borders.png harrypotterborders.png Borders has opened their own online bookstore. Previously, they had relied on Amazon to serve as their online presence. Borders apparently decided that letting another bookstore act as their storefront was not in their best interest. One thing that Borders didn't take with them when they left Amazon was all of their user data - at least it doesn't look like they did. They have no collaborative filtering recommendations at they site at all.

The only recommendations they offer, as far as I can tell, are recommendations for books that have similar metadata. Instead of the Amazonian 'people who bought X also bought Y' Borders offers a "you may also like" recommendations that consist of books that have the same author or of the same genre/category. So if you like Harry Potter, Borders suggests five other Harry Potter books. If you like the Da Vinci Code, Borders suggests 5 other books by DVC author Dan Brown. For a book like Six Degrees: The science of a connected age by Duncan Watts, Borders offers no recommendations whatsoever. Malcolm Gladwell's Blink is classified as a 'self improvement' book - Borders freakomends A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. (It is a bit telling how sparse the Borders user data is when Borders tells me that I can be the first to rate 'Blink').

In the Borders music store, things seem to be a little better. They are showing relevant similar artists. It may be that they are getting this data from All Music since they are already using AMG for artist bios.

I find the lack of relevant, novel recommendations at the Borders bookstore to be quite puzzling. In its brick and mortar stores, Borders has, no doubt, collected terabytes of data about who likes what books. And yet, Borders doesn't seem to be using any of this data in its online store to help connect people with books. Amazon has reported that 35% of its sales are a direct result of their recommendations - so it seems crazy that Borders is not taking advantage of their data to recommend relevant books. With a good recommender, Borders could be selling a whole lot more books.


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Posted by no doubt on May 27, 2008 at 10:50 PM EDT #

Interesting recommendations from the Borderline brains!

However, looking at very popular items in, you're likely to get not so novel items either...

Examples of 'Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought':

1) (Can you find "Exile on Main St."?)

2) (Can you find "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"? It took me a while to find the beasts!)


Posted by Oscar on May 28, 2008 at 12:18 AM EDT #


Posted by Matt McKnight on May 29, 2008 at 10:51 AM EDT #

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