Buy this!

I’ve often wondered why Amazon don’t have a single page for every item.

Take books for example. Amazon appears to do a decent job of aggregating different versions of a book into a single page; here’s the page for The City & The City by China Mieville. That’s good — it lists the Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback and Audio versions on one page. It gets more complicated with different publishers’ editions and Amazon Marketplace sellers throwing up slightly different listings. But it’s a good start, maybe it’ll get better, and this makes it easy to link my readers to one page for a book.

Assuming all my readers are in the US that is.

If I also want to link to that book for UK readers, I have to link to a similar page on For Canadian readers I’d link here. There are also other countries whose inhabitants buy things on Amazon.

This seems clumsy. It results in either a bunch of links to different Amazons or, more usually, a single link to the authors’ local site, leaving foreign readers to manually find their version. Or not bother.

This isn’t good for website authors — making a lot of links is tedious. It’s not good for readers — they’re either confronted with a list of links or with one link that may be no use to them. And it can’t be ideal for Amazon — many readers don’t have a simple, friction-free route toward buying something.

It would be great if I could link to a single page that showed the user a choice of Amazon sites on which to buy the product, maybe with their local one most prominent.

It’s been a long time since permalinks became de rigeur, a necessary part of The Age of Point-at-Things. One page for every thing. As the years go by, it seems increasingly odd to have Amazon’s products exist in separate region-specific silos. There’s no way for me to point at one item on Amazon. Unless I use each of my fingers to point towards a different country.

When I mentioned this on Twitter a while back, a couple of people suggested pointing at The Open Library, where I can point at this page for The City & The City. It’s a great idea but it’s little use for this purpose at the moment. The links are all US-specific and it lacks all the extra information — blurb, reviews, etc — that makes Amazon so useful.

I don’t want to dismiss how difficult this would be for Amazon to achieve. There would be many, many awkward issues to tackle, both technically and organisationally. But I want it to be easy to say to everyone, no matter where they are, “BUY THIS!”, and send them to one place. That’s the kind of thing Amazon is usually very good at.

Commenting is disabled on posts once they’re 30 days old.

10 Sep 2012 at Twitter

  • 8:21pm: @franklywatson You’d think so. I assume it’s just way too tricky, and only trickier as the place gets bigger and bigger.
  • 8:18pm: @franklywatson Yeah, the separate affiliate links would only add to the difficulties.
  • 6:52pm: I wrote about Amazon’s lack of a single (international) page per product:… (Following a Twitter discussion a while back)
  • 6:22pm: @tomafro Well, there are only ever four main things.
  • 6:08pm: @secretbean Yeah, but what about THE four main ones?
  • 6:06pm: @cuica Why would you need another three? There are only four main films.
  • 6:06pm: @secretbean They might be great, but are they the four main ones?
  • 5:54pm: The second good list of the four main movies, from @topfife: Seven Samurai, Citizen Kane, Psycho & Star Wars.
  • 5:54pm: The two best lists so far of the four main movies. First, from @undermanager: Gone With The Wind, A Bridge Too Far, Star Wars, Local Hero.
  • 2:40pm: @topfife Ha ha, this is why I said “movies” in the original question. Forgot second time round.
  • 2:40pm: @alicebartlett You too. (Besides, ‘Pepys: Origins’ is definitely right up there.)
  • 2:39pm: @tomstuart Nice try in sucking up to the questioner!
  • 2:30pm: @peterme Have you just arrived from the past? You don’t have to wear that top hat any more, by the way!
  • 2:27pm: No correct answer to “What are the four main films?” yet. Most popular answer: Police Academies 1-4.
  • 2:26pm: @blech @bobbiejohnson @iamdanw @blaine @tomtaylor Twirl might be better in many ways, but it’s not more of a main bar than Flake. Surely.
  • 2:09pm: @cityofsound @tobybarnes My tactic while getting rid of mags has generally been to keep oldest and most recent. Haven’t regretted it yet.
  • 1:31pm: @Zoonie @maryloosemore Thanks, but work to do, and all that…
  • 1:06pm: @revdancatt Are they on anywhere at the moment?
  • 1:04pm: What are the four main movies?
  • 1:00pm: @maryloosemore Envious. And C4 aren’t streaming it online!
  • 12:48pm: @JamesWeiner @iamdanw @blaine @tomtaylor Really? Not the Twix? It’s a different world in Midtown, obviously.
  • 12:46pm: @iamdanw @blaine @tomtaylor @jamesweiner Having said that. No Dairy Milk? WTF? That’s as main a chocolate bar as it gets!
  • 12:42pm: @iamdanw @blaine @tomtaylor @JamesWeiner Twirl?! Bounty?! And much as I love a Double Decker, I’m with James on the four main ones.
  • 10:23am: @Techmeetups How do I unsubscribe from your email newsletters, which I never signed up for? I’ve tried asking twice via email, but no joy.
  • 9:57am: @timoarnall Ooh nice, but spendy. I’m excited by this month’s new cameras, having put off buying one for too long…

10 Sep 2012 in Links

On this day I was reading