How to create an interactive booklist with automatic Amazon affiliate links in R?
- Create a booklist
- Make it interactive
- Add URLs with your affiliate link to the table
- Final result
Booklists are a useful way to share the books you have read and which you recommend to other readers and/or to promote the books you have written. It can be as simple as a list of book titles displayed on your personal website or blog. You may however wish to present this list of books in a more sophisticated way, such as in a table with titles, authors and links to buy it for instance.
In this blog post I show you how to create an interactive booklist with automatic Amazon affiliate links in R. By interactive, I mean a booklist which allows users to search for books by title or author (like this booklist for instance). Moreover, by automatic Amazon affiliate links, I mean URLs (with your affiliate link of course) that redirect directly to the book in question on the Amazon webstore, without manually creating a link for each book.
This technique is especially helpful for those of you who have hundreds of books in their list as you will need to create the URL only once and it will adapt automatically to all books.
In order to build this augmented booklist with your affiliate link, you need:
- an Amazon associates account. Register here if you do not have an account yet
- a list of books (which you recommend and/or written by you)
Create a booklist
You have two options:
- create it in Excel then import it into R
- create it directly in R
Create it in Excel then import it
The easiest way is to follow these steps:
- open an Excel file and fill it in with two columns: (i) one with the titles and (ii) a second with the authors (see figure below)
- save it in a .csv format (in Excel, File > Save As… > choose the CSV file format and save it)
- import it into R (see how to import a .csv file if you struggle with the importation)
- (if you need to edit the list in the future, edit it directly in the .csv file and not in the Excel file)
Here is how you booklist created in Excel should look like (with I suppose more books in yours):
We now import it into RStudio and rename the dataset as
dat (see here why I always use a generic name instead of more specific names):
dat <- read.csv("booklist.csv", # name of your file with .csv extension header = TRUE, # names of variables are present sep = "," # values are separated by a comma )
You can always check that your booklist is correctly imported by running
Create it directly in R
You can create your booklist directly in R with the command
# Create the data frame named dat dat <- data.frame( "Title" = c( "A Random Walk Down Wall Street", "Naked Statistics", "Freakonomics" ), "Author" = c( "Burton G. Malkiel", "Charles Wheelan", "Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner" ), stringsAsFactors = FALSE ) # Print the data frame dat
## Title Author ## 1 A Random Walk Down Wall Street Burton G. Malkiel ## 2 Naked Statistics Charles Wheelan ## 3 Freakonomics Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Make it interactive
In order to be able to search for books by author or title, we use the
datatable() command from the DT package. Below the table with the default options:
Let’s improve this table by:
- removing row numbers
- adding a filter on top of “Title” and “Author” columns
- adding the possibility to copy or download the table
- show only first 5 entries instead of 10
- order books by title in ascending order
datatable(dat, rownames = FALSE, # remove row numbers filter = "top", # add filter on top of columns extensions = "Buttons", # add download buttons options = list( autoWidth = TRUE, dom = "Blfrtip", # location of the download buttons buttons = c("copy", "csv", "excel", "pdf", "print"), # download buttons pageLength = 5, # show first 5 entries, default is 10 order = list(0, "asc") # order the title column by ascending order ) )
Add URLs with your affiliate link to the table
We are now going to add URLs (with your affiliate link) which depend on the title and author of the book in the interactive table presented above. For this, we first need to extract the affiliate link which will serve as the base of the URL, then add the title and author of the book at then end of the URL. The fact that we add the title and author of the book at the end of the URL makes it automatic. Indeed, the final URL will redirect to the search page of the book (thanks to the title and author of the book as keywords) and with your affiliate link included (as we use the affiliate link as the base URL).
Extract affiliate link
To extract the affiliate link, follow these steps (see figures below for help):
- Go to your Amazon associates account
- Click on Product Linking > Link to Any Page
- Click on the tab “Link to Search Results”
- Choose “Books & Textbooks” for the product line
- Enter any keywords you want and a name for your link (the two will be change later so it does not matter what you type)
- Click on the button “Get HTML”
- Copy in your clipboard (CTRL+c on Windows or cmd+c on Mac) the code displayed in the Preview (right pane)
The code you just copied should look like this (not exactly the same though as it includes your personal affiliate link):
<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&tag=antoinesoetew-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=a587bdd780cbbfb6d3f4569f7fb358fc&camp=1789&creative=9325&index=books&keywords=BOOK TITLE">BOOK TITLE</a><img src="//ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=antoinesoetew-20&l=ur2&o=1" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
From this long code, remove everything which follows
keywords= but keep
keywords= (that is why it does not matter what you typed in step 5 above). Following our example, we are left with this piece of code:
<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&tag=antoinesoetew-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=a587bdd780cbbfb6d3f4569f7fb358fc&camp=1789&creative=9325&index=books&keywords=
Copy this shortened code.
Add links to the interactive table
Now that the URLs are specific to each book, we can add them to the interactive table built earlier:
dat$Link <- link
Finally, we can display the interactive table with titles, authors and their URLs:
datatable(dat, rownames = FALSE, # remove row numbers filter = "top", # add filter on top of columns extensions = "Buttons", # add download buttons options = list( autoWidth = TRUE, dom = "Blfrtip", # location of the download buttons buttons = c("copy", "csv", "excel", "pdf", "print"), # download buttons pageLength = 5, # show first 5 entries, default is 10 order = list(0, "asc") # order the title column by ascending order ), escape = FALSE # to make URLs clickable )
This is exactly the same code than before except that we need to add
escape = FALSE to make URLs clickable.
Check that everything works properly by clicking on different links. If you did not miss any steps, it should redirect you to the Amazon store with the title and author of the book in the search bar and thus the book in question appearing in the search results.
Thanks for reading.
I hope this article helped you to build an interactive booklist with an automated affiliate link to each of the book in your list.
As always, if you have a question or a suggestion related to the topic covered in this article, please add it as a comment so other readers can benefit from the discussion.
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