Amazon has some pretty handy systems of book recommendations running on their servers, but as a customer you cannot help feeling a bit controlled, moulded and steered in certain (money spending) directions. Through their system om gathering what you buy and what others buy, they keep your interest up. A braniac at Google Answers makes some good points on the behaviour of why we buy at Amazon; its is basically a simple algorithmic model combined with a large pool of data on how we spend money, but it does in return, seldom register information of what we think about certain books. Amazon has a rating system but which is still arbitrary, not compulsive to fill in. Buying a cookbook by Bill Gates, for example, would not decisively signal if you like cooking in general or just wish out find out about the richest nerd ever lived. In an interview with Steven Johnson, author of Interface Culture, he further comments this, and connects it more to how the brain registers and ignores information clusters, compared to, say, ants.
But all this aside I do want to reccomend a few no-brainers-to-buy: Last year’s most I’am-a-highbrow-Dan-Brown-hating-V.S.-Naipaul-reading-intellctual title is certainly Neuroarthistory: From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki, by John Onians. Its a must-have. Upcoming in November 2009 is Irving Massey‘s The Neural Imagination: Aesthetic and Neuroscientific Approaches to the Arts. Should be an interesting comparison within the fields of art and nueroscience. Artist and former neurologist Warren Neidich‘s new book Lost Between the Extensivity / Intensivity Exchange with essays by Sven-Olov Wallenstein, among others should be great. Last but not least is Shepard Fairey‘s Art for Obama: Designing the Campaign for Change. I really want ot find out the deal with that one!
For a less bluntly promoted marketplace of books, check the books.google.com that is getting flak from all corners of the world for their new book scanning project. Making all books searchable is one of the greatest endeavor of humanity, I dare to say. Go Google, Go!