Just a little while ago, I showed an example of imprecise algorithms and how it causes incorrect historical facts to be promulgated. The point is not that algorithms are scary things but that we should not confuse efficiency with accuracy (or truth).
So this past week, I have another encounter with imprecise machines, and this time, it's personal.
If you go to Amazon right now, and search for my name in quotes "Kaiser Fung", you will get several versions of my 2010 book Numbers Rule Your World, including the recently published Chinese translation but you will not see my 2013 book Numbersense at all.
If you instead search for Kaiser Fung without quotes, the first match is Numbersense, followed by the older book.
To me, this is a clear mistake.
However, Amazon doesn't think so. This is what the customer service rep wrote me:
I understand your recent book "Numbersense" is not appearing in the search results when you search with your name "kaiser fung", including the quotes.
When you use our search engine to look for books, our system attempts to find the products you're most likely to be looking for based on the words you entered. Our search methods go beyond simple keyword matching and may also be using information not visible on the search results page, including attributes provided by the publisher.
So apparently, people who search for my name in 2013-4 are looking for my 2010 book instead of my 2013 book. In addition, my publisher has given them attributes to suppress my recent book from the search results.
Search results for books may be based on the text of each book, not just its title. That's why you may sometimes see results you weren't expecting.
I don't even understand what this sentence could mean, in the context of the name of the author.
I regret that we haven't been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction.
We won't be able to provide further insight or assistance for your request.
Thank you for contacting us.
This is rather shocking coming from the gatekeeper of most book sales.
Needless to say, this type of error costs authors as some people won't find the book. Yet, Amazon is unwilling/unable to fix the issue. Are there any readers here who have insight into why this is happening and how I might be able to correct this error?