Amazon Recommendations, Big Giant Collection Books, Reprints and New Editions

I really like Amazon. I really like Amazon’s recommendations and ever since I inputed most of my books into Amazon I get really good recommendations.

There is one thing that bothers me, though.

I recently made a big order from Amazon and included two books which I was long overdue in owning and reading them. The books were “Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul” and “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” both by Douglas Adams.

After the purchase, Amazon recommendation started to offer me other Dougls Adams books such as “Mostly Harmless“, “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish” and “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe“.

I previously told Amazon that I already own “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy” which is one large book containing all 5 of the hitchhiker’s guide novels (3 of them are the books mentioned above).

Since I own a book that include those books I would have figuring that Amazon will know that and handle that similar to how they handle situations in which a book is reprinted or has some newer edition (usually with minor changes or no changes at all). The recommendation engine doesn’t handle that because it probably doesn’t take into account that this one book is a collection of other books and in addition to that.

Due to the Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy movie they have re-printed the series so there are newer edition out there, which is probably one of the causes I see these books again.

It’s not that uncommon to have such a book that contains multiple previous titles that were a part of a series before. For example I also own “The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles” which is one big book that contains the 10 books in the Amber series by Roger Zelazny (luckily I haven’t told Amazon about that so I’m not getting recommendations to buy the same books again).

Perhaps Amazon should take a look into such collection books as well as handling re-prints and newer edition in a different way.

For example, for reading books (not technical books that often have newer editions that do change and add things) I would expect by default to not see any new re-prints and things like that unless I specifically opted that in my settings.

For technical/reference books I would like, by default, to see newer editions because these new editions (usually) add and update information and in most cases its important to stay up-to-date or at least know that there is a newer edition.

For paperback vs. hard cover editions, Amazon seems to handle it well and does understand that if I have the paperback edition I don’t need to be recommended of the hard cover edition and vice versa. I can only assume they implemented it by saving some kind of a reference between these books, so perhaps they should add a new type of reference/link for books that are a collection of other books and other such links to handle the rest of the things I’ve mentioned above.

What do you say? Am I the only book maniac/Amazon maniac/Recommendation maniac out there that thinks about this? :-)

Amazon Checkout Interface – Group to as few shipments as possible

I recently ordered a couple of books from Amazon.

When reaching the check out screen I, obviously, selected to group my shipments to as few as possible. I then looked and saw that it was grouped into two shipments, one book should be shipped the next day and the other 4 should ship only on the 20th of March – almost two months afterwards!

This was a bit strange considering the fact that Amazon showed that all books were in stock.

I figured there is probably a book or two causing the delay of the whole shipment, so I switched to the “ship as soon as the books are available” option and saw that one book (one book alone) caused the delay of the whole shipment.

I removed it (with great sorrow – it will wait for the next batch of Amazon books from my wish list), set the “group to as few shipments as possible” and everything was in one big happy shipment.

I wonder what other customers who are a bit less proficient in computers would have done. I’m guessing one of 3 options:

  1. Order and not notice that it will take two months for the shipment to come
  2. Select the option to send things as soon as they are available and pay a bit more
  3. Cancel the shipment and go elsewhere

Why didn’t Amazon add a check to see if the shipment will take more time than it should alert the user and tell him/her which item is the one causing the delay? It shouldn’t be that hard to check something along the lines of

if (scheduledShipmentDate > DateTime.Now.AddMonths(1)) {

AlertUser();

}

Sometimes it’s the little things that tick me off. I’m a great fan of Amazon and it’s really the only place I can get almost any book I can think of, but sometimes a man’s got to post on his blog when a man’s got to post on his blog.