Saturday, April 01, 2006

AmazonConnect: Connecting Readers with Writers

Well, maybe. AmazonConnect is a newish scheme launched by, who else,, 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 book searches, so we authors can reach readers who have yet to wallow in the muddy delights of our fiction. 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 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: 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, 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 News for you, 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 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 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.


Blogger Maxine said...

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!)

11:49 AM  
Blogger Dr Ian Hocking said...

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.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Suz said...

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

I was surprised to find this thing that 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.

12:29 PM  
Blogger roger said...

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!

3:31 PM  
Blogger Dr Ian Hocking said...

My publicity warning liight is flashing: 'Plucky Brit Sues Amazon' :-)

3:37 PM  

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