Monday, September 12, 2011

Sigh, Amazon - recommendations

Today, we highlight one of the face-palming, head-banging, sigh-causing things that Amazon, this once-actually-kind-of-chill (maybe when I was like, ten...?) bookseller, does.

So years ago, I wrote a modestly negative review of People of the Book. There were some good points, though, so when forced to give the book a rating, I chose 2.7, or, 3 stars. Now, Amazon understands a 3-star rating to be a negative review. Look up reviews, you'll see the glowing 5-star review as compared with the less-than-gushing 3-star. 3 stars and under counts on the "negative" end of Amazon's scale.

So why, can someone explain to me, did Amazon send me an e-mail recommending some book called The Oriental Wife? The book looked boring and not to my taste so I opened the e-mail. Lo and behold: "Customers who have purchased or rated People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks might like to know that The Oriental Wife is now available."

Amazon. Really. By your own standard, I didn't like People of the Book. Do you really think I'm going to buy a book that you claim is similar to something I didn't like? This is just another form of your crappy bookseller recommendations, except this time with even less thought...



  1. I also don't get this. They recommend all kinds of weird stuff to me all the time, and I just scratch my head and wonder why. I have rated books 1 star on Amazon before, and they still recommend books that are similar to me. I think their system is really wonky.

  2. Yeah, Amazon needs to notice that reading a book and enjoying a book are not the same thing. They should acquire a system of predicting each user's rating, like the one Netflix uses. I bet that would actually increase sales.

    On the "bookseller recommendations" topic, I used to know (it's out of business now) a nice little bookstore that actually did that legitimately. They had a bookshelf of recommended books, each labeled by which worker recommended it and why. It would be really cool if other stores actually put some thought into what they push and why.


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