May 5, 2009

Bad Marketing or Clever Counter-Programming?

The other day I looked up my book on Amazon. I try not to do it too often; my sales rank can jump or drop by ten thousand points in a week. Probably based on a dozen book sales.

But I noticed something last week, and so did a friend: My Book Pairing. Amazon has a sales feature in which they pair one book with (their idea of) a similar book, and offer you a discount if you buy both. You know, you're looking at "The Betty Crocker Cookbook" and they suggest "The Betty Crocker Cookie Book." Or, "Mere Christianity" paired with "The Screwtape Letters." Books that share a subject. And point of view.

I don't know what data mining robot came up with this pairing, but Amazon is suggesting you buy my book along with "God is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything" by atheist-fundamentalist Christopher Hitchens.

At first I thought it was funny; especially when I clicked on his book and found my book was paired with his on HIS book's page. Just sitting there, daring the atheist readers to buy it.

But when I went to Hitchens' book from scratch, he was not paired with mine but with other popular angry atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Oh well. Time to call amazon and let them know my conversations with God aren't that kind of angry.


Chad Estes said...

Funny, but when I asked the Amazon machine what I should read after your book they suggested, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Difficult Conversations" by Gretchen Hirsch.

Anonymous said...


well, I personally need to buy another book, since we already gave our first copy away :-)

I'm glad you're going to contact Amazon about this, especially after reading your last paragraph. It's one thing to have an unintended little entre into the world of angry (and how useful that adjective) atheists, but it's another thing altogether to simply have it mis-paired. Although you and I both know God can (and apparently delights in) working in the most unusual ways.

And I have heard of this from another author, who is not Christian at all, that their book was totally mis-paired on Amazon. If that's any consolation.

May I say again how much I enjoyed reading your ACWG? And I can hardly wait until the second go-'round.

Susan Isaacs said...

Yeesh. Clearly a computer is making the suggestions. How'd they pair me with Hitchens? Angry and God in the same sentence? Well, they could have suggested "Sinners In The Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards. Don't know which is worse.

Jeannie said...

That's pretty funny, but I agree, it's time to call Amazon. Finished your book, by the way. Totally enjoyed it.

hlw said...

That is pretty funny. BTW...LOVED your book...put some of my own thoughts into words. VERY encouraging! Thank you!


I bet some silly 'spider' is connecting the piece you wrote on BWC a couple of years ago to Mr. Angry Pants. (Wasn't it Hitchens that claimed women aren't funny?...)

Still, it's pretty outrageous.

Cornelia Seigneur - WriterMom Ink said...

That is wild- good for you for looking into where your book is located with amazon-i need to do that with mine :)
BTW, it was great meeting you at the Imago event in portland oregon - at evangel baptist . . . loved your book. . .

cornelia seigneur

Ted and Lori said...

I love the pairing, actually. I love the irony of it, knowing that you published a letter in Vanity Fair once as a rebuttal to Hitchens article about women not being funny (right?).

Susan Isaacs said...

Yes Lori, good memory! Vanity Fair did publish my rebuttal. Well, one or two choice words from it. As for Amazon, I'm now paired with Matthew Paul Turner's "Churched." Which is a much better pairing: snarky but from inside the camp. :)

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