December 21, 2013

Customers Who Bought This Item Have Also Bought .....

While I still enjoy the occasional visit to a library or bookshop to browse titles in the hope of discovering something interesting or unexpected, this is becoming rarer as I usually do most of my book browsing online. It is just too wonderfully convenient for an avid book-nut like me to have everything at my fingertips.

I must admit I’m often guided by the what-other-customers-have-bought panel that shows up on a book-buying site when I click on a title that grabs my attention, but this panel can also reveal nuances and intriguing psychological characteristics about us book-buyers.

So I did a few experimental researches on a number of random titles in different genres to see what I could discover about buyers of certain types of books. I used and and this produces slight differences in results depending on what country you’re in. I haven’t given links to every author or book mentioned, but they can be easily Googled.

Copyright Carole Cable.

Literary fiction readers are fairly predictable with their esoteric like-for-like selections much lauded by the critics, and popular fiction throws up too broad a spectrum to gain much sense of readers’ quirks, although some naturally skew in certain directions. Buyers of George R R Martin will read other dark fantasy, readers of Dan Brown will be also be interested in the Knight Templars and obscure religious cults, and young readers of J K Rowling will off-shoot into other magical works like Artemis Fowl and Lemony Snickett.

The customer panel for Are You Psychic? Find the Answers You’ve Always Been Looking for? reveals that the title appeals to those (women mostly) who are also struggling with self-esteem or body image or have relationship issues, as can be seen by books on Chakra healing, a formula for forgiveness, positive thinking, a makeover for happiness, and what men really want in bed.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is an inspirational/travel/memoir/fiction book that shows readers want Gilbert’s other titles, but also reveals more female insecurities in a search for happiness, on getting the love you want, on how to deal with imperfections, change your life and find yourself. There’s a book on counting carbs and calories, Prozac Nation and one by the Dalai Lama. Even the novels are those famous for drama and emotions - from the great literary classic novel Tolstoy’s Anna Katerina to the latest Nobel Prize winner Anna Munro’s Too Much Happiness.  Of course, as with all book purchases, there are always the exceptions that prove the rule – the book of the film The Wolf of Wall Street, Richard Branson’s autobiography Losing My Virginity,  and the children’s classic, The Owl and the Pussycat. But I suspect this indicates they were bought by women as gifts for others in their family at the same time they were chewing over their inner and outer selves.

The Branson book led me to Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography which I figured would be more male-oriented and focussed on business success, and so it is, with titles on Donald Trump, Warren Buffet and Alex Ferguson, although there is some woman out there wanting to learn how to be a strong female and reach the top, and how a woman can be a forceful leader. Maybe she’s opening a restaurant or catering business, as there are several titles on chefs and cooking. And, as to be expected, a lot of male biographies (including that Wolf of Wall Street again!) - Bear Grylls, Richard Hammond, Arnold Schwarznegger, Benjamin Franklin, Alfred Einstein - and a predictable plethora on successful sports people including Mike Tyson and Usain Bolt. There’s also What to Expect When You’re Expecting (congratulations, you’re about to be a father!) a couple of computer books and one that claims to be have been a New York Times Bestseller for 4 years, The 4-Hour Work Week, or Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere in the World and Join the New Rich

Hm, really? Are You Psychic, etc. might be just as useful in getting what you want out of life. What is with the number 4? Is it a secret number of some kind - better check out Dan Brown on that - because there’s a lot of people also buying the 4-Hour Body and the 4-Hour Chef too by this same author. Presuming this is all accomplished in a 24 hour day, what does he do with the other 12 hours I wonder? Even allowing 2 x 4 for sleeping and associated bedroom/bathroom/grooming/taking out the garbage activities, that leaves just one other 4 hour block for some other go-go activity with the New Rich and I doubt it includes that waste of time called READING.

Which leads to philosophy and religion and the plush leather version of The King James’ Holy Bible. This was bought with other existentialist titles, economics, fanaticism, the Koran (Qur’an), the origins of Hinduism, the Nag Hammadi, Dante’s Inferno, The Wealth of Nations and Mein Kampf.  And I’m really curious to know if it was the same person who bought a Bible who also purchased a 1 litre jar of organic maple syrup, a cake icing set, a professional body brush, a pack of catering sponges, and Chemistry for Dummies.  There’s a whole other story to discover in that ... but I’ve done my dash and the 3.75 hours I’ve just spent putting this together means I have .25 hour to do that last minute Christmas shopping. 

As Christmas and Amazon are becoming dangerously synonymous, take a look at the fantastic funny cartoons to be found at, particularly their range on the drones putting Santa out of business!

Copyright Marian Kamensky

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