Can we have isbn tags for books? I'd like to be able to refer to somebody to a title using syntax such as

<isbn:1597491098>      # 10-digit form
<isbn:978-1597491099>  # 13-digit form

and have that generate a link to the book information page that also links to some online purchase options?

here's a few examples of how the links might look (using amazon since these links actually work).





  • as Roland Shaw and Workshop Alex note, an ISBN number make good sense. Updating accordingly. Note that the online bookstores list the ISBN numbers on the book pages.
  • as per random's comment: coz it makes it easy to find out more information about the book!
  • I agree that it would be a good place to put an SO referral code. I'm happy to support SO with purchases of stuff I see here. And as Ryan notes, it would be a useful feature for people trying to make self-sustaining Stack Exchange sites.
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    Your feature-request would have at least one leg if you explain why it would be a good idea or what it would help with. But really, doesn't seem like it would be used that much.
    – random
    Sep 23, 2009 at 7:23
  • Is this a dupe? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/22584/… Sep 23, 2009 at 8:10
  • Related, but not really a dupe, I think.
    – Jonik
    Sep 23, 2009 at 8:26
  • Maybe it will encourage more programmers to buy books... rather then rely 100% on the web.
    – beggs
    Sep 23, 2009 at 8:30
  • 2
    How about using ISBN numbers instead? Amazon is okay but here in the Netherlands I'd rather visit the local bookstore instead of ordering online and pay for transport, then pay import taxes... But how it should handle those ISBN numbers? Don't know yet. Sep 23, 2009 at 9:23
  • I would not give Amazon such degree of advertisement. Unless they pay, of course. Sep 23, 2009 at 13:06
  • @beggs would that be a positive? is buying books better than freely available information?
    – TM.
    Sep 23, 2009 at 16:34
  • @Workshop Alex: I generally make a link to the book with the title pointing to the official site and an image pointing to Amazon, both with using its ISBN as title.
    – perbert
    Sep 23, 2009 at 20:01
  • @random, @Workshop Alex: good comments, updated to reflect. Sep 23, 2009 at 23:41
  • @random: read the editorial and user reviews: you can learn a lot about whether the book is worthwhile for your needs. Sep 23, 2009 at 23:52
  • @Mark Depends on who's writing the reviews too. But your point is valid.
    – random
    Sep 24, 2009 at 0:45
  • @TM nothing wrong with free info, especially when it helps. But I know too many people who believe the answer to all their knowledge needs is the internet. I think the depth of info in many technical books is greater then what most people would get out of the internet. I find that often it is easy to find information on the internet but understanding comes easier from books. But we are all using SOFU aren't we? :-)
    – beggs
    Sep 24, 2009 at 1:28

3 Answers 3


Personally, If this feature were to be implemented, I'd prefer something a bit more vendor neutral, in a asimilar manner to ISBN magic on Wikipedia.

In there case markup of ISBN 1597491098 generates a link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:BookSources/1597491098 which lists places to find out more about the book, including buying it from online retailers

  • 1
    Additionally this does not assume you are in the US (amazon.com) rather than elsewhere (amazon.de, amazon.fr, amazon.co.uk, ...)
    – Richard
    Sep 23, 2009 at 9:15
  • excellent point, updated... Sep 23, 2009 at 23:42

If we were linking to books as answers to programming questions a lot. Then this would be a great idea.

Sadly we aren't.

  • If Jon Skeet answered this, I could understand it. Have you written any programming books, Ólafur? Sep 23, 2009 at 7:31
  • Oh, but think of all of earlier this week when it was nothing but Meta and Amazon.
    – random
    Sep 23, 2009 at 7:31
  • 1
    I have to admit I tried reading a programming book once. It failed. I sometimes use them for reference, but the internet has proven to be quite powerful in this regards, as has SO. Sep 23, 2009 at 7:32
  • There are occasional questions that request for some additional examples and documentation. A book would be a good answer in those cases. O'Reilly tends to have a few good books between it's bad ones. :-) Sep 23, 2009 at 9:24
  • How often do you see "You can solve your problem if you read book X" or "You can see more info in book X". If it's a lot, then it would warrant a feature. Else it's just a nice thing to have that really isn't used that much. Sep 23, 2009 at 12:51
  • 2
    @Diago: so you have never read The C Programming Language? Shame on you
    – perbert
    Sep 23, 2009 at 20:04

You could also add a referral code which would toss the SO team a kickback if someone buys the book. I like these forms of non-intrusive moneymaking.

Also, I don't own a StackExchange site, but I could imagine that that would be a neat feature to add as additional option for a StackExchange owner to make a few bucks.

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