Remember when Amazon first began? The company’s one goal was to be the biggest book store in the world with enough books to fill the coliseum. Well?
It is, but it isn’t.
Have you ever tried to find a book on Amazon by the title alone? I did recently and was provided a whole array of sponsored electrical equipment and beauty products before the book’s cover appeared. Well, actually all the books with similar titles appeared, the book I sought among them.
In my dream world, Amazon goes back to its roots and splits into separate websites, such as: general retail; groceries, and bookstore. So, as a reader, I can sign on to a site called Amazon Reads or Books and wander the shelves, if virtually, without inundation by merchandise sellers and all the other piffle you get when you sign onto your Amazon main page.
Amazon has the chops to do this, and I believe book sales would increase because us poor readers could actually find the book we want, instead of being bombarded with books of no interest and unrelated products from random departments, including bras, electrical generators, and bamboo sheets.
I am talking about a nice, clean site for books, like the wonderful old bookstore in San Francisco, A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books. You sign-in, a published today feature lets you know the new books in the genre you most often buy, from there you type in the book you seek, and up it pops. Any book advertising runs down the side of the screen, including bestsellers and sponsored book ads. Other books with similar titles appear after the book you seek, not before it.
On this dedicated book site, when you type in the author’s name all of that author’s books appear, uninterrupted by sponsored books, sponsored products (like bread pans), or whatever the heck else Amazon is pushing. This would be great for those who write in more than one genre because someone who reads your cozy mystery might see a cover, read the description, and decide to buy one of your very un-cozy thrillers.
In addition to finding books by author, readers should be able select and search in more defined and specific genres according to their taste, such as cozy romantic suspense, not-so-cozy romantic suspense, and not-even-close-to-cozy romantic suspense.
On a personal level, I don’t mind other related books appearing in my searches, I might find something I like, but they should come after the book I’ve asked for and not include sponsored ads for books from a different genre like vampires, fifty shades of whatever, and the dystopian world of aggrieved youth. Call me cockeyed, but I think a search for a Vietnam thriller should not result in a screen full of sexy vampire books, vampire books should remain among the undead.
And as I wrote last year, without a consistently applied scale, reader reviews should stop —now (both number of stars and quantity of reviews). Books aren’t camping equipment. We used to buy books by word of mouth or by discovery, Amazon’s review system is an antithesis of this, squelching triers. I have read, as I am sure many of you have, books by bestselling authors with a gazillion reviews all swearing the book is the best thing ever when the book was garbage. In fact, I left a one star review for a bigtime author in nearly those words. Truthfully, I was harsher. And likewise, we have all discovered/taken a chance on/read books without reviews that were to die for (and probably didn’t leave a review when we should have). Hopefully, we touted the book and author to all we met, and in our blogs or newsletters.
Amazon favors the big names and big spenders now, just like the publishing houses did before Amazon came into the world hoping to be the biggest book store ever. Sales is their king, but I suggest that book sales would increase for Amazon if they ran a bookstore where readers could find the book they want to buy with ease (not the DVD version, the Amazon Prime version, or the game version) whether hardcover, paperback, e-, online or audio — and without bedsheets or vampires.