AmazonConnect: Connecting Readers with Writers

Well, maybe. AmazonConnect is a new­ish scheme launched by, who else, Amazon.com, in which authors can con­trib­ute to a blog whose entries then appear on the per­son­al­ized pages of read­ers who bought their book. Apparently, entries also show up on Amazon.com book searches, so we authors can reach read­ers who have yet to wal­low in the muddy delights of our fic­tion. Amazon.com like to call this blog a plog — I just hope they’re aware they copied it from Roger. I found out about the scheme via Debra Hamel, ace review­er.

Over on Galleycat, there’s a sniffy art­icle about the AmazonConnect plog. The art­icle was promp­ted by an email from Amazon.com to their ‘plog­gers’ that asked them, in prickly fash­ion, to raise the qual­ity of their posts. I can see why this might lead to a cer­tain sniffi­ness: Amazon.com is get­ting free con­tent from — pre­sum­ably — tal­en­ted writers, and has the temer­ity to check the mouth of this gift horse for fur­ther good­ies.

Well, I’m reas­on­ably happy with the scheme. I’ve craf­ted my first plog entry, which appears here on the product page, and I think it looks quite nice (i.e. it is placed in a man­ner that pleases my jaun­dice-yel­low eye).

There are couple of thing I don’t like, how­ever. This being Amazon.com, I have learned to look for the part of the scheme that’s been buggered up by poor imple­ment­a­tion. There is no pro­tocol to sub­mit entries to the plog using a meth­od oth­er than the rather clumsy — and applet-infes­ted — page on Amazon.com. News for you, Amazon.com: Just because I’m author, I don’t spend my life gaz­ing at the cluttered mess of my ‘per­son­al­ized’ homepage, so the plog is some­thing I’ll have to remind myself to do. And — like the wash­ing-up — I can see myself lapsing reg­u­larly. Why can’t I plug it straight into Ecto, my blog­ging soft­ware?

I always expect a little give-and-take with Amazon.com. For example, my pub­lish­er gives them the details of my book, they take any the word ‘English’ from the ‘lan­guage’ metadata field and replace it with — “Gee, what ran­dom lan­guage can put on this guy’s book?” — Spanish.

Oh, how I laughed when I saw that. A book with a French title writ­ten in Spanish by an author that nobody in America knows from Adam. Imagine my con­tin­ued laughter that, only four­teen months later and fol­low­ing a slew of emails from my pub­lish­er and from me, the busy bods at Amazon.com have still not found the time to cor­rect it.

Mmmm. I love busi­nesses that are so large they switch from human time to geo­lo­gic­al time.

However, carp­ing aside — hey, what’s a writer to do but carp? — this is a nice oppor­tun­ity to reach out to read­ers. They should brace them­selves.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

5 thoughts on “AmazonConnect: Connecting Readers with Writers”

  1. I went over to Amazon US and read your plog, but I’ll have to read your book before being able to post a com­ment there.
    Isn’t it a pity that Amazon UK doesn’t do these kinds of things too — do you think blog­ging and oth­er types of inter­net use just have not caught on enough in the UK for it to be worth Amazon’s while?
    I think their UK site is bet­ter than their US site in still being books-focused and hence, to me, more use­ful. (As the UK site is focused on selling the things I want to buy like books, music and DVDs mainly, and does not have the myri­ad dis­trac­tions of the US site).
    But the US site beats the UK site hands down in terms of func­tion­al­ity.

    I think that Amazon could devel­op a hybrid product, some­thing inbetween the “plogs”, people’s col­lec­tions and cus­tom­er reviews — some­thing along the lines of a small cluster of books/readers, blog­ging about that par­tic­u­lar spe­ci­al­ity of book. A sort of online book club for a spe­cial­ist group of books.

    Focusing a “plog” on just one book is prob­ably too spe­cial­ised in terms of audi­ence reach, but a small spe­cial­ist group, in which authors and read­ers plog about books in that spe­ci­al­ity, could well be some­where where read­ers go to get really focused and “hot” inform­a­tion about new books, minus mar­ket­ing hype? (I just thought of this as I write this com­ment so prob­ably there are lots of flaws in it. But it sounds good to me at the moment!)

  2. I’d cer­tainly like to see a bit more integ­ra­tion between the Amazon divi­sions — it would help identi­fy dis­crep­an­cies in their metadata, for one thing, and might get ‘em to sort out the ‘Spanish’ error on the US site.

    Amazon UK is likely to pick up on the plog thing, I reck­on, because it’s free con­tent for them, and free inter­activ­ity.

  3. From this reader’s per­spect­ive, the amazon.com plog is a lame mar­ket­ing gim­mick, yet anoth­er unwel­come blip in the brows­ing exper­i­ence.

    I was sur­prised to find this thing that amazon.com told me was “my” plog dis­played when I logged in to the site the oth­er day. I was par­tic­u­larly annoyed to see that most of it con­sisted of post­ings by an author whom I did not recog­nize, but sup­posedly I had once bought a book he wrote on amazon. Or maybe I once looked at a book he wrote. Or some­thing.

    I did not waste any time read­ing his many posts, just clicked away from the “plog.” I have no idea how to sum­mon the “plog” after I sign on, should I ever want to see it. It has popped up one more time since then, this time with yet anoth­er author I don’t remem­ber ever hear­ing of, and whose plog entries I have no interest in read­ing. Click.

  4. Thanks for point­ing out they nicked the name from me, cheeky blight­ers! Ah, well. As my book isn’t avail­able on dot com (yet?) there’s not much I can do with this. Just as well, oth­er­wise it would be anoth­er thing for me to stress over!

  5. My pub­li­city warn­ing liight is flash­ing: ‘Plucky Brit Sues Amazon’ 🙂

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