Understanding Amazon’s e-book product pages
When you look at a book in a brick and mortar bookstore, you get quite a bit of information. You notice the cover (if it is “faced”…so the cover is facing out) or the spine (which may have a small picture). You see how thick it is. You can pick it up, turn it over, and maybe see a “blurb” on the back. You might open it, and check the first few pages…maybe to see the publication date or if it is a first edition.
When you are browsing through Amazon, instead of the physical book, you see the book’s “product page”. That also gives you a lot of information, although later in this post, I will suggest some other things it could say.
I thought I’d go through the page and give you a bit of an explanation…I think Amazon sometimes is overly presumptive about their customers’ level of familiarity with some pretty specialized terms.
The first thing I’m going to say is that not all product pages are the same. Amazon makes what I assume is a marketing decision not to show “negative facts” in many cases. If a book does have a feature (it is eligible for Whispersync for Voice, for example), they will trumpet that on the page. If a book isn’t, they often wisely ignore the question…they don’t put a big box that says, “This book not eligible for WSV”.
Sometimes they do give us negative information…I’ll point that out.
I’m going to start at the top left corner, and work left to right and top to bottom, which is the way English speakers often scan information (although if a sidebar looks to separate, it may not be examined until the reader has finished the similar looking text).
I’ll put actual words from the page in italics, so you can identify them more easily. I’ll put the variables (something that changes…for example, every book has a title, but the title is different on different books) inside [square brackets].
One other thing: I am looking at the page in a browser (such as you would do on a desktop or laptop). If you are using an app, or shopping from your Kindle device, you’d see different things.
Start reading [title] on your Kindle in under a minute. Don’t have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.
Even if you already have a Kindle, you’ll see that announcement.
There may be an indicator above the cover that you can “Click to LOOK INSIDE”. That can be worth doing. It may give you the beginning of the book, the table of contents, and so on.
The cover will also have a label letting you know it is the “kindle (sic) edition”. That does not mean the book’s contents have been altered. It’s just to let you know that if you order it, you are getting Amazon’s e-book…not the paper copy.
There may be additional images below the book cover. Those can have been shared by customers, and there is a link to let you share your own.
Moving over towards your right, you’ll see the title. It may not be the exact same title as what is on the book’s cover image…it may give you more information (like telling you it is part of a series, or that this is the Spanish edition). It will also say Kindle Edition at the end of it.
Below that, you’ll see the author(s)’ name. If you click or tap that , you may have the option to go to the author’s Amazon Author Central page (if any), or a search for that person’s books. You’ll also be told the role the person had…Author, Illustrator, Editor, and so on.
Next, you’ll see the number of stars (on a scale of 1 to 5) the book has gotten, and the number of reviews. There is a link there to take you right to the reviews if you want (which is important to people…in a recent poll I did, close to 7% of respondents said that customer reviews was one reason they shopped with Amazon).
Next, we hit the pricing section. You may see the Print List Price (what the publisher suggests retailers should charge for paper copies), the Digital List Price (what the publisher suggests retailers should charge for the e-book), the Kindle store price, and how much you saved (both by amount and percentage).
You’ll be told who sold the book…if this book is under the Agency Model (as Random House books still are), you are buying the book from the publisher, not Amazon (Amazon is only acting as the “agent”). If it is under the Agency Model, you’ll also see “This price was set by the publisher).
Following that, you’ll see the length in pages, and you’ll be told if the book contains “Real Page Numbers” (page numbers in the e-book that map to a specific paperbook edition).
If the book is “Whispersync for Voice (WSV) ready” you’ll be told that. There is an infobox that tells you about WSV, how much you can buy the audiobook for after you buy this e-book (if you want), and a link to the audiobook’s product page. I wish they would tell you right here who the narrator is, but I realize that might be complex.
If the book is available to be borrowed through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL), you’ll see information about that here. IMPORTANT NOTE: You can not borrow the book from your computer. You have to borrow the book from your Kindle hardware.
Let’s slide over to the right and look at the pricing area.
You can Buy now with 1-Click. Before you click on that, though, look below it. There is a dropdown where you can specify which device should get it first. That list is in alphabetical order, except that Kindle hardware comes before Kindle apps.
In that dropdown, you can also choose to “Transfer via Computer”. That’s an option if your device doesn’t have a connection. When you do that, you’ll still choose a device (so the copy can be “keyed” to it), but you would download the file to your computer, and then use a cable (typically) to transfer it to the Kindle. There is a link under there for How buying works. Clicking or tapping that gives you a nice graphic that explains it.
By the way, I love it when I discover little things when I do a walk-through like this. There is a link under the How buying works so you can read it on your computer. On my Windows desktop, it says, “Available on your PC”. On my Fire, using the Maxthon browser, it says, “Available on your Mac”.
The next option is to Give as a Gift. Use that to gift the book to someone not on your account. You’ll need an e-mail address for them, or you can print the gift out on paper and give it to them.
Below that is Add to Wish List. You can keep a list of things you’d like to get from Amazon, and make it public or not. I do that for things I might want to buy later. If you click or tap on that button, it will add it to your default Wish List. If you’d rather put it on another list (I have several) click or tap the little upside down pyramid (down arrow) on your right of the “Add to Wish List” button.
Continuing down, you get a choice to Try it free. I don’t think that option is there on free books…why send you a sample when you can get the whole thing? Again, check under it for the “Deliver to” before you click or tap that button. The sample will be sent to that device…and Amazon will put the sample in your account. That’s important because, unlike e-books, you can’t go to a sample at
later and download it again to a different device.
Back to the left side…
You’ll see a list of the formats in which the book is available, and their prices. Note that there may be a “+” to your left of a format. That means there is more than one option under there. For example, I sometimes see a free preview of a book and the full book, both under the Kindle Edition. You’ll see the Amazon Price, “New from”, and “User from”. For the Kindle edition, we aren’t seeing a “Used from” price…yet.
To your right of that, there is an ad for free Kindle reading apps.
One cool feature (I think many people haven’t noticed it), is that you can share the book’s product page via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You aren’t sharing the book…just letting somebody know about it. You can add a note at that point as well.
Next, you might see an ad…today, I saw one for the
Summer Reading Store
on one blockbuster (Dan Brown’s Inferno), and one for the Kindle Love Stories podcast on The Other Guy’s Bride (I was looking at these two books to get a contrast for product page information).
Dropping down, you’ll see the Book Description. This will typically tell you when this edition was published (not necessarily when the book was first published in any format…that confuses people sometimes). There will be a description of the book, written by the publisher. It can be changed at any time (if there is an update to a non-fiction book, for one thing). I think that’s why they don’t download it for you with the e-book.
Next, there may be a stripe for Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought. There are chevrons (arrows without the stick) there to scroll through and see them.
After that, there may be Editorial Reviews. That could include Amazon Exclusive information (Amazon is sort of reviewing the book themselves…like an “Employee’s Pick” card you might see in a brick-and-mortar store…I used to manage one).
You might also see reviews from professional publications. If there is a link for See all editorial reviews, that can give you some nice information.
Following that are the Product Details.
- File Size (not a great indicator of book length…pictures add a lot to file size)
- Print Length
- Page Numbers Source ISBN (If the book has “Real Page Numbers”, this is the International Standard Book Number for the edition they used to create the “map”…a paperback might have a different number of pages than the hardback, for example)
- Simultaneous Device Usage (You will only see this if the number isn’t six…it may say unlimited, and I’ve seen textbooks that say, “1″. This is the number of devices on your account which can have the book licensed at the same time)
- Publisher (and the date)
- Sold by
- ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number)
- Text-to-Speech (it will say “Enabled” if the publisher has not inserted code into the book to block text-to-speech access…it will say “Not Enabled” if it has been blocked)
- X-Ray (this lets you know if the book has the X-Ray feature, which provides additional information about the book)
- Lending (enabled or not…this is person-to-person lending, not public library lending)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: First, you’ll see its over all rank in the store (paid or free, depending on the book). Then, you’ll see the rank in different categories. This is a biggie: the publisher assigns those categories. They often do it just for marketing purposes, I believe. I’ve seen the same book classified as both fiction and non-fiction…presumably, they think they’ll reach more people that way.
There was an interesting link below that, which I don’t think I’ve noticed: Did we miss any relevant features for this product? Tell us what we missed.
Then, there was, Would you like to give feedback on images or tell us about a lower price? Amazon does typically price match, when you give them the relevant information.
Now, we are down to the Customer Reviews (whew!).
There are some “pull quotes”, which I assume are done by software doing linguistic analysis. Something I think isn’t obvious about the bar graph for the rankings: you can hover over a bar to see the percentage for that ranking. You can also click on the bar to just see those reviews. If you want to see why a book was given 1-star reviews, clicking on the bar will show you. You may or may not agree (I think I’ll probably do something more in-depth on Amazon reviews in another post).
You can then work your way down through the reviews. Note that there is a searchbox for the reviews. I use that quite a bit…I might search for “Kindle Fire” in app reviews, to see the references. In a book, you might want to search for, oh, “profanity” if you wanted to know if people said it was in the book.
Then, there may be more about the author (there might have been some up in the Amazon Editorial Review, if any, as well).
Now we get to What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item? How does that differ from Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought? Honestly, I”m not entirely sure of the technicality. I think the first one only does e-books.
Still moving down, we come to Shared Notes & Highlights, and Popular Highlights. This is a place where you can see what other people are highlighting and finding interesting in the book. Personally, I don’t read these if I haven’t read the book.
Just like “every rose has its thorn”, every e-book has its forum. That’s right…each individual book has a forum, and you can start threads and comment. You can also search the discussions. It’s sometimes interesting to me how the people who post in those may be…uninformed, compared to the people who post in the Kindle forums.
Next, you may see So You’d Like to… This shows you customer created guides which include this book. You can search the Guides, and you can create your own guides. I may do that at some point…
Hang in there! I can see the end of the tunnel!
You can Look for Similar Items for by Category…again, these are chosen by the publisher. Hm…I think the bestsellers above use the publisher-chosen categories. Thinking about it, I’m not 100% sure about those, but I am sure about these.
- If you need help or have a question for Customer Service, contact us
- Would you like to report poor quality or formatting in this book? Click here
- Would you like to report this content as inappropriate? Click here
- Do you believe that this item violates a copyright? Click here
Honestly…do you get more information here, or browsing in a bookstore?
With all of that, would I still like to add more?
Yes, a couple of things offhand:
- Word count (that’s the clearest indication of how long a book is, and it could be computed automatically)
- Clipping limit (you can only “clip” so much from a book, but it varies…it might be 5%, it might be 10%, it might be unlimited…I’d like to know)
I may think of some others (public domain, maybe?), but this post is long enough!
If you do have questions about this, or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. Anything you’d like to see which isn’t there, for example?
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.