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Old 08-05-2018, 12:51 PM   #1
pwalker8
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Discoverability

As many have figured out, discoverability is one of my pet hobby horse/soap boxes. This morning, I noticed that the kindle app has a discover tab. It's likely that it's been there a while and I just never noticed it.

First, I rarely use either the Kindle app or the iBook app as my primary reading app. Rather, I use the combination of Calibre Companion and Marvin. This is mostly because I find both the Kindle app and the iBook app slow to get to the point when I can read without interruption. Both are busy phoning home and downloading whatever stuff they are busy downloading before they will respond to anything that I might want to do. But I have been known to use the Kindle app when a new book is released and I haven't had time to download it on my mac, load it into Calibre, then download it to my iPad, so it does get occasional usage.

Apple and Amazon have very different approaches to discoverability. Apple uses the curated approach. They do this with music and movies was well. They also have top paid/free lists by sales for various categories. So you get the both what books are popular, as well as what books the various curators consider of special interest.

Amazon, on the other hand, uses some sort of combination of what other people interested in a specific book buy, as well as books they are being paid to push. Oddly enough, every single book recommended to me by the Kindle app is in Kindle Unlimited or Prime(yea, that was sarcasm).

It's difficult to give a fair comparison between the two. First, I've only bought a handful of books from Apple, so they have very little data of what I like and don't like. Second, Apple is in the process of re-designing their books app and ebook store, so I'm going off their beta software which probably isn't going to go live for another couple of months.

However, I suspect that it's going to go in the same direction of their Music store without the subscription service (or at least I have not heard any rumors that Apple will open a subscription service for ebooks), so my comments will be based on those assumptions.

For me, Kindle recommendations are pretty worthless due to the payola issue. It's really too bad because I use to find a number of authors that way. I still occasionally run across a recommendation in the emails that Amazon sends on a daily basis (yes, I actually do scan those things to see if there are any that look interesting). IMPO, this is a situation where they let the marketing guys kill the golden goose as they were trying to monetize all aspects of the Amazon infrastructure. Of course, those who are deeply embedded into the KU system probably see this as a feature rather than a bug.

The big issue with Apple is if the curator shares similar taste with you. If so, great, if not, well not so great. I've run across this Apple music. I've had some major problems with the recommendation engine that Apple music uses and once it's gone off the deep end, it's pretty close to impossible to get it fixed.

My personal take is that Apple would be better served by hiring various people in the different categories and allow the customers to subscribe to which curators they want to use. Of course, they may use the "best of" curated list (i.e. best of the space opera, best of the urban fantasy, best of the high fantasy) model, which is one that appeals to me. In their Apple Music, they have playlist such as "Best rock from 1982" which they update every so often. That works pretty well for me.

To sum up, for me, discoverability is something that they still haven't quite figured out and I would love to see them experiment with a lot of different approaches. Amazon use to have a very nice system when they would pay people a small referral fee for any books purchased via a link from their site. This allowed sites like authoralert.com to make money providing a service that Amazon hasn't seemed to be able to get to work. Unfortunately, Amazon has decided they don't need to do that any more. I consider that penny wise and pound foolish since it's certainly cut back on my purchases. I don't see Apple going this route either.
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Old 08-05-2018, 03:56 PM   #2
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For me, Kindle recommendations are pretty worthless due to the payola issue. It's really too bad because I use to find a number of authors that way.
So Kindle recommendations are useless to you, which is a shame because you find them useful?

I find Amazon's recommendations very useful. I do agree about the payola angle, but those are pretty easy to spot, I think. It's also possible, I guess, that I just have lower standards.
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Old 08-05-2018, 04:20 PM   #3
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I don't get recommendations except when I go to Amazon Books to shop. Then there will be a category of "Recommended for you" but there is rarely anything there I'd buy.
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Old 08-05-2018, 05:21 PM   #4
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So Kindle recommendations are useless to you, which is a shame because you find them useful?

I find Amazon's recommendations very useful. I do agree about the payola angle, but those are pretty easy to spot, I think. It's also possible, I guess, that I just have lower standards.
the line says "For me, Kindle recommendations are pretty worthless due to the payola issue. It's really too bad because I use to find a number of authors that way." i.e. it's a shame because at one time I did find recommendations by Amazon useful, i.e. before they started selling recommendation slots.

Based on the fact that all the recommendations are KU books now, I would say that all the slots are either likely payola, or that Amazon is just trying to pimp the KU books to increase their subscriptions. Neither is particularly appealing, nor useful to me personally.
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Old 08-05-2018, 05:42 PM   #5
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Based on the fact that all the recommendations are KU books now, I would say that all the slots are either likely payola, or that Amazon is just trying to pimp the KU books to increase their subscriptions. Neither is particularly appealing, nor useful to me personally.
When I go to Amazon, I get a mix. For instance, Alan Moore's Jerusalem and Stephen King's Elevation aren't in KU. Maybe it's what we browse?
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Old 08-05-2018, 05:53 PM   #6
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<...snip...>Amazon, on the other hand, uses some sort of combination of what other people interested in a specific book buy, as well as books they are being paid to push. Oddly enough, every single book recommended to me by the Kindle app is in Kindle Unlimited or Prime(yea, that was sarcasm).<...snip...>
I don't know about the Kindle app, (I don't use it) but when I go to the Kindle store on my computer, the recommendations for me are pretty spot on. I went there today, and got the attached image for my recommends. Nothing in KU or Prime, and all things that I'm interested in. There are a couple that I've already read, but I didn't buy the book from Amazon.

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Old 08-05-2018, 07:56 PM   #7
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Based on the fact that all the recommendations are KU books now,
Don't let the fact that that's not actually a fact trip you up or anything.

Are you confusing "Sponsored products related to this item" with recommendations?

Within the store in the Reading app, I have several "For you in <genre-ish>" categories: SFF, Thriller, Short Stories, Movie/TV/Videogame Adaptations. Plus "Based on Your Browsing History", and "Top-rated <insert category here>", "New and Noteworthy", etc... Almost none of the books in those mentioned categories are KU books.

EDIT: I just checked and I get nearly identical results on the website (though I don't typically use their website for books).

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Old 08-05-2018, 08:16 PM   #8
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Lately my biggest book discovery source is the New Books We Recommend This Week column in the New York Times.

I'm mostly looking for narrative non-fiction. But I notice them increasingly recommending genre fiction.

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Old 08-05-2018, 08:58 PM   #9
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I'm perfectly fine with the realization that online bookstores aren't the best place to discover new books/authors. Have been for a long time. Just like how browsing Netflix/Hulu, etc... isn't the most efficient way to find shows/movies you might like from their catalog. Browsing online bookstores and streaming services is like the digital equivalent of random channel-flipping. You might get lucky every now and again.
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Old 08-05-2018, 09:05 PM   #10
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I never paid attention to Amazon's recommendations before. I don't scroll down that far.
But looking I do see that 42/50 titles are in KU.

The sponsored titles are all in KU.
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Old 08-06-2018, 06:45 AM   #11
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Don't let the fact that that's not actually a fact trip you up or anything.

Are you confusing "Sponsored products related to this item" with recommendations?

Within the store in the Reading app, I have several "For you in <genre-ish>" categories: SFF, Thriller, Short Stories, Movie/TV/Videogame Adaptations. Plus "Based on Your Browsing History", and "Top-rated <insert category here>", "New and Noteworthy", etc... Almost none of the books in those mentioned categories are KU books.

EDIT: I just checked and I get nearly identical results on the website (though I don't typically use their website for books).

Unless you happen to be looking over my shoulder when I bring up discover in the kindle app, you are completely and utterly pig ignorant as to whether or not every recommendation that is displayed to me is marked klindle unlimited, so I would thank you not to call me a liar without some sort of proof.

I report what I am seeing. Under recommended for you 7 books, all marked KindleUnlimited. That's a fact. Recommended for you in Science Fiction & Fantasy 7 books, all kindle unlimited. That's another fact.

You seem confused. In the kindle app, there is a tab call discover. When you select this tab, you see a page entitled Discover new books. This is what I'm talking about.
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:27 AM   #12
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Unless you happen to be looking over my shoulder when I bring up discover in the kindle app, you are completely and utterly pig ignorant as to whether or not every recommendation that is displayed to me is marked klindle unlimited, so I would thank you not to call me a liar without some sort of proof.
I'll be sure to keep that in mind if I ever decide to break forum rules and call you any kind of name; let alone "liar." So I'll thank you to keep your baseless accusations to yourself.

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I report what I am seeing. Under recommended for you 7 books, all marked KindleUnlimited. That's a fact. Recommended for you in Science Fiction & Fantasy 7 books, all kindle unlimited. That's another fact.
And are those the only two recommendation categories you see? What about the other categories? 100% KU as well? Or would you just rather not say?

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You seem confused. In the kindle app, there is a tab call discover. When you select this tab, you see a page entitled Discover new books. This is what I'm talking about.
I'm not confused at all. There is no such tab in the Kindle Fire's reading app. But the categories you describe make it perfectly clear that your Discover tab is showing you similar categories to mine. And that there are many more than two of them. And that they're not all 100% populated with KU books.

As to why yours shows a higher percentage of KU books (a percentage still less than 100% of course) than mine, I can't say. Perhaps you browse badly, too much, or inefficiently. Or perhaps your past purchase history merely suggests to the algorithm that price is a mitigating factor in your book-buying decisions. *shrug*

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Old 08-06-2018, 08:59 AM   #13
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If the allegations are in fact true maybe Amazon is going for the nostalgia angle? Just like shopping in a bookstore when the Big Publishers were in control and payola was the accepted business model. I don't visit many book stores these days but looking in a local one the other day and seeing what books are in the prime spots I suspect that this practice is still well and truly alive in print books.

Amazon seems to do very well in recommendations for some and not so well for others. I fall into the latter category though I do occasionally see a recommendation that interests me. As as has already been posted, Book store sites (or for that matter physical premises) are probably not the most independant source of recommendations. You can take them or leave them.
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:26 AM   #14
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I'll be sure to keep that in mind if I ever decide to break forum rules and call you any kind of name; let alone "liar." So I'll thank you to keep your baseless accusations to yourself.


And are those the only two recommendation categories you see? What about the other categories? 100% KU as well? Or would you just rather not say?


I'm not confused at all. There is no such tab in the Kindle Fire's reading app. But the categories you describe make it perfectly clear that your Discover tab is showing you similar categories to mine. And that there are many more than two of them. And that they're not all 100% populated with KU books.

As to why yours shows a higher percentage of KU books (a percentage still less than 100% of course) than mine, I can't say. Perhaps you browse badly, too much, or inefficiently. Or perhaps your past purchase history merely suggests to the algorithm that price is a mitigating factor in your book-buying decisions. *shrug*

You didn't use the word liar, but that doesn't change the fact that you claimed that what I said was untrue.

I said "Oddly enough, every single book recommended to me by the Kindle app is in Kindle Unlimited or Prime(yea, that was sarcasm)." You claimed that was not a fact, i.e. was untrue.

Yes, you are very confused because there is such a tab on the kindle app for the ipad. Given that iBooks and Marvin are apps that only exist on apple devices I'm at a loss why you would think I was talking about the kindle fire.
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:05 AM   #15
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You didn't use the word liar, but that doesn't change the fact that you claimed that what I said was untrue.

I said "Oddly enough, every single book recommended to me by the Kindle app is in Kindle Unlimited or Prime(yea, that was sarcasm)." You claimed that was not a fact, i.e. was untrue.

Yes, you are very confused because there is such a tab on the kindle app for the ipad. Given that iBooks and Marvin are apps that only exist on apple devices I'm at a loss why you would think I was talking about the kindle fire.
Yeah...I don't see a tab labelled "Discover" on the Android app, either. I can't check the iPad right now, because my husband took it to work, but I will be interested to see if it shows different recommendations from the ones that I posted above, from the website.

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