Saturday, March 21, 2009

The $3 billion dollar question

How the reviews (and ratings of those reviews) on Amazon help bring in almost $3 billion a year. (UIE/Kottke)

Interestingly, only a fringe portion of the audience writes reviews. For example, while Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has more than 3,000 reviews, our calculations indicate Amazon sold more than 4,000,000 copies of the book. That's 0.075% or only one out of every 1,300 purchasers that took the time to write a review.

For small numbers, chronology works just fine. However, it quickly becomes unmanageable. (For example, anyone who discovers an established blog may feel they've come in at the middle of a conversation, since only the most recent topics are presented first. It seems as if the writer assumed the readers had read everything from the beginning.)

The problem came with the eleventh review. Since the product page only showed ten on the first page, the eleventh pushed the earliest review onto a different page. This worked fine as long as every new review was better than the existing ones.

But that wasn't happening.

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