Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Amazon home page? Are print books de-emphasized? UPDATES

Amazon home page revamp?

Update: A commenter's Amazon page and my own have reverted to the older, much easier to read Amazon page for now. 3/27/12 [End of Update]

Update 2: It has double-reverted to the new all-white page.  It probably loads faster, but my eyes wish for the old, visually pleasureable one.  Also, I see the word 'paperback' found its way onto to the top of a page in an ad for a book.   :-)

  Irony: My Kindle Fire tablet shows the old beautiful page.
[ End of update2]

Amazon has been trying out a new home page layout for, I think, a year or so, well before the Kindle Fire finally was announced, lending credence to the idea that they've been slowly optimizing the site for tablets (studies show tablet owners are heavy buyers) and also for its own tablet.

Some reported receiving the new layout for testing for quite some time, and news reports showed the 'new' pages that some customers were asked to try vs the older ones.   In seeing those, I always preferred some blue or beige added rather than just the generic all-white background that they are all using now, to the disadavantage of eyes that are not comfortable with a glaringly white screen background (and it would cause me to shop less), but they all seem to imitate one another.

I personally dislike all white glaring at me.  Once I got over that temporarily, I then missed the borders around things, so it has become more undifferentiated.  Some will find it a 'cleaner' look and maybe it'll load faster on tablets.  Haven't tried it on the Kindle Fire or my Samsung 10.1" yet.  But this generic look they're all after (including Google's pale new pages they're asking us to try) is something we apparently can't avoid.  If nothing else, it is entirely devoid of imagination or character in my narrower view of things, but I'm sure they have their reasons.  I hope they're good ones.

However, after that grumble, I the noticed that in the lead headings they use, that I've extracted and put as a lead image for this posting, we see the first item is "Instant Video."

  That screams tablets or TV (Roku and other box-helpers) to me.  Then comes "MP3 Store" and "Cloud Player" - two media-heavy features.  Then we come to "Kindle" -- I don't know what people who don't own Kindles see though.

  Do they see "Books" as a starter?  My only hardcover books are generally 3rd-party or 'marketplace' vendors for special non-fiction.  Is that why I'm not seeing those highlighted?  Didn't Amazon start out as as book store? On the other hand, "DRESS SHOP" is in huge letters right under the Kindle Fire ad at the top, and I have not bought one article of clothing from Amazon, so that's not based on my buying or even viewing history.

  Going all the way down the page, I didn't find regular, non-Kindle books.

  Obviously, I found this curious and began looking for them and finally found them under the heading "Shop by Department" with the little black arrow-down icon next to it.  This doesn't have the older-fashioned pull-down or pop-down menu so it never occurred to me to click it to see what was there, as it just looked like plain Text to me.

  But I finally saw it and had my mouse hover over it, to see a two-panel pop-up box that leads off with the headings we already see at the top.

  UNDER that, we finally see "Books", then "Movies, Music & Games" -- these three already being covered under the visible header and then heading the first set of listings under this pop-up menu.

  So, I'd say Books, as in print books, are now de-emphasized, at least for my viewing.  It well may be that "Books" are the first thing people see when they are generally hardcover or paperback buyers and have shown no interest in Kindles.

  I've no way of knowing but hope to find that some people are seeing "Books" as important, visibly, on the main page, or the Big6 publishers will get even more paranoid about what The Author Guild's alarmist president today is calling "the Darth Vader of the literary world."  That man is such a drama queen.  BUT, he may be right in that hardcover and paperback books are being made invisible on Amazon's main page to people like me, at least.  If this is targeted rather than general, it's probably good marketing.  If everyone is getting this de-emphasis, Amazon is sending a message.

  Hovering down the first set of listings, we then see the sub-pages for them, which is why they'd be shown again at the top.

  But what's clear is that they are all Amazon media that is first and foremost available on the Kindle tablet and of course on our computers if we are multimedia focused, which I am, and maybe that's why I'm seeing them as the emphasis on my new white-white main page.  Why is the web world turning so vanilla?

  About halfway down, I see "Inspired by Your Browsing History" -- so maybe the top material IS for most customers.  I'll be interested to know if some of you are getting a different main page.  While most reading here may have Kindles, I'd say a good number of visitors are only thinking of getting a Kindle, so if that's the case, maybe their main pages are different.

  Nothing of grand importance, probably, but the new page and the invisibility of the word "Books" without "Kindle" attached to them startled me.

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    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. One fault you left out is that they use very tiny type which, for me at least, is blurred to the point of being unreadable on my 18 inch monitor. And, when I zoom in using the browser ctl-shift-+ shortcut elements disappear from the page, i.e., the large floating box on the left side which allows one to go to the music player, cloud drive, etc. Hey, that's not important, is it?

    This is all entirely consistent with they way the designed the Amazon Music Player, e.g., make it hard to use and hard to read, use non-adjustable columns containing only portions of the information one might need and provide no slider controls to obtain the rest.

    This is on my 18 inch monitor using Chrome. Haven't bothered trying to use Firefox or other browsers or systems.

    1. AugustFalcon, I do find the fonts now favored by the MANY large websites to be harder to read. Also not a positive is that so many of them are gray against white. I used to enjoy being on their webpages checking things out. Now I click off them because they're hard on the eyes. Eventually I'll get used to it but I won't be spending the time I did before on those pages.

      It's not just Amazon - it's the new wave, and they all look the same and they're all harder to see unless you have 20-20 vision.

      The Amazon Music Player is, for me, seamless though. But I tend to go by Album or by Artist. Re your browser experience, Chrome probably is the fastest. I still use Firefox because I really like or rely on the apps I've chosen. My monitor, a Dell, is 24" so lets me see quite a lot.

  2. First, options "Books" is 8th in the left panel for me, right after a space that only emphasizes the option. So no, I don't see how that's a horrible hiding of books.

    Second, Amazon is not an educational organization that needs to provide access to p-books for those who can't afford an ereader. Amazon is a business, and I believe, their interface decisions are driven by what's increasing profits and what isn't.
    I would imagine, that people who buy pbooks from amazon regularly will find the department anyway, but more importantly, Amazon is getting a lot of customers through their Kindle and Kindle Fire - so I don't see anything wrong with them making digital content more easily available.

    1. typity,
      Thanks for taking the time to write, but, did I use the word 'horrible' ? Or did I summarize it as of "no grand import" -- I did venture that paranoid Big6 may go further afield than the use of the 'Darth Vader' label used yesterday again (how can anyone take that Author Guild president seriously?)

      I also said it may be good marketing if that's targeting me w/ things I happen to like or might like, but it WAS and is startling not to see the word "Books" out front anymore.

      You're happy with "8th" -- on the UNseen-until-hovered-over dual-panel popup -- after the visible headers are repeated once again before mentioning Books. I'm mainly describing a *reality* -- that print books seem to be de-emphasized on at least my version of the Home Page and I asked if others had different emphases or focus on theirs.

      I'm definitely interested in a change that's taken place and am describing what is displayed there now (or isn't). Since I felt the page was well-targeted at me except for the clothing box, I'm not complaining, just noting the change and that it's a sea-change.

    2. typity,
      I WAS complaining though about white-white webpages taking over the web. They ought to offer an alternate background color (not just Amazon, all the big companies going vanilla with harder-to-read fonts and less definition between items, borders so light grey you can't even see them but a lot is crowded together).

      This does put me in a bad mood. I've complained in Google's requested feedback areas too. The more blobby fonts, the light blue or light gray, the lack of contrast between areas, it's all unpleasant relative to the older screens (which I enjoyed), and I have no trouble reading on e-ink readers, tablets or my pc for hours on end -- but this situation sets my teeth on edge (probably because it's visually irritating and it would be annoying to redo all the settings on my pc monitor each time for those webpages and reset them for webpages that don't discomfit the eyes). At least with tablets I can easily turn brightness way down.

  3. I've been seeing the layout and design changes that you note for some months now. I had recently been thinking that I didn't care much for it and missed the old format. What is odd, though, is that just after I finished reading your comments I popped back to the Amazon site and ... surprise! ... the old site format was there. A coincidence, of course, but I'm glad to see it. The old version is just quicker to navigate. Wish I'd known they were testing it. I would have sent feedback.

    1. Jan,
      There is hope yet then! :-)

      What gets to me is I have always enjoyed looking at the pages to see what's being offered. What's interesting people, how Amazon is presenting things. And I'm a pretty active buying customer.

      That feeling that I want to look at the page is now not there. People will differ of course. They will have done all kinds of panels on this, but I am always amazed, as one who spends so much time on the Net, to see this new trend of white everything, and 'cool' new fonts that are harder to read.

      Thanks for that interesting feedback!

  4. Amazon has been pushing the new design off and on for a while now, as you mention in your post. If you are currently "stuck" with the new design, delete all your Amazon browser cookies and Shift-Reload the page. With luck, you can revert yourself back to the more classic website design.

    1. Anonymous, thanks much. I'll try that. It would be delaying the inevitable, but at least I'll take care of my eyesight until then, after which the main method would be some withdrawal (a healthy thing of course) if this continues everywhere.

  5. Hi Andrys, I love your blog and the deals here. Thought I'd let you know about something - we (Hyperink) have published 500+ books to Kindle, all sorts of nonfiction (how to, CliffNotes-like books, current events books).

    Here's the link:

    We just launched an "all you can read" plan for our own marketplace ( For $7.95/mo, you can download all 500, they're DRM-free pdf, epub, and mobi. We're also publishing 200 new books every month.

    Your first month is free, you can cancel anytime, and we're limiting subscribers to only 1,000 for our test - want to make sure its perfect and we can make every subscriber's experience awesome.

    I'd love to share it with your readers, thanks!



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