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buying books on Amazon

 
Ranch Hand
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say you have to buy a book on a particular subject, what criteria do you like to use? Do you give more weightage to sales rank? number of reviews? Date published? Do you read each review?
 
Java Cowboy
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I look at the number of stars and the reviews, and for technology books at the publication date (because those books quickly go out of date).

I don't look at the sales rank.
 
Rancher
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If its a IT book, I just buy the one from O'Reilly. I've got more than 30 of them, they are reliably good.
 
ranger
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I go to JavaRanch's Book Review forum and search for the books I am deciding on and go by those reviews.

Mark
 
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I definitely do not consider the sales rank, nor do I put much stock in the star ratings. I do scan the reviews, but if they're poorly written or contain statements that don't make much sense, I ignore them. (And it's because of these I don't bother with the star ratings.)

More than anything, I really like to see some sample pages to get a feel for the writing style.

If it's a tech book, then the publishing date is obviously critical, and I'll often do searches outside of Amazon to see if there are new versions/editions on the horizon. I also like to see the table of contents to get a sense of what's really covered and how it's organized.

(Ultimately, of course, it's the book's cover that decides it.)
 
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Originally posted by Arvind Birla:
say you have to buy a book on a particular subject, what criteria do you like to use? Do you give more weightage to sales rank? number of reviews? Date published? Do you read each review?



Whether I buy from Amazon or somewhere else, I still check out Amazon reviews. Amazon has permanently changed my buying process. I find myself going through this process now before I buy anything of significance, not just books.

1. I first consider the products with the larger number of reviews that are rated 4.5 - 5 stars. I'll read at least 4 or 5 reviews and give higher weight to the reviews with more specific details and where the reviewers seem more objective/knowledgable. All things being equal, I'll weigh the negative reviews much more heavily, since authors sometimes have their friends give favorable reviews for them (this is less common in technology books actually).


2. I look at the publish date or version and weigh how likely the item is outdated compared to the benefit I will get from it for the cost. Usually the older versions are much cheaper. Sometimes older books have classic general information that isn't outdated for a long time. Even technology products themselves don't always improve with each version. If there is a newer version, I'll look at reviews for that version.

3. I ignore sales rank.

4. I add the item to the shopping cart and then look at the suggestions that Amazon gives or what other people bought who also bought that item. I then investigate those other related or similar items using same steps above.

5. I repeat the process a few times until I have a few items in my cart that I can compare head to head. I chose the best one, but then sometimes save the other items for later (Over time my saved for later list has grown to 500 items....).
 
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When I look at the reviews, I give extra weight to those which are amateurishly written. When you get reviews that sound too breezy, with tight sentence structure and consistently good grammar and spelling I suspect that the review is a plant by someone in the publishing field who is promoting the book.
 
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
... with tight sentence structure and consistently good grammar and spelling I suspect that the review is a plant by someone in the publishing field who is promoting the book.


Ah yes, because the average developer is a complete moron when it comes to good grammar and communications skills! Give me a break! :roll:
 
Pat Farrell
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Originally posted by marc weber:
(Ultimately, of course, it's the book's cover that decides it.)


Then why do the O'Reilly books have animals on the cover, instead of pretty women? I greatly prefer to look at pretty women over animals.

I'm not sure that O'Reilly's recent books are as good as their older ones, Their Perl book is great fun to read, as a novel, not a reference book. Lots of jokes and sly references.
 
marc weber
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Originally posted by Pat Farrell:
Then why do the O'Reilly books have animals on the cover, instead of pretty women? ...


They might take a lesson from Head First Servlets & JSP.
 
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