Six Degrees of Recommendation Algorithm Separation

Stumbling to the computer this morning with my first cup of coffee, I saw that a friend had posted a rather striking status update on Facebook:

So, Amazon seems to think that my 8 year old daughter who has some Warriors books (cats with a human wizards and warriors society) loaded onto the kindle should try Wesley Morrison’s “Let No False Angels.”

We both had a good laugh over this, even if mine involved some painful snorts of coffee through my nose. And it was a great reminder about how parents need to monitor the advertising their children see, and which books their children are reading. Like my mom did when I was an 8-year-old and she glanced over my shoulder at the Larry Niven paperback in my hands, didn’t like what she saw, and took it from me to be replaced with a Tom Corbett, Space Cadet novel.

I’m also the first person to admit that Let No False Angels is not for an 8-year-old. The second person would be my sister. Like when her then-very-young daughter plopped into my lap and asked me to read her one of my own stories instead of a book from the pile around us and my sister came tearing into the room shouting “You will not read my daughter one of your stories!”

Even better, this may be the first time I’ve actually understood how one of Amazon’s algorithms work. How could a very dark, very adult novel like mine end up being recommended to an 8-year-old with a Kindle full of warrior cat stories? I’m pretty sure it went something like this:

  • Step One: I publish Let No False Angels.
  • Step Two: I write a blog post crediting James Lileks and his Kindle novel Graveyard Special (Mill City) with inspiring me to finally pull the trigger on self-publishing my own book.
  • Step Three: James Lileks writes blog posts about his daughter, who also really enjoys those warrior cat books.
  • Step Four: My friend’s 8-year-old fills a Kindle full of said warrior cat books.
  • Step Five: Amazon puts all the dots together and recommends Let No False Angels to my friend’s 8-year-old who loves warrior cat bookss.
  • Step Six: Kevin Bacon sees this blog post, gets James Cameron to read my novel, a film adaptation ensues, and my wife and I finally buy our dream house.

Okay, I made that last one up, but you get the picture. At least until the next Amazon algorithm adventure, which will probably leave us all completely confused again.

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3 Responses to Six Degrees of Recommendation Algorithm Separation

  1. sharper13 says:

    I may be partially to blame here… you see, I have several books in the warrior cat series on my kindle account because at one point my daughter didn’t want to wait for a physical copy to be delivered and I owed her enough money for babysitting to cover the cost… and I also have your book, so of course, people who read your book obviously might buy the warrior cat books…

    • I wouldn’t say “blame.” I just think the whole thing is hilarious, given I’m such a dog person and how cats usually try to kill me.

      You have the first non-spam comment on this blog, by the way. Thank you for that, and for reading!

      • sharper13 says:

        We have a dog and two cats, and while the dog is thrice the size of the cats, the cats believe they are a lion and a tiger and the dog was a little tiny puppy when he first met them.

        Consequently, they still boss him around to this day, even if they are just Kitty Pets and not Warrior Cats. (See, my daughter explained the lingo to me at one point, so I can be cool now.:)

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