Widgets now available

May 12, 2007

In the “your account” menu at BookMooch there is a new choice for “Widgets: fun tools you can embed in your web site or blog”.

“Widgets” are explained as: “A widget is a small piece of HTML code that you copy/paste into your blog or personal web site. The widget then displays live information from BookMooch on your web page.”


The list of widget choices is a bit on the long side, but there are only a few variations on the theme. All the widgets display a book cover or a book title, from either your inventory, wishlist or mooched history.


In order to use a BookMooch widget, you must have your own blog or web page. There are many web site technologies on the Internet, and so there are many ways of embedding widgets in them.

The simplest way to test which embedding technologies will work for you is to copy/paste the test HTML into your web page, and see which messages it displays. Then, use the first listed method which works. The test HTML is displayed if you leave the default technology as “I don’t understand” :


Once you know what widget technology your web server supports, you go back and choose it, and the HTML you need to copy to your web page is given to you. There is also a live example of the widget in action, so you can customize it to your needs.


I would love feedback on:

1) other widgets people would like to see

2) what you think of all this

3) was it too complicated? do you have suggestions to simplify it?

4) other ways to improve the widgets. Putting them under “your account” may be too buried, I welcome suggestions of another place to link to it from (if people find the widgets useful).

In the BookMooch wiki entry for “widgets” I put some additional information about the widgets, which I’m reproducing here as well:

You can test a widget easily by copying just the URL out from the HTML code, like so:

and putting it in as the URL in your web browser. In this case, you’ll see 10 book covers.
You can also modify the URL in various ways to get more options than the pull down menus give you. For example, this is the default URL for the “5 most recent books you’re giving away, separated by a space” :

if you wanted to separate each book with ” | “, you change the + (which is the HTML for a space in a URL) to “+|+” like so:

and if you wanted to show just 3 books instead of 5, change the number in the URL

You can also change the user that the widget is getting information from: it doesn’t need to be you. For example, if I change “johnbuckman” to “buckman_ca” the widget changes accordingly:

The “en” in each URL specifies the language any text in the widget would return in. Currently, none of the widgets returns any text other than the author name and book title, which we never translate.

The “html” parameter in the URL above determines the output format of the widget. Currently, there are only two choices, “js” for javascript, and “html” for plain HTML.

45 Responses to “Widgets now available”

  1. cathepsut said

    I tried the first one, where it said to post that, see the meaasge and then use the suggested code. Did not understand how that was supposed to work or what I should do.

    I then posted every single of the given codes on my profile pages for Bookcrosssing and Librarything and sa a blogentry on Livejournal. None of them worked.

    I guess I am doing something wrong.

    I read your above tips on what to do, but gave up about 2 paragraphs in. I am not much of a programmer!

  2. These are great, John. Thanks.

    One thought–
    Would it be possible to add text to the widgets, so that they’re identifiable? Librarything’s widgets do this well–see my sidebar at http://superfastreader.com. I would love to add images from my wishlist and have them identified as such–“From My Bookmooch Wishlist” or something like that.

  3. Dennis said

    Cool tech, thanks.
    Can you make the size of the cover images configurable?

  4. None of the codes worked for me either.

  5. Theresa said

    I would love a little widget that just identifies Book Mooch and directs people there without focusing on any particular books – like the “go firefox” buttons.

  6. Brendt said

    Worked very nicely for me. I love it!

    If you fulfill superfastreader’s wish, please make it optional — I’ve already surrounded the widget with my own explanatory text.

    I kinda like Dennis’ suggestion — I’ve got mine in a narrow column, and the number of rows of covers changes based on the size of the covers. Not a biggie, but just another vote for it.

  7. Christina said

    Thanks for the widgets. Very cool indeed!

  8. Joy said

    Any way to make the widgets friendlier for sites like LiveJournal (or Xanga, MySpace, etc.)?

  9. Becky said

    Could not get the widgets to work with bookcrossing.com

  10. Erein said

    Sounds really cool, John, thanks. I’m trying it right now for my bookcrossing shelf and my blog…

  11. Erein said

    … but didn’t work. Maybe it was my fault, I’ll keep trying.

  12. does not work on myspace that i can tell…

  13. Dottie said

    I think I have a basic understanding of how the HTML codes work…but tried each one to no avail on my bookcrossing.com desktop:( This would be GREAT if I could get it to work:/
    (I also tried different variations of the # of covers to show, etc…. the graphics never showed, only the link did.)
    Any suggestions for a Book Moocher/ Book Crosser?

  14. Wendy Stines said

    Works fine on my blog, but when I paste the code into my bookcrossing profile I only get the link, I don’t get the pictures. The link works fine. Should I use a different code for the pics?

  15. pat scott said

    Any chance of submitting it to Microsoft to include in their Vista Gadgets? would be great advertising as well for the site….

  16. Your instructions regarding ‘widgets’ were concise, easy to follow, and a welcome addition to the space on my web site where I was already promoting BookMooch. I wonder when you will come up with DVDmooch?
    My compliments to you John.

  17. Suzanne said

    Like Joy said, I couldn’t get one to work with my LJ.

  18. Everyone who has had problems getting the widgets to work, please try the test HTML again now, and see if the “IFRAME” technology I just added works for you.

    Iframes tend to work in most places, but they have the disadvantage of including the outside content inside a rectangle, rather than auto-fitting to the page. You may need to change the height= and width= parameters in the HTML to fit inside your web site.

    However, some web sites, to combat spam, just don’t allow any outside included content. WordPress, which this blog uses, is one of them. In those cases, there’s nothing I (BookMooch) can do.

  19. Suzanne said

    Thanks for helping, John, I was hoping it would work on Live journal but I guess that is one of the sites where they block Iframes.

    I should look at the Nanowrimo widget I had up before, because that one worked perfectly. I’ll have to see how they set it up, and Email you if I think it could work with the bookmooch widget.

  20. indykel said

    Ahh…I should have read the comments first, since I’m a WordPress-er too. I love me some widgets, too.

    Theresa, I think I have a widget that might be what you’re looking for. Check my blog and email me if you want the info.

    Thanks for everything, John!

  21. Chis said

    How about Javascript document.write() and just getting people to put a tag on their site? Then have an Async request to your site to get the content.

  22. Dottie said

    YAY! This newest version works GREAT on BookCrossing… two great sites that go great together!….(or is that a p’nut butter cup?…)

  23. […] Widgets now available In the “your account” menu at BookMooch there is a new choice for “Widgets: fun tools you can embed […] […]

  24. stephen frost said

    Any reason that within past few days I’ve had to log in every time I direct my browser to the site? even within the same browser session? i know updates have been going on, so thought i might check. thank you for widgets.

  25. Netla said

    Any chance of getting bigger pictures? The ones that came up when I tested the widget on my blog were so tiny you couldn’t even see the artwork, let alone read the title.

  26. Brendt said

    My 0.02 USD:

    Customizable size, yes.

    Simply larger, no.

    If the images are made larger, I’ll have to uninstall the widget.

  27. Mary said

    has anyone gotten this to work on websites such as vox.com or myspace.com I’ve tried on both but not worked. On vox it won’t show all the picks if I use the cover images. I wanted to show the Last 5 books and it cut most of them off the page. I also tried using just a list but,wouldn’t work either.

  28. Ana said

    I can’t seem to make it work with WordPress. Is there any way?

  29. Great widget, although unfortunately too wide for my sidebar. 😦

    Bookmooch chiclet! Bookmooch chiclet!

    (For those who don’t know what a chiclet is, here’s an example courtesy of LibraryThing: )

  30. …Okay, don’t think the HTML quite worked in the last comment. Here’s a link to one, instead: http://www.librarything.com/pics/librarything1.png Usually they act as a link to the website listed, or to the user’s profile on said website.

  31. Kailah said

    None of the three I tried worked either on my Livejournal page. I like the idea of widgets.

  32. Vanessa F said

    cool idea but doesn’t work on Livejournal…or maybe it’s just me. thanks!

  33. Gina Marie said

    I love Bookmooch, and I am frustrated that there is no other similar swapping service on the internet for other items, such as DVDS, VHS, etc. Will you someday (soon) be expanding? How difficult would it be to add that feature? DVDs have their own “ISBN” numbers, so it would be easy in that regard.

    There are other swapping sites, but they are confusing and you have to pay for the services. I wish they could get a clue and see how easy the Bookmooch system works.

    Please consider adding a DVD feature to Bookmooch. 🙂

    Thanks for a great service!

    ~ Gina Thompson

  34. Raaven said

    Definitely not LJ-friendly in any of it’s incarnations. Unless I should use frames and adjust them in some way that I’m not getting…

  35. elonchristine said

    Would it be possible to make these compatible with the Google homepage idea? That would be amazing to have a showing of my wishlisted books on my homepage. Thanks!

  36. This sort of thing would be a natural for a Facebook application, too.

  37. Nanu said

    How about something along the lines of what one is reading presently?

  38. Brendt said

    I had to uninstall this the other day. The bookmooch server simply can’t handle the traffic. At first I thought the slowness was due to loading images from Amazon, so I switched to titles only. But my blog was still taking a minute and more to load. Removed this widget and everything flies.

    It’s a great idea, but until you get a few more hamsters in the wheel, I’ve gotta pass.

  39. Annie said

    I was able to implement this on my WordPress self-hosted blog no problem–and even figured out how to tweak the text.

    BUT–I want to show my wishlist books, and it’s pulling from the “Books I’ve Mooched” list 😦

    Possible bug?

    Thank you–I love featuring BM on my blog–

  40. Annie said

    Never mind–it appears to be showing my wishlist now. I guess it just took a moment to get caught up.

    However, it looks like it is showing wishlist books that I’ve successfully mooched?

  41. Annie said

    The widget switches back and forth between showing my wishlist and showing either books I’ve mooched or books I’ve given away. Cute, but a little buggy…

  42. maribouquet said

    This is great!

    I would also like to be able to add this widget to my LiveJournal. I did a little searching and noticed that LibraryThing has found a way to make such a thing possible with php:


    I played around with the BookMooch php URL, but as I’m not much of a programming maven I haven’t been able to combine the two approaches.

    Any plans to create a widget that will be compatible with LiveJournal and other LJ clones like GreatestJournal, etc.?


  43. Annie said

    The widget is really annoying me. It’s supposed to be showing my wishlist books, but instead it’s showing me random covers of books I’ve mooched or given away. I wonder if John is planning to address this issue?

  44. Windana said

    We would love to be able to have a bookmooch widget on our website and facebook page that encourages our supporters to donate points to our book mooch account. Is this a widget you may be looking at creating in the future.

  45. miriam said

    can you make these into gadgets for gmail?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: