Choose a book by Amazon

On: October 3, 2021
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About Linxin Liu


   

Following the digital technology development, people’s personal life already tied up with social media companies. These companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon intruded every aspect of people’ whole life. Even how to read and find a book also depends on the digital services. How does Amazon know people’s reading habits, how to make suggestions to users, and how do users make decisions?

Background

Since the Amazon online shop came into being in 1994, Amazon rapidly pervaded every aspect of people’s life; From product purchases, movies, music to books, the public can find almost anything that they want on Amazon. Digital book services are an important part of Amazon’s digital business empire. Amazon owns its own publishing company called Amazon publishing, which focuses on fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. Moreover, in 2007, Amazon launched the Kindle e-book reader, supplementing its website for selling ebooks and creating a community of readers. Another influential function on Amazon’s ebook website is search and book reviews by buyers. These and other functions have changed people’s way of searching for and buying books, even how they read books. Amazon has not only made things easier for its consumers, it has transformed the book industry.

Books are a medium for recording information. Consequently, people need books and reading. Frank Zappa once lamented, ‘so many books, and so little time’, referring to the difficulties of reading in his time. Facing the many books in a library (Ramsay 1). Ramsay (5) offers two ways of exploration. The first one is searching, which means people have a question or curiosity about a specific field or concept, and they try to find the answer through the reference desk or any of a variety of methods and tools. The second approach is called browsing. Here readers are more attracted by passing interest and have no clear question or aim; they simply explore for any topic they find fun.

Search

Nowadays, digital technology has partly replaced the traditional library method that people were familiar with in the past century. Unlike the traditional library, where people are required to walk in and manually search for books, digital technology allows greater convenience. However, although computers have evidently transformed ‘information retrieval’, the core still is searching for an answer. Amazon is the largest e-commercial company in the world, and unsurprisingly, it has invented new ways of selling and book advertising, as well as new reading technology and formats, strongly accelerating digitization (Albrechtslund 554). This essay will focus on how Amazon’s technology has provided users with tools for searching and browsing books and explore how people’ reading habits have been affected by digital technology.

Years ago, Amazon released a new “Look and search inside the book’ technology. The technology further subdivides the subject and classification of books, disrupting original library searches. ‘Search inside the book’ technology allows users to search every single page of a book for a keyword and provides digital images of book pages to users (Marinaro 3). However, a research limitation is that the book needs to have a print and kindle edition. Similarly, ‘Look inside book’ provides a limited selection of kindle edition pages for potential buyers to preview. These two functions revolutionised search, providing more search results and preview pages to consumers (Amazon).

Browsing

In addition, Amazon developed digital benefit offerings altering how books are browsed, creating reader communities and connecting users. Ramsay (1) mentioned that Amazon’s holding Listmania offers users book lists on particular topics, however, this function has long been unavailable (Casagrande) and has been replaced by the Goodreads website. Goodreads, another Amazon offering, tries to create a community for readers to share and record books that they have read or want to read (Albrechtslun 553). Moreover, the website gives personalized book recommendations based on a recommendation engine’s analysis of over 20 billion data points and users’ personal literary tastes (Goodreads). On the Amazon website itself, the bestseller list and user reviews are also popular browsing approaches with consumers. According to Bao and Chang (1-3), the Amazon website has partnered with the New York Times Best Seller list since 1999. They summarize that the communication on multiple media enhances the effect of each; when a person’s media activity increases, it creates a ‘multiplier effect’. Positive messages will be amplified and the information will spread freely among the interacting media systems. 

Similarly, Amazon’s user reviews and rating system allows consumers to express their opinion and experience of online products to help potential buyers make the right purchase decision and help retailers to improve their services (Guan, Zhang and Zhu 86-87). Moreover, in both searching and browsing, the user reviews and rating system helps consumers to make a decision on what books are worth buying. Users can depend on others’ experiences and opinions to form an opinion on books. Furthermore, the customer review system also serves as a search filter condition. It is divided from one to five stars, and people can choose to see books which are four stars or higher for example. In their reviews, consumers can not only rate stars and recommend books, but they can also explain why they think so to other consumers browsing the book, who can get helpful information from the past consumers. 

In conclusion, Amazon is a successful digital services company, and It has created lots of digital technology that have transformed people’s lives. Through Amazon’s ‘Look inside’ and ‘Search inside’ book functions, users can get more detailed search results from more specific books and see the digital pages before they buy the whole book. Also, Amazon provides a community for readers to record their book opinions and a bestseller list to give literary suggestions to users. Amazon not only enhances user engagement, it helps other users to make a decision. All of these techniques by Amazon have destroyed traditional library search and browsing of books. They have improved the effectiveness of search and thus users’ online experience, changing people’s reading and book search habits. 

References

“About Goodreads”. Goodreads.Com, 2021, https://www.goodreads.com/about/us.

Albrechtslund, Anne-Mette Bech. “Amazon, Kindle, And Goodreads: Implications For Literary Consumption In The Digital Age”. Consumption Markets & Culture, vol 23, no. 6, 2019, pp. 553-568. Informa UK Limited, https://doi.org/10.1080/10253866.2019.1640216.

“Amazon.Com Help: What Is Search Inside The Book?”. Amazon.Com, 2021, https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GFUKUP5925ED8MN4.

Bao, Tong, and Tung-lung Steven Chang. “Why Amazon Uses Both The New York Times Best Seller List And Customer Reviews: An Empirical Study Of Multiplier Effects On Product Sales From Multiple Earned Media”. Decision Support Systems, vol 67, 2014, pp. 1-8. Elsevier BV, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dss.2014.07.004.

Casagrande, Silvio et al. “Where Are Your Amazon Listmania List?”. Foylesleyendo.Blogspot.Com, 2016, http://foylesleyendo.blogspot.com/2016/04/where-are-your-amazon-listmania-lists.html.

Guan, Lu, Yafei Zhang, and Jonathan Zhu. “Segmenting and Characterizing Adopters of E-Books and Paper Books Based on Amazon Book Reviews.” Social Media Processing. Singapore: Springer Singapore, 2016. 85–97. Web.

Marinaro, Timothy S. “Searching For Profits With Amazon—Inside The Book And In The  Margins”. Publishing Research Quarterly, vol 20, no. 3, 2004, pp. 3-8. Springer Science And Business Media LLC, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12109-004-0011-4.

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