Archive for the ‘Purchasing decisions’ Category

Poll Party #3

June 20, 2013

Poll Party #3

My regular readers know that I really like to hear your opinion. I often ask for it at the end of posts (and I try to give you conversation starters), and I love reading (and responding to) the comments.

I know not everybody wants to, or has the time and energy to, write something like that.

That’s one reason I love the polls we do here. It gives people another way to be heard. Even though we certainly aren’t a scientific sample of the mainstream, I find it interesting to see what we are saying. I suspect we might even be predictive as a group, as far as e-books are concerned, but I don’t really know that.

This time, I’ve also decided to make this a bit “newsy”. That combines the news (which I know people like) with the polls, hopefully making the post more attractive to more people. 🙂

Let’s go through a few polls!

Book discovery

We all have many more books available to us more conveniently and at lower prices than we did ten years ago.

We’re closing in on two million titles in the USA Kindle store (at the current rate, we are likely to see that before the end of summer), and consistently, about 45% under $4. In addition, there are tens of thousands of e-books in the Kindle store that are free to own, and hundreds of thousands in the Koll (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) that eligible Prime members with hardware Kindles (as opposed to free Kindle reading apps) can borrow at no additional cost.

That’s a problem…admittedly, a “First World Problem”, as people say, or as I’ve heard in retort, “I should have such problems…” 😉

Where there is a problem there is…well, not necessarily a solution, but a business opportunity. 🙂 If you can come up with a good way to help people find books they want, you could make money. You might charge them (even by having them look at advertising), or have the content suppliers pay you (although that can be seen as a conflict of interest), or have a retailer buy/license it to make their site more valuable.

After all, Amazon reportedly recently paid a lot of money for Goodreads, and clearly, discovery was one reason (as I wrote about in Amazon buys Goodreads).

There have been some approaches in the past. One is to show you “customers who bought also bought”. Another is to let you know when an e-book is released by an author if you have bought that author’s books before (I’ve had that happen, but it is pretty inconsistent).

Another possibility is to actually analyze characteristics of a book you have liked to suggest books which might be similar.

In this

Publishers Weekly article by Gabe Habash

they write about Evoke, which won the $10,000 “hackathon” prize at BEA (BookExpo America).

While there are some fascinating aspects to what they may be able to do, here is how they addressed discovery, according to social scientist Jill Axline, part of the team:

“The platform works to humanize online book discovery by setting [book] characters in relationship with one another based on various types of qualitative data,” explained Axline. “These data include readers’ emotional responses to characters; per”eived relationships with characters; and attributions of roles and characteristics to characters.”

That sounds to me like something which could work. I know we see some things like that on Netflix…”movies with strong creative heroes”, or something like that.

That got me thinking.

What elements of fiction draw you do it?

I decided to draw inspiration for the poll answersfrom a site I’ve recommended before

You can make all sorts of choices there to get book recommendations.

It’s interesting that both Evoke and AllReaders use things which have to do with the reaction of the reader, not just “on the page” factors. As AI (Artificial Intelligence) gets more advanced at things like sentiment analysis, it should become more possible to identify works as “romantic” or “dark” through software.

Stephen King and the e-bookless book

One way that I judge how much something has had an impact on me, whether it be a news event or a book/movie/TV show, is how often it spontaneously comes to mind after my exposure to it.

I can’t believe how often Stephen King’s decision not to initially release Joyland as an e-book pops into my head! I know I’m having an emotional reaction to it. I see an ad for the Under the Dome TV series, and I think that I don’t want to watch it because of this. I see the author on TV in conjunction with Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a musical collaboration between King, John Cougar Mellencamp, and T-Bone Burnett…and my desire to hear it is clouded by my upset with this.

Now, in my case, I’m only likely to have this kind of lasting response if I think it is affecting other people. I don’t tend to hold a grudge about things which affect me…I’m pretty good at letting that go (Spock isn’t a hero for nothing). 😉

I understand why Stephen King said that it was done this way…to make people “…stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore…” (sic). I’ve heard that there is also a nostalgic component, to make it more like the books King bought decades ago.

I’m sorry, but for me (even if this might be irrational), it just seems like something that makes it much more inconvenient for people with disabilities, for what seems somewhat self-indulgent (not many authors could do this), even if it may have a perfectly good motivation. I mean, there were a lot of social conditions that were worse when books like this were being published: people who would have been paid even less for the same work done in creating the book, people who would never have been hired in the first place to work on it due to inherent conditions/lifestyle…and hey, the book would probably have cost fifty cents! 🙂 To me, wanting to make people go to a brick-and-mortar store (oh, and the book is available online in paper, by the way) is a big step backwards for equal access.

That’s how I feel about it, but it certainly might not be right (I don’t say it’s rational), and might not be how you feel. I’ve probably influenced some responses by listing my feeling first, but try and put that aside…I don’t mind you disagreeing with me. 🙂

Sample behavior

When I wrote about a recent update to the Kindle Paperwhite that makes it easier to buy a book from the sample on your device, one of my regular readers and commenters, Tom Semple, suggested a poll on how samples affect buying behavior.

In my response to Tom, I suggested that samples might make me less likely to buy something. That may be because I’m not likely to get a sample unless I am already interested. So, if the sample is good, it doesn’t change a leaning I already have to buy it. If a sample is bad (which might be because of formatting, proofreading, or because it isn’t covering what I thought it would), that might make me forget about the book.

That doesn’t mean I would want them to stop doing samples! I really like that, and it is an analog to picking up a p-book (paperbook) in a brick-and-mortar store (I’m a former manager), and taking a quick look. My guess is that a lot of people buy e-books because of the samples, but it makes sense to ask, instead of just guessing. 🙂


Okay, let’s do some without all that yakkin’! 😉

I’m sure some of you have comments to add (and I hope I haven’t left off any Kindles or apps!). Would there be characteristics for a book that would just about guarantee you would read it?

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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