How Far Does Amazon Go In Researching Its Recommendations?

I got an e-mail this morning from Amazon based on the fact I bought ‘Doña Nicanora’s Hat Shop’  by Kirstan Hawkins from them. Headed More to explore: are you looking for something in our Fiction category? If so, you might be interested in these items.’

I was intrigued to see that Penny Rudge’s ‘Foolish Lessons in Life and Love’ was second on the list. I don’t know how they worked this out unless they’d recorded that I’d searched for the book previously. If they’d combined browsing history with purchasing history they’d also find that I’ve already bought that book from them and it was delivered earlier this week.

So I wondered whether there was something more crafty at work? The books are, on the face of it, not terribly similar in content apart from being modern fiction written by women. I guess it could be that there have been enough people on our year’s (and perhaps previous years’)  Certificate in Novel Writing course to have searched for both books fairly recently and they’ve mined this connection out of their database? If so, that’s quite an interesting network effect and shows how word of mouth and personal connections can influence this sort of viral marketing.

The other books, whose descriptions I’ve not yet dug into to discover if they also have City University connections, are: ‘Ruby’s Spoon’  by Anna Lawrence Pietron; ‘Ms Hempel Chronicles’ by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum; ‘The Wives of Henry Oades’  by Johanna Moran; and ‘The Hidden Heart of Emily Hudson’ by Melissa Jones. I guess they’re all by women but I wonder if any of these authors has a connection with people on the course or with Kirstan Hawkins or Penny Rudge — there’s probably some connection somewhere either through buying the books or some underlying collective browsing pattern.

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