Book Descriptions

Description of your request or bug report:

  • Community editable
  • Pull Japanese descriptions from Amazon (?)

Trello link:

I don’t know if someone mentioned this previously but as an example of this, (another site with a database of Japanese books), you can click on any of the titles to see the Amazon description right there on the site. So, maybe it’s not a legal issue? :thinking:


The “amazon” description is the one provided by the publisher (as far as I know). If you go to other websites (like BookWalker), you’ll see the exact same thing. I don’t see why it would be an issue?


Yes, I told the same to Brandon, it shouldn’t be a legal issue, copyright wise, because that’s the description provided by the publisher for the store fronts, and most of the time is effectively what’s on the back cover of the book.

Now, on the other hand you have to take in mind Amazon’s terms of service, and what it might say about scrapping content. As Natively has the income right now almost 100% coming from Amazon, you want to make sure you are not in violation of anything there, and that’s probably where the “legal” issues are at.


Ah, that’s good. I brought it up because I know there was some sort of discussion of the legality of it in the previous thread. I don’t know where exactly koohi scrapes the descriptions from but they do use Amazon affiliate links as well.

That aside, I think it this feature (along with genre tags) would be an essential to anyone who intends to use the site as a discovery tool since having to do external research can be tiresome. Especially when most books are unreviewed at this time.


The fact that other sites do it, doesn’t really mean that it’s allowed.

If I were in the position of implementing, I’d double check the ToS. There’s a fine line in there. Since Natively links also to other marketplaces other than Amazon, scrapping content from Amazon and then being able to go somewhere else to buy, might be a gray area or a red line.

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I recall Brandon not wanting to do this because Natively is mostly in English (basically everything except the book titles) and he didn’t want to have the descriptions only in Japanese. I have no idea if his view on that has changed since we discussed it.

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Aaah, right, I remember that discussion.

That being said

  • Textbooks/graded readers would most likely have a description in English, due to their target audience.
  • Books at a high level (say 35+) are probably fine with Japanese descriptions, considering who’s reading them.

The problem is for everything in between, I guess.


Right, if there are long descriptions in Japanese, I think the site becomes much more Japanese… which I’m somewhat wary of. I also don’t particularly want to encourage book reviews in Japanese either.

Reasons for not loving book reviews in Japanese

They’re more likely to be less in-depth and less readable by learners. I’m all for people practicing Japanese of course, but hopefully not at the cost of other user’s experience - much prefer ‘Japanese Only’ forum threads for practice, rather than reviews.

In general, I think the website functionality should be fully focused towards easy-use by learners. Immersion is of course very valuable, but I think it should be an opt-in choice. If you want a fully immersive website, you should go to bookmeter :slight_smile:

All that being said, I think i’m ok with Japanese descriptions, but I’ve been holding off until we can also add community editable English descriptions. I would prefer Japanese descriptions to be toggled closed by default.

I know browse & discovery is not ideal right now… but browse and discovery is only one portion of the website. Lots to do! :slight_smile:


I agree that too much Japanese might scare new learners off. I also prefer English reviews to Japanese ones, especially if they’re coming from non-natives.
However I’d rather prefer an official summary from the publisher/back of the book than a community created English version.
There’s also been some comments floating around in the Product Discussion thread about maybe using DeepL / machine translation to get an English version (which might be very hit or miss, considering how vague book descriptions tend to be sometimes), maybe with the possibility to switch back to the Japanese original?

Not sure if this is even worth considering, I just wanted to make sure the idea doesn’t get lost


I guess it would be hard to automate, but for books that got translated to English, it could be possible to pull the English description instead. That doesn’t really scale, but it’s an option.

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I do think it is allowed to copy the book summaries/descriptions from :thinking:
They basically are using the same summary/description which is provided by the publisher. I checked all the three books I’m reading right now (to be fair, two are from the same publisher) and the description on Amazon is the same as on Kadokawa and Kodansha. The same goes for Aoitori (checked one book), but Aoitori is part of Kodansha, so yeah.
Someone maybe could mail the publishers and ask if it’s fine to use the summary/description they provided. I’d do it, but my Japanese is way to bad for this. But in all honesty, I think it’s fine. On the other hand, I can understand that you don’t want to run into legal issues here.
Edit: But if @Brandon does not want to copy/paste the Japanese summaries to Natively that is fine too. I mean, the link to Amazon is already provided, so everyone is just a click a way from the the summary anyways. I think that’s convenient enough.

That said, I think the Japanese summary is fine for Natively. If someone wants it to be translated, they just can copy it and put it into deepL (for example).

Review wise, I also prefer English reviews to Japanese ones.

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