East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Shopping suggestions mystery

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What would be our life without a little mystery.
Here’s my little mystery from the last two weeks or thereabouts.

I get mails from Amazon.it.
My favorite pusher of books and assorted stuff sends me a mail once in a while suggesting stuff I might like.
fadfae60-1061-4d45-b1ab-b2f7e14d41cdBecause evidently Amazon.it likes to play it safe, these lists of stuff I might like usually include ten items, eight of which are taken from my Amazon wishlist and/or from my recent browsing history, including stuff I have actually bought, with two other titles thrown in for good measure.
Now I find it markedly stupid on Amazon’s part to suggest to me I buy something I already wish to buy, but who knows, maybe it’s one of those psychology things.

Anyway, I got three such mails in the last ten/fifteen days, and something weird happened.

List number one came in two weeks ago. It is a selection of books about mindfulness and zen meditation. I have at least one such title in my wishlist, and I’ve browsed recently the subject because I was looking for a gift for a friend.benito-mussolini-3
So here we go: the book on my list (check), eight other titles I checked out during my gift-hunting session (check), and a biography of Mussolini.
Now this last title pops up a lot, surrounded by bright colored books about meditation.
I had a good laugh, and sort of forgot about the incident.

Then I got list number two – a big list of Sinbad/Arabian Nights/Tits & Sand DVDs. Now I have quite a few in my wishlist of these. And yes, there they are – all the DVDs on my wishlist (check), four or five I did not put on my listEarly_luce_logo (check), including the Japanese anime version of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves that was one of the earliest works to feature Hayao Miyazaki as an animator, and that one’s really a hoot, and finally a DVD selection of newsreels from the 1930s featuring Benito Mussolini.
What the heck?!

13067271And then, yesterday, I got another mail, featuring this time a selection of Arabian Nights-related books, most of which I already have (Marina Warner’s gorgeous Stranger Magic – you should really read it), a few that I miss and I don’t care for (and yet, a nice illustrated selection of Arabian tales for kids… hmmm), and a book about how misunderstood and underrated Mussolini has been so far. The sort of book that’s published by extreme right small presses.

This last one really ticked me off.
What the heck is Amazon doing?

Now I find this extremely weird.
Exceedingly so as I have not searched for books about the old fascist leader, or history books about Italy between the wars and during the Regime.
As far as I know, I haven’t given Amazon the slightest reason to try and sell me what is starting to look as Fascist propaganda. Because what started with a biography is now sliding in memorabilia and hagiography.

On the other hand, Amazon.it is certainly making sure I’ll open the next few mails of shopping suggestions they’ll send me.
I wonder if this trend will continue.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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