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
How about looking for SF/Fantasy books like you are already doing but only return adult books either for authors we don't have or titles we don't have. Given the Amazon titles are often decorated one thought is for the author(s) you scan down the list of their titles and string/compare the first N characters where N is the lesser of the ISFDB or Amazon title length. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:11, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Sure, I can identify all authors who are in my local database of 290,000 Amazon imports but not in the ISFDB. I can then calculate the number of books for each author and start with the most prolific ones. There will be quite a few false hits, e.g. we use "Tim LaHaye" and Amazon uses "Tim F. LaHaye", but once we have a "top 50" list, we can review it manually. Ahasuerus 18:15, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Is Fixer coded in Python? If so, you may want to look at the Levenshtein code that's available. I imagine this will pull in a bunch of paranormal and related romance unless you deliberately exclude that in the first pass. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:11, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
I've learned enough Python to be dangerous, but I doubt I will ever become good at it. Fixer is coded using the stuff that I have been dabbling in for decades -- we will call it OOA (Object Oriented Abacus) for our purposes -- which speeds things up tremendously, but makes it effectively unusable by anybody else. Trade-offs, trade-offs... Ahasuerus 18:15, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Before doing the few hundred Zelazny ISBNs I'd rather that fixer be able to do the add-pubs to matching titles as that'll save a merge step. If something get's dropped under the wrong title we can always unmerge it. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:11, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that's on my list of things to do. I have been very busy the last 6 weeks (6am-9pm days) and didn't have the energy to do much ISFDB work aside from the basics, but I hope things will stabilize after the inauguration. I really need to reshuffle the database structures before I can start working on more advanced areas... Ahasuerus 18:15, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
The large print edition submissions could definitely do with being automerged to start with - I found a lot of the merges had the new title as the default and the one with Series name, Number, Wikipedia links, notes etc as the alternative, so had to switch all the check-boxes. Not fun. Still, no need to code for that yet if you're going for things we don't have. I'd like a look at the Top 50 missing authors list, that sounds much more interesting. I'd suggest some authors, but when I find an interesting one I tend to research them myself - e.g. see all the Author Updates I submitted today. I found those by picking a British Anthology series (Doctor Who short stories) and finding the authors on Wikipedia or finding their home pages, and researching the notable authors rather than the fan authors a bit more deeply. BLongley 20:46, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

Prices

I had not been paying attention to the list price Fixer came up with but was surprised at a $20.95 for a 1997-10-00 work. I've left the Fixer info-blob in place so you can look. Perhaps Amazon gives you the old list price in the web-services view? --Marc Kupper|talk 06:06, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

The price does look high for a large print tp in 1997, but OCLC 36589214 confirms $20.95 while used.addall.com confirms that it's a tp. I am not sure what's going on here, but the data seems to be as good as we are going to get short of a physical verification. Ahasuerus 06:25, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks - I've updated the pub-notes. What is interesting to me that while this is out of print and this not showing the "list" price on Amazon that it's still available from web services. How did you get the tp binding? Amazon reports pb though the dimensions reported are tp size. --Marc Kupper|talk 06:35, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Amazon provides "PackageDimensions Length Units", "PackageDimensions Length content", and "Binding" information, which can be massaged to determine whether it's a tp or a pb. Most of the time :) Ahasuerus 06:47, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Where are you drawing the line? And is it Length alone? Only I know that with publications like this I've disagreed with other moderators on whether it's a tp or pb. I know you can't use the "if it makes Bill's bookshelf look uneven, it's a tp" category, but I go for tp based on more than height. BLongley 20:56, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Amazon-US uses "hundredths-inches" as "PackageDimensions Length Units", so Fixer uses 740 (18.8 cm) as the threshold value. I doubt Fixer has submitted many pbs so far, what with the emphasis on Large Print books, so if we want to change the threshold, the impact should be minimal. Ahasuerus 22:25, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
While I don't own any I noticed in a bookstore a year or two ago books that were MM pb size as far as width went but were perhaps an inch or two taller. I did not pull one out but the binding quality appeared to be pb or mm/pb. The owner shelved them with pb. If I got one I'd enter it in ISFDB as a pb with a note. --Marc Kupper|talk 05:39, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I have seen them as well. They also tend to cost a couple of bucks more than regular pbs just like those Oz experiments from Del Rey some years ago.
As far as binding quality goes, that's a different can of worms. Technically, a "mass market paperback" is a paperback book that gets pulped if it doesn't sell, with the cover returned to the publisher as proof of pulping. "Trade paperbacks", on the other hand, are returned to the publisher for credit. Therefore it's possible to have a small size (<740 and typically well bound) paperback which is technically a "trade paperback", e.g. some White Wolf books. Conversely, it's also possible to have a large size (>740 and often poorly bound) paperback that is technically a "mass market paperback". We considered using these industry terms when we first introduced the pb-tp-hc schema, but decided against it since we figured that it would just confuse everybody :) and we decided to go with dimensions instead. Ahasuerus 08:53, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
I have no idea if you are saving the records you get from Amazon but it may be worth a scan to see if have anything that's under 425 wide and over 740 tall. --Marc Kupper|talk 05:39, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
Amazon will happily send a lot of stuff to you (check their XSD file) upon request, so you have to pick and choose what you want to request and what you what to store. In Fixer's case, only "Length" and "LengthUnits" are currently stored, but I am sure Fixer could be convinced to go back to Amazon and ask for Width information if needed. Ahasuerus 08:53, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
I'd prefer that "A Format" and smaller continue to be "pb" as anything much larger causes shelving problems. So "B Format" and "C Format" and any other oddities can be lumped together as far as I'm concerned. I'd like Width to be a consideration, but I don't want extra fragmentation, so I'll let everyone else demand separations of "tp" that suit them.  ;-) BLongley 21:48, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Author request

Humphrey Carpenter's "Mr. Majeika" books seem clearly in but as there's a least a dozen titles to add I wonder if Fixer has the rest? BLongley 14:36, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

Sure, I'll check tonight when I have access to the database. Ahasuerus 16:52, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Fixer has 14 "Humphrey Carpenter" records on file. Here they are (including ISBNs):
  • Mr. Majeika (Lythway Large Print Children's Series) 0745115829
  • Shakespeare Without the Boring Bits! 0754050483
  • Mr. Majeika 0745184650
  • The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 0618056998
  • More Shakespeare Without the Boring Bits 0754050815
  • Mr. Majeika and the Dinner Lady and Mr. Majeika and the Music Teacher (Cavalcade Story Cassettes) 0862200962
  • Mr. Majeika and the Dinner Lady / Mr. Majeika and the Music Teacher (G K Hall Children's Audio Books... 0745184669
  • Mr. Majeika (Cavalcade Story Cassettes) 0862200792
  • Tolkien: The Authorized Biography 0345327292
  • Mr. Majeika on the Internet 0754063356
  • Mr. Majeika and the Haunted Hotel and Mr. Majeika and the School Play (Mr. Majeika) 0745144365
  • Mr Majeika and the School Book Week & Mr Majeika and the School Inspector (Mr. Majeika) 0745144918
  • Shakespeare Without the Boring Bits 0754065057
  • Mr Majeika and the Dinner Lady 0816175543
I will submit them tomorrow night. Ahasuerus 04:07, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm, only half the Majeika series and none of the first editions. OK, I've added those, it'll make later title-dates easier. I think you can skip the Shakespeare though. BLongley 17:38, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Fixer has now submitted all the outstanding Mr. Majeika pubs. Apparently, the reason that half the titles were not captured is that Amazon.com doesn't consider them speculative fiction. In 5 cases I had to ask Fixer to override his auto-suspend logic triggered by the fact that there were no SF Browse Nodes or Subjects at Amazon. After all, there are many elementary school teachers who are disguised wizards from outer space, so what's speculative about it?..
P.S. Fixer may have better luck when he begins munching on Amazon.uk and Amazon.ca data. Ahasuerus 06:36, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Fixer will probably acquire indigestion... but yes, there'd be a lot of value in grabbing UK data especially for UK publishers and authors. Unfortunately we've already added a lot of Amazon.com versions of British books and given them strange List Prices that I can only imagine were direct Pound/Dollar conversions. Still, there's lots of BBC books and suchlike that Dissembler missed. BLongley 15:23, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

Top authors

Now that Fixer's anti-comics/games AI has been upgraded, the "top authors not in the ISFDB" list can be revealed (with preliminary comments in square brackets):

234  Katherine Applegate [instead of the regular K. A. Applegate]
94   Golden Books [publisher]
81   Steve Jackson [games]
76   Stephen Cosgrove
69   Arthur Conan, Sir Doyle [we use Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle]
66   DK Publishing [publisher]
64   Cicely Mary Barker
64   James Gelsey
59   Philip Jose Farmer [instead of Philip José Farmer]
57   RH Disney  [publisher?]
55   Steve Jackson Games [games publisher]
53   BradyGames [publisher?]
51   Fanpro  [publisher?]
49   Barnes
48   Dr. Seuss
48   John Lord
47   Rh Value Publishing [publisher]
46   FanPro [publisher?]
46   Paul Jennings
46   Sigmund Brouwer
44   Steve Kenson
39   Brandon Robshaw
37   Jesse Leon McCann
36   TSR Inc [publisher]
36   Various Authors [sic]
34   Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
34   Tsr [publisher]
33   Tim F. LaHaye [instead of Tim LaHaye]
32   L. E. Modesitt [instead of L. E. Modesitt, Jr.]
32   Marilyn Sadler
31   FASA Corporation [publisher]
31   Susannah Brin
29   Arthur Charles Clarke [Arthur C. Clarke]
29   Brian Wilson Aldiss [Brian (W.) Aldiss]
29   Deborah Hautzig
29   Herbert George Wells [H. G. Wells]
28   Barbara Mitchelhill
28   Peter Lancett
27   Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
27   Michael
27   Random House [publisher]
27   Walt Disney [publisher]
26   Charlotte Bronte [non-sf]
26   Constance M. Burge
25   Howard Schroeder
24   John Snead
24   Katherine A. Applegate [K. A. Applegate]
24   Star Wars [series]

I'll post more once we have a better grip on these folks. Ahasuerus 07:00, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

First thoughts:
"Sigmund Brouwer" has the "Mars Diaries" and "Cyberquest", both look in as YA SF.
"Stephen Cosgrove" has the Serendipity series which looks in, but it's Reading level: Ages 4-8 and not a high priority in my eyes.
"Cicely Mary Barker" has the "Flower Fairies" books, again a bit too juvenile to interest me.
"Paul Jennings" has the "Wicked" series - probably in, juvenile again.
"James Gelsey" - Scooby Doo books and Dragon Booster.
"John Lord" appears to be "Beacon Lights of History" - surely not really SF?
Beware of "Constance M. Burge" - they're probably titles in the "Charmed" series and in the dozen examples I own the actual title-page author is always different. The spine credits Burge and the cover says "Based on the hit TV series created by Constance M. Burge" which is why Amazon miscredits them.
"Steve Kenson" looks too RPG.
"Brandon Robshaw" - "Livewire Chillers" looks in.
"Jesse Leon McCann" - more Scooby Doo.
"Susannah Brin" - looks to have some interest, but Amazon has few details.
"Deborah Hautzig" - "Little Witch" for very young readers.
"Barbara Mitchelhill" - "Livewire Chillers" again.
"Peter Lancett" - graphic novels?
"Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson" - Peter Pan/Neverland sequels?
"Howard Schroeder" - several juveniles of SF interest, but few details on Amazon.
"John Snead" looks too RPG. BLongley 19:31, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks! I will get back to it in a couple of days once I am done cleaning up Russian vts and synchronizing with Contento. The number of misattributions, misspellings and other headaches is mind boggling (I think at least one of the editors was on drugs), but thankfully it's only a few dozen pubs and I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. Ahasuerus 02:47, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
"Paul Jennings" has now appeared here due to another Fixer submission, so might be worth an author run at some point. BLongley 20:10, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Authors by Genre and library vacuuming

The "50 Top Authors not in the database" approach didn't seem to be too promising, so I tried something else tonight. There are about 700 "Time Travel" ISBNs in Fixer's database that are not in the ISFDB and the first 3 submissions found 2 new paranormal romance authors, Natale Stenzel and Brenda Joyce. I then asked Fixer to submit the rest of their books, which generated a complete specfic bibliography for Stenzel and will generate what appears to be a near complete specfic bibliography for Joyce once all submissions are approved. Not a bad ratio, overall, so I will play with it some more over the weekend.

I am also working on improving Fixer's library parsing algorithms now that I have a little free time during the day. At the moment, Fixer can ask libraries for all kinds of data, e.g. give me all books published in 1986 whose subject list includes "science fiction", which is a good start. Unfortunately, Fixer can't parse everything that libraries return, at least not yet. Authors, titles, publication years and other basic fields are OK, but there are all kinds of other obscure fields that may contain potentially useful information. I don't want to submit incomplete records and it would take a long time to teach Fixer how to handle hundreds of possible fields and subfields, so I'll probably compromise, dump uncommon fields in Notes and leave it up to the approving moderator to sort them out.

Once the logic has been cleaned up, I'll try the Library of Congress and see how much damage Fixer can do. If it works reasonably well, Melvyl will get raided next. The British Library will be a special case since they use a somewhat uncommon record format, but it doesn't look too bad. Ahasuerus 04:35, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

The plot thickens! Your sinister plans have been revealed. Once everyone has determined that everything has been entered, you'll pull out the Master Fixer, and all moderators fall to their knees in supplication to Lord Ahasuerus. (Makes the disciples of L. Ron look like wimps!) MHHutchins 06:13, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Shhh, don't give Fixer ideas! The other night I noticed that he was running searches on "author = 'Jones' AND title = 'Colossus'". Not sure what that's all about, but it made me vaguely uneasy... Ahasuerus 15:11, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Fixer's Progress

Completed Authors

Authors currently in progress

Secrets: The Best in Women's Sensual Fiction

Good Find with Chris Roberson

Not for the author directly (I haven't checked those much) but "Tales of the Shadowmen" is interesting. From the covers alone I'd thought "Comic" or "Graphic Novel" but I downloaded some samples and there are real stories (with words and sentences, even!) in there. And by some well-known authors too. I've managed to add contents to three (I got delayed by "Gaslight Grimoire", another good find) but will resist the fourth for now. I haven't approved any - there's a lot of cedillas and accents and probably missing apostrophes and capitalisation too, but I think the spin-offs from those might well be more interesting than all the Paranormal Romance stuff. BLongley 22:16, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

Obligatory moan - if there's over half-a-dozen authors on a publication, this might be a good sign that it's an anthology rather than a novel? Don't stop submitting such - they're far more interesting than the "Paranormal Romance" - but they are hard work and as I've only done four this evening you might want to count such as a bit harder work than normal and limit the number of such a bit (unless other mods are getting interested in what Fixer is doing). BLongley 22:16, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

You should have seen his page before I sorted it out! :-)Kraang 03:24, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Enough romance for now?

I have been trying to tie up all the loose ends (romantically speaking) and move on to something else, but this sub-genre is so incestuous (in a manner of speaking) that it's easy to get bogged down. How about we approve what's in the submission queue, move the current list to a Project page and do something more interesting with our time? <he said impetuously and fiercely glared at the queue> Ahasuerus 02:45, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

I'd have a look at Fixers submissions but I'm tied up with "Non-SF Cleanup 2004". One of the novels turned out to be an anthology edited by Eric T. Roberts who publishes Hadley Rille Books. This lead to 5 more anthologies edited by him that weren't in the data base. I'm now in the process of adding in all the titles(found on his web page), which has added about 80-100 new authors. Only have one more book to do and I can start on "part 12" of the non sf cleanup.Kraang 04:00, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
80-100? Ouch! Feel free to add any identified authors to Fixer's list -- it takes but a minute to find and submit all books by a given author (unless his last name is Asimov or Silverberg, of course) and it can save quite a bit of time. Ahasuerus 16:36, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
We definitely need a change. I'm fed up with Ellora's Cave, although we'll no doubt have to return to it eventually, with categories like "Futuristic/Sci-fi", "Paranormal", "Time Travel", "Vampire" and "Werewolf/Shapeshifter". I can wait till Fixer learns to trawl that site directly. And a bit longer. I could become VERY good at waiting in fact. BLongley 21:23, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
OK, I have cleaned almost everything up. Once the current batch of submissions has been approved, we will have only "Erin Hunter" and "Jayne Castle" outstanding. Then Fixer can go hunting for juicier prey. Ahasuerus 04:54, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Library catalogs and SUTRS

BTW, the SUTRS format that the British Library is using is uglier than I realized - guess what the "U" stands for... Ahasuerus 04:54, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

I know it's "Unstructured", but you make it sound like "Unusable". Shame, as the first "S" is supposed to be "Simple"... BLongley 18:25, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
More like "Unacceptably time consuming". Anything can be done given enough time and resources, but that rarely happens... Ahasuerus 02:20, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

At one point (ca. 2000) they tried converting to the MARC standard, but apparently decided that it was hopeless and gave up. Oh well, I'll still try to extract some useful data out of their database at some point, but it will have to wait until other things are done. Ahasuerus 04:54, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

I think they actually had more success than that - unfortunately you have to pay for the MARC21 data. I guess it must have cost a fortune to do. Perhaps I should sue them for cybersquatting and demand compensation in free data? It's obviously MY domain (BL.UK) that they're using. BLongley 18:25, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
It looks like BL's data is available via the COPAC Z39.50 interface, which serves it as XML, GRS-1 or SUTRS. I'll play with the XML to see if it's any better, but for now I will likely concentrate on MARC-21 (and its friends). You have to start somewhere. Ahasuerus 02:20, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Doing Publishers

Done. I hope "S. M. Stirling" wasn't the juicier prey? As that was just a pain, putting all the full stops back in. BLongley 18:25, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

I am still looking for a good algorithm that would find "juicy prey". Stirling was just an experiment to see how a more recent author would do. So far, we have tried:
  • top authors not in the ISFDB - not very useful
  • searching by subject ("time travel") - ran into "romance issues"
  • an older author (Alfred Bester) - ran into imaginary ISBNs and bad publishers
  • a more recent author (S. M. Stirling) - identified a pseudonym ("Steve Stirling" confirmed by a cover scan of a UK edition), but otherwise not very profitable
I am thinking about doing it by publisher for 1995-2009, e.g. Tor (350ish hits) or Roc (50ish titles), for 1995-2009, but it would split authors. Do you think it would that work better? Should I ask Fixer to submit Roc since it's more manageable? Ahasuerus 02:20, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
P.S. Roc submitted. A few good finds so far, including one previously unidentified anthology. Ahasuerus 11:33, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
About four actually, depending on how unidentified or incomplete you think they were. I probably messed up a few submissions before I realised how bad the publisher data was - but then again, a realisation that "Roc never had those ISBNs!" led me to fix some existing data as well when I went back. Quite satisfying though, and I'd like a few more like that. BLongley 00:25, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
Sounds good! Pyr and Ace submitted (all 85 of them.) Ahasuerus 05:20, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
I didn't see the Pyr, but most of the Ace were OK, if a little too far in the future for some publications. BLongley 19:27, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
That's because Michael got to most of the bad ones first -- take a look at his battle royal with the 999s in Recent Rejects :) Ahasuerus 02:20, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
(There are some suspicious "07865" prefix ISBNs, but those all look a bit suspicious to me, it's not just Fixer's submissions.) Can Fixer take series requests? It looks as though "The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult" needs some attention, for instance. But we'd get that if you did a run on "Sphere" I guess, and "White Lion" for the hardcovers. BLongley 19:27, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
Fixer can only craft submissions based on the information in his database, which at this point comes exclusively from Amazon.com. If Amazon doesn't mention this series in the Title/Publisher/etc fields, then Fixer has no way of telling what's going on. At the moment, I see 3 books in this series in the database: Williamson's classic Darker Than You Think, Dunsany's Curse of the Wise Woman (#40 according to our Notes), Shelley's Frankenstein (ISBN 0722177720, not in the ISFDB). I also see Dennis Wheatley's Second Book of Horror Stories: Tales of Strange Happenings (ISBN 0090863607, Hutchinson Radius, January 1968), which we don't have on file either. We may have better luck with library catalogs once Fixer learns how to do useful things with their data. Ahasuerus 02:20, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
Number 40 for Curse of the Wise Woman seems right according to this apparently complete listing of the Sphere editions. As you can see, there's several ISFDB authors represented, and even more once you find the contents of the three "Uncanny tales" anthologies. But as I say, a run on all missing Sphere books from Amazon UK would probably drag most of these in. I did the White Lion editions manually yesterday, but there may be more. For contents, obviously library catalogues would be better, but the lack of capitalisation and omission of leading articles often means I'm retyping 10-20% of each one after a copy'n'paste. BLongley 20:07, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
Different libraries have different quirks. Some catalogs drop leading articles while others insist on using initials for stories by "I. Asimov" and "R. Heinlein" and all of them store Contents level data in 5XX fields, which are poorly structured. I won't even try to create Contents entries automagically, at least not on the first pass, I'll just ask Fixer to dump everything in Notes. Ahasuerus 02:55, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
P.S. I hope to get to Amazon UK over the weekend, but there is a lot of stuff going on at the moment, so I can't be 100% sure. On the plus side, I finally figured out why Fixer was having trouble with certain types of catalog queries. It was so obvious, I sent him to bed with no supper... Ahasuerus 03:04, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
Take a look at VRLGNDFPST2007. Did you intend to dump all the extra info into the notes? This was also a duplicate that appears to have been double submitted, once with all the notes, and once with the link to amazon alone. I put Cover artists on all the new Pyr. This is the only Pyr record without a cover artist now (assuming it's a mistake or an experiment) Kevin 00:43, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
Hm, this is rather peculiar. This ISBN is not in the backup that I have installed locally, so both pubs were quite recent. I have also checked Fixer's database and he created only one submission for this title yesterday. I see that Michael approved and massaged the submission at 12:57am ISFDB time and that was it until you updated one of the records today. I am not sure where the second record came from, but I have now deleted it, so we are back to normal. Strange, though...
As far as Moderator Notes go, Fixer always creates them to help moderators determine whether the book is specfiction or not, but moderators generally delete them during the cleanup process after approval. Ahasuerus 02:20, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
I figured as much re: the Moderator note, which is why I pointed out that both entries had the 'smell' of fixer submissions. I can also confirm that neither record was there yesterday afternoon as I was already working on Pyr and had completed that year/section of entries and then went back today to double check before calling ti quits on that tangent. Kevin 03:25, 4 February 2009 (UTC)


Processing old Amazon.com data

I submitted Alfred Bester earlier today and it worked reasonably well. Fixer found a few Spanish pubs, a few recent reprints and a couple of UK editions from the 1970s/1980s, which were later confirmed by OCLC. Unfortunately, older books -- as listed by Amazon.com -- are a separate can of worms since Amazon uses the publisher's current name. Thus, all NALs become Rocs and Signets are anyone's guess. Amazon also loves to concoct ISBNs for 1960s books out of thin air (or a close approximation thereof) and it can be hard to tell whether we already have the pub on file.

Oh well, at least it was educational. I think I'll ask Fixer to leave pre-1990 books alone for now. Wouldn't want our moderators to spend the next week trying to sort out 400 Zelazny pubs, most of them wrong. Ahasuerus 04:41, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

Hmmm. I was hoping we could go back to nearer 1970, when at least British pubs were likely to have good (I)SBNs. I think we probably could if it's only the publisher that's in doubt - those are often fixable with enough knowledge of when a publisher existed, and Amazon UK at least often puts the correct Imprint after the title even when it's mangling the publisher field. E.g. I've done such things as search for "(Tandem Science Fantasy)" on Amazon UK and usefully used the results. This might require more knowledge than most moderators currently have though. Still, if Fixer can read Amazon UK, then this sort of search should be great for filling in gaps in known British SF Publishers, and knowing the Imprint/Publisher you're trying to find should make it easier to correct the duff publisher data. BLongley 18:55, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
No worries, even though I am using 1995 as the cutoff date for now, the earlier stuff is not going anywhere and will be processed in due course of time. Resistance is futile, you WILL be cataloged!! Ahasuerus 05:22, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
By the way, even 1990 is too far back to trust Amazon publisher data. For instance, see all our "Wizards of the Coast" data for 1992 and 1993 - for TSR books they didn't acquire until 1997. I'm not sure where the cut-off should be, but I wouldn't think it's before 1995, when Amazon started up. Presumably they got their new stock 'correctly' classified, but all their historical data is questionable. BLongley 18:55, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

999 ISBNs

Hey, Fixer! Get with the program! Everybody knows books with 999 ISBNs stink to high heaven. Do I have to send my cousin Louie around to rough you up a little? And I don't mean the gentle massaging I've been doing with your other submissions! (:D) MHHutchins 06:57, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Fixer is very sorry about the 999/555 mess, he really should have known better! He was still recovering from taking an advanced "Catalog Raiding 606" class at the Academy for Data Transmogrification, so at least he has an excuse. He promises not to do it again. (And he can't talk at the moment since he is cramming for his "Amazon UK for bots 404" exam.) Ahasuerus 02:35, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
P.S. Make it "Fixer won't do it again once all those Baen submissions from today have been processed" :( Ahasuerus 03:31, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
What I'm finding with these Baens are the multi-paks. Luckily, they're very easily spotted. MHHutchins 04:11, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

And another thing. How come you get to make submissions without authors and us oxygen-breathers get a big knock upside our heads when we do the same thing? Looks like favoritism, if you ask me. You got a cousin Louie, too? MHHutchins 07:02, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Fixer uses our official backdoor, aka the Web API, which performs limited validation (and doesn't know how to handle apostrophes), so I suppose we could call him Louie... Ahasuerus 02:35, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

But I gotta give you your propers, man. Your last four submissions have been smooth as butta. How'dya learn to merge with title records AND place records into a series with one submission? Just between you and me, fella, I'm gettin' to like you. (But keep it on the down-low, will ya? Wouldn't want to start some ugly rumors now. You never know who might be lurking around the corner.) MHHutchins 07:08, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

If the pre-existing Title record was in a series, adding another pub to it doesn't affect its series status :) Ahasuerus 02:35, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

China Miéville

Can I take it that Fixer has problems with accents? These are being submitted as China Mieville and not attaching to the existing titles. Of course, the approval picks up the canonical name with accent and the merge is simple. BLongley 18:07, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Amazon lists this author as "China Mieville" and Fixer has touching (if misplaced) trust in Amazon's data. I suppose what I need to do is to adjust Fixer's look-up logic, which currently uses "aaronallston" for "Aaron Allston" and so on. Once the logic uses "chinamieville" rather than "chinamiéville", auto-merge should work fine for accented names. Ahasuerus 18:44, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
Done. Ahasuerus 03:41, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

A worse one was by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W.Michael Gear - the submission with " rather than the ' in O'Neal meant that when adjusting the author names (to put the space back after the "W") the edit screen left Kathleen's name cut off at the "O". Is Fixer going to learn to handle apostrophes better? BLongley 18:07, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Oh, the old double quote bug still lives! That's pretty bad :( Ahasuerus 18:44, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
It's livable with, so long as people know it's there. I've had to correct some " entries back that other Mods have let through though. BLongley 20:37, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
Unfortunately, Fixer is limited by the Web API, which refuses to recognize "&apos", so Fixer has to either accept that all new apostrophes-afflicted records will have "&apos" embedded or use some kind of workaround like the double quote that he has been using for the last couple of weeks. I'll play with various Unicode permutations to see if there is anything else I can do.Ahasuerus 18:44, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
Have you tried getting a \' through somehow? I know that's how the final MySQL update escapes it. Or double single-quotes? BLongley 20:37, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
Doubling single quotes did it, thanks! :) Ahasuerus 04:06, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
In other news, Fixer has finally mastered the fine art of catalog munching and is done downloading all readily identifiable speculative fiction records (under 60Mb, so not too bad) from the Library of Congress. Melvyl, the Merril collection and a bunch of other major and/or SF-related libraries are next as soon as I am done teaching Fixer how to multi-thread. Once he is up and running in that area, I'll let him feast -- it will take a few days to download everything from the big boys -- and work on Amazon UK. Ahasuerus 18:44, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
Good news indeed - might be a bit late for Amazon UK in some cases, but I'll take that to a separate thread. The Tor run has taught me some things. BLongley 20:37, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Tor

This might be the first Publisher where we've run into this problem: Tor is a UK Publisher/Imprint too. But by concentrating on Amazon.com, I think you're letting in [IMPORT] data with duff prices. (Don't worry too much, it seems Dissembler has too.) Some of these were fairly easy to spot - e.g. I'm pretty sure no US edition has really had a list price of "$17.62" for instance. I'm pretty suspicious of "$37.20" as well. And "$12.39". And "$11.39". And "$14.15". And "$26.85". In a few cases where the Tor price looked extremely dodgy in US dollars but fine from Amazon UK in Pounds, and it was a UK author, or a pseudonym mostly used for UK editions, or had a Pan ISBN prefix, and Look-Inside confirmed it, I've adjusted Fixer's entry to take the UK price instead and stated it came from the UK site. I don't think I've fixed as many as I should have, but then I don't know US Kibblesworths [1] and if I had no better data to work from I've left it alone, duff price included. The Tor books where this occurred were identical in all other respects down to publication date. Sometimes the clue is the [IMPORT] suffix on the US site, but that wasn't always present. But I'm pretty sure there are Tor UK titles being misrepresented as Tor US ones, where the current US publications of the time were actually still with other US publishers/imprints such as "Bantam Spectra". BLongley 21:36, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

So, a few questions: can Fixer spot the [IMPORT] and leave those for later? You'll pick up a lot of those from Amazon UK with better data, I think. Maybe Amazon Canada too, although the current dual-ISBN discussion makes me think that Fixer will either give us a headache or he'll abandon the idea. The Tor Australia ones are probably worth keeping. BLongley 21:36, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Let me see where that [IMPORT] label comes from... Ahasuerus 00:36, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
I see (elsewhere) that you found it, and found it wanting. 50% is better than nothing though. BLongley 22:55, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

If not, can Fixer spot silly prices that can realistically only have come from direct currency conversions? (Just spot the silly prices for now, I don't think we've gathered enough data to guess Amazon's exchange rate for various dates.) BLongley 21:36, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Unfortunately, this isn't as easy as it sounds since "library binding" books can have "silly prices" like $17.62 :( Ahasuerus 00:36, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
I did a Human check on "silly prices" yesterday, from my last backup. Got a bit OCD even, and adjusted all the prices with a "Can" in the price field. I will probably have to do so again after the next refresh, I suspect that this isn't an old problem, it's an ongoing one. But I found a load of Floor Displays too. There is some value in "Silly Price" checks even if we can't do it programatically yet. And no, "$17.62" doesn't look like a valid price even for Library editions. BLongley 22:55, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

[1] I should explain "Kibblesworth" in case you haven't read the Meaning of Liff. It's the amount below a nice round number that a price is set at. So if a price is $5.99, the Kibblesworth is a cent. If a price is £5.95, the Kibblesworth is 5 pence, or a shilling for us older folk. These days, I'm suspicious of any UK Kibblesworth that isn't 0, 1, 5, or 50 on a single book. It seems 2 is a valid Kibblesworth on some pairs of books, 3 on trilogies, etc. Given series like "Wheel of Time", I can believe a Kibblesworth of up to and including 10 on boxed sets. But some prices are just alarm bells to me. However, I'm aware that US prices on some goods are designed so they look good BEFORE tax is added so can't guess what US Kibblesworths might make sense to anyone there. How much does the Sales tax on books vary? BLongley 21:36, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Since our published prices are before tax, (and your published prices are presumably tax inclusive) but both are 'prices the public sees'... the kibblesworth warning flag works on both sides of the pond with the same numbers... though you might add 25 to your list of likely kibblesworths.Kevin 21:53, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
25 might be a good number now, I'd have to check some more recent UK books to be sure. It certainly was a good number in older times, but then again any 5p price point was good when books cost under a pound. I guess I'm asking for some common sense: which is not actually that common, and I don't know how best to impart it. For instance, I know instinctively that an old 3/5 British price is WRONG and should be 3/6. Real example: a paperback at £4.83 on Amazon UK is WRONG, as is the £5.52 "List price" that Amazon UK tell me it is really. "US List Price: $7.99". Ah, I can believe that one. Does Amazon US quote UK list prices and convert and then discount? BLongley 23:30, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
And yes, UK prices are Tax-inclusive for consumers. No variation across England at all. Probably not across Wales either. Scotland may go weird on us. Northern Ireland - not going to go there. BLongley 23:30, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
And I heard that Northern Ireland was a wonderful place to visit.....Kevin 23:37, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
US sales taxes are imposed by states, which also determine what goods are subject to taxation. Some states have no sales tax at all while most hover between 4 and 7%. Some expensive areas like New York City have additional taxes, which can be fairly high, and tourist-oriented industries (hotels, rental car companies, etc) have extra taxes slapped on top, which can add up to 20-30%+, I would guess. Ahasuerus 00:36, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Amazon "formats"

Now that I know where to look, I see that Amazon.com has all kinds of "format" information. Here are the formats that we have on file for books that have not been auto-rejected or auto-suspended:

*.exe                         21
*3.5 inch diskette            2
*Abridged                     1554
*Adult                        2
*Audiobook                    4799
*Bargain Price                33
*Black & White                6
*Box Calendar                 1
*Box set                      257
*Braille                      11
*CD                           1053
*CD-ROM                       2
*CLV                          12
*Classical                    8
*Collector's Edition          8
*Color                        2
*Compilation                  10
*Deluxe Edition               1
*Engagement Calendar          2
*Enhanced                     1
*Facsimile                    10
*Folded Map                   1
*Full Screen                  1
*Illustrated                  190
*Import                       9739
*Large Print                  2482
*Limited Collector's Edition  5
*Limited Edition              4
*MP3 Audio                    543
*NTSC                         1
*Print                        1
*Single                       2
*Soundtrack                   2
*Special Edition              24
*Special Limited Edition      29
*Student Edition              19
*Teacher's Edition            2
*Unabridged                   3216
*Unknown format               6
*Wall Calendar                4
*Wall Map                     2

I plan to do the following:

  1. reject all maps, "*.exe"s, calendars and NTSC
  2. suspend all Imports
  3. use "MP3 Audio" and "CD" as the binding if no other binding information is available
  4. reject 3 non-genre "classical" books (Schubert, Tchaikovsky and The Romantic Era: 1820-1900) and submit the 6 that are genre-related
  5. teach Fixer to ignore "Bargain Price" and to add any other format to Notes

Anything else that we need to do with formats? (And what the heck is "CLV" anyway?) Ahasuerus 00:03, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

I think in this case CLV = "Constant Linear Velocity" (as opposed to "Constant Angular Velocity") and would apply to optical discs of some sort - probably DVDs or CD-ROMs now, but possibly the older laser-discs too. Of course, Amazon may have decided that any series that reached Volume 155 is worthy of note with a separate binding. Or they are selling spaceships now and it stands for "Crew Launch Vehicle". BLongley 19:38, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
Upon closer examination, it turns out that Amazon often slaps the "Import" label on what appear to be legitimate US edition, so it's even less usable than we thought :( Ahasuerus 20:02, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
OK, how about doing what the usual Amazon display does and show the [IMPORT] after the pub title? That should be a nice warning to Mods to check other references. BLongley 20:57, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
That's a good point, I'll try to make IMPORTed records more visible. In the meantime, Fixer has learned how to multi-thread catalog requests and is merrily absorbing the collective wisdom of dozens of libraries. Unfortunately, not all library catalogs support the same search criteria (subject, publication year, etc), so Fixer may need multiple passes to get 95%+ of the eligible data, but it looks promising at the moment. Converting the raw data into useful submissions will be a whole different headache, though. Ahasuerus 21:20, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
I look forward to the next Fixer run then. I can't promise it as much attention as some of the last, if it comes before the weekend - I've had three "snow days" off work recently ("ice days" really - I can drive through snow OK, it seems, and through the floods that have ensued since the thaw started, but two inches of black ice were a bit too much for my car) - but I'm back to travelling again and can't promise Fixer approvals even though they're getting interesting. Even if the Tor run introduced a load more "Paranormal Romance" authors. :-/ BLongley 22:55, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
Fixer is definitely not ready to submit the library data that he has accumulated. There is a lot of useful information there, but the more I look at the data, the more daunting the task looks, so I'll probably put it on the back burner while letting Fixer have his fun with the downloads. Fixing the upload logic to handle Imports, apostrophes and what have you is next on the list, then I'll need to take another swipe at Amazon UK. I have some free time right now (and, Cthulhu willing, for the next couple of weeks), so hopefully it won't take too long. Programming is quite therapeutic if you don't do it too often :) Ahasuerus 01:26, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
P.S. An "Import" warning has been added. Ahasuerus 03:30, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Amazon UK

Well, it wasn't as bad as I had feared. There are some differences between the two locales, but most of them do not affect Fixer, so now he is happily downloading all kinds of information about Amazon UK's Browse nodes. You can only get up to 4,000 items in response to a query, so large nodes need additional TLC, but I already have that in place for the Amazon US side. I expect the nodes to be downloaded overnight (1 request per second to comply with Amazon's rules) and then the real fun will start. Ahasuerus 03:17, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Fixer has been on hold for the last week since I have been extremely busy with non-ISFDB issues :( Ahasuerus 02:02, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Fixer has learned how to process UK data and is now busily downloading everything that he can get his paws on. It will likely take a few days to get everything since Amazon imposes a 1 second limit on the frequency of data downloads and there are some 150,000+ records (times 2) to massage. Ahasuerus 06:32, 22 February 2009 (UTC)
The basic browse node data, i.e. the most prominent 150,000 specfiction records, has been imported. Fixer is now munching on the fringes, which will take a while since he has to work around Amazon's limit of 4,000 books per BrowseNode request. It's doable, but not exactly pretty and will take a few days -- and, of course, the supported sort orders and such are not the same in the US and the UK. Then he will have to do the same thing with "known speculative fiction subjects" and then we should be done. I know, I know, diminishing returns and all that, but we wouldn't be into genre bibliography if we were not irredeemable perfectionists :) Ahasuerus 01:17, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
All browse nodes processed for Amazon UK and we are up to 200,000 records. Starting subjects... Ahasuerus 03:24, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
The brain is back to "mostly functional", resuming the work on Subjects. Ahasuerus 02:04, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
First Subject pass done. Amazon burped on Michael Bishop for some reason (what do they have against Michael Bishop anyway?), but it's been resolved and now the second pass is in progress. This one will take longer since it requires setting up price buckets and other ugly things to get around the 4,000 limit. Ahasuerus 03:00, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Star Wars

Just a comment - so much Star Wars at once is a bit of a turn-off. I know it's not your fault that the publisher did it. But there might be better ways of choosing and/or ordering submissions. One author should probably be submitted in one go, as it's annoying to clear the queue and do a dozen Brooks or Eddings or Jordan merges, and then do the same merges again the next time, and the next, and the next. Similar with Star Wars - grouping/submitting by author might make them more manageable tasks. BLongley 23:44, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

A few weeks ago Fixer tried submitting by author. Bester was quick and easy and Zelazny (~500 books) was next in line. However, after chatting with Fixer, I realized that this author-centric approach would have resulted in submitting all of Zelazny's UK editions from the US database, messing up (at least) all UK prices. I then asked Fixer to stick with "known US publishers" like Del Rey and Roc until we had all of Amazon UK's data on file. We know that Tor publishes books on both sides of the Atlantic, but the US data should still be correct for the US version of the book. Hopefully :) Ahasuerus 03:55, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
Once the UK data is ready, I can teach Fixer how to use both databases at the same time and add any discrepancies to Notes. It would help to have a list of "primarily UK publishers" so that Fixer would know which price to put in the Price field and which one in Notes. Ahasuerus 03:55, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
Here's a few to get you started: Aldine, Allen & Unwin, Allen Lane, Allison & Busby, Armada, Armada Lions, Arrow, BBC, Badger, Beccon Publications, Big Finish, Bodley Head, Boxtree, Brown Watson, Cape, Cassell, Century Hutchinson, Chatto & Windus, Collins, Corgi, Coronet, Dobson, Eyre & Spottiswoode, Eyre Methuen, Faber, Fontana, Four Square, Futura, George Allen & Unwin, Gollancz, Grafton, Granada, Hamlyn, Hart-Davis, Heinemann, Hodder & Stoughton, Hodder Headline, Howard and Wyndham, Hutchinson, J. M. Dent, John Spencer, Jonathan Cape, Legend, Lions, Magnet, Mammoth, Mandarin, Mayflower, Mayflower-Dell, Methuen, Michael Joseph, Millennium, NEL, New English Library, Orbit, Orion, Paladin, Pan, Panther, Panther Granada, Peacock, Penguin, Picador, Piccolo, Puffin, Quartet Books, Rupert Hart-Davis, Scion, Sidgwick & Jackson, Sphere, Star, Tandem, Target, Telos, The Science Fiction Foundation, The Women's Press, Titan, Triad, Triad Grafton, Triad Granada, Triad Panther, Unwin Hyman, VGSF, Venture SF, Virago, Virgin, Vista, Voyager, W. H. Allen Star, W. H. Allen, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, William Kimber. You have to be careful with some: e.g. "Pan" alone is probably British, but "Pan Macmillan" is global. BLongley 12:26, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
Thanks! I am still down for the count and Fixer is getting fidgety, but we do what we can... Ahasuerus 01:17, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

I can't really define what I want, but this isn't it. Likely Omnibuses, Collections and Anthologies need to be done in small doses. Author runs of novels can be done in larger numbers. But dealing with a Fixer queue ordered by one categorisation alone (publisher) isn't actually much fun. Just my opinion, and I'm happy to discuss this with all the other people dealing with Fixer entries. (I hope there are some others. At times it feels a bit lonely when I'm looking at submissions from days ago that nobody else has touched. I actually have no interest in "The Art of Star Wars" submitted Wednesday, for instance. I didn't really enjoy the Star Wars "Essentials" either - I've found them neither Essential or interesting.) BLongley 23:44, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

Michael approved and massaged quite a few Fixer submissions last week and I dabbled in it whenever I had a few minutes, so you are not alone. Ahasuerus 03:55, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
Going forward, we can do two things. First, we can make Fixer smarter about using US/UK data and start submitting by author -- see above. Second, we can switch to the library data that Fixer has been slowly accumulating in yet another database. It's not perfect, but it's generally much cleaner than what Amazon has and should be noticeably easier to approve/massage. Unfortunately, the code to process/submit this library data is not ready yet since I have been busy to the point of exhaustion over the last two weeks. I am still trying to recover and hope to be back to normal by early next week. As John W. Campbell Jr. once observed, nobody is getting any younger... Ahasuerus 03:55, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
P.S. I plan to submit the rest of Del Rey later tonight. There are fewer than 200 eligible books left and by the time we are done with them, Amazon UK should be ready. Ahasuerus 03:55, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Warning about Amazon UK prices for Ebooks and Audio Books

I'm not sure what the API is returning for Recommended Retail Price currently, but what they're showing on the UK site is a bit misleading. For instance, a lot of audio books I entered today are showing a RRP of £9.77. Which is sort of correct, for now, but probably isn't what is shown on the book itself. The reason is that the government dropped the rate of VAT (sales tax) from 17.5% to 15% last December, and are going to keep it that way through December 2009. Amazon seem to have passed on the full rate cut to customers, so a £9.99 audio book is shown as £9.99/1.175*1.15 = £9.77. I don't know when they changed (most IT departments couldn't get such a change made in time for the start) but if the API is returning 15% VAT RRPs then it's probably wise to adjust them back to 17.5% as that'll be what's shown on the publication. Or just leave e-books and audio books for now - good old paper books are still 0% VAT and didn't change. BLongley 20:15, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Thanks, I'll check the data that Amazon UK sent back to me! Ahasuerus 21:13, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Thinking about it - Amazon UK are being a bit silly. If they quoted the printed RRP, then their discounts would look bigger! BLongley 21:33, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Amazon UK done

Amazon UK is done, now I need to teach Fixer how to combine US and UK records and we should be in good shape. The only thing stopping me is that I am tired and somewhat burned out, but hopefully I'll recover sooner rather than later... Ahasuerus 01:57, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

The next week looks promising. With luck, I should be able to teach Fixer how to create composite submissions from both stores' data. Then I can ask him to create submissions for, say, all of Zelazny's books sorted by title. Does this sound reasonable? Anything else that I need to improve while I am at it? Ahasuerus 19:35, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
I'd prefer a Publisher submission rather than an Author one (I find more interesting stuff that way), but at the moment I'll have a look at anything different. I'll let you know the next set of required improvements when I see what needs improving. :-) BLongley 19:52, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
As long as the publisher in question publishes books in one country and one country only, Fixer can create submissions using just that country's data, so we can create a bunch as early as tonight. However, as you wrote above, "One author should probably be submitted in one go, as it's annoying to clear the queue and do a dozen Brooks or Eddings or Jordan merges, and then do the same merges again the next time, and the next, and the next." If Fixer were to submit a bunch of, say, Gollancz records, we would have to do a lot more merges compared to submitting all Zelazny records at the same time. I can do it either way, of course, just let me know what's easier :) Ahasuerus 20:16, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
"By Publisher" offers the chance of finding a totally New Author, and I like those. For instance, I was quite pleased to discover Richard Saxon this week - we'd had no record of him before, and I could wander all over the web trying to find out more of his works, pseudonyms, biography, etc. (I've ordered copies of all his works as well, so those should have a few Primary Verifications soon too.) BLongley 21:04, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, we have tried this approach with "Subject = time travel" and "Publisher = Roc/Tor/etc" and the results were somewhat mixed. I hope that a scan of UK publishers will be more productive since they are under-represented in the database compared to US publishers. Ahasuerus 22:04, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
"By Author" might find a missing title, but that's rare. I have encountered such and increased my Amazon shopping-list accordingly though. I do feel that Author submissions, if they have to be broken up into smaller batches, should at least do all versions of the same title in one go to minimise merges, but how well Fixer can determine possible variations I don't know. When the variation is a suffix it shouldn't be too hard, but so far I've just not found such submissions as of much interest. BLongley 21:04, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
That's a good point. I'll try to submit "similar" title together, although it may require a little manual massaging before submission. We'll see how it goes. Ahasuerus 22:04, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
And we can still try and keep records together - whether it's Author or Publisher first, order by the other second, and title third. I suspect "By Publisher" won't cause too many variants now that Fixer can "Add Publication to this title". BLongley 21:04, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
If people are worried about the number of needed merges created, start small - e.g. I've had a good stab at entering missing "Tandem" entries already, it would be interesting to see how many I missed. BLongley 21:04, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
True, smaller UK publishers are probably a good place to start. Ahasuerus 22:04, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
Or "Corgi" or "Orbit" or "Sphere" - but I suspect those are bigger and I've not kept up to date. I'm sort of researching "Consul Books" and "World Distributors" at the moment, but half are pre-ISBN and the problems of a Manchester company with a London address makes the Library searches awkward. :-/ I don't expect Fixer to handle those - yet! BLongley 21:04, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
Oh, and not tonight, unless someone else wants a stab at them. Give it 36 hours and I'll have something to look forward to at the weekend. BLongley 21:12, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to submit something tonight just to see how Amazon UK books go, but it doesn't have to be a massive 400 book run a la Tor and we don't have to approve all submissions right away. On the other hand, first I need to refresh the backup and the full zipped version is now over 1Gb, so it will take some time to download and import into MySQL. (Don't panic, I also have today's backup file saved on another computer as well as on DVD.) Once there is a bunch of Fixer submissions in the queue, I can start working on setting up "composite submissions". Hopefully, this will be the last major change to Fixer's Amazon-specific logic for a while so that I could concentrate on processing library records, which look much cleaner (but also significantly trickier to process). Ahasuerus 22:04, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
Amazon UK is aware of over 1,500 books published by Tandem, Tandem - Library, Universal - Tandem, etc, so I limited the run to the first 10 eligible books published by "Tandem". There are a few obvious problems with the submissions, which will be fixed tomorrow night. Ahasuerus 04:22, 3 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, the price prefix looks funny and the Mod notes should point to the UK site rather than the US one but otherwise they look reasonable. The fact that one of the first examples tells us the US site thinks the publisher is "Award" shows this is going to be of serious help. BLongley 18:26, 3 April 2009 (UTC)
It's definitely useful information, but it has to be approached as carefully as any other source. Apparently, Amazon UK tend to drop leading articles and even insert erroneous articles in the middle of titles, which can be sometimes corrected by cross-checking against OCLC. They also use post-decimalization prices for pre-1970 books, which I move to Notes. OCLC is not perfect either, of course, but between the two of them it's often possible to recreate the data. Ahasuerus 03:10, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
Of the choices, the "Nick Carter" looks a bit suspicious - "Werewolf" may just be a code name and not indicate any actual lycanthropy. BLongley 18:26, 3 April 2009 (UTC)
Yup, it turned out to be a standard issue post-James Bond Nick Carter novel with no SF elements. Ahasuerus 03:10, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
Another one for the "Human submissions only" list maybe, as there's 260 more in that "Killmaster" series and yet we've not had a single one entered yet. BLongley 18:26, 3 April 2009 (UTC)
There were 12 of them on file, I have suspended them for now. According to Wikipedia, some of them have SF-sounding titles like The Solar Menace, but I don't see anything that looks like real SF. Ahasuerus 03:10, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
The two Doctor Who titles are probably not needed - IIRC, the "Doctor Who Discovers ..." series are educational books presented by the fictional character. But there weren't many and they can be rapidly hidden away in some corner of the Whoniverse. BLongley 18:26, 3 April 2009 (UTC)
OK, further research suggests five, and there may be framing fiction. One refers to fictional creatures as well, so may be valid NONFICTION. Apparently they sold badly so we're spared another 24, and it's unlikely they'll ever be reprinted. BLongley 19:41, 3 April 2009 (UTC)
I'll leave these two submissions to your tender mercies then :) Ahasuerus 03:10, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
OK, massaged into shape and hidden away where no normal editor need encounter them. :-) BLongley 12:17, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Amazon UK corrections

  • Changed Notes to read "Data from Amazon UK as of 2009-03-00" instead of "Data from Amazon.com as of 2008-12-00". I wonder if US-based submissions should be changed from "Amazon.com" to "Amazon.com (US)" to clarify the source?
  • Fixed the way "£" is displayed. Apparently, the Web API expects all non-ASCII characters to be UTF-8 by default, but it can be overridden by changing the "charset" header to "iso-8859-1". I think I am beginning to see where Al's hatred of Unicode comes from.
  • When Amazon's "Edition" field says "n.e.", Fixer no longer adds it to Notes since it's apparently a placeholder of some sort and is not informative.
  • What's a good cut-off date for decimalization? Is it valid for an alleged 1971-07-21 edition to be priced at "£0.25"?
Note change is good, but link is still to .com rather than .co.uk - i.e. still pointing to garbage rather than the source in some cases. I think we all know Amazon.com is actually a US site though, no change needed there. BLongley 21:21, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
I too hate Unicode. But thanks for the "£" effort, the "L" workaround doesn't work on some displays. BLongley 21:21, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
I think they meant it to mean "new edition" but it's rarely been a sign of newness - maybe new coverart at times. Not necessarily any change in page-count or text. Obviously, the price usually goes up. BLongley 21:21, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
Oh yes, July 1971 is fine. 15th Feb 1971 was the official changeover, but books were dual-priced both before and after the change - anything 1969-1973 with two UK prices is OK. I don't think we've got a standard for which to use, and as it's a text field we're probably never going to use it programatically anyway. BLongley 21:21, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
By the way, I can work with the UK Fixer submissions as they stand, if you want to submit a few even while they're not perfect. BLongley 19:48, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
I noticed you'd held a couple of Tandem submissions that might have been because of the Tandem Fantasy or Sci-Fi suffixes on the title - I'm not sure what you did with those? If they're controversial as to where they end up, just choose another publisher to work with. I can live with Tandem Fantasy, Tandem Science Fantasy, Tandem Science Fiction for now, and wait for publisher regularisation / publisher series to get addressed eventually. After all, some of the first submission needed moving to "Target" which is not exactly intuitive. BLongley 19:48, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
Sorry about the delay, I was busy fighting other fires. The URL now points to the UK site for UK-based submissions and there are over 25 entries in the queue for your approval pleasure. Amazon UK's data looks about as dirty as Amazon.com's, though -- one of their 1971 "Tandem" record turned out to be a US audio book recorded by Roger Zelazny -- so all usual Amazon caveats still apply. Once this batch has been approved, we can check if there are still any outstanding issues with Fixer and how we want to structure future submissions, e.g. by author/publisher/etc. In the meantime, I'll start working on teaching Fixer how to create composite US/UK submission.
As far as Tandem derivatives (Fantasy, etc) go, the submissions were on hold for other reasons as I was cleaning up the submission logic. Following your lead, I ended up changing the Publisher field to "Tandem Fantasy" etc. Ahasuerus 20:38, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
Cross-checking a few submissions, I see that "Tandem Library" may be in the business of repackaging US editions, at least in some cases. If so, we could end up with a number of incorrectly attributed pubs. Is there a way to find out more about Tandem Library's devious designs before Fixer creates more submissions? Ahasuerus 20:53, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
Food for thought there - "Tandem Library" seems to be an aberration, it doesn't fit with the UK Tandem publications. "0613" ISBN prefixes don't fit with the rest, there's a different issue there. Let me go find my physical meal and I'll whack them about a bit when I've eaten. BLongley 20:58, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
OK, [1] and [2] don't fill me with any confidence that I can apply any specialist UK knowledge to "Tandem Library" - they're in no way associated with UK editions by Tandem Books/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Science Fantasy as I'd hoped for. I'd expected a few non-SF titles but not a big gap like this. BLongley 22:02, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
I'd reject ALL these if the UK-ness was the reason for submission - on a more general note though, the Spanish 1984 and the "Alien (Animorphs (Sagebrush))" probably should be in on other grounds. The children's books are sort of split - I'm not a fan of adding them just because they're juvenile nearly-SF but when we have something like "Pinocchio" already it's hard to reject other versions. But I think all these can be rejected and resubmitted from the US site data, and "Tandem Library" from the UK site is probably not worth looking at. BLongley 22:02, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
I think "(Hello Reader! (DO NOT USE, please choose level and binding))" or even just "DO NOT USE" might be a warning Fixer might usefully recognise in future. I will, of course, use that title for my first SF Novel just so I get to enter it here myself. ;-) BLongley 22:13, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

US/UK stats

At last count, the breakdown of (non-suspended, non-rejected, non-submitted) books in Fixer's Amazon database is as follows:

  • 21,331 US-only books
  • 42,236 UK-only books
  • 106,521 US and UK both

Ahasuerus 04:39, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Author with more spec-fic

Can you run Fixer on this author "H. J. Ralles"[3], there appears to be a lot more titles aimed at young adults. Thanks!

Not as many as I expected, but the 8 matching records have been submitted. Ahasuerus 01:31, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
P.S. Her Web site has additional information and the series order. Ahasuerus 01:54, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Everything seems up to date now. Thanks!Kraang 02:23, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Looks great, thanks! :) Ahasuerus 03:07, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

C(hristine) (M.) Morgan

Found this author C. M. Morgan[4], we have one book in a series of 6. This author also publishes under her given name of Christine Morgan, there maybe others under that name. Some of the Abebook sellers also have her as Christine M. Morgan just to to make things a little bit more confusing! Thanks!Kraang 01:37, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Christine Morgan, C. M. Morgan and Christine M. Morgan all submitted. We'll pin her down yet! :) Unfortunately, even though she is apparently published by a US-based publisher (her own, as far as I can tell), many of her books were only listed by Amazon UK, so they have prices like "£4.83", which will need to be corrected. Her Web site and her online bookstore have additional information about the books, which may help whip them into shape. Ahasuerus 02:10, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
I found the right book by her to help whip it into shape[5]! Thanks!Kraang 02:20, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Hm, her blog mentioned that she was an avid gamer, but I didn't realize what kinds of games she was into! :) Ahasuerus 02:31, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Moorcock Millennium editions

I should have mentioned this after the last lot - but you're putting them almost always under the wrong title. Is it possible to check for existing Omnibus and Novel records, and if both exist, don't automerge the submission? (I won't get started on the fact that there can be White Wolf and Millennium Omnibuses under the same title too. Oh, come back Unapersson, all is forgiven!) BLongley 18:37, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Logic changed as follows: If Fixer finds more than one eligible Title (i.e. a book length title with the same Authors) on file, he no longer tries to auto-merge. Why is it that I am not surprised that it was Moorcock who brought this issue to light? :) Ahasuerus 03:20, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Ta muchly! That should make the next set less fearsome. I guess Moorcock would be the most likely trigger, but there's a lot of trouble with anyone getting even a single "complete works" reprint series. Robert Silverberg and Philip K. Dick come to mind: e.g. LNTMTMBKT2000 caused troubles and 37576 is a nightmare. We could create "Journeyman Projects" for a single title alone at times. And sorting out NESFA entirely should be worth a Ph.D. in ISFDB library science. :-/ BLongley 20:33, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

"Wizards of Waverly Place" young adults 9-12

Found this series "Wizards of Waverly Place"[6] put out by Disney press for young adults 9-12. The books appear to be by different authors. Is this one that should be done manually? I have a sneaking suspicion there's a lot more of this stuff out there. Thanks!Kraang 02:34, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Unfortunately, Fixer doesn't capture series information since I couldn't find a way to get to it :( A quick OCLC search suggests that "Wizards of Waverly Place" is a series of YA books based on a TV series and that they are done by a group of authors which includes Heather Alexander, Beth Beechwood and Sarah Nathan. I have submitted all titles in the Fixer database that had "Waverly Place" in the title and a few other ones by related authors, but we may need to trawl OCLC for additional information. Do you know how to do series searches in OCLC? Ahasuerus 03:10, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
No, but that won't stop me from figuring it out. :-) Thanks!Kraang 03:31, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

14-digit ISBNs

Fixer is finding some in the UK data, e.g. 97805750773010. Is it possible to catch those? They don't get flagged up as invalid like 10-digit ones do, the only clue is a subtle lack of formatting. BLongley 20:36, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

Hm, let me take a look... Ahasuerus 20:39, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
I can't find 97805750773010 at Amazon UK, so I wonder if it's something that Fixer does when converting ISBNs. Do you happen to remember which publication it was associated with? Ahasuerus 22:53, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
I think I have found it. Fixer was using "10" as the checksum digit for ISBN-13s, silly bot! Ahasuerus 22:58, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I should have made it clearer that 97805750773010 was what was here rather than on Amazon. Still, a search on "978___________" should find the rest. BLongley 23:53, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
I think I got all of them now. Ahasuerus 00:49, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
But that finds "Crystalwizard", and that looks a nice distraction to clean up... "Kelly Christiansen" watch out, I'm investigating! BLongley 23:53, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
Checking the back cover on Amazon.com, the author seems to be credited as "Crystal Wizard". Since the publisher is AuthorHouse, a well known vanity press ("Since 1997, AuthorHouse has helped more than 40000 authors put their voice in print!"), the author can presumably choose his own pseudonym, no matter how unmarketable it would be in the commercial world... Ahasuerus 00:49, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

"All versions of the same title in one go to minimise merges"

We've discussed this before. I'm not sure it's being implemented: "The Larion Senators" looks rather familiar, "The Cold Kiss of Death" too, and I'm pretty sure "Red Gloves" has been submitted one title at a time in three separate Fixer runs today. The last being particularly annoying as it's by a pseudonym and I'm not even sure if it's a "Swords and Sorcery" novel we want or just "Swords" we can maybe ignore. When they're submitted closely together I can spot useful things like the hc, tp and pb versions and add bindings when Fixer doesn't know them - when they're apart it means more work. Are there some more sorting improvements lined up? BLongley 00:21, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

There are indeed sorting improvements in the works, but they are all dependent on the same issue that needs to be addressed first. Fixer has a quarter million records from Amazon.com and another quarter million records from Amazon UK. Even after auto-rejecting or auto-suspending all ISBNs that already exist in the ISFDB database or look like manga/comics/western/accessories/RPG modules etc, we still have about a hundred thousand records for each source. These records overlap to a significant extent -- see the stats posted above -- and Fixer really needs to know how to create composite submissions using both sources for the same ISBN before better sorting can be implementing. Unfortunately, composite submissions are not as simple as they may sound since they require reconciling all kinds of fields and I am still working on it. In the meantime, I am using Gollancz as a guinea pig to find minor problems like the one that you discovered with 13 digit ISBNs and, when I get tired, I write scripts to fix URLs, download biblio Web sites, etc. Hopefully, composite submissions will go live within the next week or two. Definitely in May since my ISFDB time in June is likely to be low. Ahasuerus 00:59, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
Gollancz has many problems - there was a lot of vapourware created when they were taken over and editions were cancelled, and a lot of ISFDB entries still credit Gollancz where the imprint should rightly be "Millennium" for instance. Anything between 1998 and 2002 is a bit suspect. For newer editions it would help to keep the publications together. BLongley 01:48, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
I think there are only about 100 Gollancz books left on the UK side, so we are getting close, although I should probably also run the US side to see if there is anything interesting there. Any suggestions re: the next victim while I am working on composite submissions? Ahasuerus 04:05, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
My ISFDB time may be increased soon, for several sorts of bad reasons I won't go into, but I think we could be a little more productive in the meantime. Feel free to badger me for suggestions. BLongley 01:48, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
One relatively painless thing to do would be to create two subsets of records, one for all "Amazon UK-only" records and one for all "Amazon US-only" records and then sort them by author/title. That should give us many thousands of records to work on while I am polishing composite submissions. Ahasuerus 04:05, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
Gollancz done, working on the approach outlined immediately above. Ahasuerus 00:59, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
After playing with the data for a little while, I don't think I like the "Amazon UK-only"+"Amazon US-only" approach much. It's easy to do, but it gives you less than half of an author's output. On the other hand, sometimes it creates nearly complete biblios for obscure country-specific authors, especially the vanity set. Decisions, decisions... Ahasuerus 02:32, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

(Unindent) Oi! What are all those "The Woman in White" submissions doing in this run? They should have been in the last one with the rest! I haven't even finished the last one yet - "Great Tales of Terror from Europe and America" could need hours of work alone. Do you know how many Anthologies you added last time? BLongley 20:22, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

The sorting code is not live yet. Later tonight, hopefully... Ahasuerus 20:44, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Amazon UK links

I've recently noticed that the "Amazon UK" link beside a publication doesn't work for pubs with an ISBN-13 rather than an ISBN-10. I'm working around it for the moment by leaving the "Detailed information available here" link from the Mod notes in, e.g. Hater, but if we don't get the software fixed soon then it might be better for Fixer to move such links above the "MODERATOR NOTES:" section to encourage mods to leave such in? BLongley 11:52, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

It looks like Marty will add it to his list of things to fix shortly. (Hopefully.) Ahasuerus 03:36, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

James Dashner

Found another one, James Dashner[7]. Thanks!Kraang 02:15, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Looks like he has two short series, The Jimmy Fincher Saga and The 13th Reality Series, both submitted now. Ahasuerus 03:28, 5 May 2009 (UTC)


George R.R. (Tuf Voyaging)

Hi, I was idling looking at a title I recognised for "Fixer" in the moderator queue & have put it on hold 'cos there's no space after the first R. in the author. Not sure if it's something the scripts can deal with; just thought I'd bring it to your attention, because I can't see anything above specifically on spacing of initials. ...clarkmci/--j_clark 04:24, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Unfortunately, this is one of many problems with Amazon's data and I am a little hesitant to start changing their data programmatically. For example, they have records for "H. G. Wells", "H.G. Wells", "H G Wells", "H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946 Wells", "H Wells", "H. G, Wells", "H.G Wells", "H., G. Wells", and "HG Wells". Trying to regularize all of these permutations in Fixer's logic would be a huge headache, but I suppose I can try to handle the low hanging fruit, e.g. change "H.G. Wells" to "H. G. Wells". I'll add it to the list, thanks! Ahasuerus 16:32, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
"J.R.R. Tolkien" was another I got a bit tired of respacing. And "H.P. Lovecraft". I was worried about "A. R. R. R. Roberts" too, but it seems Amazon changed a lot of those to "Adam Roberts" and the hassle was even worse changing them back. (He's also published as "A3R Roberts"!). But I'm sure we can have an exception list for the most prolific double-initial-or-more SF authors - just don't let "R.L. Stevenson" through please! BLongley 18:12, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
I let this through and fixed the spacing, just to clear the Gollancz: your spacing concerns are noted, I just want to see what the next is! BLongley 19:49, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
Code fixed so that authors with no spaces between the leading initials now have spaces added at submission creation time. This works for up to 4 leading initials, all at no extra charge! Middle initials are not affected since there are entirely too many permutations there. Even leading initials required a bunch of exceptions to process authors like "W.i.t.c.h" and "B.L.U.N.T". Leave it to the SF community to come up with bizarre names! Ahasuerus 22:22, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
Why did you bother with those exceptions? "W.i.t.c.h" just sends you to "unknown", and loads of stuff you'd never want to see. Only a series search for "W.I.T.C.H." gets you quickly to the relevant titles. And an improperly structured series. And things like "Chapter Book" titles that aren't entered that way. Has anyone here ever wanted to see those? Are any verified? Might they be manga? I can't even find "B.L.U.N.T". Exceptions for things we don't want and can't find are a bit over-the-top, IMO. BLongley 00:17, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
These authors may not be in the ISFDB database, but they exist in Amazon's data, which Fixer faithfully reproduces in his database. And when the time comes for him to create an ISFDB submission based on what he has locally, I don't want Fixer to credit "W. i. t. c.h" rather than "W.i.t.c.h", which would likely confuse the approving moderator even more than he would be normally confused by a submission like that :) Ahasuerus 00:45, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Approving and improving Fixer's submissions

Something like this pub makes me question how thoroughly moderators are researching when accepting submissions by Fixer. The dates of the title record were changed to 1992-05-18 as well (I just changed it back to 1995-04-00). Going to OCLC would have revealed no records for this ISBN. Abebooks shows only three listings (amazingly small for a McCaffrey title), and a Google search comes back with 15 hits, all from websites feeding off Amazon's bad listing. A simple search on Locus1 would have given info that the first edition was in 1995. I would not have accepted this submission, and wonder how many other bad pubs have slipped by. Would any moderators who work on Fixer's submissions want to explain their methods of acceptance? Or am I wasting my time and should rubber-stamp all of Fixer's submissions? MHHutchins 18:29, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Oh, please don't rubber-stamp them all! A simple look at the link provided often gives a "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." message and no "Available from these sellers." links. That should be a big warning that this is vapourware and shouldn't be allowed in. (Or allowed in but immediately changed to 8888-00-00, if we want to indicate an ISBN has been "used up".) Maybe Fixer can spot those though and improve the submissions? BLongley 19:41, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
The other thing that's easy to check is that if the title is going to be auto-merged, click that link and look to see if we already have that title in that format at about that date, for a similar publisher or imprint. A lot of the latest Gollancz submissions were for Gollancz vapourware that appeared under a different imprint. Some never actually appeared in that format, due to the publisher changeovers around the turn of the century. I wouldn't expect Fixer to know those though. Not all Mods either: but for those familiar with a publisher, it should be easy (for instance) to spot the hc, tp and pb version from the same overall publisher: I know I've used that knowledge to assign tp or pb classifications to the unknown bindings. BLongley 19:41, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
I'd be interested to know what other mods are doing. But I'd prefer they 'fess up themselves rather than go look at the Recent Integrations list and comparing with the Recent Rejects list - there should be some rejects for almost every Fixer run there has ever been. Although I appreciate I should probably put more effort into explaining my rejects at times. BLongley 19:41, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
Fixer's submissions clearly need more TLC than regular human-generated submissions, in part because the Web API doesn't do much validation of the incoming data (e.g. it lets you create submissions without Authors) and in part because Fixer's data comes from potentially unreliable sources like Amazon. At one point I was going to create a new section about bot submissions and add it to the Moderator Help page, but I got sidetracked by everything else going on. Any volunteers? :)
Also, I am actively investigating a number of other ways in which Fixer can help, e.g. by filling in page counts and similar data elements from the Library of Congress and possibly even using the newly open "xISBN" gateway at OCLC, but we need to make sure that all moderators understand the ramifications of careless approvals before we can start processing more Fixer submissions. Perhaps we should move or copy this discussions to the Moderator Noticeboard? Ahasuerus 02:28, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

"Gollancz US"

There is a surprising number of eligible "Gollancz" books on the Amazon.com side, probably over 200. I am not sure how many of them are (in)valid, but I have submitted the first 10 to see what happens. Ahasuerus 02:41, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

...and another 10 for full measure. Ahasuerus 03:15, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
Oh, I think I see what's going on! When Fixer creates a submission based on, say, an Amazon UK record, he doesn't mark the associated Amazon.com record as "submitted" and vice versa. Then, if the submission is rejected, Fixer has no way of telling that he shouldn't be creating a submission for the same ISBN from the other store. Oops! Ahasuerus 03:40, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
All Fixer submissions have been cleaned up; most were vaporware. Fixer's database has been updated so that any ISBNs submitted from the UK side also result in the matching US records marked as submitted. Fixer's submission logic has been changed to avoid these problems in the future. Ahasuerus 04:22, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

£0.17 Price from UK = 3/6

Bill noticed this, and then I saw another submission with this problem. Pre-decimal prices are getting mangled. One price point is 3/6 which is being converted to £0.175 by amazon, and then reported as £0.17 (With the trailing halfpenny either rounded by fixer, or by amazon). Could we let fixer know about that and convert all £0.17 and £0.175 prices to 3/6? Just a thought. Thanks Kevin 18:50, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Good point, let me see what Fixer has on file... Ahasuerus 20:28, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
There are 15 occurrences of "£0.17" (3/6), one "£0.13" (2/6) and 4 "£0.10" (2/-). Not too bad, but I will teach Fixer how to convert them. There are another 39 "£0.01" prices, which will be discarded. Thanks! Ahasuerus 20:43, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
Interesting. Why would 17.5 get rounded down and 12.5 get rounded up? I'm interested in those 10p and 1p titles though. 1p might be a valid promotional price. I was an avid (if impoverished) paperback-buyer at the time of the change-over so recall that the common 2/6 or 3/6 prices disappeared and most pbs became 25p - I don't recall ever buying one at 20p but suspect they might have existed, which is why I'd put the cut-off below that. BLongley 20:53, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
OK, all 1p titles have been submitted. Most of them were already in the ISFDB and a few were suspended due to comics browse nodes, so only 14 submissions were created. 3 were clearly non-SF and I rejected them, the rest are patiently waiting in the queue :) Ahasuerus 21:08, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
I can't see a single one that merits a 1p price. But I can't see many that would even qualify for inclusion. Why 9688808989 for instance? Spanish sports book with a UK price? Why did Fixer choose that? And 1416509585 - is there a "CSI: NEW New York, Mars" spinoff or something? (Nothing against CSI, but as far as I know they've only autopsied humans so far, and no extraterrestrials have been found yet.) BLongley 22:13, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, Teller's War: The Top-Secret Story Behind the Star Wars Deception was grabbed by Fixer because Amazon had helpfully labeled it "Star Wars", Ghost Ship: A Cape Cod Story was actually a legitimate ghost story for children, The Gumdrop Ghost and The Crime Lab Case were Nancy Drew stories with the usual "faux supernatural" elements, etc. On the other hand, I guess "£0.01" books are likely to have more than their fair share of bad records... Ahasuerus 22:23, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
OK, but why "Fisica" and "Csi New York 02 Blood on the S (CSI: NY)"? Nothing in the browse nodes listed suggest any reason for selection. BLongley 22:49, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
Oops! That was a (relatively) recently introduced bug with adding/removing the auto-suspend flag when there are no SF Browse nodes and no SF Subjects. Thanks for catching it! :) Ahasuerus 23:02, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
Actually I documented The CSI book as also having an 'in' author, but with only 5 short works (over 50 novels in Mystery, but just playing at the edges of SpecFic) Kevin 23:10, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
I think there may be two separate questions here. The first one is why Amazon.com/UK sent this record to Fixer when Fixer asked for a certain Brose Node or Subject. Amazon's internal algorithms are complex and not terribly reliable (see their Associate forums for numerous complaints and bug reports), so anything is possible. The second question is why Fixer created a submission based on this record even though he found no SF Browse Nodes and no SF subjects. The answer is "it was a bug" :) Ahasuerus 23:19, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
You could probably do "£0.12" to "2/6" as well, but I wouldn't try higher than that. E.g. "£0.20" might be a valid post-decimal price, it wouldn't always mean "4/-". BLongley 19:55, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
It so happens that I verified a 1970 UK pb the other night and the stated price was "5/- (25p)", so "£0.20" may be a valid price. Ahasuerus 20:28, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm not seeing many of those though, and if the programming is hard then we could just add another note on how to moderate Fixer's submissions to the notes that we have on that topic already. (We do have some don't we? I just can't seem to find them...) BLongley 19:55, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
I have been meaning to write something up, but I haven't had much time lately, what with the Fixer changes and other things going on. Are you volunteering? :) Ahasuerus 20:28, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
Nope, I hate writing long articles. I'm supposed to be updating my CV right now and am using ISFDB work pressure as self-justification to avoid such. Somebody should be able to cobble something together from my various moans though. ;-) (Not my CV - the Fixer article!) BLongley 21:05, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
Actually, thinking more, it's probably best to resurrect my price crib-sheets from wherever in the Wiki archives they are. We need a more general sanity check on prices: e.g. Fixer submitted a 1973 paperback with a £3.50 price on it. I know that's wrong, and in the end found it was £0.60. (And I found the contents too.) But most non-UK mods, or younger UK mods (if we have any), wouldn't spot that. BLongley 20:03, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
I thought about dropping prices for older books, but then I found that Amazon US/UK's (especially UK) "list price" field tends to be surprisingly accurate even for 1970s books. I suspect that they purchased and imported one or more price lists at some point. Still, mistakes do happen. Ahasuerus 20:28, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, most are believable. I just think the Mod's alarm bells won't always go off when Amazon really messes up though. What's the bibliographic equivalent of Spiderman's "spider-sense"? BLongley 21:05, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
Bookmold nose? Pulp Paper Dandruff Detector? Pseudonym Psniffing? Awesome Alliteration Alertness? Title Case Interpretation Sense? Kevin 21:21, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Sorting logic is live

A limited subset of Fixer's sorting logic is now available. He now knows how to find all ISBNs that exist in Amazon.com or Amazon UK, but not in both databases. This allows him to avoid various nasty problems associated with composite submissions. He then sorts the books by author and can create submissions for complete authors, internally sorted by title. It's not great, but it's a start.

Our first guinea pig was Gene DeWeese. There were 10 matching records in Fixer's database, which resulted in 10 submissions. After approving and massaging a few, I think that our greatest challenge will be the fact that Fixer's data is just a small subset of Amazon's data. There will be times when Fixer creates a submission based on one store's record even though he really ought to be using the other store's record -- except that the other store never sent the record to him to begin with or it didn't have any eligible Browse Node/subject and was auto-suspended. It's not fatal, but it means that we still have to be careful and make sure that the price data comes from the right store. Thankfully, "£4.31" and such are highly suggestive :) Ahasuerus 23:29, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Ebooks from amazon, that you can't buy at amazon

I noticed two ebooks in the queue and held them (I'll massage and submit them shortly). These items were unavailable at amazon and had no records at worldcat. Only a google search pointed out that they were ISBNs assigned for MobiPocket encrypted versions. Further research indicates that eReader and MSReader encrypted version are also available, though the MSReader version does not have an ISBN assigned in the database at fictionwise.com at this time. I just wanted to point out this new (to me) wrinkle in scrapping unavailable titles in fixer's submissions. I presume Amazon is listing the ISBNs because they own mobipocket now, but since they are not 'Kindle' versions you can't buy them from Amazon. Kevin 01:36, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

I think most of our e-book ISBNs come from Fictionwise.com and similar sources. Amazon may have offered them at one point and then stopped when they released Kindle, but I am not sure. OCLC's coverage of electronic resources is still spotty, but they are making progress as more and more libraries start carrying them. Ahasuerus 01:55, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
Comments welcome on The Final Nexus with link to (UNBOUND) and unavailable title on Amazon.uk preserved. These ebooks are only available under this ISBN legally in the US and Canada (Sorry Bill). EDIT - Though I now notice that the kindle cover has different masthead (text color, etc) and may deserve a separate pub record. Kevin 04:28, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
I have added the kindle specific edition as a separate pub here. Also, note the Powells link on the first pub does work. Kevin 04:37, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Rie Sheridan

We have one in the can already[8] and it appears this ravishing beauty[9] has more SF and Fantasy. Thanks!Kraang 04:11, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Good catch, Fixer was aware of 4 other pubs and submitted them a few minutes ago. Thanks! Ahasuerus 05:17, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Johnathan Rand

Rand[10] has a lot of books(50+) and they appear to be of a spec-fic nature targeted to the 9 to 12 age reader. I think he meets our criteria but the books might only imply spec-fic elements and not actually contain them, I'm not sure, what do you think? Wikipedia[11], authors page[12]. Thanks!Kraang 01:30, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

It looks like some of them are bona fide SF while others are mysteries with fake SF elements a la Nancy Drew, Scooby Doo, etc. They all fall in 4 series -- Adventure Club (3 books, at least one is a collection), American Chillers, Freddie Fernortner, Fearless First Grader and Michigan Chillers -- so I figure we want to capture them all and mark the apparently non-genre ones as such. Fixer has submitted what he had, but there are probably more Strand titles out there in the "wild". Ahasuerus 03:13, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Look what else I found about him "Christopher Wright"[13]"Wright uses two pseudonyms when writing - Johnathan Rand for the children's books, and Christopher Knight for the books aimed at young adults." I kind of thought that some had fake SF elements myself. Some may be harder than others to identify.Kraang 03:29, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Hm, I see a number of Web sites about Christopher Wright writing as "Johnathan Rand", but I can't seem to find anything about the "Christopher Knight" YA books except for a Wikipedia page about another author called "Christopher Knight", who writes about Freemasons, the Illuminati, etc. Wonder if the "Christopher Knight" books are SF? Ahasuerus 04:27, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Fixer has found and submitted more Johnathan Rand books from Amazon UK. They seem to be US editions that are not labeled "SF" by Amazon.com, so the price needs to be blanked out. Ahasuerus 05:27, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Daniel Cohen

It appears that Daniel Cohen has written a good many books, many aimed at young (pre-teen) readers, about ghosts, ghost stories, ESP, magic, and the like. All I have encountered so far are non-fiction, at least in intent, and IMO not suitable for inclusion in the ISFDB. I have rejected a bunch of fixer submissions for this author. Whether these indicate a good way to detect nonfiction I can't say, but all were listed as "Novel" and if they had been includable at all, would have been anthologies or collections. This is just FYI, not a complaint. -DES Talk 16:02, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Update, one valid work found to date, The Monsters of Star Trek. -DES Talk 18:47, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
They are clearly mostly non-fiction, although we also have two of his anthologies on file. Fixer's data currently comes from Amazon.com and Amazon UK, which provide virtually no information that would help determine whether a particular book is a Novel, Collection, Anthology or Non-fiction. Eventually (hopefully soon) Fixer will start submitting data from libraries, which typically have separate codes for single author collections, non-fiction, novels, etc, so things will improve at that point. For now the only thing that Fixer can do is check whether the ISFDB already has a Title with the same author(s) and title and, if it does, add a new Publication record for that Title, re-using the Title's "title type". If this information is not available, Fixer defaults to Novel -- not a great solution, but the best one I have been able to come up with so far.
The next question is whether these Non-fiction titles are germane in the ISFDB context. The reason that Fixer submitted these books was that they were labeled "science fiction", "fantasy" or something similar by Amazon -- Fixer has a long list of eligible subjects and "Browse Nodes" as well as an exclusion list for comic books, RPGs and such. Unfortunately, Amazon's data is not particularly reliable, e.g. they often put westerns under "SF", so it's entirely possible that they marked books about ESP and magic as "fantasy". Worse, some titles may be borderline eligible, e.g. The Magic Art of Foreseeing the Future (which you deleted earlier today) "[d]escribes the various methods used by man throughout history to predict the future" (according to OCLC), so it may conceivably contain a chapter or two on science fiction, but there is no way of telling. Oh well, it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, just one of those irritating side issues :) Ahasuerus 19:29, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Foreign language books

Bill has requested that Fixer stop submitting German language books. I am sure Fixer would be happy to comply and auto-suspend them until such time when we have volunteers who would be willing to handle them. However, let's take a look at the larger picture first since there are 63 different language codes used in Fixer's database.

Amazon can have the following (optional) language types associated with every record:

  • Original Language
  • Published
  • Unknown [?]
  • Translation (only a few dozen records use this code)
  • Parallel (about 20 bilingual English/Spanish books)
  • Subtitled (20ish subtitled multi-media books)

Also, the following "Edition Statements" may be relevant:

  • SPANISH LANGUAGE
  • FRENCH LANGUAGE
  • FRENCH LANGUAGE EDITION
  • ITALIAN LANGUAGE EDITION

At this point Fixer adds the "Edition Statement" information to Notes, but ignores the Language fields. The question then is how do we want to alter Fixer's behavior?

  • Should Fixer add the "Original Language" to Notes as long as the language is not English?
  • Should Fixer automatically suspend all records whose "Edition Statement" field includes the words "Spanish", "French", "Italian" (or "German", although there are none in Fixer's database at this time)?
  • Should Fixer auto-suspend all records whose "Published Language" codes (if defined) do not include one of the following:
    • ENGLISH
    • MULTILINGUAL
    • UNKNOWN
    • AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE
    • MIDDLE ENGLISH
    • OLD ENGLISH

Anything else?

Also, please keep in mind that Amazon's data is, as we all know, quite dirty, and language codes are no exception. For example, Amazon UK lists El Comando Tribulacion as an "Original Language - Spanish; Published Language - English" book, i.e. the exact opposite of the actual situation. If we ask Fixer to stop submitting what Amazon lists as foreign language books, we will likely lose some legitimate submissions, but it may be the price that we have to pay. Ahasuerus 02:27, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

I don't object to Fixer submitting foreign language editions, but I don't have the language skills to work on them. I think the point about possibly losing data to false positives in the language code, given the state of Amazon data, is well taken. -DES Talk 19:17, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
When Fixer "suspends" a record in his database, he notes why the record was suspended, so if we ask him to suspend non-English records, it would be easy to resubmit them later if and when we have more editors proficient in other languages. False positives will be irritating, though -- I just scanned all "Polish" records and there is at least one false positive. Ahasuerus 19:43, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Fixer - Off the Leash?

I see that Fixer got loose and has been digging in Mrs. Grundy's flower bed again (Chuckle) Kevin 03:48, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

Fixer is very sorry -- I have posted his apology on the Moderator Noticeboard. Ahasuerus 04:25, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Bah - Mrs. Grundy needed new flowers anyway. Kevin 04:32, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

Unneeded Comma in Name

I saw two of these (so far) tonight. FIRSTNAME, MI LASTNAME and FIRSTNAME, MIDDLENAME LASTNAME - Not sure if Fixer is checking things like that. Just FYI. Kevin 04:42, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

I asked Fixer about it at one point. He said that there were so many permutations, e.g. "(Wells), H.G", that he'd rather leave the task of sorting them out to humans. Probably a good thing too... Ahasuerus 14:18, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Could he flag them better? For all NAME like '%,%' and not like '%, Ph.D.%' and not like '%, M.D.%' and not like '%, II%' NAME = NAME + " Check Name" - Since any name with a comma and without one of the top three reasons for having a comma is VERY unlikely to match and merge with an existing title since the author is very unlikely to match, putting a flag in the author name field as a clear text item, isn't going to prevent matches and merges in well formed names. Kevin 14:59, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
If you are going to do this, better include '%, Jr.%" as an exclusion. -DES Talk 15:22, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Sure, it can be done quite easily. Do we want it in the Author Name field so that if the moderator misses it, we could find it later by searching on "Check Name"? Ahasuerus 15:37, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
That was my thinking. I fixed a couple last night in the Title block, and forgot to fix it in the contents title block so I had to go back and hunt for them. An easy 'fix me' search would have been nice. Kevin 15:46, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
OK, changes made and a couple of examples submitted. The pubs need to be changed from pounds to dollars since Mundania is a US publisher, but the Amazon.com records for these ISBNs were marked "comics" for some reason, so Fixer used Amazon.UK's data instead. Ahasuerus 16:07, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Oh, and the "exclusion list is currently set to "Ph.D.", "M.D.", "Jr.", "Sr.", "II", "III", "IV", and "Esq." Ahasuerus 16:08, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
", II" will also exclude ", III" (saving you a step of useless code?), and I recommend against ", IV" as Fourths are rare enough, and ", Ivan", Iverson, etc will be wrongly excluded. I would rather have Fourths be flagged. The example looks fine to me. Kevin 17:08, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Oh no, Fixer only accepts names that end with ", II", ", III", ", IV", etc, the rest are tagged. (That's why ", II" and ", III" have to be done separately.) As far as ", IV" goes, it's surprisingly common - just search on "," from the main page and you'll see. Ahasuerus 17:19, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

UK prices on US editions

Consider Black Wind, which resulted from my massaging of a fixer submisison. As Submitted this had a price of £5.37. I understand that the data was derived from Amazon UK, but that site shows "US List Price: $7.99". Is there any way for Fixer to pick up this field? -DES Talk 14:42, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Unfortunately, Fixer was unaware of this field in the Amazon UK database, so he didn't grab it. Let me see if I can find it in their record description and update Fixer's ~250,000 records. At 1 secons per record, Fixer should be done in about 3 days... Ahasuerus 01:25, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
On further investigation, it looks like we are out of luck -- this field doesn't seem to be returned by Amazon's publicly available API :-( Ahasuerus 02:35, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
It figures. Well, that's why we have human mods. -DES Talk 04:13, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

As I don't, and you're giving me headaches again! :-( BLongley 19:55, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

"Sie"? No need to be so formal, Bill! :) [And by the way, the way the use of du/sie has evolved over the last century+ in countries like Germany, Sweden and Russia is a fascinating subject, but that's a whole different story.] And yes, that was a particularly bad run and I will be adding a level of human supervision to Fixer's submissions tonight -- see my last post on the Moderator Noticeboard. Ahasuerus 21:07, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I have no idea what the correct usage of "Sie" is, hence my admission (yet again) that I cannot cope with German, and I haven't attempted these, and my colleagues that can aren't actually interested in ISFDB. I've no idea why - they mention words like "wife", "kids", "sport" and other such words as if they're time-suckers that prevent them from being here. I think those might be English words, but I haven't got any of those problems. BLongley 22:09, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I actually studied Latin rather than German at school, after giving up French, but only to fail at that with a slightly higher mark, so don't ask me to deal with "Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis" either. And if I return to Wales, it's for the Hay-on-Wye bookshops, not to check on whether we got "Harri Potter a Maen yr Athronydd" right. BLongley
Unfortunately, even if you knew German, it still wouldn't help in quite a few cases since German/French/Italian/US/UK/etc publishers can slap a seemingly unrelated title on a translated book. It's that inability to match titles one-to-one that was my biggest problem when I revamped our Russian titles a few months ago. I know the language reasonably well, but when the publisher changes the title from Predatory Things of Our Times to The Final Circle of Paradise, it's impossible to link the two works unless you have access to a pre-existing bibliography or are in a position to compare the two texts side by side. Ahasuerus 02:06, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Test. Ahasuerus 22:20, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Test what? BLongley 22:46, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Whether "My Messages (new)" appears correctly when your Talk page is updated :-) Ahasuerus 22:52, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Ok, you've tested yours, how about testing mine? (I should probably go check "Data Thief" at some point too.) BLongley 23:04, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

I hope you're not loose on your own...

As an Abridged Audiobook Box set that is Illustrated and Large Print is beyond my abilities to moderate. Is the box big with notable pictures, or is the reading SHOUTED and of such quality that people can visualise certain scenes, even when some words are missing? BLongley 00:29, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Ah yes, that's the one that, upon closer examination of the Amazon record, turned out to also claim to be written in 6 languages! I wonder what they added to the penguins' feed that day...
P.S. To make Keri Arthur's bibliography even more interesting, Amazon.com lists a number of UK reprints, but claims that they were published by Dell. Ugh. Ahasuerus 02:38, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Not chasing these myself....

But Karen Whiddon seems to have another 8 Werewolf books to add ("The Pack" series). Something to consider later when we go back to filling in Paranormal Romance authors. BLongley 20:30, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Lori Devoti has an "Unbound" series that appears to be Paranormal Romance. BLongley 20:38, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Vivi Anna should have seven Vampire books, eight paranormals and four SF/Future. Seems to be especially "adult". BLongley 20:46, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Bonnie Vanak has some werewolf stuff. Not sure whether the Egyptian stuff has any spec-fic element. BLongley

Larissa Ione has a few more Demonica books to add. BLongley 22:41, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Ok, done with the Vampire-Shaggers for now. Please don't rush to submit the missing titles, just keep them in mind. (As I won't.) BLongley 23:20, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Thanks! (also Kathleen Nance) Ahasuerus 00:46, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Arcana Studio

You may want to put "Arcana Studio" on the avoid list. After some investigation I believe it's only comics/graphic novels.Kraang 05:03, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

Good point, thanks! Of the 41 "Arcana" books in Fixer's internal database, 14 were manually rejected before a submission was created, 24 were auto-rejected by Fixer, 2 resulted in (erroneous) submissions and the remaining few will be rejected shortly. Many comic/manga publishers like Dark Horse and TokyoPop dabble in written SF these days, but Arcana apparently remains comics-only. Ahasuerus 01:45, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Repo Men / The Repossession Mambo - Eric Garcia

Hi, Just to let you know I've put this on hold as I can't resolve what the title should be for this item allegedly to be published Feb 2010. Even HarperCollins (US) doesn't seem sure (though Fixer seems to have found the item through Amazon UK as price is £). Amazon US & UK have Repo Men as the text title, but the cover image provided has The Repossession Mambo. Google search on the ISBN gives a HarperCollins.com hit saying it's The Repossession Mambo; but when you go to the Harper web page, it has Repo Men & no image available. (I can't find it on the HarperCollins UK site.)

The Repossession Mambo by Garcia was (1st?) published 2009 it seems. The question is, is the item Fixer found another edition? or the next in the series?

So ... Reject? Leave on hold 'til February? --clarkmci / j_clark 11:52, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

I have confirmed the 2009-02-00 edition of The Repossession Mambo at OCLC, which lists a number of libraries which own copies. OCLC also links to various online reviews, so the 2009 version is clearly legit.
The 2010-02-23 version is iffier. On the one hand, it comes from Amazon UK and it's entirely possible that HarperCollins UK waited a year before releasing a UK-specific version, perhaps to time it closer to the upcoming movie. They may have also come up with a different title, but used a scan of the US version when submitting pre-publication data to Amazon UK. On the other hand, when I find incomplete/spotty data with wrong cover scans etc from a major publisher, it's at least a 75% chance that the book has been canceled/postponed, but the publisher never bothered to inform Amazon, so the ghost record can linger for years.
If you want to keep it on hold until March and then check Amazon UK and OCLC to see if the ISBN shows up, it will probably be the best way to handle the situation. Thanks! Ahasuerus 02:10, 27 December 2009 (UTC)
As of end May '10, there was sufficient data to create a proper record for this new title. New cover image available. Entered the [pub] for the US only as there seems to be just one edition, did a variant on the title [it is a movie tie-in] so the hold can be removed and the original fixer submission scrapped. ~Bill, --Bluesman 02:53, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for dealing with this. ... --clarkmci / j_clark 03:48, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt <--> Clarion

Anther US "publisher" possibility - Clarion ...

An item I've just looked at was derived from Amazon UK (with a likely UK-published price!) & listed as having publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. However, Amazon US has that ISBN as published by Clarion. Upon investigation ("Look Inside"), it seems the book is US published by the Clarion imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The book is a picture book - [here]. --clarkmci / j_clark 13:49, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

Thanks, I have added it to the list of US publishers/imprints. It's an iterative process, so all feedback is welcome! Ahasuerus 02:45, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Aside: Is it possible (i.e. a simple change) to get Fixer to create an "Interiorart" record too, when Amazon has an illustrator listed? --clarkmci / j_clark 13:49, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

Amazon doesn't include illustrators in the "response groups" that it sends back Fixer. I may be able to find a "response group" which contains this data, but it will take some poking around and likely re-programming since not all response groups are supported for the purposes of the query type that Fixer uses. I'll add it to Fixer's to-do list, thanks! Ahasuerus 02:45, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Publisher Telos

Can you run Fixer and see if Telos[14] has any pubs for 2009 & 2010, we have nothing after 2008 and I believe they still are publishing. Thanks!Kraang 01:32, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Unfortunately, Fixer is currently inactive while I am redoing the way he handles US/UK (and eventually Canadian/Australian) discrepancies. Once I am done, he will be better than ever and will gladly check Telos, but it will take a few weeks to get there. I will update Fixer's to-do list, thanks! Ahasuerus 09:44, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
According to Fixer, they don't seem to be doing much SF any more except for TV-related non-fiction. I have submitted all SF-flavored titles (including some borderline ones) for 2001-2010 and they are now in the submission queue. Unfortunately, Fixer doesn't know how to handle Amazon.ca yet, so the data came from Amazon.com and Amazon UK and all prices will need to be reviewed. Ahasuerus 03:21, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

non-UK editions from Amazon UK?

It looks to me like Fixer's latest run (early Feb, 2010) picked up a bunch of things from Amazon UK that are not UK editions. Don't know if there's anything that can be done about that, but I figured I'd mention it. --MartyD 12:17, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Oh yes, that's the "US/UK" problem that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The underlying issue is that Fixer currently has separate tables for Amazon US and Amazon UK. Since they have a great deal of overlap, Fixer doesn't always use the right table to create submissions. I need to create one combined table with US/UK/Canadian/Australian data for each ISBN and then teach Fixer how to determine which country's data to use for each ISBN (and when put the other countries' data in Moderator Notes). It's a bit tricky and I am still working on it. The last run was just a cleanup pass to flush out old records in Fixer's temporary queue before I start making changes. Ahasuerus 15:18, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Astrosaurs

When you feel a little better, the Astrosaurs books by Steve Cole could do with a pass (from Amazon UK, rather than US). The astrosaurs.co.uk website is a bit too Flash-heavy for my tastes and I won't be tackling it manually. BLongley 22:06, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, missed the note when it was originally posted. Sure, I will see what I can do tonight. Ahasuerus 19:29, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
...or rather tomorrow since the Telos mini-project above took more time that anticipated. Ahasuerus 03:22, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
No hurry, I can always find something else to work on. Too successfully really, I should be doing more non-ISFDB stuff. Even over Easter weekend - I need to get a new car and create a home office and things like that. BLongley 19:34, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Telecommuting is an excellent idea -- you can then spend more time editing ISFDB! :) And Astrosaurs got pushed back again since earlier tonight I found a few dozen 2010 ISBNs (mostly from Gollancz) which needed to be rescued, dusted off and submitted. They were suspended in April 2009 since it was way too early to create submissions for 2010 at the time. They have been patiently waiting their turn for almost a year! (Although a few turned out to be vaporware, of course.) Ahasuerus 05:34, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
Submitted, although the number of dirty records seems unusually high. Ahasuerus 15:20, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Fixer ??

Still trying to find a line in the sand for some of the Fixer submissions. Some of them are so bereft of data.... there's really nothing to use to decide in/out. Just because Amazon somehow put something in a category isn't enough. So, can I assume that Fixer, in future searches, would bring up the same publication if its ISBN is not in the DB? The reason I ask, is that maybe later there WOULD be more data to go on, and a better decision made. I'd feel a whole lot easier about rejecting a submission if I knew it could come back more fleshed out, but wholly against accepting something with nothing to go on. Especially with these 40-80 page children's books that could be nothing more than a fairy-tale treatment to get them to brush their teeth properly [don't laugh, there was a dragon story for just that purpose!!]. ~Bill, --Bluesman 17:11, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

I am in the process of improving Fixer, so things are rather fluid, but here is how it currently works:
  1. Fixer queries Amazon.com and Amazon UK (Amazon CA is under construction) for a particular subject, author and/or time period. There are various (often obscure and/or complex) Amazon-imposed limits on what you can query for and how many items are returned, so it's not as simple as it sounds.
  2. Amazon sends some data for the books that match the query back to Fixer. Note that the data that Amazon sends back is not always the same as the data displayed on Amazon Web pages, e.g. Fixer doesn't have access to cover artists.
  3. If the ISBN of the incoming book has been submitted to ISFDB in the past -- or previously suspended/rejected -- then the book is ignored. Otherwise Fixer adds the book's data to the main "queue".
  4. Once all books matching the query have been returned by Amazon (which takes anywhere from minutes to hours depending on the query), Fixer looks for any ISBNs that were returned by only one of the two Amazon stores and queries the other store. This happens frequently when a book is released first in one country and then the other.
  5. At this point all data for all eligible books is in the main queue. Typically, each ISBN will have two records, one from Amazon.com and one from Amazon UK.
  6. Next, Fixer tries to determine which store's data to use. For example, if Amazon.com says that the publisher is "Baen" and Amazon UK says that the publisher is "Unknown", then chances are that Fixer should use the US record to create the ISFDB submission. Ideally, this would be an automated process, but there are many cases when both records look plausible, e.g. the respective prices may be $17.99 and £11.99, and it requires manual intervention. Hopefully, the automated identification process will get better over time as Fixer learns which publishers are "US only" and which ones are "UK only". Any publishers that are active on both side of the Atlantic, e.g. Orbit, will still need to be handled manually.
  7. Next, Fixer decides whether the ISBN should be automatically suspended. This is currently done for any ISBNs starting with "2" or "3" (France and Germany), any audio, CD and MP3 books, and, lately, for any books published by the better known vanity publishers. We will get to all of them -- eventually -- but for now I didn't want the submission queue to grow unmanageably long.
  8. Next, a manual process is run. I review all books in the queue and decide whether it should be submitted, suspended or rejected. Unfortunately, there are quite a few cases where the logic is just too complex for Fixer to handle, e.g. TokyoPop publishes both manga and written versions of certain series and there is no easy way of teaching Fixer which one is which. Besides, Amazon's data is often quite dirty, which makes the number of potential permutations too high for a poor overworked robot to handle reliably.
  9. If I decide to submit the book, Fixer marks the ISBN as "submitted", builds the submission and sends it to ISFDB.
Hopefully, this clarifies the process. Also, please note that in the past Fixer worked with less human supervision, which made it easier for me to run, but also resulted in more bad submissions and more work for moderators. As Fixer gets better at making some of these decisions, it should become a faster and smoother process both for me and for the approving moderators.
Next:
  • Amazon CA -- in progress.
  • Australian sources -- some 20,000 records have been captured, but I still need to parse them before Fixer can create submissions.
  • Library catalogs -- a number of major catalogs have been captured, but the data will require a lot of massaging before it is ready to be submitted. Suffice it to say that there are well over a thousand meaningful fields in the most popular standard for catalog records. Although not all of them are required for our purposes, quite a few need to be included in Moderator Notes since they may facilitate the decision making process at approval time. (And then there are catalogs with non-standard formats or no formatting at all, but that's a whole different headache.)
Ahasuerus 20:46, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I really appreciate the in-depth answer! Not that it will help deciding which bunny is an alien and which just dust!  ;-) Thanks! ~Bill, --Bluesman 02:35, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Multiple ghosts?

Currently have 12 Fixer submissions on hold, none of which seem to exist. Each title has been issued, some through the complete cycle of HC/TP/PB on both sides of the Atlantic, but there are no records on OCLC, BLIC, no copies for sale on either Amazon or AbeBooks. All HarperVoyager editions, all from Jan-Jun '09. Do the ephemeral "Export-Only" editions tend to disappear from any records? Or are these just vapourware? Each is by an author already in the DB. I don't know what else to check. ~Bill, --Bluesman 20:29, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

2009 was apparently a particularly bad year for canceled titles/editions aka "vaporware" (according to various authors complaining in the blogosphere.) Something to do with the recent economic unpleasantness, I am told, so I wouldn't be surprised if HarperVoyager canceled a whole batch of projected editions. Ahasuerus 21:10, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Okay, then I will reject them. Thanks! ~Bill, --Bluesman 22:25, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Catnip(publisher)

We may want to be careful with some of the spec fic descriptions from this company. This book[15] and one I deleted are listed as spec fic but a visit to their site would lead me to believe there not[16]. The one I deleted was clearly a western[17] "Badlands: Death in Drygulch".Kraang 02:43, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

The Case of the London Dragonfish is apparently not spec fic, but the rest of the author's output is mostly SF, so presumably Amazon and other booksellers lumped them together. After all, the title has the word "dragon" in it, right? :) Ahasuerus 03:36, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Elements submission

I'd love to reject this submission and have the ISBN requeued for next month's run. Is there any way to do that? The publisher has no website, nor does the author, that I can find. I found one reference to the publisher as having incorporated in May, 2010. I find conflicting evidence that the books is either part 1 of the Elements series (and called The Secret of the Amulet) or part 1 of The Secret of the Amulet series (and called Elements). The former seems more likely to me, but is less of a match to the Amazon data.... I think the best would be to wait and see what happens with it. --MartyD 10:39, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Fixer says that he doesn't mind if we put the submission on hold for a month or two. He is an easy going kid! Ahasuerus 12:34, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
Ah, so what do I do? Reject? Accept and then Delete? I don't want Fixer upset with me, nor do I want to undo any of his hard work.... --MartyD 18:09, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
I think keeping the submission on HOLD for a month or two should be a reasonable compromise. In another 30-60 days we should have enough data to decide what to do with the submission. Ahasuerus 01:04, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
How about putting rejected new publications with ISBNs into a table so that if they're resubmitted the moderator can get a warning that this one has been rejected before for Reason X? Might help with some of the pubs that we have to reject due to insufficient data, like the "Merlin 2010" Q3 and Q4 placeholders. It might also help with Pub Deletions, if that deletion removes the ISBN entirely (don't want to flag obvious duplicate clearups.) BLongley 21:07, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
Hm, that's an interesting idea. The submission queue is kept around for years, but the data is stored in XML format, so it's not easy to do lookups against it. Perhaps all we need to do is add another field for ISBNs (populated for NewPub submissions only) and index the table by that field... Ahasuerus 01:04, 17 July 2010 (UTC)

Vaporware detection

Just how much evidence that a book exists should we be demanding? For a forthcomming book, or one first issued within the past month, it is not unreasonable that there not yet be an OCLC or LOC record. If Amazon says "In stock" is that enough? if not, what sort of further evidence is wanted? -DES Talk 23:57, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

That's an excellent question, but, unfortunately, I don't think there is an all-encompassing answer. If Amazon says that an item is in stock, it probably exists, but then again, Amazon can be easily confused. I usually try a variety of searches, including OCLC, Bookwhere ($$$), www.addall.com (and used.addall.com), and just plain old Google search. Publisher-run sites can be very valuable, especially once you learn each publisher's quirks.
Perhaps we should start a discussion on the Community Portal and call it "Your Favorite Book Search Tips and Tricks". Ahasuerus 00:52, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Personally, I put a bit more effort into finding the Author and/or publisher web-sites and checking details there. And yes, that does sometimes mean deleting a lot of advance notifications. "Angry Robot" comes to mind - that was tricky. BLongley 01:29, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
I was thinking of the three novels by K. Gerard Martin which i approved from fixer submissions. All had amazon in-stock listings, but no OCLC, no LOC, no B&N.com, really no other mention on the net. I was also thinking of Redemption Of A New World II which i looked at but didn't approve or reject, partly because I wasn't sure how to handle the sub titles, that is which ones to keep if I approved this. I wasn't able to find any indication besides Amazon's "In stock" lsiting that this exists either, though the author clearly does, and it seems to be a sequel to a book which clearly does exist.
In such cases, what is the minimum standard of evidence which a mod ought to see before approving a submission? -DES Talk 01:48, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Note that both of these appear to be self-published or very small press published, so there is no useful publisher site. -DES Talk 01:50, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
I approved that one and would usually create a series, but with no image or other data to break down the title I decided to leave it as it is.Kraang 02:35, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

List of ISBNs from rejected Fixer submissions

Wasn't there talk about creating a list of rejected Fixer-submitted ISBNs? I'm thinking that such a list will give us a second chance at pubs that were announced, but not yet published. For example this submission is for a Nov. 2009 publication that Amazon states is "Temporarily Out of Stock". There is an OCLC record but no library has a copy of the pub. In cases like this, I don't believe we should accept the submission but we also shouldn't reject it with recording the ISBN somewhere for a later check. Thanks. (BTW, the cover image on the Amazon website for the submission I've placed on hold makes me believe the book is an anthology.) Mhhutchins 04:05, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Well the software feature suggestion is two sections up from here, but I guess a manual workaround would be to have a dedicated Wiki section for the purpose, if it can be fed back to Fixer easily later. BLongley 17:07, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Also, I think the example is a Graphic Novel, self-published for a College, with distribution being rather localised. BLongley 17:15, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, that's enough for me to reject the submission. Mhhutchins 17:26, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
It's possible to handle it in the software, but it would be time consuming to implement. For now, let's have a section on Fixer's User page where we can list "provisionally rejected" ISBNs. As long as it's a simple list, I can easily feed it to Fixer every 6 months or so. Ahasuerus 19:17, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
I have created User:Fixer#Deferred Submissions for the above purpose. If the format is not optimal, please tell me what would be better. Is it ok to list here and reject any fixer submissions which might be acceptable, but I can't tell at this time? -DES Talk 22:10, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Sure, that should work, thanks! Ahasuerus 22:40, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Advance submisisons

A number of Fixer submissions or forthcoming pubs are begin rejected/deferred for insufficient data. Just how important is it to have these entered before pub date? I understand the value of forthcoming listings for pubs from major genre publishers, and those aren't usually so problematical. Would it make sense to not submit Fixer pubs for "minor" publishers until the month after publication? By that time, amazon listings may be updated with descriptions and other info, and there may be listings elsewhere, including OCLC, for some of these. -DES Talk 03:40, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

Duplication

I accepted the submission adding this pub, but afterwards saw that another identical one was already in the db. (It's probably the record you accepted earlier in the day: 2011-01-15 / 02:37:12 / 1515837 - NewPub / Ahasuerus / Ahasuerus / Undead Hearts). Before deleting the record, I wanted to let you see it. I thought Fixer searched the db for ISBN and titles before making a submission. The new one did not come up as an "Add Pub" submission. And the ISBNs are identical. Thanks. Mhhutchins 17:24, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

This was an odd one. I was running Fixer late at night and the connection between ISFDB and the development server froze for a few minutes when this submission was in the pipeline. Eventually Fixer received a "timeout" error on his end, so I assumed that the submission didn't make it and resubmitted/approved the book manually. However, it looks like the original submission had been added to the queue after all, I just didn't notice it (apparently, I need new glasses.) I have deleted the duplicate -- thanks for catching it! Ahasuerus 21:05, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Leftovers from the latest batch of submissions

I'm leaving six or seven submissions in the queue to let someone else decide whether to accept them. Their Amazon pages give almost no information about the content of the books, neither summaries nor reviews. Some titles appear to be spec-fic but titles can fool you. Mhhutchins 06:04, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately, these late bloomers are always problematic. Sometimes Amazon adds a record and then deletes it within a few weeks, other times they don't bother and the record is stuck in limbo for months if not years. Perhaps Bill will have additional ideas as he probably knows the UK scene better than us trans-atlantians! Ahasuerus 07:22, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Pub missed ("Supernatural")

I entered this pub based on info in a review in the latest Locus. Amazon has it categorized under "Supernatural" but it appears Fixer missed it. Is he searching this category? Thanks. Mhhutchins 02:28, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Nope, no "Supernatural" at this time. I think I tried it a couple of years ago and the results were mostly New Age-y. The rest had significant overlap with other SF subjects, so I didn't include it in Fixer's list. I'll try it again later this week and see what Fixer finds -- thanks for the heads up! Ahasuerus 06:11, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
Fixer has been re-run for 2010-2011 using "supernatural" as the subject header. Most of the new hits (as opposed to "late arrivals" that were not listed by Amazon when Fixer was last run) came from New Age/paranormal non-fiction, but there were a few SF books that would have been missed. I'll add it to the list of subjects that Fixer uses -- thanks for finding it! Ahasuerus 16:09, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
You're welcome. I supposed combining "supernatural" with "fiction" would weed out a lot of that New Age stuff. I've noticed a number of Christian fantasy titles from Fixer lately. Would those have been found if Amazon had placed them only in the Fiction category, without any subcategory like fantasy or science fiction? Or would "Christian > Fantasy" have been sufficient? Searching through Amazon just now I found this pub which is not in the database. Mhhutchins 18:04, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Just found another one not in the database, and it's only categorized as "Religion & Spirituality > Fiction". It happens to be in a series for which we have a later book. That one was categorized as "Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy" and was naturally found by Fixer. I can't imagine anyone, even Fixer, looking for spec-fic titles in "Religion & Spirituality > Fiction". This is obviously a failure on Amazon's part to properly categorize the titles. Mhhutchins 18:13, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Sorry about the delay, I have been playing with Amazon's interface on and off. I checked my notes from 2008 and apparently I was unable to get searches for multiple subjects to work. I could get a search for "subject=fantasy and pubdate=2008-11" to work, but I when I tried, e.g., "subject=supernatural and subject=fiction and pubdate=2008-11", it didn't return what I expected. However, Amazon's internal logic changes frequently, so what was broken in 2008 may have been fixed in 2009 or 2010. I have tried similar searches over the last couple of weeks, but the results are somewhat inconsistent. I will have to try a few more things to see if I can discern a pattern. Ahasuerus 20:48, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for trying. There's always going to be an obscure title by an obscure author from a obscure publisher. We're not going to find all of them. I only strive for completeness when it comes to the Big Name Authors, which probably accounts for 90% of database user searches anyway. BTW, when will you be releasing the library pubs that Fixer's found? Mhhutchins 20:54, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
I did some work on library data while I was away, but it's still not quite ready for prime time. The parsing algorithm does a decent job of extracting the most commonly used fields, e.g. if field 300, sub-field "c" says "18cm.", Fixer knows that it's a mass market paperback. If field 520, sub-field "a" reads "This epic novel, based on the gripping ten-part Sci Fi Channel miniseries from DreamWorks Television, spans sixty years of American history... --p. [4] of cover.", Fixer knows to stuff it in the Synopsis field of the submission record and so on. However, there are more obscure fields that Fixer doesn't know how to handle yet. Most importantly, Fixer is still Amazon-centric and needs reprogramming to help him handle books that are not listed by Amazon. That will take some time, but I will be once again on the road in late March and hope to get it to a point where it's at least semi-functional. Ahasuerus 02:36, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Makeshift God

Please look at the ISBN of this submission: 2347736930. It's my understanding that ISBNs beginning with a "2" are French language books, so I knew something was amiss from the start. A little research shows we already have a record for 0234773693, only one number off from the Fixer submission, same author, same title, basically the same publisher. I was going to reject the submission but wanted you to see it first. Is there a way for Fixer to determine that certain ISBNs just shouldn't be submitted, especially those that begin with numbers other than "0" and "1". Or has the search for non-English language books began? Thanks. Mhhutchins 19:03, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

When Fixer runs and queries Amazon using the standard query process, he automatically rejects 999- and other obviously bogus ISBNs. He also suspends all non-0/1 ISBN and puts them in a separate "on hold until further notice" table. This is the same table that picture books for young children and other borderline pubs end up in.
However, the last run was experimental because I tried a new algorithm to find "notable" SF pubs not in our database. Since I wasn't sure what Fixer was going to find, I asked him to bypass the standard auto-rejection/auto-suspension process. As it turns out, it resulted in too many flaky ISBNs and I didn't catch some of them when I was reviewing Fixer's internal queue prior to submission (it was 3am). Lesson learned -- I won't ask Fixer to bypass the standard vetting process when experimenting with this algorithm again. Ahasuerus 01:33, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Tor Books

Is there a way to change the publisher on any Fixer submissions based on Amazon records from "Tor Books" to simply "Tor"? We have merged the two publishers, giving the preference to "Tor" (I can't recall any book published by Tom Doherty stating the publisher as "Tor Books" on the title page). See this submission which show "Tor Books" as an unknown publisher, at least until someone makes another submission using it. Also, look at the ISBN of this submission: 5556085269. Obviously not in the Tor range (or anybody else's for that matter). It may have been a temporary number until final publication, which I've seen quite often with Tor, and have made an effort to remove them from the database. Can Fixer be programmed to ignore such numbers? Thanks. Mhhutchins 19:10, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Agreed, if WE have decided on a Canonical publisher name then Amazon's choice shouldn't affect ours and it would help if Fixer auto-corrected them for us. There's always a risk that we won't get the "Unknown Publisher" warning for other "Tor Books" additions between approval and subsequent correction. I think I've rejected some other 5-prefix-ISBN Fixer submissions as they came from obviously non-Russian publishers. BLongley 00:37, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it's possible to tell Fixer to convert "Tor Books" to "Tor" prior to submission. The only challenge is to make sure that the conversion occurs in the right place(s) since I allow overrides of "forced" transformations at various points. Ahasuerus 03:19, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
While I'm at it - many of the Fixer-submitted Amazon-sourced entries for Borgo Press were 1999 Wildside Press editions that had Copyright or First Edition dates on instead of real ones. A 1971 Borgo Press title rung alarm bells with me - as did 1992 e-books editions. I did try and sort out Publishers at one point, if we can use the data I'd be happier. BLongley 00:37, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I saw that and left a note on the Moderator Noticeboard about Borgo Press. It's one of the problems with using Amazon's data for older books -- the older the pub, the flakier the data. We are probably better off getting older data from library catalogs (I have 10 Gb worth of stuff sitting on the hard drive), but that presents other challenges. Ahasuerus 03:19, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
If I provided a list of dodgy publishers e.g. "Littlehampton Book Services" are listed for a lot of historical Amazon UK data, or dodgy dates - e.g. Borgo Press definitely didn't publish in 1971 - would you use those to provide automated warnings? BLongley 01:06, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
If the number of dodgy publishers and suspect permutations is not too high, then I can add these checks to the scripts that handle moderator pages. It, OTOH, it requires additional tables, then it will take longer to implement. Either way, if you could create a feature request and list the suspects there, it would be a great start. I am having an increasingly hard time keeping track of everything that needs to be done because so many changes depend on other, often subtle, changes... Ahasuerus 04:09, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Another missing Amazon category?

I just added Toys from the James Patterson writing corps. I suppose the only relative category that Amazon places it in is "genetic engineering" (other than "thrillers" which I'm sure Fixer wouldn't look for titles.) Should Fixer be looking for this combination of categories? Mhhutchins 22:02, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

I guess I can ask Fixer to search for things like:
"subject:genetic engineering" AND "subject:fiction"
"subject:supernatural" AND "subject:fiction"
This approach works well when Fixer interrogates library catalogs, but I don't think I have tried it with Amazon, which uses a totally different set of commands. We'll see how it goes ;-) Ahasuerus 23:11, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

ebook format

Fixer submitted a Vintage Digital publication with format "e-book" instead of the "ebook" called for by the help. --MartyD 11:24, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

Fixed, thanks! Ahasuerus 20:31, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

Kindle and no Nook?

Mr. Fixer, are you planning on submitting Kindle ebooks from the amazon website? I might note that this would have a tendency to give Amazon a competitive advantage over Barnes & Nobles incompatible Nook ebooks. I would say a pox on robot entered ebook titles from both sources until there is a common format. Barnes & Noble Nook ebooks can actually be read on devices other than the Nook while the Kindle DRM ebooks can only be read on a Kindle or a PC.--swfritter 22:06, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

I suspect Fixer can't distinguish DRM from non-DRM. Diane Duane has suggested we might look at her non-DRM Kindle books, and I admit I'm not going to enter them myself although I own a Kindle. We're busy enough anyway. BLongley 01:53, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
The biggest technical problem with Kindle is that Fixer relies on ISBNs and many Kindle books do not have ISBNs. It make sense financially since ISBNs cost money, but it's a headache for the poor 'bot.
Policy-wise, we still haven't decided whether we accept electronic books without ISBNs. I am becoming convinced that we should, especially now that Amanda Hocking has shown how many people read them, but that's fodder for the Policy page. Ahasuerus 02:35, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Consider: A) Our policy discussion process is mostly broken; B) There are far too many significant ebook works without ISBN's and C) I, and others, have put a fair number of non-ISBN ebooks into the the system. The policy has been changed by common practice although I think a human should be making the decisions in these cases.--swfritter 13:37, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

AddPub errors

It seems you're often confused when a series and title are present in the publication name. For instance, today you wanted to Add this pub to this title, when of course it should go under this one. Is it possible that you could look at the series that an existing title is in to help improve the determination of which part is the series and which is the title? We have a few other examples: e.g. it looks like a Moderator has let through some extra titles into this that should go there. BLongley 19:23, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Fixer and I tried to brainstorm this issues a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, no bright ideas emerged at the end of the session. The underlying problem is that Amazon has a bewildering number of ways to add series info to the title field. Sometimes they embed the series name and the superseries name using nested parentheses, but there is no rhyme or reason to it. The most we can realistically do is to try to do a better job of identifying SERIES: TITLE situations. It's not much, but it's better than nothing. Ahasuerus 04:53, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
That's why I was thinking we could do something with the ISFDB series, if we have one. BTW, there was another oddity today: "Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women" was put under "Phantastes" although we have the full title already present. BLongley 14:50, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
It looks like Fixer checks whether the "ABC" in ABC: XYZ matches an existing title before checking whether the whole string matches an existing title. Silly robot! Ahasuerus 01:36, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Better a Silly Robot than an Angry Robot. (Actually, I'm not sure which causes more problems.) BLongley 02:17, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
I've had a few problems with AddPubs and series designations, too. One particular one that gave me a headache was for The Dead Town, which was titled Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: The Dead Town. Fixer linked it to the SFBC omnibus Dean Koontz's Frankenstein. Took me several submissions to fix the problem after accepting the Fixer submission, unmerging, adding a new title record, merging with the correct title, etc. Mhhutchins 02:31, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo

I'm going to accept this submission but will make some changes, so I wanted you to know before I do. The first thing that popped out was the price. When I looked up the ISBN range, I saw that except for one title they were all audio books released by Random House. Then the price made sense. We have a title record for The Secret Kingdom with only a UK pub. Scholastic has published books in the US by Nimmo before. A Google search brought up this listing on Publishers Weekly website for the printed book. Did Fixer miss this listing on Amazon, or is that in the next bunch of June submissions? I'm going to go ahead and create a record for the book based on the PW and Amazon listings, and change the current submission to an audiobook from Random House. Mhhutchins 16:07, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for taking care of this unruly ISBN! Normally, Fixer auto-suspends audio-books, but in this case there was no explicit indication whether it was a printed book or an audio one. I should have noticed the unusually high price and the lack of a page count, but it was probably late at night... Ahasuerus 00:27, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
P.S. And yes, Chronicles of the Red King: The Secret Kingdom was in the next batch of Fixer's submissions. Ahasuerus 01:49, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Crown of the Conqueror

Not sure how to handle this. The price is strange, and it's not listed on Amazon.co.uk's site, so where did Fixer get it? Also there's another edition coming soon after this from the same publisher one with a normal price, but with an entirely different ISBN. Mhhutchins 21:47, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

A price like "£4.93" typically means that Fixer erroneously grabbed the UK price rather than the US price. However, Amazon.com doesn't list this ISBN any more. The only source that thinks that this ISBN is valid for the US edition is Fantastic Fiction, so it looks like this ISBN has been canceled and replaced with another ISBN. I will change the date to 8888-00-00, thanks! Ahasuerus 03:59, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
I checked and there's a few more 9780062021 prefixes from Angry Robot that appear to be vapourware. That prefix looks as if it actually belongs to Avon. BLongley 14:31, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
I must look into fixing advanced price searches. ISBN prefix checks will take a LOT longer. :-( BLongley 02:32, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

US Publishers on Amazon UK

I think you can safely assume that "Egmont USA" and "Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books" data would be better-sourced from Amazon US than Amazon UK. BLongley 20:26, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Here's a record that I just accepted from a Fixer submission. Should I remove the UK price and add the US price of $16.99 (from Amazon.com)? Mhhutchins 20:48, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
I would. £10.50 is not a standard UK price, except maybe for some Library Editions. BLongley 21:12, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Done. I'm also going back to other Bloomsbury USA books and finding the US price on Amazon.com. BTW, we have a lot more books as "Bloomsbury USA Children's Books" (without the periods in U.S.A.), so I'm converting those otherwise. Mhhutchins 21:15, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I was just about to say I would also consider merging "Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books" and "Bloomsbury USA Children's Books" but I'll leave that to a US Mod. I'll look into "Bloomsbury Children's" and "Bloomsbury Children's Books (UK)" from the UK point of view. BLongley 21:17, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
A US book submitted with a UK price (or vice versa) often means that the US publisher had canceled the ISBN and it was subsequently removed from Amazon's US database, but their UK database hasn't been updated yet. There are other permutations that can lead to the same scenario, but more often than not these cases require additional digging. Ahasuerus 22:55, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
So does Amazon.co.uk convert the original US price to UK pounds which is the reason why we get such odd prices on some of these? Look at the submissions I have on hold. Mhhutchins 20:38, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that happens in both directions. You can usually tell by looking up the same ISBN on the other Amazon, and if you see a "normal" price, that's likely the right one. Amazon.com is often nice enough to add the telltale "[import]" as corroboration. --MartyD 00:40, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
It's not just bi-directional. Look at "Prospero Brule" - the only way that make sense is if the language is French and the price is €11.50 - sourced from Amazon.FR. BLongley 15:52, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Normally, French ISBNs start with 2 and Fixer auto-suspends them, but it looks like this is an exception. Ahasuerus 20:53, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I asked one of experts about it User_talk:Hauck#The_Horus_Heresy.2C_T15_:_Prospero_Brule but it seems Hervé's preferred option is to delete it. I don't know if that's just to keep things simple, or because we haven't got language support up to the right level yet, or if he just doesn't like Warhammer or Dan Abnett. :-/ But we really could do without submissions that take hours of discussions between Mods - OR we need Fixer to do better at sourcing. :-( BLongley 23:38, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
All four options at once ;-). Hauck 08:32, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I don't think Fixer can do much about non-English books whose ISBN starts with 0- or 1-. There are quite a few Spanish language books published in the US and Fixer dutifully reports them every month. I then have to suspend them manually before I create submissions... Ahasuerus 03:59, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Stoke Books

I think the current queue suggests that Fixer needs to learn how to do CHAPTERBOOK submissions. :-/ BLongley 00:39, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

The thought has crossed my mind, but the current de facto standard is that juvenile books that are just under 100 pages long are entered as Novels to avoid clutter (which we may want to formalize at some point.) That makes it hard to distinguish between 96 page novellas for the adult market and 96 page "novels" for kids. However, I should definitely teach Fixer how to submit the under-70 crowd as chapterbooks: there have been a lot of 1940s-1950s reprints lately. Ahasuerus 05:07, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
Agreed on the formalising of juvenile "Novel" rules. But I wouldn't make this a priority - indeed, I would suggest that the language improvements are far more important, even if I'm not someone that will actually use them much. We have active European moderators now, and active editors feeling a little frustrated, so that's where I'd direct my efforts. (And in fact, have done, but I'm waiting on feedback on the last few improvements. Sorry if I'm reminding you of the bottlenecks, I feel like I am one too.) BLongley 02:12, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Ebook submission, 4 months early???

Why is Fixer making a submission for an ebook that hasn't been priced and won't even be available for four months? Mhhutchins 01:09, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

I have to agree: 4 months in advance is usually too much, especially with Amazon data. And we don't seem to like ebooks much anyway: I've corrected a lot of "Angry Robot" e-publications but in hindsight would prefer not to have had them here in the first place. We're overworked anyway and I would much prefer you (Ahasuerus, not Fixer) catch up on the language support software improvements rather than give us more dodgy Fixer submissions. I know we probably need them if we're going to remain current, and the recent Amazon changes have made things more complex, but please consider reducing the workload for us mere humans. BLongley 01:38, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, folks, it was unintentional. As you said, Bill, the new process is considerably more complex and it involves moving data from queue to queue to file to table to queue etc. This particular ISBN escaped into the wild before it could be properly handled.
As far as implementing language-specific enhancements goes, I just want to make sure that the new Fixer process works successfully from A to Z before I go back to Python development. It has taken longer than expected -- and I have repeatedly underestimated the amount of work that was still outstanding at different junctures -- but we are quite close and I just want to get this monkey off my back. Ahasuerus 03:56, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Another misidentified publisher

Over the past year there's been a few dozen records submitted by Fixer for a publisher identified by Amazon (and most other catalogs) as "DP". It appears to be solely trade paperback editions, most of which are reprints of mass-market editions published by Leisure Books (an imprint of Dorchester). Well, "DP" really doesn't exist. The Amazon "Look-Inside" feature reveals that every book in the database under the "DP" publisher should have been Dorchester Publishing. The problem occurs because of the logo used by Dorchester which someone has misidentified as the name of the imprint. (Look at the title page and copyright page of this title). Looking at their website, it even seems that the company identifies "Dorchester Publishing" as an imprint of the eponymous company that also publishes the Leisure Books and Love Spell imprints. Now to my question: is it possible to program Fixer to automatically change future submissions from "DP" to "Dorchester Publishing" without too much jumping through hoops? Thanks for considering it. Mhhutchins 02:32, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Done -- it took less than 2 minutes to make the change. Wish they were all that easy...
Which reminds me... But I think I'll post it on the Moderator Noticeboard. Ahasuerus 02:42, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
Fast work, indeed. Thanks. Another thing: whats the latest about the Fixer submissions from Amazon.co.uk for what's obviously US editions, but have UK pricing? I corrected a few of the Dorchester Publishing records, which were in UK pounds, to US dollars, which I got by going to their Amazon.com link. Mhhutchins 03:33, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
Fixer uses a special algorithm to determine whether an ISBN's data should be imported from Amazon.com or from Amazon UK. If the publisher:
  • is obscure, or
  • has presence on both sides of the Atlantic (e.g. Tor), or
  • the two stores can't agree on the name of the publisher, then
Fixer lists both sets of data and asks me to pick the store at submission creation time. Sometimes I pick the wrong one. Other times Amazon's data is bad and Fixer picks the wrong store on his own. I keep trying to improve the algorithm, but there are always ways for things to go wrong... Ahasuerus 04:22, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Pubs that didn't merge titles

There were two submissions for pubs, both by the same author (Mary Downing Hahn), that had exact matches with two titles already in the db: Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story and A Doll in the Garden: A Ghost Story. For some unknown reason, they were submitted as new pubs and titles, and not as just new pubs, requiring me to merge them with the existing title record. This hasn't happened in a long while, so I'm wondering what may have happened that caused fixer to be unable to match the titles. Thanks for looking. Mhhutchins 06:33, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

It's the old "colon" problem again. I thought I fixed it a while back, but it turns out that the fix was flawed. I have made further changes and it should be working now, but please keep in mind that Fixer tries to err on the side of caution, so if there are multiple identical (or near-identical) titles on file, they won't be auto-merged. Ahasuerus 06:59, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Title <-> Pub type matching

Hey Fixer, do you suppose that if you were going to add a publication to an existing title of type COLLECTION, you could make the pub's type be COLLECTION, too, instead of ANTHOLOGY? Love your work, thanks for the contributions. --MartyD 13:32, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

Why, that's impossible, my code is perfect! Here, let me show you...
Oh. You mean *that* bug? Right. Got it. Fixed. And thanks for the kind words! Fixer 10:54, 5 February 2012 (UTC)
Apparently "bot" accounts do not show up in Recent Changes, so I had to remove Fixer's bot flag. He is a big boy now, 3 years and counting, so we should let him speak when he wants to. Ahasuerus 12:32, 5 February 2012 (UTC)
There is a flag to suppress or display bot account changes in recent changes. It may be set to suppress by default. When bots are used to make many repetitive changes to the wiki itself, as on wikipedia, such suppression is often useful. Here it probably isn't. -DES Talk 16:33, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Missing pub

I just read Michael Dirda's review in the Washington Post of the Old Earth Books reprint of Keith Robert's brilliant Pavane. Amazon categorized it correctly. How did Fixer miss this one? Mhhutchins 03:10, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

An ISBN search on "9781882968398" finds two pubs: a novel version submitted by Fixer on 2011-12-01 and a collection version created over the last 24 hours.
I know about the last, because I'm the editor who created it. I'll delete the novel record. Thanks. Mhhutchins 04:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
It looks like Fixer didn't attempt to associate the new pub with the existing title because we have two Title records for "Pavane", one in English and one in German. The approving moderator didn't realize that we already had a record for Pavane and didn't merge/correct the new Title. Ahasuerus 23:05, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
On the plus side, this prompted me to run a custom search of Amazon's data for "Old Earth", which found 3 ISBNs that we didn't know about. And at least one of them is not vaporware! :-) Ahasuerus 23:11, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Old Earth has been quiet over the last few years. Maybe because they mistakenly reprinted an Edgar Pangborn novel without the rights? Mhhutchins 04:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Oops! It looks like they didn't publish anything in 2009, 2010 or the first 11 months of 2011. Hopefully the appearance of Pavane means that they are back in business. (And too bad that Davy hasn't been reprinted by a major house in 20+ years. There was something magical about that novel.) Ahasuerus 05:03, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Totally agree about Davy and most of Pangborn's work. That's why I get so pissed off about all the schlock that gets published these days. Mhhutchins 05:58, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
The people who read the schlock would be unlikely to be interested in Davy and vice versa :-) Ahasuerus 02:18, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Seven Princes

Did the original submission of this record indicate it's an ebook? From the Amazon listing, it appears this is a digital audio player with a preloaded file of an audio recording of the book. It was the price that made me check. I didn't think ebooks were this expensive. Mhhutchins 03:18, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Let's see. According to Fixer's logs, the data sent by Amazon said "Preloaded Digital Audio Player". Checking Fixer's logic -- which is supposed to auto-suspend audio books -- I see that it doesn't know about this "binding" type. I have made a change and it should auto-suspend these critters in the future. Thanks for catching it! Ahasuerus 03:27, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Omnium Gatherum

Hey Fixer, is there any chance you might consider changing Amazon's "Omnium Gatherum Media" to plain "Omnium Gatherum"? That's what they call themselves on their website, and the Look Insides show the books with an OG + Omnium Gatherum logo (unfortunately, they don't show title pages, nor is the publisher listed on the copyright page, so I only have the cover and website to go by). Many thanks. --MartyD 13:30, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Actually, I found a Look Inside showing "Omnium Gatherum" as the publisher credit on the interior, too. --MartyD 13:38, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Done! Ahasuerus 15:46, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Mundania Press [LLC]

Hi Fixer, welcome back! Do you suppose you could normalize "Mundania Press LLC" to "Mundania Press"? Thanks, and keep up the good work. --MartyD 11:45, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

I had a chat with Fixer and he swore that Mundania Press was normalized weeks ago. However, a line by line review of the code found a typo ("Mindania" instead of "Mundania"). You just can't trust robots to program themselves correctly any more! Thanks for catching the bug. Ahasuerus 00:46, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

Walker and Amazon UK submissions

Don't know if you can do anything about this, but in dealing with a submission from Amazon UK using "Walker", I discovered it should be "Walker Books (UK)". I found we had 5 or 6 other books as "Walker", and all likewise should have been "Walker Books (UK)" (and without them, we now no longer have "Walker"). I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to assume Walker Books (UK) for anything Walker from Amazon UK.... --MartyD 10:48, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Done -- the results may still be in the queue in the morning. Ahasuerus 06:16, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

Orion Childrens

Along the same line as above, I found an "Orion Childrens", which should have been "Orion Children's Books". Upon reviewing the entries using "Orion Childrens", all so far have shown "Orion Children's Books" in the Look Insides (I'm still going through them). Looks like Orion uses "Orion Childrens" as shorthand, but the books all have "Orion Children's Books", usually typeset in logo-like fashion. --MartyD 11:12, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Done as well. Ahasuerus 06:23, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

Harper Voyager (UK)

And while I'm whining.... :-) An Amazon UK submission used "Harper Voyager", but should have been "Harper Voyager (UK)". Our Harper Voyager (UK) page says the ISBNs will be 978000..., as distinct from 978006... used by Harper-Voyager-not-UK. That was true of this particular submission. Perhaps a rule that could be encoded? --MartyD 11:44, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

OK, I have added a rule to change "Harper Voyager" to "Harper Voyager (UK)" for Amazon UK-originated submissions. I then added a similar rule for Tor/Tor (UK) and may need to do something similar for other "(UK)" publishers. ISBN-wise, I decided not to touch them for now because it's a separate can of worms. Ahasuerus 06:36, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
All very lovely. Thanks much! --MartyD 10:53, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

Test

Testing. Fixer 23:26, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Testing part 2. Fixer 19:56, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
Testing part 3. Ahasuerus 03:57, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Chapterbooks by Philip K. Dick

There seems to be a whole bunch of new chapterbooks by Dick similar to this, published by either Moran Press (as stated at amazon) or Read Books (to which my book is copyrighted). I wonder if Fixer could add them. Stonecreek 19:14, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

Done! Ahasuerus 23:28, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Fine, looks great! Thank you very much! Stonecreek 13:38, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Theaker's Quarterly Fiction

I don't know if you can do anything about this, but I figured I'd ask.... See the TQF #41 submission I have on hold. It looks like with Theaker's new Amazon deal, the past issues are being republished and are being assigned ISBNs (check out the Look Inside -- it's still the original Lulu production, but an ISBN bar code that the original didn't have has been slapped onto the back cover). The main problem is that these are magazines, not novels. This #41 maybe didn't get recognized due to the year consolidations. I have fallen behind on my entry and haven't done #45 yet, so there was nothing for that one to match. Is there any way to either at least have these go in as magazines or have them match up to the consolidated title records or not be done at all (or maybe just be auto-assigned to me, if nothing else)? Thanks, --MartyD 12:45, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Hm, sounds complicated. How about I change Fixer's logic to automatically move all new Theaker's-related ISBNs to one of the low priority queues? They will remain there indefinitely until you (or someone else) enters the data in ISFDB, at which point the weekly backup-Fixer reconciliation process will remove the ISBN from Fixer's queue. And if you ever wonder if you may have missed an issue or a related ISBN, just let me know and I will query Fixer's database to see if there is anything under that name. Ahasuerus 20:21, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Not a big deal. I had a feeling it wasn't going to be easy/possible. Theaker does publish other books, so having everything with their ISBN go into a black hole probably isn't so good. So never mind. I'll try to keep an eye on it. --MartyD 11:42, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Oh, I didn't even think about their ISBNs. Let's see... Yes, we were missing one collection, but now everything has been reconciled. Thanks! Ahasuerus 23:17, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Requests

Hi Fixer! Nice improvements lately! Two requests, one of which might not be so easy:

  • Samhain Publishing, Ltd. -> Samhain Publishing, if you'd be so kind. --MartyD 15:37, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
"Child's play!", says Fixer. Ahasuerus 18:02, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
  • There was a "Kindle Worlds"-published ebook that came through with no price and no B&N reference (in the new batch). Amazon did have a perfectly good $1.99, though. I'm wondering if it might be best to grab Amazon's price and stomp it with B&N's if available, rather than relying on B&N as the sole supplier (if that's what happened, of course).

Thank you for your indulgent consideration. Keep up the good work. --MartyD 15:37, 1 February 2014 (UTC)

This, OTOH, is somewhat problematic -- see my latest post on the Rules page about the preferred order of "list price" checks. In this case there is an added twist: "Kindle Worlds" is presumably an Amazon imprint, so there is no "list price" per se (nor is it listed by Amazon) and the edition is not available elsewhere. Thus the latest version of the "look-up hierarchy" should look something like:
  • the Amazon API
  • Amazon's "list price", if displayed
  • B&N's "list price", if displayed (which it invariably is for B&N-listed ebooks)
  • Amazon's "Kindle price" -- make sure to document the fact that it's not a "list price" in Notes
Although undoubtedly doable, this raises certain "real-time lookups" vs. "nightly processing" issues (which already exist with the current implementation), but I'll chat with Fixer and we'll see what we can do... Ahasuerus 18:02, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
Not a big deal, and probably a rare occurrence. I just noticed the missing price, went to the details, and saw it there for $1.99, which looked "normal" enough, so I added it. I go look at the details anyway, so hardly any extra effort was involved. Figured I'd mention it while noticing. --MartyD 20:19, 1 February 2014 (UTC)

Gateway

A couple of pubs in the recent batch came through having "Gateway" as publisher. Look Inside shows a Gateway logo over www.sfgateway.com, which reveals this to be an imprint of Orion, matching our existing "Gateway / Orion". I don't know if that's too subtle to have come out right, but I figured I'd mention it. Thanks. --MartyD 13:02, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I saw it the other night, but I was too tired to do anything about it. The catch is that "SF Gateway" is, as its Web site explains, "an initiative of the Orion Publishing Group, home to the UK's oldest science fiction publisher, Gollancz" and there is some ambiguity as to whether its books have always been published as by "Gateway / Orion" or as by "Gateway / Gollancz". For example, to quote our Notes re: "SF Gateway Omnibus", "Based on Amazon UK's publication data, it would appear that this publication series moved from Gollancz to Gateway/Orion, a related imprint, as of January 2014. Further confirmation is needed."
For now, I will go ahead and change Fixer's logic to submit all "Gateway" books as "Gateway / Orion". Ahasuerus 15:20, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Kindle price discrepancy

According to the Amazon listing, the ebook for The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything by McDonald is priced at $9.99, not the $11.99 as shown in the submission. How do we resolve this? Mhhutchins 03:28, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

There's a dollar difference in this submission as well. Mhhutchins 03:30, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

And 99 cents difference in this one. To be honest, I'm just about ready to give up on entering any ebook records. There's nothing definitive about this format. Almost every field we're entering and verifying could change tomorrow without any notice whatever. I'm beginning to ask what's the point of giving any information at all other than that there was an ebook edition of this title. Now go and figure out the publisher, price, and ISBN on your own. Mhhutchins 03:34, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

The discrepancy is due to the fact that B&N always shows the list price (even if it offers a discount) while 9 times out of 10 Amazon simply says "Kindle price" without specifying the list price. That's why I had to enhance Fixer to get B&N's prices for ebooks rather than use Amazon. It took forever and a day, but we finally have them :) Ahasuerus 03:35, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Aha! That makes sense. Still we're assuming that the B&N stated list price is the publisher's list price for the title, and not for the Nook edition. Mhhutchins 03:43, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I was concerned about that as well. However, after checking half a dozen publisher sites, I couldn't find a single case where B&N's "list price" would be different. And, of course, we specify the source of the price data in the Note field as our second line of defense. Ahasuerus 04:03, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
And it seems odd that we're using Amazon and the Kindle version as the source of the other data even giving its ASIN and ignoring B&N's catalog number. Oh well...just another reason to hate ebooks even more. Mhhutchins 03:43, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Doesn't B&N use ISBN-13s as catalog IDs (when available)? The only reason we note ASINs for e-books is that Amazon makes it hard(er) to look them up by ISBN-13. Ahasuerus 04:04, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Ah, I see that B&N uses "work IDs" in their URLs. However, I don't think they are displayed anywhere else. Ahasuerus 04:23, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
B&N is more likely to use the publisher's ISBN than Amazon for ebooks, but I've seen many cases in which they only give a BN ID in place of the ISBN. Perhaps because the publisher hasn't assign an ISBN? Mhhutchins 07:05, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Oh right, I remember it now. Sorry, memory is the second thing to go... Ahasuerus 14:57, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
In any case, I applaud your effort to make sense of ebooks and in finding the best source for the various data fields. Mhhutchins 07:05, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
I do what I can :) The next step would be to find a reliable source of price data for UK e-books. At one point I identified a few candidates, but they all had their problems. Ahasuerus 14:57, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Harper Voyager (UK)

Is it possible to program Fixer to give the publisher as "Harper Voyager (UK)" for all records attributed to "Harper Voyager" with ISBNs starting with "978-0-00-"? Titles are published separately within each region (some titles published by the UK division are published by another publisher in the US, and vice versa.) I try to keep my eye on them, but sometimes I forget and get a backlog of records that have to be fixed. Tonight I repaired a half-dozen or so before I thought to ask if this could be done before the records get into the database. Look at the records listed here to see how there's an obvious separation between the US and UK division. Thanks. Mhhutchins 06:04, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

The easiest thing to do would be to change the submission logic to use "Harper Voyager (UK)" when submitting a UK-originated ISBN. Would that take care of the problem? Ahasuerus 06:16, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
It would take care of more than 90% of the problem. Occasionally I'v seen records for US editions that got their information from Amazon.co.uk with the odd UK prices, e.g. £16.07, which were available in the UK as imports. Those I can manually fix if you change the logic to what you suggest. Thanks. Mhhutchins 14:54, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Ah, the "wrong side of the Atlantic" problem! :-) Actually, it's two separate problems for the price of one:
  • Sometimes, when an ISBN is canceled by the publisher, Amazon removes the record from the primary store but not from the other (UK, .ca, .fr, .de, etc) stores. When this happens, an "odd" price like £16.07 is a good indication that the ISBN has been canceled.
  • There is an apparent bug in the Amazon.com API (i.e. the interface used by Fixer) which is not present in the Amazon UK API. For regular "dead wood" books, ISBNs and ASINs are the same, so in theory you should be able to query the Amazon API for "asin=0860078035" or "isbn=0860078035" and get the same results either way. However, in at least 1% of all cases Amazon.com doesn't return anything in response to the "isbn=0860078035" form of the query. Amazon UK, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have this problem, so all that Fixer gets back is the UK record with the UK price. A few days ago I figured out what was happening, so I changed Fixer's logic to use ASINs for paper books and it appears to have solved the problem.
Anyway, I have adjusted Fixer's logic as per the discussion above, which should hopefully take care of this issue. Ahasuerus 17:20, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Gateway / Orion

Is it possible to prioritize the Fixer queue to give preference to the ebooks published over the past few years by Orion under their Gateway imprint. I've entered Michael Bishop's publications, and I see that Fixer has added E. C. Tubb's dozens of titles. But there are tons of classic SF works being reprinted under this program, and they seem, at least to me, to be more important than the recent Fixer submissions adding recent ebook publications. Of course, new readers of new works by new authors would disagree with that! I'd be willing to moderate them (as I've done since you've added ebooks to Fixer's queue.) If you're not able to do this, I'd understand. Mhhutchins 17:39, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

It's certainly possible, but Fixer is still working on procuring UK prices from Pickabook and Amazon UK. I expect that the process will finish in mid-April, at which point processing UK-originated ebooks will become easier.
BTW, speaking of E. C. Tubb, we may still be missing a few of his "recent" books. Wikipedia lists a number of "trunk" titles which appeared in the 1990s/2000s. They also list a few recent reprints which appeared under different titles, sometimes in revised form. Ahasuerus 17:56, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
If I were interested at all in Tubb's work, I'd jump on that, but right now, I'll leave that to someone who is more interested in seeing that his ISFDB bibliography is complete and up-to-date. BTW, if the prices for the Gateway releases aren't available in April, I'd be willing to get them from the publisher's website, which is very good at providing data. As long as Fixer can get the main information, I can do the rest. Thanks. Mhhutchins 18:01, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Hm, I am seeing "E-Book £P.O.R" ("price on request") in the price field, e.g. Tide of Death and Hell's Pavement. Have you had better luck? Ahasuerus 18:26, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
That's something new! It wasn't there when I was entering the Bishop ebooks using data from Orion's website. I know that most of these ebooks are region-protected, so they can't be sold outside of the UK. Could they be using our ISP address to detect our location and not allowing us to see the list price of these ebooks? Mhhutchins 20:41, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Sure, it's possible. These pages are dynamically generated and the generation process can easily say "If your IP address indicates that you live in a different region, we won't sell you this item or show a different price or ...". I guess we can ask our UK- and continental Europe-based editors to check. Ahasuerus 20:47, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
I've noticed I see "P.O.R." wherever I am, in the UK or elsewhere. At the Orion/Gateway site if you click on a title's "Buy" button you get three options: Apple's iBooks, Amazon's Kindle, or other devices, and your browser then gets sent to one of those choices which often have different prices (Amazon's are often discounted). In February while in the UK I went through this process when adding Delany's The Einstein Intersection, and in this case sourced the rather more reliable price from iBooks. PeteYoung 23:30, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
When I click on "Buy" on the Orion website, and choose Amazon, I get the message "Kindle titles for your country are not available at Amazon.co.uk. Please shop for Kindle titles at Amazon.com." But when I choose Apple, I'm sent to the iTunes store where it gives me a price. Now whether I can buy it is another matter. Mhhutchins 23:53, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Let's try a random Tubb title and see where the links take us:
So it looks like Google Play is the only one that is misleading in this case and everyone else agrees that the price is £1.99. I'll check The Einstein Intersection next... Ahasuerus 00:13, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
The Einstein Intersection, ISBN 9780575119185:
So it looks like Waterstones, WH Smith, txtr, and ReaderStore/Sony may be viable sources. Ahasuerus 00:30, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

(unindent) If you are in the US and have chosen to view a title on Amazon or iBooks/iTunes or Barnes & Noble, do you see your price displayed in dollars, ie. the currency of your billing account at Amazon or Apple or Barnes & Noble (assuming you are logged in)? PeteYoung 00:59, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

I have seen it done by some UK-based Web sites, but I am not sure Amazon.com and B&N let you specify your preferred currency. Perhaps they always display the price in dollars and let banks/credit cards figure out what the current exchange rate it? Ahasuerus 01:43, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

This would be a streamlining of the buying process, as a UK currency price is redundant to a US buyer and vice versa. This would explain better the "£P.O.R." at the Gateway/Orion site, because you are not actually buying the e-book from the Gateway/Orion website itself. PeteYoung 00:59, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

It's possible, but there may be another reason as well. If the price at WH Smith is £2.99 while the Amazon UK price is £2.48 (and can change at any time), perhaps the publisher finds it more prudent not to display the list price to avoid confusing potential customers? Ahasuerus 01:47, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

(Which further raises the question, is there an actual fixed currency or price attached to an e-book when marketed this way?) PeteYoung 00:59, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

It would appear that ebooks do have "list prices" -- or at least Amazon.com/B&N/Amazon UK recognize their existence -- but for some reason Amazon doesn't display them alongside their discounted prices. Which is strange because they make it a point to show list prices for paper book in order to demonstrate how much money you save by shopping at Amazon. "List price $16.99, our price $10.49, you save $6.50 or over 38% of the list price!" Ahasuerus 01:51, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Where we display a price for Gateway/Orion's E.C. Tubb e-books (and the majority have none), most are listed in US dollars (e.g.), and only one I can find is in UK pounds. Now that Gateway are not actually listing a price at their website, this raises the question of should we have a default currency for Gateway's titles in this situation, or are we comfortable with the rather inexact variety? Personally, I think there may be room for improvement. PeteYoung 00:59, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

The Tubb ebooks which are in priced US dollars were price-sourced from B&N. They are among those titles which are available in both the US and the UK. In these cases, if we can determine the UK retail price, I think that it should supersede the B&N price because Gateway is a UK imprint (even though Orion has a US-based division, it hasn't used the Gateway imprint in the US). The B&N price can then be added to the Note field. This will then inform the database user that this publication was available in both the US and the UK. This follows the current convention of providing the Canadian price in the Note field for publications from US publishers when the book was also sold in Canada. Mhhutchins 01:52, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Series data in titles

Is it possible to have Fixer remove the parenthetical series data in the title fields of the records that it gets from Amazon? It obviously knows the correct title, otherwise it wouldn't be able to use the "Add Pub to This Title" function when creating these records. In most cases, I go back and remove it from the title field of the pub record, but it really slows me down. I guess I could just let it go, but my OCD just won't let me. :) Mhhutchins 01:39, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Sure, it's possible to have Fixer remove the parenthetical series data and I agree that it would help speed up the approval process, but there are times when this information can be valuable. For example, consider the submission which you currently have on hold, The One Safe Place: Free Preview - The First 6 Chapters plus Bonus Material. If "Free Preview - The First 6 Chapters plus Bonus Material" had been in parentheses and if Fixer had removed it, there would have been no easy way of telling that there was anything unusual about this title. In addition, there are times when our pre-existing record has no series information and Fixer's data raises a red flag. Also, just earlier today I noticed that one of Fixer's AddPubs had a different series name in parentheses vis a vis what we had on file. A little digging revealed that the series name had been changed when the books were re-issued.
So the question then is to strip or not to strip? :) Ahasuerus 02:21, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
BTW, keep in mind that although Fixer is pretty good at finding the right title record when deciding whether an ISBN should be submitted as a NewPub or an AddPub, he is not perfect. For example, he originally submitted My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish: The SeaQuel as an AddPub linked to My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish. It happens at least a dozen times per submission cycle and it's something that I always check when handling AddPubs. Ahasuerus 02:21, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I'd already praised Fixer's matching ability (see below), well before you made this response. The question remains: does the benefit of removing parenthetical series data outweigh the possibility of there being an occasional mismatch? I think it does. And as it's the moderator's duty to accept or reject these submissions, the human factor is an important part of uncovering these false matches. If that weren't true, don't you think it would just save time and effort to accept them without moderation? (That was rhetorical, because I'm sure you wouldn't.) BTW, in all of the cases you give as examples of what would have otherwise been a false match, none of them used parentheses to provide the data that proved them to be unique works. Mhhutchins 02:43, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, I am afraid I wasn't very clear. I was making two separate points: one about the series data in parentheses and the other about Fixer's matching ability.
The first point was that the series data can be occasionally useful along the lines of "Hey, it looks like this title belongs to a series!" or "It would appear that the series name has been changed and we may need to expand our series record". Admittedly, these are fairly low probability/low added value scenarios, so I can see how the advantages of speeding up the approval process would outweigh the disadvantages of losing this additional data.
The second point was that Fixer's matching logic is not infallible, but I don't recall it failing in a way where the presence of parenthetical information would help identify the problem. Almost invariably, the problem is with colons and the way the publisher chooses to use them. Basically, Fixer expects the "Title: Series" format, so if the publisher uses the "Series: Title" format instead and if the name of the series is the same as the title of the first book in the series (which happens fairly often), Fixer assumes that he needs to associate the new pub with the title record of the first book in the series.
Anyway, Fixer is too modest to thank you for praising his matching ability in person, so I will do it for him :-) Ahasuerus 03:07, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps I've not made my case so clear as well. First, these are all "AddPub" submissions. This means that Fixer has already matched the title field of the publication with the title field of a title record. It must have already decided that the parenthetical data is unnecessary because in practically every Fixer "AddPub" submission which I've handled, it has chosen to disregard it and matches to a title record which doesn't have the parenthetical data. If Fixer has already made the decision that these are clearly matches, wouldn't it logically follow that the data in the parentheses is no longer necessary to create a record for a publication under that title record? In the 24 Fixer submissions currently in the queue, 9 of them have parenthetical data in the title. Every one of them is series data, and every title record to which Fixer has added one of these pubs already contains series data that matches the parenthetical data. So that can't be used as a reason to retain the data. Maybe it's not a scientifically large enough study, but I think it goes to show that the saving of time and effort in not having to remove that data is well worth the chance that an occasional mismatch gets through. After all, when the time arrives for a future editor to do a primary verification of that record, if the parenthetical data remains in the pub's title field, the first thing he'll have to do is remove it. I understand that keeping the parenthetical data in "NewPub" submissions helps the moderator to place titles into series. But here we're talking about "AddPub" submissions. I rest my case. Mhhutchins 03:54, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
The scenario that I had in mind was an AddPub submission where the associated title record is currently not in a series, but should be and the parenthetical may help spot the fact that it's missing. Granted, it's not a common occurrence, but it's been known to happen. On balance, though, I think you are right -- it's so rare that the benefits of removing the "tail" outweigh the benefits of keeping it. Ahasuerus 04:42, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
How about a compromise of removing it if the matched title is in a series matching the parenthetical text? Amazon reports pub series information parenthetically, not just title series, and then it's useful to have. --MartyD 12:38, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Ah, yes, publication series! That's a very good point, I forgot all about them. Ahasuerus 18:06, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I recommend always removing it from the title field, but recording it in the moderator notes. -- JLaTondre (talk) 13:13, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Well, that's one way to do it, but do approving moderators actually read Fixer's moderator notes? In most cases they are limited to an Amazon-provided list of subjects, which is all but useless when processing AddPubs. Ahasuerus 18:06, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

(unindent) How about the following approach: remove the parenthetical data if and only if it matches the name of the series associated with the main ("reference") title in the pub? Ahasuerus 00:12, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

That's a good start. I'd be all for it. Mhhutchins 05:26, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
I agree it's a good start. Though given Amazon's propensity to add things like leading "The"s and trailing "Novel"s, I think quite a few are still going to show up. As for moderators not reading the notes, some aren't bothering with the information in the title either and are leaving them as submitted. I think it's likely moderator's who care will use it from either location and for those that don't care, having it in the title field only clutters the database. -- JLaTondre (talk) 22:17, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
True, there are numerous permutations like ": A Broken Magic Novel", ": A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood", "(The Ghost Seer Series)", etc. I'll see if I can tweak Fixer's logic to identify and zap them. Ahasuerus 04:06, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

Mismatched "Add Pub" and preview publications

Looking at this submission, I see that Fixer incorrectly matched this preview publication with the complete novel. This is exceedingly rare, as I've found Fixer matches to be accurate 99.99% of the time. So really no problem there.

My real concern is whether we should add such records to the database. These previews are probably more common than one might think. (Knowing next to nothing about ebooks, I can't swear to that.) I can see a similarity between them and those innocuous excepts stuck in the back of paperbacks to fill out the page count, and one could argue for including them because of their similarity. I see both as just cluttering an author's summary page with a lot of useless "data" (and I hate these excepts being placed into title series, but that's for another rant on another day!)

So should there be a discussion about this on the rules & standards page? Or would I just be wasting my time trying to fight off what me be inevitable? Mhhutchins 02:09, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

I have been mulling this issue over for the last few weeks. For now, I am limiting Fixer's ebook submissions to AddPubs since they are easier to handle, but pretty soon I will start including NewPubs in the mix and this will become a bigger problem.
In general, we do enter cheap/free promotional books which contain the first few chapters of a novel, e.g. The First Part of Book One of The Wheel of Time. In the past there were very few books/series so popular that publishers found it cost-effective to do something like that, hence the effort to catalog them was trivial. However, the advent of ebooks changed the math dramatically and I have been seeing more and more of these "free previews" over the last couple of years, e.g. Reckless (Free Preview).
The thing that gives me pause is that although the number of "free previews" has grown, they seem to have plateaued at a manageable level. I suspect that publishers have found other marketing techniques -- like offering free e-novellas and short stories set in the same universe (or even the first novel in the series) for free -- to be more effective. If we could be sure that free previews were guaranteed to stay at the current manageable level, I would support including them. However, there is no way of telling what publishers may do next. If we start listing them and then publishers decide that free previews are cost-effective after all, we may be stuck with an unmanageable volume of submissions and that would be a Bad Thing (tm).
In other words, I think we need to have a broader discussion before we go one way or the other. Ahasuerus 02:48, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I have copied this to start a discussion on the Rules and Standards page. Mhhutchins 16:40, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! Ahasuerus 18:07, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Strange prices on ebooks from HarperCollins UK

Since Amazon.co.uk wont' give me ebook prices, I'm just allowing these Fixer submissions to go through, even though they're rather odd. Mhhutchins 05:22, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

Poking around I see that W. H. Smith, Waterstones.com, and txtr all agree with Pickabook that the price of "Erin Hunter"'s Twilight is £4.69, so Amazon UK's £3.75 is an outlier. But yes, some UK prices look rather strange. Perhaps something to do with their VAT system? As Amazon UK says, "Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT", which, as far as I can tell, is 20%. Ahasuerus 05:53, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
For this, it picked up £17.99 from Pickabook. Amazon has that as the "print list price", and Pickabook lists it as the price for the hardcover having a different ISBN. I changed it to Amazon's advertised £6.02, although that is stated to include VAT. Removing the VAT comes to an equally odd £5.02. (Apple has the iBook for £8.99). --MartyD 11:09, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
It got a similar wrong-edition price (£16.98) from Pickabook for this. I'm sure there will be more, I won't bother you with them. It looks like the problem comes when Pickabook does not actually have the book; then it's giving the hc list price, but apparently for reference and not as an item price. --MartyD 11:12, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Ouch! It looks like Pickabook is not as reliable as I thought :-( Checking W. H. Smith, Waterstones.com and Sony's readerstore, I see that they list Dark Wolf at £8.99. Oh well, back to the drawing board. Thanks for identifying the problem! Ahasuerus 15:29, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

The Queen of Zamba

The submission I have on hold came through as a New Pub instead of as an Add Pub to The Queen of Zamba. Not a big deal, but I thought you might want to look at it before anything happened to it. --MartyD 02:39, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

I suspect it's because there are two identical titles in the db by the same author, one a NOVEL and the other a COLLECTION, and Fixer wisely chose to let a human make the decision about which one the new title should be merged with. Mhhutchins 03:15, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Looking inside the ebook, it includes the novella "Perpetual Motion" so it should be merged with the COLLECTION title. Mhhutchins 03:17, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that's exactly it! Fixer can be surprisingly cautious for a five-year-old :-) Parenthetically, I have been trying to limit Fixer's Gateway submissions to AddPubs for now, but The Queen of Zamba slipped through the cracks. Ahasuerus 03:50, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
There's been several more, which I've merged with the correct title. This one, for example, for the same reason as above. As long as the moderator is alert, there should be no problem with NewPubs. In any case, they're all going very well. Mhhutchins 04:32, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Well, I was half-alert, anyway. Missed that. Thanks, and yes, they've been very good. --MartyD 10:33, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
No, you were on very high alert. :) Someone less alert would have accepted the submission without question, leaving a dangling duplicate title record. Thanks. Mhhutchins 17:23, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Vintage Books v. Vintage (UK)

Is it possible to train Fixer to enter books published in the UK as "Vintage (UK)"? Their ISBNs start with 978-0-09, while the US publisher ("Vintage Books") has ISBNs starting with 978-0-307, and 978-0-345 (and one oddball: 978-0-8041). Thanks if you can. Mhhutchins 00:56, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Fixer tries to stay away from ISBN-based rules because ISBN ranges can be tricky and somewhat unpredictable, but I have changed the logic to use "Vintage (UK)" for UK-originated books. Ahasuerus 02:07, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
Works for me. Thanks. Mhhutchins 02:09, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Could Fixer Change These Publishers.

Could Fixer change these publishers -

  • Momentum to Momentum / Pan Macmillan Australia,
  • Golden Apple, Wallasey to Golden Apple

--Chris J 23:04, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

Done! Ahasuerus 01:19, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
I encountered the following publishers that had to be tweaked from Fixer's submissions:
  • Mirador instead of Mirador Publishing
  • Magnetic Lion Productions Ltd instead of Magnetic Lion Productions
  • Rocket Science Productions instead of Rocket Science Productions, LLC
  • Holly Lisle: OneMoreWord Books instead of Holly Lisle
  • Agency Editions, Inc. instead of Agency Editions
  • Bedlam Press (An Imprint of Necro Publications) instead of Bedlam Press
Thanks. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 02:29, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
All done, thanks! Ahasuerus 19:02, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Two more
  • Dancing Lemur Press LLC instead of Dancing Lemur Press
  • Kiersten Fay Productions instead of Kiersten Fay (though perhaps the unknown name one is a better as publisher name?)
Thanks. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 00:22, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Done! Ahasuerus 01:14, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
And one last one for tonight.
  • Rowohlt Verlag instead of Rowohlt
Thanks. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 02:12, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Done, thanks! Ahasuerus 02:31, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Two more
  • Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing instead of Gallery Books / Karen Hunter Publishing
  • Janus Publishing instead of Janus Publishing Co
Thanks. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 02:15, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Done + folded "Janus Publishing Co" into "Janus Publishing Company". Ahasuerus 02:39, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Actually "Gallery Books / Karen Hunter Publishing" is incorrect. Based on ISFDB standards this would indicate that Gallery Books is an imprint of Karen Hunter. Not true (it's a division of Simon & Schuster.) Use the "Look Inside" of this Amazon listing and you'll see this was published as a joint venture between the two companies. So it should be entered as "Gallery Books & Karen Hunter Publishing". Mhhutchins 03:24, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
I've no objection. I was only noting what we already had vs what Fixer submitted. A side question is whether Karen Hunter Publishing alone should be folded in. We have one publication under that publisher with a 2008 date. However, Amazon has that book as forthcoming next year under the "Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing". However Amazon looks like they've got a copy available in their marketplace and our date appears to be from Worldcat which lists Karen Hunter only. I'm inclined to stick with the Worldcat record and leave the publisher as already indicated. Regardless, I'll link and do the Worldcat verification. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 14:08, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree, That single pub record should remain as just "Karen Hunter Publishing" since it doesn't appear to show Gallery or any other publisher at all, according to all of the secondary sources. I've changed the name of the publisher of the jointly published works to "Gallery Books & Karen Hunter Publishing". Mhhutchins 14:25, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, I have adjusted Fixer's logic accordingly. There is an FR to allow associating multiple publishers with one pub, but until then... Ahasuerus 21:55, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
One more
  • Sarah Crichton Books instead of Sarah Crichton Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Thanks --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 14:08, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Done. Ahasuerus 21:55, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Another publisher change request for Fixer

Although the Amazon listings give the publisher as "Walker Childrens" and Fixer changes that to Walker Books for Young Readers, the actual publisher is Walker Books / Bloomsbury USA which is the ISFDB designation for the imprint which was created when the US division of Bloomsbury bought Walker & Co. in 2012. It continues to use the ISBN range 978-0-8027-XXXX-X from the Walker & Co. years. Thanks. Mhhutchins 06:19, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

One other request: could Fixer enter books from Putnam as G. P. Putnam's Sons? Although some editors continue to use "Putnam" because of the shortened name appears on spines, the publisher name given on title pages is always G. P. Putnam's Sons. Thanks. Mhhutchins 06:25, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Done and done. Thanks! Ahasuerus 21:38, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Faber and Faber

Three that should be coming through as Faber and Faber:

  • Faber & Faber Fiction
  • Faber Finds - We've got it as a pub series, which matches what I see on look inside. I've seen Fixer submit other pub series, but not sure of how the logic works.
  • Faber & Faber Children's Books

Thanks. --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 12:30, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

All done, thanks. And yes, Fixer can populate the Publication Series field based on titles, publishers, etc. Ahasuerus 18:02, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Strange submission in the queue

Check it out. Mhhutchins 04:56, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Wow! I didn't know Fixer did hard drugs! :-) Let me take a look... Ahasuerus 05:00, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
OK, the display problem has been fixed. The underlying problem was due to the fact that Fixer's database had title record 1257324 on file. Fixer specified 1257324 as the title record to merge this pub to, but in the meantime 1257324 had been merged with another title, so the resulting submission was invalid. I'll go ahead and enter the e-book's data manually since I can see the body of the "bad" submission using the database viewer. Fun stuff! :-) Ahasuerus 05:21, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

NYR Children's Collection

Not sure how often this one occurs, but Amazon's "NYR Children's Collection" should be entered as a publisher of "New York Review of Books" with a pub series of "New York Review Children's Collection". -- JLaTondre (talk) 14:02, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

Done -- Fixer was aware of "NYRB Children's Collection", but didn't know about "NYR Children's Collection" :) Ahasuerus 16:02, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

My Little Pony

Re this submission: Do we really need to go there? Mhhutchins 02:02, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

I know very little about the My Little Pony universe, but according to Wikipedia the TV series is about "the land of Equestria, populated by varieties of ponies (including variants of Pegasus and unicorn), along with numbers of other sentient and non-sentient creatures ... more adventurous stories involving creatures like dragons and hydras". Dragons, unicorns, Pegasi and hydras put it fairly solidly in the fantasy territory, which is presumably why we have nine My Little Ponies books listed. Would you agree? Ahasuerus 04:49, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

Missed work by a major sf author from a major publisher

James Morrow's Galapagos Regained. Maybe because Amazon categorized it as "Books > Travel > South America > Ecuador & Galapagos Islands". Don't you just love computer software? (Sorry don't mean to make fun of your cousin, Fixer.) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mhhutchins (talkcontribs) .

Admittedly, Fixer's coverage of Ecuador & Galapagos Islands is sadly lacking :-( It's not all bad news, though. Amazon's employees occasionally go back and add SF subjects to recent(ish) books, at which point Fixer adds newly-SFalized ISBNs to one of his queues. Ahasuerus 00:56, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

Chapbook

Hello, I've moderated quite a lot of submissions that were typed NOVEL but were in fact CHAPBOOKS (I accepted each sub, changed it to CHAPBOOK, added the corresponding fiction content and then merged it with the already existing SHORTFICTION record). It was a batch of titles released by ChiZine (Shearman, DiFillipo, Tremblay, Heuler, etc.) that were a kind of piecemeal divison of their previous COLLECTIONs. Is it eventually possible to automatize this process as the given length (generally less than 50 pages) put clearly the fiction content in the short story category? Hauck 10:01, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

It's been on my list of things to do for some time. CHAPBOOKs seem to be getting popular these days because e-books have made them feasible, so let me see if I can adjust Fixer real quick. (Of course, it won't be perfect since COLLECTIONs, ANTHOLOGYs and NONFICTION can be very short.) Ahasuerus 16:17, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
Nice. Thanks. Hauck 16:32, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
Done! Ahasuerus 19:35, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. Hauck 20:42, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

[The] Mysterious Press

Hi Fixer. I just came across a 2016 ebook submitted with publisher "Mysterious Press", when it should have been "The Mysterious Press" (a hardcopy edition picked up earlier was properly attributed). It looks to me like any recent pub should be "The Mysterious Press". Thanks, and keep up the good work. --MartyD 02:50, 31 May 2016 (UTC)

I hear and obey! (As per this note, "[The Mysterious Press] Formerly an imprint of Warner Books as "Mysterious Press", its name was acquired by Otto Penzler in 2011 (without the back titles) and became an imprint of Grove/Atlantic".) Fixer 14:45, 31 May 2016 (UTC)
Oddly, Fixer's response doesn't appear in "Recent Changes". Anti-robot discrimination! Ahasuerus 14:49, 31 May 2016 (UTC)
I have removed Fixer's "Bot" flag, which seems to be doing more harm than good, for now. Ahasuerus 14:50, 31 May 2016 (UTC)
The bot flag is designed for MediaWiki access, e.g., via the MediaWiki API (which we have at http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/api.php ). We could create another permission/flag for our own purposes with regard to the ISFDB web API (which seems to currently be secured by a hard coded user list and LicenseKey access). Uzume 18:28, 21 April 2017 (UTC)

Parragon's new name

Parragon changed their name officially from "Parragon Book Service Ltd." to just Parragon awhile back. I just submitted a publisher change to reconnect the 5 books you added lately under the old name to all the books already filed under the new one. The Publisher record already explains the name change. So if you have a table somewhere for normalization, this one needs tweaking :) Annie 02:07, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

Fixer says "Thanks, will do!" while munching on a particularly juicy ISBN. Ahasuerus 03:07, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

The Watcher's Tale

Hello dear Fixer. I've rejected quite a bunch of submissions like this one as it seems to me that the proposed "new" publication is in fact the same as this one. It has the same title, author, publication date, publisher and ASIN. Only the price is different (usually it's $0.99 vs $1.00) and the fact that the submission has an ISBN. So facing with numerous similar cases I supposed that it was the same "book" (just with actualized data and a higher price) and updated the existing one and rejecting the submission. Do you (or your invisible master) think that my reasoning is correct? Hauck 07:15, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

That's right, they are indeed the same publications. You were right to merge their data.
The underlying problem is twofold. On the one hand, Amazon doesn't display e-books' ISBNs, so human editors have no choice but to reate ISBN-less publication records and put ASINs in Notes. On the other hand, Fixer can see e-book ISBNs (courtesy of Amazon's behind the scenes magic), but he has no way of telling that the book is already in the database without its ISBN.
This has become more of an issue lately since more of our editors have been working on entering ebooks from online sources like Amazon. The solution is to add support for "third party identifiers" like ASINs and LCCN, which will make it easier for Fixer to work with ISBN-less pubs. It will also let us clean up the ISBN-less pubs that we already have on file. It will be my next project once I finish Fixer's monthly cycle. Ahasuerus 16:07, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

Fedogan and Bremer Publishing LLC

Hi Fixer, can you start replacing "Fedogan and Bremer Publishing LLC" with "Fedogan & Bremer". Thanks! Annie 15:30, 28 June 2017 (EDT)

Done! Ahasuerus 15:47, 28 June 2017 (EDT)
And "Haverhill House Publishing" should be replaced with "Haverhill House" in your submissions :) Annie 15:56, 28 June 2017 (EDT)
Done. Ahasuerus 16:08, 28 June 2017 (EDT)

Publisher: Gylphi Limited

Dear robot, can you please standardize "Gylphi Limited" to "Gylphi" when you meet it next time? We have a lot of their books. Thanks! Annie 20:23, 12 July 2017 (EDT)

Indubitably! Fixer 20:31, 12 July 2017 (EDT)

ISBN for Clase Nocturna

Hey Fixer, I was looking at this submission, and I need your help to tell me if what you did is right. Amazon shows me no ISBN. The Look Inside, however, shows an ISBN of 84-88966-89-X, which I have to think is probably for the 2002 first edition or the 2004 Spanish edition, not a 2014 e-book. Any thoughts on the matter? As always, keep up the good work! --MartyD 07:29, 29 April 2018 (EDT)

That's odd. Amazon doesn't display ISBNs for ebooks, but when I use their Look Inside, I see:
  • ISBN: 978-84-9018-464-6
  • Epub realizado por La Factoria de Ideas Servicios editoriales [etc]
on the copyright page. I wonder if we are looking at the same record? Ahasuerus 08:05, 29 April 2018 (EDT)
I just realized that you wrote Clase Nocturna, but the linked submission is for Un coro de niños enfermos, which may explain the difference. Ahasuerus 08:08, 29 April 2018 (EDT)
Sorry, right info and title, wrong submission. this one. --MartyD 20:49, 29 April 2018 (EDT)
Oh, I see. Well, the good news is that the Fixer-submitted ISBN, which was originally returned by the main Amazon API, matches what you get when you do a manual search on "9788490185940". Unfortunately, I don't know why the ISBN printed on the copyright page is different. I guess it may have been a data entry error (copy and paste?) when the publisher entered the ISBN into the Amazon database. Or perhaps they forgot to change the ISBN on the copyright page?.. Ahasuerus 21:30, 29 April 2018 (EDT)
Ok, thanks. Google Books shows the same copyright page with the ISBN-10. I think despite the fact that it's 2014, I'm going to put in the ISBN 10 with a note. --MartyD 22:08, 29 April 2018 (EDT)
I mean I'm going to keep Fixer's ISBN and record the info about the ISBN-10 in the notes. --MartyD 22:11, 29 April 2018 (EDT)
Sounds like a plan! Ahasuerus 22:22, 29 April 2018 (EDT)

Publishe conversion

Hello Fixer,

When adding books, can you please start converting "Digital Horror Fiction, an imprint of Digital Fiction Publishing Corp." to "Digital Horror Fiction / Digital Fiction Publishing". Thanks! Annie 16:20, 2 May 2018 (EDT)

Done. Sorry about the delay, I missed the original request. Ahasuerus 10:06, 18 May 2018 (EDT)

Other Side Books

Hey Fixer, I don't know if this one's a little too subtle, but here goes anyway.... I just dealt with a submission having a blank publisher that turned out to be published by Other Side Books. We have one other pub from that publisher. I notice the ISBNs both start 978-1-980729. Also, these both came through from Amazon.com, but the publisher is actually in the UK, so we got some wonky prices ($9.49 and $12.20 vs. £6.99 and £8.99). I don't know how much you can read into ISBNs, but I figured I'd mention it in case there's something clever you could do. Keep up the good work! --MartyD 09:17, 18 May 2018 (EDT)

Fixer should be able to distinguish between Amazon.com and Amazon UK based on the ISBN. Unfortunately, Fixer's ability to get data directly from Amazon UK is rather limited at the moment. The changes that Amazon made to their API last year had a disproportionate impact on the UK side due to the way we do things :(
I guess a more general palliative solution would be to:
  • teach Fixer which ISBNs blocks are assigned to which country
  • add a Moderator Notes warning if the currency in the Price field doesn't match the country as determined by the ISBN block.
Ahasuerus 10:18, 18 May 2018 (EDT)
What's Fixer implemented in? Something like that sounds like it would/could benefit from the same sort of ISBN group categorization we'd want to do for country-level reporting.... --MartyD 20:50, 18 May 2018 (EDT)
It's a hodgepodge of technologies and third party products. I started developing Fixer in 2008, i.e. before I had a working Python environment or any serious knowledge of MySQL. I was experimenting with different technologies at the time, so I used them to cobble things together. I wasn't expecting it to be more than a prototype, especially considering the fact that Al already had another functioning robot. And then Fixer grew. And grew. And grew some more.
That said, I agree that Fixer should reuse the same ISBN categorization system which we discussed earlier. Fixer's database includes a massaged mirror of the main ISFDB tables, so it shouldn't be too hard. Ahasuerus 22:10, 18 May 2018 (EDT)
Anyway, this is not hugely important. Wonky prices are a clear enough indicator. --MartyD 20:50, 18 May 2018 (EDT)
Unfortunately, not all "bad" prices are wonky. For example, Titan Books sells the same mass market paperbacks (with the same ISBNs) in the UK and in the US. The UK price is typically £7.99 while the US price can be as high as $14.95. When Fixer uses Amazon.com to create a submission for a Titan Books pb, the approving moderator may not realize that he or she needs to check Amazon UK to get the UK price and possibly other data elements, e.g. the publication date. There are many catches like this one, which is why I have been hesitant to submit the bulk of NewPubs on Fixer's behalf. Ahasuerus 22:01, 18 May 2018 (EDT)

Publisher conversion

Hello Fixer,

Can you please start converting "Dark Helix Press Inc" to "Dark Helix Press" when you submit books? I know that you are busy with a very juicy ISBN just now but it will be appreciated :) Thanks! Annie 17:27, 19 June 2018 (EDT)

And "Little Island Books" should be "Little Island". Annie 18:28, 19 June 2018 (EDT)
Done and done! (Never underestimate the nourishing power of a juicy ISBN!) Fixer 19:21, 19 June 2018 (EDT)
One more: "After Glows" should become "After Glows Publishing" (that's how we have 100 books or so). Thanks! Annie 19:11, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Done. 54 ISBNs moved to a "Public" sub-page. Fixer 19:32, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Do you have a page where someone can request a list for an author/publisher yet? Annie 19:40, 21 June 2018 (EDT)
Not yet. I figure we'll do it after we finalize the process, finish the documentation, and open everything to the "public". One disaster at a time! Ahasuerus 19:51, 21 June 2018 (EDT)

Recent Clocktower ebook additions / prices

I'm working my way through pub updates that are adding ISBNs for a bunch of Clocktower Books ebooks whose notes claim they were added on 2018-10-08. The ISBNs seem fine. :-) But I'm noticing Amazon's current price, only a few days later, is the standard-looking $2.99, while the original submissions have oddball prices like $3.24, $3.33, etc. I'm updating as I notice and/or think of it, but I figured I'd mention it. These don't look like they would have been pre-releases, so I'm not sure what might have been up. --MartyD 12:42, 13 October 2018 (EDT)

First, a little background. These ISBN-less Clocktower Books ebooks were added by a human editor ca. 2018-10-08. Since humans, weak creatures that they are, have no easy way of telling that an e-book listed by Amazon has an ISBN, Fixer chimes in and adds the missing ISBNs once he gets the latest weekly backup. However, he doesn't change human-entered prices.
The problem here was apparently caused by the fact that Amazon.com can display different prices depending on your IP address. A $2.99 book may have its price displayed as "3.00"" or "$3.33" if your IP address is outside of the US. A few months ago I queried a European editor about this issue and he confirmed that he was seeing a higher price. Do we know if the editor who added these pubs was/is outside of the US? Ahasuerus 18:08, 13 October 2018 (EDT)
Ah. I didn't look. Thanks for the explanation. If it isn't something Fixer was doing, then no worries. I wonder, though, given knowledge of that behavior, might Fixer consider capturing a price (along with the ISBN) while he (or she -- don't mean to be sexist) is at it? --MartyD 07:17, 14 October 2018 (EDT)
Fixer already tries to capture Amazon's prices, which he (Fixer tells me that he is a "he" -- at least as far as limited human understanding can grasp AI identities) then uses to build submissions. Unfortunately, it's not always a straightforward process. Amazon's API returns list prices for paper books but not for ebooks, presumably for competitive reasons. Fixer has special processes for determining e-book prices, but they are less reliable, in part due to timing issues. You may have seen Fixer-crafted notes which said things like "Data from Amazon.com as of 2014-07-10. Price from B&N as of 2014-12-23."
That said, I could ask Fixer to check e-book prices in his internal database against the prices in the main ISFDB database. Depending on the number of discrepancies, it may be feasible to create submissions that would adjust e-prices. We'll want to be careful not to overdo it, though, because displayed prices can change over time. Ahasuerus 10:49, 14 October 2018 (EDT)
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