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View Full Version : Amazon's search results promote poor products over successful ones



EmpoweredOKC
05-20-2010, 07:06 PM
Amazon doesn't really answer questions asked to them directly, so...does anyone know how Amazon determines how to order products in search results? It is not based on actual sales results, which is what I had originally thought. Books that sell terribly are found in the top listings, way ahead of books that sell the best among all the search returns.

This is vexing to me because I wrote a book about the treatment of trauma in victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault, and it's been extremely well-received and highly reviewed. It's one of the top-selling titles on the topic. But when you look up a particular relevant key word in Amazon's search engine, Amazon lists my book waaay below others on the page (and sometimes I'm not even on the first page), and at the top of the page are god-awful, barely-selling books of (I am not making this up)...rape porn!

In other words, Amazon's search function offers rape porn a preferential position among search results, even though they rank in the 650,000th position (or worse). Yes, Amazon not only sells, but preferentially PROMOTES rape porn, even above best-selling titles on the topic of abuse recovery. Clearly, the most desirable positions in search returns are not reserved for the products that actually sell the best.

So how DOES Amazon determine its search return positions? Can a publisher buy off a better positions for their product or something? Anyone know?

brainstorm77
05-20-2010, 07:13 PM
Amazon sells porn? And what exactly is 'rape porn'? If your toting that erotica is porn, then I think you are gonna stir the pot here just a tad.

mscelina
05-20-2010, 07:23 PM
Most publishers of erotica specifically refuse to publish any book with rape in it. And, just out of curiosity, how do you know these books are "rape porn" if you haven't read them? What is "rape porn?" It's not a genre I'm familiar with. And "rape" has a different classical context than a modern one--don't forget that. The "rape of Persephone" is a very specific Greco-Roman myth, one that has stories and art with the term 'rape' in the title. Then, 'rape' meant 'kidnapping.'

My guess would be (one that is confirmed by a quick search for 'rape' in Amazon books) that since "rape porn" isn't something a legitimate publisher would touch, any such books are self-published through Amazon and that the keywords the author listed matched yours closely enough to pull it up on the search.

jennontheisland
05-20-2010, 07:25 PM
Yeah, I'd love to see the links to these "rape porn" books.

My guess is that considering the subject matter of your book, you're probably a little sensitive to some things and are mislabelling erotica as porn. Lots of people do it for various reasons.

More than likely, you'd call what I write "porn". Me, I don't care. I'm willing to wear that title, but other people might not take to it so kindly.

veinglory
05-20-2010, 07:48 PM
I think their ranking are based mainly on sales but with a sharp recency factor, so they are based mainly on very recent sales. But frankly, its based on what every they want--probably based on whatever will make them the most money. That's the nature of the beast.

veinglory
05-20-2010, 07:50 PM
p.s. to be fair the second book that comes up on a search for rape certainly looks like something I would call rape porn (Blurb: "After the Arab leader had finished with her, Beauty was staked out upon the hot desert sand to let the insects finish her off.")

Carolanne Patton
05-20-2010, 08:25 PM
OMG I think I've read that book. Is that one of the Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice, writing as Anne Roquelaure? Actually, they are more S&M erotica.

My guess is that whatever Amazon is doing, it has more to do with their own sales than anything else.

veinglory
05-20-2010, 08:30 PM
No, it is not one of the 'Beauty' books. I assure you I am not a prude, and I don't think you should assume OP is one either. At least not without running the search yourself (Books category, rape).

Cyia
05-20-2010, 08:42 PM
Maybe the OP means "bodice ripper" style romance novels.

leahzero
05-20-2010, 08:44 PM
Amazon has a huge database of information on its products, including scans of the text of books, tags, user-supplied categorizing data, consumer metrics, etc. Search isn't just based on sales, but the actual content of a product, how it's classified, and its relationships to other products.

I found this after a quick search for "amazon search algorithm:" http://stackoverflow.com/questions/555259/how-is-amazon-faceted-search-so-fast

While they're talking about how Amazon is able to display search results in various media so quickly, they get at the same thing.

My guess is it has to do with keywords/indexing. Does your work use non-triggering terms/euphemisms instead of literal terms? Without knowing the keyword(s) you're searching for, it's hard to tell.

veinglory
05-20-2010, 08:44 PM
No, he doesn't mean bodice rippers. If he is seeing the same reults I am he means pro-rape written pornography. Why assume he is prejudiced?

Cyia
05-20-2010, 08:45 PM
ewww.

brainstorm77
05-20-2010, 08:46 PM
Yeah, I'd like to see examples of what they consider rape porn. I hope they come back to this thread.

Carolanne Patton
05-20-2010, 08:46 PM
Eek, no, I don't think or assume anybody is a prude. I think the OP has a legitimate beef, unfortunately I think she's fallen victim to Amazon's marketing ploys.

veinglory
05-20-2010, 08:56 PM
Okay, if you aren't going to look for yourself I will tell you. The books OP is probably referring to are Olympia Press (http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=olympia+press+books&tag=googhydr-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=3036943109&ref=pd_sl_75t6iw4hhu_b)reprints of vintage rape books in which a character or characters rapes and often tortures and sometimes kills a string of usually very young and often underage women.

I personally support having these books available, but they are rape porn. I see no reason to assume he meant anything else. They are not modern erotic romance, they are stroke books for men who enjoy violent rape fantasies normally featuring girls in their teens. These books do exist and Amazon does sell them and they do appear prominantly in searches.

So can we stop just speculating now?

icerose
05-20-2010, 08:57 PM
I believe new releases also come top of the list as a way to help encourage sales.

So if those rape-porn books are new releases, then it isn't surprising they'd come up on the first page even with dismal sales.

ETA my search skills suck because all I could come up with are books on the actual subject. I used "Treatment for trama for rape victim" "Trama of rape victim" and "Treatment for rape victim." I guess I just can't find the bad stuff.

brainstorm77
05-20-2010, 08:58 PM
IC.

willietheshakes
05-20-2010, 09:36 PM
I believe new releases also come top of the list as a way to help encourage sales.

So if those rape-porn books are new releases, then it isn't surprising they'd come up on the first page even with dismal sales.

ETA my search skills suck because all I could come up with are books on the actual subject. I used "Treatment for trama for rape victim" "Trama of rape victim" and "Treatment for rape victim." I guess I just can't find the bad stuff.

"trauma"

mscelina
05-20-2010, 09:50 PM
I just ran a search in books for 'rape' and came up with the one self-pubbed erotic rape fantasies book--pubbed through Amazon, I might add--on the first page.

ishtar'sgate
05-20-2010, 10:37 PM
My guess is it has to do with keywords/indexing. Does your work use non-triggering terms/euphemisms instead of literal terms? Without knowing the keyword(s) you're searching for, it's hard to tell.
I agree. I searched 'rape victim' and got rape recovery books.

Jamesaritchie
05-20-2010, 11:16 PM
The keyword search on Amazon has always mistified me completely. If there's a logic behind it, I have no clue what it is.

icerose
05-21-2010, 12:29 AM
"trauma"

Heh, didn't even catch that.

Irysangel
05-21-2010, 05:38 PM
I remember Christmas shopping and putting something in my cart, and Amazon suggested that people that bought the Christmas cookies I'd just selected had also bought the following products...and it was nothing but hentai manga comics. Lots of tentacles and schoolgirls and loose, flopping boobies.

That was a bit of a shocker to me. So I can totally see what the OP is saying. :) I'm not sure WHY it happens, but I've had it happen to me.