Sunday, July 13, 2008


More than six months out of the gate, and Mechanisms has yet to garner a single review/rating on Amazon. This is not surprising, few university press titles ever do (Lev Manovich's The Language of New Media is something of an exception, with fourteen ratings; by contrast, Espen Aarseth's Cybertext, published in 1997 and indisputably a foundational text in the field, has a mere three ratings).

Question: are Amazon ratings important for an academic book? Or will the long tail take care of its own?


Jason Stuart said...

Amazon's not the space I'd post discussion of the book. If a review there would be helpful to somebody, they've probably already purchased the book. Who's on the fence w/ "Mechanisms"? Could've sworn I rated it, though. Will take care of that.

Plus I still need to reread the book.

Added note about "academic" books: MIT designs don't make me "feel" the book as academic - "Protocol" also, until you start reading it -

So maybe I'd have higher hopes then. If it gets tagged "forensic" you might get some buyers coming through from the CSI/Cornwell/Forensic Files book buyers.

Collin said...

Yeah, I'd agree with Jason. I'm someone who uses Amazon a lot to check out non-academic stuff, but I'm more inclined to read blogs, RCCS, and more formal reviews for academic books.


Nathan Kelber said...

I don't know how much effect it has. The people that are going to read your book have probably heard of it. If they haven't, well they must not be keeping up with what's being written. At any rate, I enjoyed the book a great deal so my review on Amazon should be up in <48 hours. If there's a new flood of sales, we can negotiate a percentage of your royalty checks. =)

Matt said...

Thanks Nathan, Jason, Collin. Wasn't phishing for reviews, honest. ;-) But I do appreciate you taking the time.

One of the things I was interested to do was use Mechanisms as an experiment to better understand what Amazon could do for me as an author. In truth, not much. I like looking in on the sales rank from time to time; that fluctuated wildly right after publication, at one pointing getting down as low as 40k or so (as I recall). I still varies from anywhere around 800k to where it happens to be just now, 167k. One or two sales is clearly enough to swing the long tail in some pretty big arcs.

I tagged the book, but who knows how useful that really is. I started a few threads, but those didn't garner any response (didn't expect them to).

So there it is. I'd say, at best, Amazon gives me marginally more insight into who my readership is than I might have had otherwise.