Friday, May 22, 2009

The Amazon Book Map

Now this is impressive.  Chris Harrison has created the Amazon Book Map using data scraped from Amazon and which books Amazon thinks are related to each other.
Aaron Swartz, who runs, contacted me back in January '08 with an interesting data set. He had built a list of 735,323 books by crawling Amazon. Of course a gigantic list is pretty boring, but Aaron had also captured similarity data between books. In particular, he had amassed a whopping 10,316,775 connections (edges) between books Amazon believed were related. This allowed me to throw the data into my old wikiviz engine to spatially layout a huge mosaic of books (I let it run for a 140 hours). Items that were noted as being similar had attractive forces, bringing them together, often into large groups. Unsurprisingly, when we color coded by Amazon book category, there was an obvious coalescence. The way various high-level categorizations mix and meet also seems fairly logical.
I produced a few versions of what I am dubbing the Amazon Book Map. The first visualization is a huge mosaic of book covers, tinted by their respective category colors. I can't produce this in one go at full resolution because the memory requires are enormous. The second version uses color-coded dots. 
As you zoom into the image, you can see its built using the book cover images with a color overlay depicting the category of the book.

Thanks to @anniesmidt on Twitter for the link to this one!


  1. broken link hhttp ...

  2. You're right! Harrison's work is really impressive!!! I have try to put his image into the widget. Have a look:

    With an higher resolution it will be really amazing browsing through covers.

    Great job!