I went to the Amazon Bookstore today on an errand to audit its well-being. I am wary of any store that has a greeter. I think they said ‘can I help you find a book today.’ It could have been that, I disregard panhandlers in the trains and in bookstores. I’m not new to books and stores, this isn’t my first rodeo.
Amazon Bookstore is a confectionary selling books (incidentally I give cotton candy a 2.3 score) One of the first books in my eyeshot was a neither here nor there ‘New York Times Bestseller’, it scored a 4.8 out of 5. You might be asking what of the classics that aren’t on that list, well I’m here to answer all your questions. Brothers Karamazov and Lolita are two of the lowest rated books on display, both have a 4.3 score.
Amazon Bookstore uses the aggregate rating to determine good or bad. Prime shelf space is reserved for the high scores, low shelves for the low.
(a reader review of Lolita from Amazon) 4.0 out of 5 stars – The book is a masterpiece; word wise is malfunctioning
By Fxh on June 30, 2017
I have to give a good grade for this book since it is indeed a great piece. However, word wise in this book is weird.
Who needs literary reviewers when you have Fxh? So that a consumer doesn’t actually have to read the book, a bumpersticker type review from an Amazon ‘verified purchaser’ is used as part of the book display.
Is Fxh rated, the higher the score, the more trustworthy a person.
Down a wide aisle is Between the World by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It has a 4.6 score. Coates language is emphatic, not short on intensifiers, rage, Baltimore street cred and degraded English. It is an excellent book, I read it and truly enjoyed it, he is brilliant and conveys elegantly something deep within himself.
What mechanisms are there to protect me from rings of scammers that work in unison to inflate a score? Should some points be shaved off a book score to compensate for the natural for Coates’ readers connecting with each other, in solidarity, to grade Coates. Nabokov has gone thru the rings of fire of a hotter sort. Is Coates scoring graded generously as gratitude for its political and social outreach? This is not unfair but we don’t know. It is not on the return policy on the receipt
To appreciate literature requires intimate familiarity with the language. Just as you cannot tell good jitterbugging from bad if you do not know the structure of the dance, you cannot tell good writing from bad if you don’t know how the language works.
What is this unit of measurement, an Amazon ‘point’? What currency am I taking that exchanges at Nabokov buys me .93 of Coates.
Has Lolita been graded below Coates because it is easier to ignore the language than to learn it. Have all words become the same, is partly/partially, historic/historical, is continuous also continual?
Ursula le Guin wrote a scathing commentary on Amazon bookstores:
Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship
Most frightening is that Amazon Bookstore shapes what we do and don’t read or hear about. And who we hear it from. Or don’t.