How does Amazon work, I wonder

I really must say, the ranking system on Amazon fascinates me in a morbid fashion.

It is, really, the personification of many of the reasons I actually deplore the degree to which digital technology has permeated our society. Only through the advent of complex computers could such Lovecraftian mathematical models and algorithms be achieved on an hourly basis.

Something that has profoundly improved my position on the top 100 lists, or the overall sales rank lists: not selling any copies for nearly 12 hours. This, in one case, increased my rank in one category by something like 12 places.

An example of something that hurt my sales rank severely: selling about 4 copies. This, in one case, lowered me by more than 20 places.

Some things observed by other authors: raising and lowering your price has profound impact directly related to the price change (raise price, improve rank); existence of a film version – an author helping to puzzle out this ranking model had books with and books without movie treatments and confirmed that despite equal or worse sales, the ranks for the movied tales ranked higher; reviews (quantity) – it would seem that no reviews is better than some, but if you have any several is best … number of stars irrelevant, 40 1-stars is better as far as can be determined than 8 5-star.

Something with strange weight within the algorithm: 1-star reviews. They seem to hurt more than a 5-star helps. The fact that rating is used at all in the ranking is unique to Amazon, which troubles many consumers and creators alike since Amazon does not discourage people from reviewing things that they have never used/owned/etc nor take issue with people saying so in the reviews; and there’s no way to flag for removal a review for a radiant heater that reads (regardless of how many stars) “I really don’t like duck sauce” – while I pray that such a review for such an unrelated circumstance is merely the construct of my own strange mind, I do know that people will review things unrelated to the product or its quality.

I’ve actually had to resist the urge to consult astrological charts to determine if ranking trends correspond to any stellar alignments; I’m fairly certain, though, that Mercury’s position relative to Mars has some profound bearing upon the Hot New Releases Top 20 for Mysteries.

Ah me, but the eternal question: if it weren’t for computers and the internet wold my work be published? Frankly, I’m not a fan of computers and the internet as a rule. They’re useful tools in moderation, truly. I’m fond of some of their applications, like email. While I agree with Louis L’Amour regarding people relying on word processors to do too much of their writing for them, leading to sloppiness, I still would be loathe to be transferring my manuscripts to typewriter instead of Pages. Still, I would happily renew my acquaintance with my postman and invest in a big, solid Underwood if I could escape the perversions wrought upon society by the virulent proliferation of computer technologies …I miss simple electronics, such as 1980s and earlier televisions & radios {wistful sigh}.

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One thought on “How does Amazon work, I wonder

  1. Pingback: OW! My brains hurt! | Jaye Em Edgecliff

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