Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Makingamark's Top Ten Art Books in August 2011

This post is later than I'd hoped and that's partly because Amazon has changed its systems for ranking books and it's now even more of a nightmare than it was before to sort out the best books last month. (See the end - I've actually given up and gone to bed before finalising one of the updates!)

What are the changes?

First of all, gone is the "sort" of results which allowed you to look for "best selling" and in comes a new "sort" category called "popularity".

It's anybody's guess at the moment as to what this actually means - and whether it is to take account of those books which are free downloads.  Presumably this is also to differentiate books listed according to this "sort" from the completely separate "bestsellers" listing.  One of the challenges of doing my list was that they were always capable of delivering two different results!  I imagine the term bestsellers will in future only relate to books which are SOLD!

What it's still not possible to do is look at a best seller over a specific period.  So much of my task is about interpolation having looked at it two or three different ways!  (This particular month has also been more complicated than usual because there are vast quantities of architecture and building books currently clogging up the rankings!)

Second - the "sort" which gives you the books ranked by "average customer review" now no longer ranks books according to the quantity of reviews and the star ratings given.

In fact I can find no obvious ranking at all.  Which means I have to look through lots more pages to make sure there's nothing lurking.  If this change is intended to make the reviews which count the ones which are more current, that would make more sense.  However I don't think it does!  There's just no obvious logic to it.

I cannot tell you how much I'd dearly love to get my hands on the database design for Amazon Books and give it a radical shake up and make it much more rigorous and reliable.  I am still totally exasperated by how totally c****y the categorisation is and the fact that so many books are in totally the wrong category.

How I've addressed this

Popular Art History Books - per Goodreads
I'm now experimenting with a different way of tackling and triangulating the question of "top rated".

I'm not going to do it on the number of reviews.  Rather, in very broad terms, I'm looking for the highest average for any book which has had a decent number of reviews - which is likely to be a figure which will vary depending on the topic.  That way we should get back to something that is highly rated - rather than rated by a lot of people - or the Amazon alternative which is a complete nonsense.

I'll say more when I'm more confident that the approach I'm using is producing reliable results.  I've got a nasty feeling a spreadsheet is in the offing to keep track of the various different sources!

Anyway - The Best NEW Art Books - published in August has been revised and updated

However I've absolutely got to go to bed, so I'll finish off Makingamark's Top 10 Fine Art Books in the morning. [Now updated - it took much longer than usual!]

Wolf Kahn fans will like the Best New Art Books last month!  Plus the painting section is dominated by UK authors.  I've already bought one of these!

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