Amazon Categories July 8, 2008

Amazon Categories

Quick rant:

If I wanted to buy books by atheists on Amazon, one would think I could go straight to the atheist section and be done with it.

Not surprisingly, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens grace the top of the list.

But there’s something else also taking place…

Currently, of the 25 “atheist bestsellers,” 9 are written by Christians attempting to refute the New Atheists.

Are they properly categorized? You can argue that they are since they do discuss the subject…

But dammit, it’s annoying to see Ray Comfort, Dinesh D’Souza, and Ravi Zacharias hovering around in the category meant for us, tainting it with their nonsense.

If I want to read their Apologetics, I’ll find the books within the Christian category, thank you very much.

Rant over.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Colin M

    What about an inversal strategy? Can we get The God Delusion classified as “apologetics”?

  • Agreed and experienced the same thing.

    And I like Colin’s idea. If we have to put up with it, they should, too. 🙂

  • David D.G.

    Hemant, I agree with you completely.

    However, I have a nitpick regarding this sentence:

    Currently, of the 25 “atheist bestsellers,” 9 are written by Christians refuting the New Atheists.

    “Refute” means “to successfully argue against or disprove.” Those guys don’t “refute” atheism at all; they just rant against it.

    ~David D.G.

  • Hmm, well, technically those other books are about atheism…and The God Delusion appears at #6 on the Christianity list. If that wasn’t the case, I’d be pretty annoyed, though.

  • “Refute” means “to successfully argue against or disprove.” Those guys don’t “refute” atheism at all; they just rant against it.

    True. I corrected the statement above. Gracias.

  • Kristy

    Amazon has always had these problems, awhile back when you searched “abortion” it would say “did you mean adoption?” It has since been fixed.

  • Jim

    I’m more concerned with how they put “Atheism” under “Spirituality”, which is under “Religion & Spirituality”

    Shouldn’t it be classified under “Philosophy” or “Science” or something? As an Atheist, I don’t believe in Spirits any more than Gods.

  • Gabriel

    Should “Mein Kampf” be in the religious section? Where would something like that garbage be placed?

  • Jason

    Gabriel: Historical autobiography?

  • Mein Kompf is an autobiography. It would be fitting to list it among other autobiographies as well as related subject areas: World War II and the Holocaust for example.

    As far as I can tell, Amazon categories are more like tags, aren’t they? What I mean is that a work can be in more than one category, yes? If not, then all the atheism books belong in “Nonfiction”, “Science”, or possibly “Philosophy” even though atheism is not technically a philosophy (it is typically classified with the more general ‘life stance’ terminology).

    The religious responses to such books belong in ‘Religion’ and, if the subcategory exists, ‘Religious Apology’.

    If multiple categorization is used, then it would be fitting for religious responses to atheism to be listed within the atheism section, but they should have a lower sorting priority due to their less direct relevance to the topic. Likewise for atheistic works being placed in the Religion section(s).

  • J Myers

    Atheism surely is philosophy, as it addresses metaphysics (to an extent that depends upon the particular definition employed). It most certainly is not science.

  • Jeff Flowers

    I recently noticed that the Barnes & Noble I work part-time at now has an athiest section, right next to Christian Inspiration. It’s not a big section though.

    And for some reason, I Sold My Soul on eBay is in the Christian section in our store. Karma?

  • Yer… seconding a lot of the above. It’s good to be the center of attention, and if we get our books as top sellers in the “Religion” and “Christianity” sections, its very hard to complain. Also: as a major book hound, I like being able to know what anti-atheist books are getting the most attention. I know what to get–not to buy necessarily, but what would be worth getting out from the library and reviewing.

  • Pseudonym

    This is not the “atheist section”, it’s the “atheism section”. That should answer your question right there.

    But yes, you’re right. It’s just as disturbing to see Dinesh D’Souza in the “atheism” section as it would be to see The God Delusion in the science section.

  • I like Dan’s comment. If they are cross-subjecting their books, Sam Harris’ and Richard Dawkins’ work should be placed over on their category, too.

    Also of note are books by those who jumped ship, like Antony Flew’s recent book. While I’m curious what made him change his decade’s lost position/belief, I really don’t have much of an interest in reading his story.

  • I also agree; if you can put Christian apologetics in the atheism section (which I actually think is fair; if we only read atheist books, we’re no different from the way theists tend to behave and only read confirming books), then atheist books can go into the Christianity sections. However, almost all atheist books would then go into the various religious sections too, because as far as I know, they all defend atheism or attack religion (and if they only attack religion, then they’re not even talking about atheism, and they should only go in the religious sections!) and there are very few that only talk about atheism without talking about specific religions. Religions, on the other hand, have plenty of books that talk about religion without touching atheism.

    If you consider the “sections” equivalent to tags, where a tag represents a discussed subject, then it makes complete sense to put the apologetics books in the atheism section, and the atheist books in the religious sections. But if you consider sections to be more generally categories (and where a book can only have a very limited number of categories), then it doesn’t make sense.

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