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Amazon.com Advanced Book Search cannot "NOT" anymore

  • Monday, November 02 2009 @ 11:44 PM UTC
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It all started with me wanting to find "Science Fiction books published last month that were not about vampires."

According to the Amazon Advanced Search page, the minus sign "-" is supposed to indicate a "NOT" search.  I started by searching the books section for "-vampires".  Amazon says:

Your search "-vampires" did not match any products in: Books

Now I know that vampire books are popular these days, but I'm fairly certain there are at least a few Fantasy/SciFi books at Amazon.com that are not about vampires.

I tried again using the Advanced Search book search page (http://www.amazon.com/b/?node=241582011), making sure that "-vampires" was in the keywords field.  Again, no matching results.

I tried the "books written by Malcolm X but not an autobiography" search listed on the Advanced Search page as a Real-world Example... again no matching results.  Clicking the link to "See the results" of the example Malcom X search finds no matching results.

I looked all over the Amazon.com site for a way to report a web site problem.  None of the information at http://www.amazon.com/help was useful to report this kind of issue, at least as far as I could tell.  I was unable to locate any email contacts or web forms to submit feedback on the site itself.  I googled for other reports of this issue and didn't find anything. 

I resorted to emailing the generic webmaster address.

Here is the reply I received from Amazon:

Greetings from Amazon.com.

We're sorry. You've written to an address that cannot accept incoming
e-mail. But that's OK--this automated response will direct you to the
right place at Amazon.com to answer your question or help you contact
customer service if you need further assistance.

You can let us know which types of mail you wish~Wor do not wish~Wto
receive from Amazon.com by visiting your Customer Communications
Preferences page:
http://www.amazon.com/communications

If you need to modify an unshipped order or make changes to your
account or subscriptions, you may do so online at any time via
Your Account: http://www.amazon.com/your-account

If your question is not answered by the above links, we invite you
to search our Help Desk at http://www.amazon.com/help

We hope our online resources meet all your needs. If you've explored
the above links but find you still need to get in touch with us,
please click the "Contact Customer Service" link on our main Help page.

Thanks for shopping at Amazon.com.

Sincerely,

Amazon.com Customer Service
http://www.amazon.com

 

No help.

So, I decided to throw this report to the winds of the web and see if any answers come back.

 

** updates 11/3/2009 **  The Internet speaks...

A workaround to accomplish my original search is to put a positive search term as the first keyword.  So, to find books that are not about vampires use "book -vampire" in the keywords field.  As of today the Malcom X Real-world Search example is still broken.  I did find a way to submit web site issues to amazon (thank you SAGE-Members mailing list)...

To report a web site issue to amazon, go to the Help Page (http://www.amazon.com/help), then on the right hand side is a "Contact Us" button, then (after Sign-in) under "Customer Service" in the middle lower-right, there is a button for email. On the web form, the "Order #" field is optional and there is a choice for "Other Questions and Comments".

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