Drunken Coder

Make a List of Books with GooglDocs

Posted 06/18/2014

I needed to make a list of my audiobooks for my girlfriend. Since I am an obsessed software engineer, here is how I did it. Let this be a lesson in software problem-solving.


I have a bunch of audiobooks and my girlfriend wanted to peruse them, and choose which ones to listen to in the car. I wanted her to be able to see the books on Amazon, so she could decide which she wanted.

This is a totally simple spreadsheet usecase, but I thought I might take a moment to go into how I broke the problem down and solved it.


The problem is made of several pieces:

Get list of audiobooks

I have my audiobooks in a directory, all named like this: AUTHOR - TITLE. To get a nice list for GoogleDocs, I did this on command-line:

ls |sed s/\ -\ /,/g > ~/Desktop/audiobooks.csv

I import the resulting CSV.

Get search URL

The search url is built from a search of “books” section, using encodeURIComponent(AUTHOR + " - " + TITLE). I did a search of the first in the list on Amazon. I couldn’t find an encodeURIComponent() analog, so I made one like this (in Tools/Script Editor):

function URI(text){
  return encodeURIComponent(text);

Next, I constructed a URL, like this:

=CONCATENATE("http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=", URI(A2), "+-+", URI(B2))

Create a link

Now, we need to create a link from formatted text of AUTHOR + " - " + TITLE:


After this, I copied D2 and pasted into D3:D25, I copied D2:D25, and that gave me a nice table to paste into an email.


Cool SSH Trick

I have a generic disposable SSH keypair for working on projects on AWS. I like to not have to remember dumb details (especially when I’m drunk.)

David KonsumerWritten by David Konsumer who lives and works in Portland and makes rad stuff. You should follow him on Twitter & Github