e-commerce makes me tired

So my friend Joe tells me to check out a book called Where Good Ideas Come From. I look it up on Google and click on the top result, an Amazon one for Steven Johnson’s book by that title. That goes to an Amazon page for the book, with links and pitches to various other books I might also want. One is Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surpus. Another is Ian Morris’s Why The West Rules — For Now. Another is for Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants. I already have Kevn’s book, but would like to buy the other three, in a bunch.

So I go to put them all in my cart. But I can’t—far as I know, anyway. Not on that page, because it turns out this search result is intended mostly (or entirely… hard to tell) for Kindle users. I don’t have a Kindle and prefer to buy actual paper books. So I search again, within Books this time, on the Amazon site. This brings up a page for Stephen Johnson’s book, and a grouping of books “Frequently Bought Together” that has Kevin’s and Clay’s books and a way to pay for all three at once (for $50.57).

But I don’t want Kevin’s book this time, and I’m missing Ian Morris’s book. Can I put together a different “Price for all three” that includes the books I do want this time around? Well, I have to find Ian’s book. It’s not in “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”—at least not on that page. I eventually find it on page 3 (of 20) in a horizontal scroll to the right of the original five. But how to combine them? I dunno, and decide just to do it the aging-fashioned way: by putting all three individually in my basket.

Back in 1996 this seemed miraculous. Now it seems like a chore.

I would love it if Amazon gave me a simple search result, for the book I want, and then let me optionally add all the other stuff that right now is aggressive guesswork about what I might want.

Or maybe there’s already a way of doing that. Is there?


  1. Tom E’s avatar

    Hey Doc, Glad to see the printed word is still holding it’s own against its digital doppelganger.

    What gets me is Amazon’s recommendation system, which reinforces what the user should read based on their previous choices. To my mind the books I read can’t be so easily packaged up. One day I might read an autobiography, the next a novel. I guess I don’t like to be pigeonholed

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Sometimes the groupings are helpful, but it bothers me how bad the guesswork often is, especially when Amazon recommends that I buy books I’ve already bought—from Amazon.

  3. Dave Täht’s avatar

    I can’t afford to buy books, unless I want them signed…

    Back in pre-history, (2002?) there was to be a cool javascript bookmark that would go through the amazon page looking for the ISBN number… and then look up the availability of that book in your local library.

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