Monday, 28 October 2013

The personal touch

According to the dictionary I have closest to hand, to recommend something is "to commend to the attention of another as reputable, worthy, or desirable". Someone should really tell the likes of Amazon that.

A recommendation is a personal thing, it carries particular weight and meaning between two parties because of the relationship that exists between them, which is why word of mouth is such a powerful marketing tool.

When I clicked on Amazon today, though, the first screen I came to contained no fewer than 29 recommendations while also informing me of five items 'other customers were looking at right now'. From "More items to consider", via "Related to items you've viewed" to "Inspired by your browsing history" there is seemingly a category to cover every eventuality, every click I've made on the site and a suggestion related to everything that I've ever looked at.

All that's not to say that there is no place for Amazon, which I quite like even though I'm not oblivious to the questionable morals of its tax policy and the effect that such a juggernaut of a retailer is having in innumerable industries and, given the subject of this blog, on smaller booksellers in particular.

I'm not actually completely against such suggestions, only that the quantity seems wildly excessive. It's a scattergun approach devised by computer programmers that aims to pique your interest and attract further purchases by using evidence gained from the one occasion when you were looking for a Christmas present for your nan.

Which brings me to a new Tumblr book blog I came across called Go Book Yourself.

Billed as "Book recommendations by humans, because algorithms are so 1984", to say that it's a straightforward concept would be an exaggeration. Each post merely suggests four other books readers might like based on books they may already love.

It's that simple, yet because it seems so personal, it's hugely effective. In fact, I recommend it.

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