What Can the Book Review Plugin Do for Me?

The WordPress Book Review plugin saves you time when writing your book review posts – no more copying and pasting or manually entering in a book’s details. Instead, you can focus on the important stuff, like actually writing your reviews!

The plugin can also help to increase traffic to your site, because hey, who doesn’t want more visitors? And, if you’re interested in throwing monetization into the mix, the WordPress Book Review plugin makes that easy too!

But wait, you may ask, how does the plugin do all of this?

Well, to get those book details filled in, it’s as easy as entering an ISBN and clicking a button. That’s it! Information like title, author, genre, and even the synopsis will be fetched from Google Books and automatically populated for you, ready to show on your post when you hit Publish.

And, when someone does a Google search, instead of seeing this:

No Rich Snippets
What a Google search result might look like without using rich snippets

Your search result will look more like this:

Google Rich Snippet
Google rich snippet showing the rating, reviewer’s name and review date

The WordPress Book Review plugin adds the code that Google needs in order to make your search results look this good too! Which one would you be more likely to click on?

Finally, if you’re a member of an affiliate program, the plugin can add links to other sites, including popular online bookstores, so that if a visitor purchases a book after coming from your site, you will earn a commission. If you are a member of the Amazon Associates Program, then you’ll definitely want to check out Affiliate Linkalizer for Amazon, a soon-to-be-released premium plugin that is going to maximize the commissions you receive from Amazon.

Sound pretty good? Then read on to learn more of the nitty gritty.

Features

The WordPress Book Review Plugin offers the following features and functionality:

  • Add details such as title, author, cover photo, rating, purchase links and more to each of your review posts.
  • Automatically retrieve details about a book from Google Books.
  • Show details like rating, author and published date in search engine results pages.
  • Show an archive of your reviews by title or genre.
  • Configure an unlimited number of text or image-based links.
  • Open links in the same tab or in a new one.
  • Position the details of a book either above or below the post’s content.
  • Customizable background and border colors.
  • Ability to optionally show rating images wherever excerpts are displayed.
  • Use the built-in star rating images or provide your own.

Settings

The Book Review Settings page is where you do all of the initial one-time setup and configuration of the plugin.

Appearance

On the Appearance tab, you can decide whether you want to show a book’s details at the top or bottom of a post. You can use the color pickers to change the background and/or border colors of the review box. As well, you can select a pre-defined format for the release date. If None is selected, the release date will be displayed unchanged:

Appearance Tab
Configure the look of the review box on the Appearance tab

Rating Images

In Rating Images, you can choose whether or not to show ratings on your home page, and whether to use the plugin’s built-in rating images or your own. If using your own, you will need to provide URLs for five different images, one for each possible rating. Once configured, the plugin will use your custom images instead of its default ones:

Rating Images Tab
Configure the rating images to use on the Rating Images tab

You can configure an unlimited number of custom text or image-based links, and have them open in the same tab or in a new one.

To add a new link, simply click the Add Link button, which will create a new row in the Custom Links table. At a minimum, you must provide a value for Link Text. If you’d prefer to show links as image buttons, you can optionally specify the URL to an image in the Link Image URL field. If you leave this field blank, the links will be simple text-based links as defined by the Link Text field. Should you no longer wish to show a particular custom link on any of your posts, just uncheck the Active box. If you change your mind later, you can always set it back to Active and all of your data will still be there.

Links Tab
Configure custom links on the Links tab

For every custom link you add, a new field will be shown in the Book Info section of the post. This is where you can specify the URL to follow when that particular link is clicked. Links will be added below the rest of a book’s details (more on this in the Usage section below):

Custom Links
Custom link fields in the “Book Info” section of a post
Review Box
Sample post showing custom links in the review box

Advanced

In order for the details of a book to be auto-populated, you must create a Google API Key and enter it into the Advanced tab. You will need a Google email address for this, so sign up now if you don’t already have one. The process of obtaining an API key can be somewhat intimidating to non-technical users, but don’t be scared! Grab yourself a coffee and I’ll walk you through it step by step. There’s even a video tutorial to help you along. If you do happen to get stuck, please leave a message in the General Support forum.

Getting a Google API Key

First, it’s helpful to know the IP address of your server. There are a few different ways to get this information:

  • If you are familiar with cPanel, you can login there and the IP should be listed in the sidebar under Shared IP Address.
  • Alternatively, in Windows you can open a command prompt (in Mac you can open a Terminal window) and enter ping www.yourdomain.com where www.yourdomain.com is the URL of your web site. Then just make note of the IP address that you see there. You’ll need to press CTRL+C to kill the command.
  • If this doesn’t work for you, or you don’t have access to cPanel, then you’ll need to contact your hosting provider to find out what the IP address is.

Once you have your server’s IP address, follow these steps to generate an API key:

  1. Sign in to the Developers console with your Google account. If the Terms of Service appear, read and accept them.
  2. Click the Create Project button to create a new project. Fill out the dialog box that pops up and then click the Create button. You can change the Project ID to a more meaningful name if you like, or just accept the default value:
    New Project Dialog
    Enter a “Project Name” in the “New Project” dialog
  3. A new window will appear in the bottom right of your browser while the project is being created. Once complete, you should see a confirmation message similar to the following:
    Activities Window
    Confirmation message indicating that your project was successfully created
  4. Next, in the sidebar on the left, click on APIs & auth and then on APIs. Look for the Books API in the Browse APIs list, and then activate it by clicking on the OFF button. A new dialog will be shown asking you to read and agree to the Google APIs Terms of Service. After reviewing their terms, click on the checkbox and then on Accept. This will toggle the Books API to ON and move it to the Enabled APIs list:
    Enable the Books API Dialog
    Agree to the terms of service in the “Enable the Books API” dialog
    Enabled APIs
    “Books API” should be turned on in the list of enabled APIs

    You will now be able to send 1,000 requests/day for free to the Books API. Unless you write an exorbitant number of reviews each day, this should be more than enough. If for some reason it’s not, you can always enable billing to increase those limits.

  5. Next, click on Credentials in the sidebar. In the Public API access section, click Create new Key:
    Public API Access
    Click “Create new Key” in the “Public API access” section
  6. In the dialog box, click on Server key:
    Create a New Key Dialog
    Select “Server key” from the “Create a new key” dialog
  7. The next screen is where you’ll want to enter the IP address of your server. (Please refer back to the Getting a Google API Key section to find your server’s IP address, if you don’t already know it). I’ve entered a dummy IP address in the screenshot below. If you find that, after completing all of these steps, the plugin still does not automatically retrieve a book’s details, then it’s very likely that the IP address you entered here is incorrect. So, if you are having trouble, or cannot find the IP address of your server, it may be better to leave this field blank. Disclaimer: Leaving it blank means that, should someone find out what your Google API key is, they will be able to use it to make requests to the Books API as well, and it will count against your allowed quota of 1,000 requests/day. Also, if you have enabled billing in the Developers Console (although you don’t need to and shouldn’t if you are only using it for the purposes of this plugin), then you’ll definitely want to add an IP address here:
    Create a Server Key Dialog
    Enter the IP address of your web server in the “Create a server key and configure allowed IPs” dialog, or leave it blank
  8. Copy the value in the API key field and back in WordPress, paste it into the Google API Key field of the Book Review Settings:
    Key for Server Applications Dialog
    Copy and paste the “API KEY” into the “Google API Key” field of the Book Review Settings
    Google API Key
    Enter your Google API Key in the “Google API Key” field

You can find more information about the Google Books API here.

Usage

Once the plugin is installed, you will see a Book Info section below the WordPress editor of every post. Fill this out whenever you would like to show more information about a particular book. Note that, at a minimum, Title must be filled out in order for the details to show. Any fields that you leave blank will not appear in your post.

While most of the fields you see in the screen shot below are not configurable and will always be shown in Book Info, the exceptions are the URL fields (except for Cover URL). The appearance of these fields are entirely dependent on whether or not you have added any Custom Links on the Book Review Settings page.

Book Info
The “Book Info” section of a post is where a book’s details are entered

Posts for which you have selected a rating will show that rating on the Posts page:

List Posts
Ratings show on the list posts page

Getting the Book Info

If you have created a Google API Key, you will see an ISBN field and a Get Book Info button. Enter an ISBN value and click the button to automatically populate a book’s details. Any fields that already had values before the button was pressed will not be overwritten.

Please note that there are some known limitations:

  • It is possible that a particular ISBN will not be found. This is a limitation of the robustness of the Google Books database and is not indicative of a problem with the WordPress Book Review Plugin.
  • The Series and Format fields will remain blank unless manually entered. Google Books does not return this information as part of its API.
  • The cover images that Google Books provides are rather small. If the size is not appropriate for your site, or if you’d rather not rely on Google to host the covers, you can always upload your own images and use those instead.

Archives

To add archives to a page or post, you can use the book_review_archives shortcode. For example, to show archives by title, use the following shortcode format:

[book_review_archives type="title"]

This is the default archive type. Only those posts that have the Title field filled out will be displayed. Note that titles that start with “A“, “An” or “The” will be sorted using the second word in the title. For example, The Hunger Games would be shown as Hunger Games, The.

You can also optionally show rating images and thumbnails of the book covers:

[book_review_archives type="title" show_cover="true" show_rating="true"]
Archives by Title
Show an archive of reviews by title

To show archives by genre, use the following shortcode format:

[book_review_archives type="genre"]

Only those posts that have the Genre field filled out will be displayed and, just as with archives by title, you can show rating images and cover thumbnails:

[book_review_archives type="genre" show_cover="true" show_rating="true"]
Archives by Genre
Show an archive of reviews by genre

There is an Include post in archives checkbox in the Book Info section of every post that is selected by default. If you don’t want a particular post to be listed in the archives, simply uncheck this box.

The reviews on Book Wookie use the WordPress Book Review Plugin, so be sure to visit there to see real world examples of what the plugin can do.

Installation

You can install this plugin by using WordPress’ built-in plugin installer:

  1. Go to Plugins > Add New.
  2. Under Search, enter “Book Review”.
  3. Click Install Now to install the plugin.
  4. Customize the settings by clicking on Book Review in the Settings menu.

Compatibility

The WordPress Book Review Plugin has been tested up to WordPress 4.1.1. The plugin will not work properly in a version older than 3.5.

Translations

To translate the Book Review plugin into another language, please follow these steps:

  1. Download and install Poedit.
  2. Download the Book Review POT file. This file is also available on your WordPress server in wp-content/plugins/book-review/languages/book-review.pot.
  3. Open book-review.pot in Poedit and select the language that you will be translating the plugin into if prompted.
  4. In order to automatically generate a .mo file when you save your work on the existing .po file, go to Poedit → Preferences and on the General tab check the Automatically compile MO file when saving box:
    Poedit Preferences
    On the “General” tab check the “Automatically compile MO file when saving box”
  5. In Source text, you should see all of the text in the plugin that needs to be translated. When you click on a line of text, you can provide a translation for it in the Translation field:
    Translating with Poedit
    Enter a corresponding translation for every line of “Source text”
  6. Look for the words ‘the‘, ‘a‘, ‘an‘. These are the words that the plugin looks for in the archives. Book titles that start with these words will have them moved to the end of the title in the archives. You can enter in a comma-separated list for each word if necessary.
  7. Go to File → Save As… to save your translation to a .po file. The file naming convention to use is book-review-language_country.po, where language is one of the language codes, and country is one of the country codes. For example, if the translation is in French, the file name would be book-review-fr_FR.po. The correct file name may have already been generated for you if you selected the appropriate language in step 3.
  8. Please email the .mo and .po files to support@wpreviewplugins.com and I will include them in the next release of the plugin.

Support

Should you have any problems, questions or suggestions on the WordPress Book Review Plugin, please leave a message in the General Support forum.