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« The data flow wars [2] | Main | Metrics in the networked society »

July 07, 2008



Dear Tomi
Your blog raises an avenue for me to ask a question that might get answered by you or others as writing to Amazon I feel might get "lost in the post". The facility "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" has always been a useful facility and not only for books but also music.

That said I have noticed an anomaly this week where the core book researched throws up a list of books under "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" that also includes the same book published by another publishing house under a different title.

1) are customers unaware that they are the same book?
2) is the service actually showing books connected in the broader list and not related to the main title searched?

3) how "truthful" is the list actually?

As ever in research you always wish for "clean data" but it just might not always be the case at Amazon. Is their algorithm stretching the true nature of the marketing service?


Tomi Ahonen

Hi Tim

I hadn't noticed that myself, but I would guess this is an anomaly in an industry of enormous quantity of titles.

I would expect that Amazon cannot have anyone go and personally check what all their engine delivers. So when they add new titles to the catalogue and it eventually has the same title published a competitor publisher, and eventually those ratings result in the match-ups.

I would also guess, that this is relatively rare, that most authors, most titles, most publishers, tend to remain within the same companies, so for the book to be re-released under a modified title (and thus "fool" the Amazon engine) is probably quite infrequent.

Nonetheless, the reader needs to be aware, and careful not to buy the same book twice, ha-ha. I have personally a couple of times come to the conclusion, reading the beginning of a (fiction) book, that ouch, I've read this book before..

Also, I obviously have nothing to do with Amazon other than having my books available there, so I don't "know" any of the above, only that I've been observing them for many years now..

Thanks for writing Tim,

Tomi :-)

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