Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Amazon rant

Because I am a sucker for punishment, I’ve been viewing my book rankings on Amazon. Does anyone else find it demoralizing that Amazon has added percentages of the amount of people who actually buy the book? I’m talking about the listing at the bottom that says, “What do customers ultimately do after viewing this item?” and then a 5 title listing such as: “88% buy Counting Kisses, by Karen Katz…1% buy the item featured on this page: Fortune Cookie Fortunes, by Grace Lin”

Hey, this is my page! We don’t need to know that most people are buying someone else’s book. And what is this saying to the customer? I know you’re looking at this book, but most people are buying this other book, so maybe you should buy that one instead? Thanks for nothing. Curse you, Counting Kisses!


Nancy said...

I just noticed those stats the other day, when purchasing a book, and I wondered how the author would feel about it.

It does seem like it would make it all that much tougher for new books.

Grace Lin said...

I think what it promotes books that are already doing well to do better and the badly-selling books sell even worse. sigh.

By the way, I don't really curse "Counting Kisses"; Karen Katz is very nice and she made a snowflake for Robert's Snow. She probably deserves the 88 buying percentage...

Libby Koponen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
alvinaling said...

That's so weird! The only thing I can think of is that it's just another opportunity for Amazon to sell more books--just like the "buy this book with XX" feature, they get to list more somewhat related books to yours in the hopes that the consumer will buy more. And after a quick look, it seems that sometimes your other books are featured as well, so that's not bad...although I think they should do away with the percentages. Wait...that's what they used to have, huh? Didn't they used to just say, "Customers who have bought this book have also bought XX"--what was wrong with that?!?! Okay, I'm not making any sense, it's time to eat lunch.

Anna Alter said...

That stinks! Amazon stinks in general!

You know it is just as easy to order your books, or link your web sites to independent book stores like Powells, they have a similar feature to amazon that gives you a percentage of sales that come from referrals from your web site.

If you don't like them, you can find others at booksense.com.

Support the independents!!!

Agyw said...

Grace, you deserve to be bestselling-- your art is stunning, your stories particular and universal. That does bite a big one. I think this would be a useful feature if it were one that only certain people could access-- the author and/or illustrator, publisher, that kind of thing. But even then, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Alvina, I'm going to say this here. I read on one of your comments (I think it was the SBWI post) that you highly recommend reading "The Tipping Point". It was the third time in a matter of weeks I'd heard that, from people who's opinion matters to me (and Scott Nash had recommended it last fall), so that and another book that had been suggested ("The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), and I'm so happy I took your say-so. Lots of AHAs! at a particularly hard time. Thank you for posting it.

That being said Grace, if you've read the book at all, I would most definitely say your books are sticky! And big-mouthed me, I'll tell anyone who'll listen. And clobber a few that don't.

Grace Lin said...

Yeah, I don' mind the listing just get rid of those percentages!

Instead of changing our links(which Amazon probably wouldn't even notice) we should probably complain to them and get them to change it. I was going to do it, but I felt like I was just being a whiny author.

Thanks so much, Agy, for the nice words. It's great to see you here- please visit often!

SilberBook-Blog said...

Wow - I thought no one but me cared about those % things. And since I admit I check my Amazon # maybe... ALL THE TIME - the % makes me feel pretty small - except when it rises above that "bottom book" and then I get so high - I buy my family new hats!

Yeah - the Amazon rankings in general are a crack addiction. My whole self worth rides on them. In fact - I'm in a great mood today (at 3:02) because according to my "number"....I don't suck.

And by the way - I'm a big fan of whining!


Meghan McCarthy said...

Yeah, i noticed this a long time ago. I do NOT look at Amazon rankings! There's not point to it. A lot of that stuff has to do with the author's last name and other things that change the numbers. It's just depressing... of course, a heck of a lot of children's publishing is.

Meghan McCarthy said...

I should add that amazon says "what do customers buy after viewing items LIKE THESE" Those are the key words. It doesn't ACTUALLY mean that customers are buying THOSE books instead of yours... just that those are the kinds of things they buy instead of yours. It's another useless amazon feature that exists to tick us off.

Agyw said...

Aw, Grace, you missed my Yellieboard distinction... I'm not nice, I'm kind. Goodness knows, it's scarce to know what kind of authority I am, but at least I know I am, right or wrong. It's true, when I'm provoked to feelings or connections I sit up and take notice; Ugli (is that pronounced OOOglie, because I'm guilty, if not)Vegetables is just ONE of those examples. Pat McKissack has been ringing in my ears: Different is not wrong. But it's hard making that break through to concept. So kind words, but the most sincere!

I also thank you for the welcome.

I resent those kinds of elitist things that you're talking about and tend to make it my mission to skew them, no matter how well intended. Information is specific. On the one hand you have to be careful how to share it. On the other, once shared, you have to aske what the benefit. Profit margins are a consideration. In my book it's a bunch of rungs down the line.

Hope everyone, those I've "met" and those I've not are doing well and being very creative.

Grace I have to admit, this is one of the reasons I've been so timid-- the politics and stupid interventions of it all. But you know sometimes it's a matter of that principle of the Nike of Samothrace... Just Do it!

alvinaling said...

Hi Agy--I'm glad you liked THE TIPPING POINT--Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite authors. His second book BLINK is fascinating, too. And CURIOUS INCIDENT is a book I often recommend as well!

Nancy said...

One thing to keep in mind, those Amazon listings and the percentages are actually helpful when you're shopping for something with less personality than a book. For instance, I used that information to help with some comparison shopping for a toaster. In that arena where the question of better or worse is about whether the toast will burn, and whether I can put bagels in it, I think it's handy to know that most people don't buy Mo's $30 toaster after they look around, but instead they buy the $50 Krups, or what have you. Maybe that's not so fair to Mo, but I can at least stand behind the process.

But this kind of shopping is pure nonsense when it comes to books! The only time I might comparison shop for a book is if I were looking for the best thesaurus.

Confronting the ridiculousness of showing these stats, and complaining directly to Amazon seems like the best option.