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.


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