Author Topic: Category Pollution: Next Battleground  (Read 7493 times)  

Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #100 on: June 12, 2018, 01:50:49 PM »
I can't believe someone's arguing that erotica is women's fiction.

Women's fiction is a specific genre. It's not "fiction for women". You can argue that you don't agree, but you're still wrong. Just like if you'd argued that "science fiction" is any fiction that involves science.

Offline Elizabeth Barone

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #101 on: June 12, 2018, 01:56:50 PM »
Um...it really depends. I've reported stuffed books before in the western mail-order bride category because they were truly against Amazon TOS. I had also spent money on them, thinking they were one story, and instead got a million short stories (which I had not signed up for) that weren't very good anyway. We as authors are also consumers. That doesn't change because we write books.

To just jump out and call others scammers and frauds because of xyz reasons...yes, I believe that is wrong and agree with you there. But to say that authors shouldn't, in general, report other authors for breaking the rules has to do with the whole "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke"

As a general rule, I think it's best not to report. Especially as a group.

In cases where you made a purchase and it was misleading, yeah, definitely report. But I think the two are very different circumstances.

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Offline kw3000

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #102 on: June 12, 2018, 02:06:39 PM »
Of course brigading and bullying are wrong, but so is asking all to turn a blind eye to avoid the sins of the few. Slippery slopes run in more than one direction.

It is abhorrent that someone calling themselves a do-gooder, or a group saying they have similar good intentions, would murder a shoplifter, but their existence and extremist mentality doesn't negate the importance of reporting said shoplifting when you see it because of the broader harm caused by the crime of shoplifting itself.

That kind of mentality that says our actions are to be dictated by what the small percentage of extremists are up to only lends credence to the notion that might makes right. In that instance those who would act in the extreme are controlling all aspects, and that's no kind of solution either.

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Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #103 on: June 12, 2018, 02:10:18 PM »
Or this one series I read when I was younger, where the main character love interest in the first book DIES at the beginning of the second and the heroine finds love AGAIN. My goodness. How was I supposed to trust any happy ending she got after that?! They were romance novels in ever other way so it was like a kick in the teeth to read that. And I still remember....

I read one where the HFN guy in the first book in the series turned out to be the serial killer at the end of the second. That might be the last romantic suspense about straight people I ever read...

And they were trad pubs and even got hardback editions.
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Online Ava Glass

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #104 on: June 12, 2018, 02:11:56 PM »
An author got trademarking wrong


I think this minimizes what Faleena Hopkins has done. This isn't an "oops" situation.

Another author writing romance under a female pen name just got chastised left and right for being male IRL. (Since when is it a crime to use a pen name, people?!)

The "catfish" discussion thread literally starts "This thread is NOT about having a pen name that is the opposite gender." It's about what men do with the pen name.

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #105 on: June 12, 2018, 02:53:45 PM »
It can be a sticky situation, but I'm on the never say never side when it comes to reporting.

While I don't normally read romance, I've managed a bookstore so I have at least a basic familiarity with just about all genres. While there are some that simply can't cross over (the distinction between hard science fiction and any form of fantasy comes to mind), for the most part there are a number of genres that can and do overlap at times. Women's Fiction and Romance are definitely two that can overlap, though they don't always.

The problem here is less that we're seeing books that combine elements of two genres, than that we're seeing books listed in completely the wrong genre. It's a different thing and has to be treated differently.

I have to take issue with the idea that we're just watching genres evolving, because that's got nothing to do with what this is about. On the most basic level, genre is about shelving books where people can find them; nothing more, and nothing less. Romance readers want a book focused on a relationship with a happy ending; mystery readers want a book focused on an intellectual puzzle with a solution.

Stuffing unrelated books into smaller categories for better visibility and bragging rights doesn't help anyone. Reporting books that are clearly miscategorized shouldn't be a problem for the majority of authors because all it does is keep it out of the way of people who're looking for something completely different.

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Online Jena H

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #106 on: June 12, 2018, 03:07:29 PM »
I have to add my voice to the "this isn't a good idea" camp. You suggest that reporting someone's book is harmless. However, we've seen all too many times how "harmless" it is when a brigade comes in and reports a book. Amazon yanks it, no questions asked. Sometimes accounts get banned and innocent people lose their livelihood. The thought that Amazon will look into the miscategorization is idealistic and naive, considering their ban first, ask questions later policy lately re: reviews and other issues.

Look, I'm a firm believer in speaking up when something is wrong. When an author bullied other authors and scammed both authors and readers over a decade using reviews and box sets, too many authors were afraid to speak up for fear of her crew coming in and steamrolling them. When we all got together, though, something was finally done. That was an example of an author clearly out of line and causing damage to the community and industry.

Lately, though, it seems to me that the indie community is entirely too concerned with what other authors are doing and overly self-policing. An author got trademarking wrong and instead of letting the courts handle it, the community decided to chase her out, calling her awful, unprofessional names. Another author writing romance under a female pen name just got chastised left and right for being male IRL. (Since when is it a crime to use a pen name, people?!) I saw a lot of nastiness from the side claiming to be doing it for the readers, in both instances. It turned my stomach and still the thought of it makes me uncomfortable. We're supposed to be writing books for the readers, not taking sides and duking it out in the digital ring.

We need to be careful how we're handling things. RWA is investigating the category issue, as someone mentioned up-thread, which is excellent! Obviously enough authors and maybe even readers complained to them, and now something will be done. I have faith in RWA.

I think that for the most part, our time is better spent writing and interacting with our readers rather than shaking fingers at each other. None of us love that there are entire categories that have gone completely from their roots. But that's not up to us to control. Aside from people purposely trying to market an apple as an orange, you have to take into consideration that genres evolve over time. Who's to say which book is the "wrong" one and which is the evolution? It may not be all that obvious which is which. I don't think that's up to us to decide, and I don't think any author has any business reporting another author's book, for any reason. Like RPatton said, it's a slippery slope. You might think you're doing good, and maybe you are, but maybe you're also doing harm.

I think it's more productive to email KDP and RWA and let them know that you definitely support this being investigated. Better safe than sorry.

There has hardly been a "brigade" of reporting going on, at least as a result of this thread.  No coordinated effort, no torches or pitchforks.  Just a handful of people who thought "Hmm, that doesn't look right."  I don't think it can ever be "wrong" or a "slippery slope" for one person to do what s/he thinks is right.

But to each his/her own.
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Offline Lefevre

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #107 on: June 12, 2018, 04:39:06 PM »
Absolutely agree. I'm a voracious reader but the Amazon experience has been driving me away. I used to browse, sample and buy regularly. Now I set aside a few hours every month or so to go deep diving, trawling through stuffed lists, trying to find gold. Skipping over pages of miscategorized books. By the time I'm on page thirty I'm tired. Good authors who don't miscategorize are pushed down the list by the ones who do.

After that I'm down to only buying from authors I know or by following a recommendation I see somewhere else (Boing Boing has had some good recommendations from time to time).

I've seen authors complaining about what if their book really does cross genres... the answer is simple: pick the two that *most* fit your story. If it's fantasy but has post-apoc and romance than pick two. Pick the two that fit the best.

I kinda wish Amazon had a hide button next to book titles that would then inform algorithms. Like I don't want to see any more of a certain author spread across X genres. Click the hide button next to the book title to hide it. Then it would display better categories.

Amazon would then be able to use this hide information to present better results.

That is brilliant. I wish that feature was available. However, it would probably be abused by competing authors who would hire some VA to perpetually hide their rivals work. When "Billionaires Mistress" finally shows up in the finance section, the bookpocalypse will be complete.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 05:35:33 PM by Lefevre »
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Offline Elizabeth Barone

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #108 on: June 12, 2018, 05:26:35 PM »
I think this minimizes what Faleena Hopkins has done. This isn't an "oops" situation.

The "catfish" discussion thread literally starts "This thread is NOT about having a pen name that is the opposite gender." It's about what men do with the pen name.

Oh boy. I didn't say it was.

And I don't know anything about this particular catfishing case.

My point, which you so obviously missed, is that there's a difference between speaking up and causing damage. Things can get out of hand very quickly. Whether or not we believe the person is doing harm. Do you want to be responsible for reporting someone's book and having their account banned? I sure don't. We need to be careful not to jump the gun.

Contact KDP. Contact RWA. Let them know you're seeing an issue. But sending people in droves to report the same books is not okay. I'm shocked that the mods are even allowing this kind of discussion here, honestly.

There are a million different reasons why someone might be in a category you think is wrong. Using keywords and choosing categories isn't an exact science. We should all know that by now. So who are we to assume everyone in the "wrong" category must be doing it on purpose and should therefore be punished?

There has hardly been a "brigade" of reporting going on, at least as a result of this thread.  No coordinated effort, no torches or pitchforks.  Just a handful of people who thought "Hmm, that doesn't look right."  I don't think it can ever be "wrong" or a "slippery slope" for one person to do what s/he thinks is right.

But to each his/her own.

The title of this thread is literally "our next battleground," with a link to the category and then following replies insinuating that Kboarders have collaborated efforts at reporting before.

But okay.

I'm officially washing my hands of this. I gave my $0.02 along with others who think this isn't right. I want no part of this kind of behavior.

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Online Dpock

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #109 on: June 12, 2018, 05:48:43 PM »

The title of this thread is literally "our next battleground," with a link to the category and then following replies insinuating that Kboarders have collaborated efforts at reporting before.

"Amazon's" next battleground... I don't believe there's been any true collaboration, but others, like myself, have reported the miscategorized books.

And the category already looks a lot cleaner (miscategorized books down to 9 from 14 in the top twenty Fiction Classics). I have taken screenshots every day since posting this thread. I checked a few of the books now missing--they've been moved to more appropriate categories (no 404s, no suspended accounts). Whether they were moved by the authors or Amazon is impossible to know.

« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 05:54:28 PM by Dpock »


Online Ava Glass

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #110 on: June 12, 2018, 05:51:37 PM »
Oh boy. I didn't say it was.

And I don't know anything about this particular catfishing case.

My point, which you so obviously missed, is that there's a difference between speaking up and causing damage.

No. I understood your opinion, which you have the right to. However, one of your supporting statements came of as minimizing, whether you meant it or not, and another missed the point of the "men using female pen name" issue. They were quoted in isolation.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 05:53:41 PM by Ava Glass »

Offline Lilly_Frost

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #111 on: June 12, 2018, 05:58:00 PM »
That is brilliant. I wish that feature was available. However, it would probably be abused by competing authors who would hire some VA to perpetually hide their rivals work. When "Billionaires Mistress" finally shows up in the finance section, the bookpocalypse will be complete.

I think ........ meant that it would hide the book for that customer. Sort of like I wish I could hide all mentions of Kardashians, pop stars, sports, reality shows, etc. on my web browser so those things would never show up for me, while at the same time people who love those things could still see them. Alas, alas...
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Offline Shelley K

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #112 on: June 12, 2018, 06:10:29 PM »
I can't believe someone's arguing that erotica is women's fiction.


Given where we are, I'm not even shocked. Was a little shocked at the assertion that romance is all bad boy sex. Huh. I guess all the writers of sweet and inspirational romance and romantic comedy, where everything but kisses and gentle hugs fade to black, don't exist, despite their huge slice of the romance pie. Somebody ought to inform them they're doing it wrong. 
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 06:12:22 PM by Shelley K »

Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #113 on: June 12, 2018, 07:07:23 PM »
There has hardly been a "brigade" of reporting going on, at least as a result of this thread.  No coordinated effort, no torches or pitchforks.  Just a handful of people who thought "Hmm, that doesn't look right."  I don't think it can ever be "wrong" or a "slippery slope" for one person to do what s/he thinks is right.


It's often wrong for a person to do what they think is right. Everybody thinks they're right and yet so many, many people are actually wrong. "Thinking" you're right doesn't make you right. Otherwise, we would all be right all the time, and there would be nothing to debate, the end.

It will always be a conflict of interest for a KU author to report on other KU authors because they are all being paid out of a common pot. KU or no KU, it will always be a conflict of interest for a competing author to report on an author in their genre.  This is Ethics 101.  If there is a genuine problem with the book's category/description/whatever, readers will complain and ask for refunds. An author will not get where they want to be by tearing down the work of other authors.



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« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 07:33:59 PM by Becca Mills »
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Online LilyBLily

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #114 on: June 12, 2018, 08:55:22 PM »
<snip>
It will always be a conflict of interest for a KU author to report on other KU authors because they are all being paid out of a common pot. KU or no KU, it will always be a conflict of interest for a competing author to report on an author in their genre.  This is Ethics 101.  If there is a genuine problem with the book's category/description/whatever, readers will complain and ask for refunds. An author will not get where they want to be by tearing down the work of other authors.

Isn't the whole point that these books are not the genres they're squatting in? If I'm looking in sweet/clean romance, whether I'm an author or a reader, I'm not looking for bad boy bikers, pseudo-incest, and all the rest of the hot sex subgenres. But these books do show up, and it makes for a lousy browsing experience--no matter what I do for a living.

None of my women's fiction books are in KU, so it's not a question of trying to do down the competition, but one of asking for accuracy in listings. However, I myself have never reported a book. I'm too busy reporting fake men trying to friend me on Facebook. :D 



Offline C. Gold

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #115 on: June 12, 2018, 09:29:26 PM »
I read one where the HFN guy in the first book in the series turned out to be the serial killer at the end of the second. That might be the last romantic suspense about straight people I ever read...

And they were trad pubs and even got hardback editions.
Oh man, I read a book like that -- maybe the very same. It was a great meeting via sharing a taxi (I think, or maybe a car accident). Great romance buildup, then in book 2, she's dragged to a basement all tied up and ... yipes! Now I check any romance books that span multiple books just to make sure the same H/h are involved. After getting invested emotionally in the H like that, I really didn't appreciate the change. Maybe if I knew ahead of time it wasn't a romance, but I had no clue. 

Offline jb1111

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #116 on: June 12, 2018, 09:31:36 PM »
I can't believe someone's arguing that erotica is women's fiction.

Women's fiction is a specific genre. It's not "fiction for women". You can argue that you don't agree, but you're still wrong. Just like if you'd argued that "science fiction" is any fiction that involves science.

Your argument would be with much of what is actually selling in the Women's Fiction category and many of its subcategories, and has been often ranking in the single and dual digits in the WF subcategories for months -- and selling quite well. All one has to do is look at the chart and see what books are there. And the chart has been that way for months. Right now there are maybe eight or nine of the top 30 in Women's Fiction that probably don't fit there, according to your criteria.

I would guess that neither you nor I are the final arbiter of what belongs in a category. It would probably be Amazon, or whichever retailer one is involved with. Right now, Amazon seems to think that these non WF books are WF.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 10:44:04 PM by jb1111 »

Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #117 on: June 12, 2018, 09:41:05 PM »
Oh man, I read a book like that -- maybe the very same. It was a great meeting via sharing a taxi (I think, or maybe a car accident). Great romance buildup, then in book 2, she's dragged to a basement all tied up and ... yipes! Now I check any romance books that span multiple books just to make sure the same H/h are involved. After getting invested emotionally in the H like that, I really didn't appreciate the change. Maybe if I knew ahead of time it wasn't a romance, but I had no clue.

Maybe it is the same? There can't be many like that... ugh.
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Offline Tulonsae

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #118 on: June 12, 2018, 09:56:52 PM »
Your argument would be with much of what is actually selling in the Women's Fiction category and many of its subcategories, and has been often ranking in the single and dual digits in the WF subcategories for months -- and selling quite well. All one has to do is look at the chart and see what books are there. And the chart has been that way for months. Right now there are maybe eight or nine of the top 30 in Women's Fiction that probably don't fit there, according to your criteria.

I would guess that neither you nor I are the final arbiter of what belongs in a category. It would probably be Amazon, or whichever retailer one is involved with. Right now, Amazon seems to think that these non WF books are WF.

There are 2 problems with this argument.

1. A book can be in multiple categories. I just looked up a book in Women's fiction, in the top 20. It's a Romance. I looked at it's categories. It's also in Romance, and it's in the top 10 in Romance. Therefore, it's quite possible that all the buyers of this book are looking in Romance. And because it's listed in Women's Fiction and has highly ranked sales, it's also ranked highly there. So, we do not know that buyer's of Women's Fiction consider it Women's Fiction because we don't know why or who bought it or how many from which category (or even if the buyers looked at the category list at all).

2. The statement that "Amazon thinks which category these books belong in" is odd. Categories are chosen by the authors/publishers and also by authors requesting that their books be placed in a category and by algorithms. None of those things indicate any particular curation or intelligence about Amazon choosing the right category for a book.

ETA: By algorithms, I'm primarily referring to algorithms that look at the keywords - which authors/publishers choose. Possibly by the blurbs (which seem to be able to put a book in the wrong category).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 09:58:45 PM by Tulonsae »

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #119 on: June 12, 2018, 10:05:47 PM »
There are 2 problems with this argument.

1. A book can be in multiple categories. I just looked up a book in Women's fiction, in the top 20. It's a Romance. I looked at it's categories. It's also in Romance, and it's in the top 10 in Romance. Therefore, it's quite possible that all the buyers of this book are looking in Romance. And because it's listed in Women's Fiction and has highly ranked sales, it's also ranked highly there. So, we do not know that buyer's of Women's Fiction consider it Women's Fiction because we don't know why or who bought it or how many from which category (or even if the buyers looked at the category list at all).

2. The statement that "Amazon thinks which category these books belong in" is odd. Categories are chosen by the authors/publishers and also by authors requesting that their books be placed in a category and by algorithms. None of those things indicate any particular curation or intelligence about Amazon choosing the right category for a book.

1. Just like a book can be listed in multiple categories, it can be a cross-genre book. When one of the more respected editors in traditional publishing says that the love-story (romance, love story, whatever) is the most important genre to learn to because it crosses with ever other genre better than any other genre, it means that book can cross genres. Just because there is a courtship that ends with a happy ending (which would make it a romance, yeah I know there are more expectations, but I am trying to brief) a book doesn't have to excluded from any other genre if it meets those genres expectations as well.

2. Except that Amazon does place books in categories based on keywords. I gave examples for just two of my books. One of which is clean and a fantasy and ends up in Inspirational (which it most definitely isn't) because I use clean as a keyword. The second ends up space marines because it's science fiction with a military based society. Just because the book is set in the future and is science fiction doesn't mean it takes place in space, but Amazon is convinced it does.

Offline Tulonsae

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #120 on: June 12, 2018, 10:12:54 PM »
1. Just like a book can be listed in multiple categories, it can be a cross-genre book. When one of the more respected editors in traditional publishing says that the love-story (romance, love story, whatever) is the most important genre to learn to because it crosses with ever other genre better than any other genre, it means that book can cross genres. Just because there is a courtship that ends with a happy ending (which would make it a romance, yeah I know there are more expectations, but I am trying to brief) a book doesn't have to excluded from any other genre if it meets those genres expectations as well.

2. Except that Amazon does place books in categories based on keywords. I gave examples for just two of my books. One of which is clean and a fantasy and ends up in Inspirational (which it most definitely isn't) because I use clean as a keyword. The second ends up space marines because it's science fiction with a military based society. Just because the book is set in the future and is science fiction doesn't mean it takes place in space, but Amazon is convinced it does.

You must have written this before I got my ETA in there. Because yes, Amazon's algorithms do what you're talking about in your 2nd point. However, I contend this isn't really because Amazon is doing any sort of real curation or thinking. It's just simplistic computer algorithms.

And, of course, some books are crossover. I picked a book that wasn't, though. As in I read the blurb and it pretty much read as a romance and with no women's journey theme.

Anyway, my point was that just because there are books in Women's Fiction that don't match the meanings stated earlier in this thread - doesn't mean that Amazon actually thinks those books are Women's Fiction. So, using a book's Amazon category is not a conclusive argument for what genre (or cross-genres) the book is in.

Offline jb1111

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #121 on: June 12, 2018, 10:41:51 PM »
There are 2 problems with this argument.

-snip-

2. The statement that "Amazon thinks which category these books belong in" is odd. Categories are chosen by the authors/publishers and also by authors requesting that their books be placed in a category and by algorithms. None of those things indicate any particular curation or intelligence about Amazon choosing the right category for a book.

ETA: By algorithms, I'm primarily referring to algorithms that look at the keywords - which authors/publishers choose. Possibly by the blurbs (which seem to be able to put a book in the wrong category).

I place my books in two categories only -- and they're invariably the same two categories each time. Yet they invariably also show up in several others -- sometimes subcategories I didn't know existed. Many books show up on Amazon's pages as being ranked or placed in three or four categories, yet you are only limited to choosing two.. I've read here that Amazon's system places books in various categories via keywords and other criteria associated with the book(s) in question.

So, what I said may sound 'odd', but apparently that is how it works.

Offline Nic

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #122 on: June 12, 2018, 10:50:28 PM »
Or this one series I read when I was younger, where the main character love interest in the first book DIES at the beginning of the second and the heroine finds love AGAIN. My goodness. How was I supposed to trust any happy ending she got after that?! They were romance novels in ever other way so it was like a kick in the teeth to read that. And I still remember....

Some people are satisfied with a HFN instead of a HEA. I'd say at least a third of the romance readers out there.

Offline jb1111

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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #123 on: June 12, 2018, 10:58:45 PM »
Anyway, my point was that just because there are books in Women's Fiction that don't match the meanings stated earlier in this thread - doesn't mean that Amazon actually thinks those books are Women's Fiction. So, using a book's Amazon category is not a conclusive argument for what genre (or cross-genres) the book is in.

I understand your point. But being that it seems a lot of Amazon's categorizing is apparently computer driven, it may be this way well into the future.

And obviously some readers are looking in the WF category for their erotic romance fix, or the books wouldn't be ranking in the WF category and WF subcategories as high as they are. The actual genre may shift as a result of the technology used. And some shift in the genre -- every genre, possibly -- is probably inevitable.

Or maybe the Zon and other retailers will figure out a way to fix the issue, so that the genres can remain pure to what they traditionally have been.


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Re: Category Pollution: Next Battleground
« Reply #124 on: June 13, 2018, 02:03:06 AM »
I think ........ meant that it would hide the book for that customer. Sort of like I wish I could hide all mentions of Kardashians, pop stars, sports, reality shows, etc. on my web browser so those things would never show up for me, while at the same time people who love those things could still see them. Alas, alas...

Yes, I meant I wish the hide function was for the customer. I want to hide certain books because I have zero interest and never want to see them again. A simple click would hide them and then the lists would look better. This would work really well I think. I could hide all the bad boy romances that I don't want to see. Then they wouldn't show up in sci-fi!

Amazon could use that info if they wished. If it was just for the customer then it couldn't be gamed by hiring someone to mass hide competing books.