catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Why are Australians buying Dan Brown books from America?

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Amazon.com has always been a great innovator. Their understanding that tastes cluster leads them to provide recommendations based on what other people with similar purchases to you have bought. I’ve found this to be a good way of finding books on things that interest me but I hadn’t heard of, and of expanding my musical tastes based on CDs I know I like (particularly as they let you listen to sample music). Now they are trying to take this a step further with purchase circles, so that you can see what people from the same geographic area or same domain name are buying, after Amazon applies:

an algorithm that constructs bestseller lists of items that are more popular with each specific group than with the general population.

So far for Australians they haven’t got to anything more specific than Australia generally. Amazingly, there are even more Dan Brown titles in Amazon’s list than in the Australian bestseller list. Why send off to the US for books that are available here in thousands of places – bookshops, newsagents, discount stores, department stores? Could Amazon be serving the same sad people who at one point kept two versions of The Da Vinci Code in the bestseller list, by offering American editions of books available locally?

This national literary embarrassment aside, I think purchase circles will be of more curiosity than sales value. Except in very homogeneous areas or workplaces the chances of tastes coinciding are not going to be high. And customers will have to decide how close they are to the mainstream of their area. If there was a 3053 (Carlton) purchase circle, I’d probably be recommended Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore books. No thanks.

(Thanks again to Marginal Revolution for the lead.)

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Written by Admin

November 3, 2005 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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