Author Topic: David Gaughran blog post regarding the current situation w/Amazon also-boughts  (Read 2472 times)

Tom Wood

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TimothyEllis

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I'm not sure he really gets this one.

What I'm seeing is a worsening of Amazon's recommends emails, to the point where they now have no relation to what I actually read. In other words, as Also-boughts have been vanishing from books, Amazon's ability to recommend a book I might actually click on has got much worse.

I've got a US$ gift certificate to use up before they force me back to the Aus store (again), and I seriously cant find anything I want to buy. All I see are wrong recommendations on emails, and ads for books I'd never read, or ads for crap.

Amazon have truly lost the plot, and if David thinks this isn't a major problem, he has too.
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sFABi

I've never spent much time on his posts/blogs but reading all that seems to indicate a balanced response is called for.

I'm happy to agree [with him] because times change and things that swing one way, may end up benefiting in another.

I never even spent much time checking the 'Also Boughts' because nine times out of ten it only showed them buying all my other books.

Sometimes trying to micromanage a company as large as Amazon from the perspective of an author is like... an ant's view of the universe. :roll:
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WasAnn

I wrote a reply, but maybe he's got me on moderation because I don't see it there after I clicked. Here's what I replied:

Quote
While I understand the analysis, and agree that if the results are bad enough Amazon will likely pull back from a worst case scenario, I don't agree on what they'll consider a worst case scenario.

At this point, readers seem to be expressing increasing frustration with discoverability and this has been increasing, not decreasing. Informal polls from NLs and FB show (informally of course) that many readers are actively seeking some new place to find books, even if they still purchase them on Amazon.

As you pointed out, there are over a hundred books advertised on a book's page now. If the ABs are limited to the string of four or gone (as is showing up more lately) or shoved down to the bottom, then most of the easy visualized recommendations that readers have been trained to watch for over the past decade or more have been eliminated.

Searches by subject string are often absolutely littered with bare chests and aliens having babies with humans and harem/reverse harem covers...even if you search for something not at all in that vein. Ads are, as you mentioned, completely and utterly useless for finding a book as relevant as in the ABs.

So, if the reader experience isn't improved by all this and hasn't since the changes started, what makes Amazon think it's a good idea?

Honestly, as a book customer of Amazon since the very beginning and a Prime member since the first month that came out, I think it's that they know they have us now. Their market share is at the mark where they no longer have to consider wooing the customers, only not making them so angry they'll leave. With over 127 million households now tied into Prime, many will have to be made awfully angry to leave. Add in the Alexa saturation and you see where I'm going. I think Amazon is now primarily concerned with monetization and entrenchment keeps the customers.

Losing ABs is bad for me as an author, but it's been worse as a customer. Even their email recommendations are so off the mark that they're laughable.


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PaulineMRoss

Losing ABs is bad for me as an author, but it's been worse as a customer.

Exactly. Amazon is so hot on the customer experience, but losing also-boughts is a disaster for customers. I used to love bouncing from book to book via the ABs until I found something interesting and unusual. If it was on KU, I'd download without a second thought. But the last 3 acquisitons have been via off-Amazon recommendations (for 2) plus 1 find on the HNR list (for an author I'm following, so why didn't Amazon send me a new release alert?). But I suppose Amazon doesn't care, because I still buy through them. :icon_cry:

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sFABi

I just checked out my books for AB's

On the com site, I'm not showing any, but on the co.uk site, I'm showing them.

I'm okay either way. My Book Sales are up so something is working.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
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WasAnn

Losing ABs is bad for me as an author, but it's been worse as a customer.

Exactly. Amazon is so hot on the customer experience, but losing also-boughts is a disaster for customers. I used to love bouncing from book to book via the ABs until I found something interesting and unusual. If it was on KU, I'd download without a second thought. But the last 3 acquisitons have been via off-Amazon recommendations (for 2) plus 1 find on the HNR list (for an author I'm following, so why didn't Amazon send me a new release alert?). But I suppose Amazon doesn't care, because I still buy through them. :icon_cry:

That is the key that some people just aren't getting. We keep repeating the maxim that Amazon is all about customer experience, but it isn't any longer. It's about customer retention. There's a big difference between those two things. One is about enticing customers in. The other is about not pissing them off so much they leave. Now that they've captured sufficient market share that other venues no longer even matter (or are even trying), they know that no matter where we find books, that's where we'll buy them. After all, we've all spent money on kindles or gotten the kindle app as default on just about everything, not to mention Prime, so we'll go there no matter what.

So, since we're there, why not monetize?

Until Amazon starts to lose customers, this trend will continue.


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Tom Wood

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I wrote a reply, but maybe he's got me on moderation because I don't see it there after I clicked. Here's what I replied:
...

It's there now.
 

sFABi

So, if DG doesn't seem to think this is a big problem because there are lots of ways that Amazon is driving readers to your books (and I agree with him by the way) then why is everyone so darned tight over the AB's. It's always been Amazon's ethos to shake things up every 6 months and they haven't changed their ways and aren't likely to. Amazon WANT you to have to search for things, it's how supermarkets work. You just about get to work out where everything is, and they change the layout and you're back to square one.

The pre-occupation with Amazon's workings strikes me as bored people looking for something to whine and moan about. I'd much rather the writers obsessed about something they could control or have some kind of effect on. I've seriously lost money every time Amazon changed things, then somehow things come right again, or I gain back my losses with a Bookbub and so on. The market is fluid and so are we. These things shouldn't come as unexpected and we should by now certainly be expecting most of these things. Sorry if people don't like to hear it, but it does need saying.
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Sailor Stone

I stopped buying ebooks from amazon (for the most part, when a book isn't available elsewhere I might buy it there) as I never could never figure out what in the world they were trying to sell me.
I now buy from Kobo. They work hard to sell my books. They use real book-loving people to vet the books they feature on the Kobo site and I like what they put before me when I shop so I buy books there.
Kobo is backed buy a massive conglomerate themselves and I think they have big plans (Walmart deal, U.S.A.) so I hope to stay hitched to them for years to come and (perhaps) reap the reward$. 
 
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Rickie Blair

I'm a little baffled by David G.'s reaction. He seems to be saying that 1) also-boughts are really important but 2) it doesn't matter if Amazon drops them?  :icon_think: What am I missing?

Mark Dawson reported a sudden drop in sales (starting in September). In his latest newsletter (I'm not going to quote from it at length as I'm sure most of us are on his mailing list) he suggests the disappearance of also-boughts may be to blame. Maybe Mark will drop by and expound on this theory?

 

TimothyEllis

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Mark Dawson reported a sudden drop in sales (starting in September). In his latest newsletter (I'm not going to quote from it at length as I'm sure most of us are on his mailing list) he suggests the disappearance of also-boughts may be to blame. Maybe Mark will drop by and expound on this theory?

Not everyone is. And hopefully yes.
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CoraBuhlert

I've been an Amazon customer since the early 2000s now. Though I suspect I'm not what they consider a good customer, because I only buy books and hardly anything else there. I don#t have Prime either. I think I may have bought six or seven non-book products at Amazon in fifteen years or so. And every time, I'm so inundated with ads for non-book products (no, the fact that I ordered vacuum cleaner bags from you does not mean that I am even remotely interested in a breadmaker  :HB) that I'm not likely to order anything that's not a book there again. Because I don't mind receiving ads for books.

However, Amazon's recommendation e-mails have been getting steadily worse for years. I used to get e-mails recommending books very similar to what I bought before. It got messed up on occasion, e.g. when I ordered a motorbike book for my Dad and was inundated with ads for motorbike manuals, or when I bought a linguistics textbook and suddenly got ads for Hungarian grammar books. But usually, the recommendation e-mails were on point. Until they suddenly weren't anymore.

For example, Amazon keeps sending my new release announcements for a very prolific author of East Friesian mysteries. I've never bought a single book by that author, don't follow them and don't even read East Friesian mysteries (and I buy more English than German language books). But Amazon feels the need to inform me about every single one of this author's new releases.  :HB

I do read science fiction and fantasy. However, I don't read every subgenre. And for a long time, I got recommendation e-mails for books in the subgenres I read. But then I started getting recommendations for books that are SFF, but not in subgenres I read. Interestingly, they were mostly from the same publisher, a publisher I rarely buy from except for two authors, because their offerings are not to my taste. However, I never got ads for the two authors I actually buy, even if they have new books out, but for only authors I don't buy. Once I even got an e-mail focussed only an author's new release. Now I have never bought a single book by that author, dislike their writing, have never bought anything remotely similar and have been personally insulted by that author (which Amazon cannot know, but which explains my reaction upon getting that e-mail  :evil2:). In this case, I suspect the traditional publisher paid Amazon for advertising their books to anyone even remotely interested in SFF. 

Anyway, these past few years I have been buying mainly at Thalia (print) and Kobo (e-book) and only shop at Amazon for books that are exclusive, POD books, which are very difficult to get elsewhere in Germany, and certain small press and university press books the other stores don't carry. 

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BillSmithBooksDotCom

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David response seems to be, "Don't worry, only part of the house is on fire. The fire department will surely get here before the entire place burns down."

I understand he is trying to reassure us that Amazon will pull back if it this turns out to be disastrous ... but the thing is, this is a huge mistake on Amazon's part and it is plainly obvious. If it ain't broke, don't freaking break it and burn down the place.

"Also boughts" are a great discovery engine for readers -- it was one of Amazon's most valuable assets. It is how people FIND THINGS THEY DON'T KNOW ABOUT to buy. If that great tool is taken away from readers, it is going to be a huge negative impact for customers (much less authors).

I really like David's analysis most of the time, but this article really misses the mark.
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sFABi

I really like David's analysis most of the time, but this article really misses the mark.

You and the others on here that usually like/trust DG's blog. Now you don't agree with what he says so you appear NOT to trust his blog. The man just might be right and whilst he needs nobody defending him (me probably least of all) I don't think Amazon changing its page layouts are harming anyone's sales. It's more likely something else that's affecting them.

Just like my posts, generally, people prefer to ignore what they don't like to hear.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
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rowanoak

It's just one guy's opinion. The rest of us can form our own based on our own experiences and thoughts on it. I don't like the change in also boughts. That's for sure.
 

angelapepper

I think we should form a mob and look for someone to throw into the volcano.
 
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dgcasey

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It's always been Amazon's ethos to shake things up every 6 months and they haven't changed their ways and aren't likely to. Amazon WANT you to have to search for things, it's how supermarkets work. You just about get to work out where everything is, and they change the layout and you're back to square one.

Walmart is the same damn way. You get used to finding things in a certain place and the next time you come in, they are clear over on the other side of the store. Sometimes I wonder if the manager has nothing better to do, so he says, "Let rearrange."
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LilyBLily

Itís the same principle a used bookstore owner once explained to me. If people can find what they came for easily they only buy that book. If they have to root through boxes or piles they might encounter something else to buy. Somewhere in the middle is okay with me.
 

Tom Wood

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I think we should form a mob and look for someone to throw into the volcano.

Thankful Dan into the volcano!

« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 06:12:40 AM by Tom Wood »
 

RPatton

It's always been Amazon's ethos to shake things up every 6 months and they haven't changed their ways and aren't likely to. Amazon WANT you to have to search for things, it's how supermarkets work. You just about get to work out where everything is, and they change the layout and you're back to square one.

Walmart is the same damn way. You get used to finding things in a certain place and the next time you come in, they are clear over on the other side of the store. Sometimes I wonder if the manager has nothing better to do, so he says, "Let rearrange."<