Amazon lets you share Your Media Library
Amazon now lets you share Your Media Library, specifically choose which stuff you want to share, find friends or people who share items with you, and gives a permalink to send people to your page – here’s mine. You can find yours under Your Account >> Where’s My Stuff >> View Your Media Library.
They are definitely moving toward the kind of social functionality I’ve suggested before. It is in their interest to make it easy for me to compile a stream of what books, DVDs, CDs my friends are buying. This would both drive purchases directly, and drive traffic to their site therefore some indirect purchases. Also I would explore functionality like: what kind of books are people like my friends buying.
This would be a different approach to recommendations than one based on purchase history. The descent of cultural items through networks of influence shapes the way people perceive those items. As much as you might try to resist, you are influenced by what your friends like. I think the critical difference is this: my new favorite CD/book that my friend recommends and is totally different than anything I’ve ever heard/read is not going to pop up using purchase history.
I know this is probably being worked on right now, but Amazon should really let me export my purchase data (XML, CSV, whatever) with the ISBNs. As it is you have to go to print view, then do some Excel or script work to do fun stuff with your data. This is a histogram of my purchases since 9/2005. A solid average of 5 a month. If I had more time it would be interesting to indicate used vs new, cd vs book.