I’ve actually noticed this for a few years, but there is something crazy going on with how Amazon.com categorizes its Computer Science/Software books.
One of my favourite ways to find new books is to use the “wisdom of the crowds” and browse through Amazon’s bestseller lists. If I find a book I like I always check the bestsellers in it’s categories in the hope that I can find some other gems.
The problem is I always end up getting frustrated because there is so much garbage in the lists: I would say at least 40% of the books are miscategorized.
Is this some sort of ruse by publishers to get their books featured in more places? If so its bloody annoying and doesn’t do anyone any favours.
Let me show you the bestsellers for the Software Engineering category:
- The number one bestseller is The Adobe Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers. I’m sorry but last time I looked, learning Photoshop was NOT software engineering.
- The number two bestseller is even better… Nursing Diagnosis Handbook: An Evidence-Based Guide to Planning Care. I am pretty sure that even a 10 year old child would not categorize nursing as Software Engineering.
- The number three bestseller is slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. Come on, somebody is just taking the piss now.
How can we fix it?
Instead of just whining about it I spent 30 minutes going through the top 20 and using the feedback form to contact Amazon about the problem. As you can imagine this got boring quickly.
Then I figured the easier way might be just to go through and tag all the books as miscategorized (spelt with a ‘z’ to make it easier for our American friends) and not software engineering.
One very handy tip is that you can tag Amazon books quickly just by pressing typing ‘TT’ on your keyboard. It bring up this window so you can instantly tag a product:
The end result is something that looks like this:
If enough people (i.e. YOU dear reader) tag these products, it should be pretty straight forward just to email amazon and say:
**So here's the call to action: Visit the** [bestsellers for the Software Engineering category](http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/280309/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_b_1_4)** and tag at least the top ten books!**
Please find all your books tagged as miscategorized and fix them. In particular please remove all the books tagged not software engineering from the Software Engineering category.