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An Introduction to the Goodreads APIs

The Goodreads API

An Example!

Now let's demonstrate how you can leverage the Goodreads API to make a search engine. Choose to search on either author, title or search all in the pull-down, enter your search word and hit 'submit' and a table of results will form up beneath! You will see a list of the closest results from Goodreads's exhaustive catalog, and I also included the average Goodreads reader reviews -- but as we'll see soon, you can pull in any data you want here! (As a reminder -- don't forget you need to have the 'Allow-Control-Allow-Origin' feature enabled in Chrome for this to work due to CORS!)

Enter your book search word:


Goodreads Existing Documentation:

Developer Terms of Service:

While the Goodreads API is offered free of charge, you must agree to the terms of service before doing any work! I've listed a few here relevant to our work, but please open the link below to read them all on the Goodreads site!

  1. Not request any method more than once a second. Goodreads tracks all requests made by developers.
  2. Clearly display the Goodreads name or logo on any location where Goodreads data appears. For instance if you are displaying Goodreads reviews, they should either be in a section clearly titled "Goodreads Reviews", or each review should say "Goodreads review from John: 4 of 5 stars..."
  3. Not modify or change Goodreads data, including reviews, in any way. Reviews may be truncated for display purposes, but must link to the full review on Goodreads.

Full terms

Getting a development key:

No part of using a Goodreads API is well documented as the creation of developer key! A key is your signature in the requests you make to Goodreads -- it lets them know how many requests are being made per minute, to prevent errors from bogging down the system or abuse of the portal. You will need a key to take part in the tutorial, but it's incredibly simple and easy to get one. Follow the link below and make note of it and we'll get started! Note, you will also be given a secret key -- while we will not be using this in this tutorial, this key is needed to write to the Goodreads site through the API -- using a system called OAuth. We'll touch on this briefly at the end.

Get a key!

The APIs they offer:

Follow the link below to go to the full list of Goodreads's current API offerings. Note that these blurbs are your starting place for using the Goodreads API, but they are not infallible. During my tutorial work I stumbled on a few issues I had to solve (detailed later)! In other words, they're a necessary starting place, but don't hesitate to experiment!

Full API list


Whew! Now that we've got all that out of the way, let's get you started making your very own request of the Goodreads API!

GET going! »