Batch import by ISBN

Hello. I am a zotero user in Japan. I just started using zotero and found it very helpful, so I am trying to import my book list from another web application.

The web application is not for academic purposes, so the current records of books are not comprehensive. I tried the magic wand feature in zotero and am happy to see that using ISBN as a key to import books works pretty good. Since the data retrieved from databases is better than the one in my book list, I want to make use of only ISBNs in the current book list to import the books.

However, it seems that batch import feature by ISBN has not been implemented. Am I right? If so, I hope to have this in future, for it is a very nice feature for users like me.

And also, it seems to be unavailable to prioritize the order of databases. But this is also important for me, because some databases store the information of Japanese books by romanized characters while others not. I just want to share how this feature is preferable for those who use some minor languages.

Thanks for providing such a useful tool!
  • You can paste multiple ISBNs separated by spaces or newlines into the lookup window.
  • Wow! It works! Thank you very much, dstillman.

    However, the behavior of the feature is not very stable. It seems many (more than 10) ISBN numbers at once won't work good, and in some tests I performed the behavior seemed to be dependent on the linefeed characters. I think there still is a need for the batch import feature, for number of ISBNs could be quite much.

  • What do you mean by "dependent on the linefeed characters"?
  • dstillman and gurdas,

    I assumed so, as gurdas figured out. But I have no evidence for that, sorry. I just observed those two trials brought different behaviors. Anyway, it seems to me that the feature does not work with many ISBNs at once.
  • FWIW I use a Mac. I used an earlier beta of 5.0 to import a list of ISBNs that was about 25 items. I copied a list of ISBNs that I had in BBEdit, pasted the list into the Wand tool, and hit return. I had no problems with the import. Each Zotero record was in need of edits to make it more complete. (I added a chapter title list in the abstract field.) Incomplete records that were brought in by identifier are expected.
  • Today I made some more trials, and have another assumption.
    Zotero seems to consult databases from bottom to up of the items listed in the magic wand input box, and if Zotero failed to find a record during the repetition of the consultation, it stops the action without any caution which is provided when only one record is given ("Zotero could not find a record for the specified identifier.")
  • Now I am pretty sure this is the reality. If such an error does not happen, almost up to 100 records could be imported. But once the error occurs, even two records could cause the problem.
  • ah, that could be the case, though it shouldn't be. we'll look into that
  • This was fixed in Zotero 5.0.18. (We also fixed the order to save from the top down.)
  • It is great that this is possible! Is there any way to retrieve the DOIs where import failed?

    The following case may illustrate: you have 10 DOIs, which you import. After import, only 9 items show up in your library. It is possible to re-export the 9 items (e.g. to a csv), but since Zotero seems not to retain all DOIs (some DOIs missing in the re-export for cases where there is an ISBN for a book chapter), it is not trivial to match the 9 DOIs back to the original 10 to find the missing one.
  • The book chapter DOIs are going to be in Extra, so still fairly easy to get out, but a popup with a list of IDs not imported would indeed be nice
  • Thanks for the hint, this is very useful but also very well hidden!

    For my use case that is sufficient, but I agree it would be ideal to have a notification of what happend in terms of errors when importing DOIs.
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