Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh I May, May I?

To wax slightly biographical, I went to Barnes & Noble yesterday and bought a copy of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit. I've read it before, and it is quite a good book, which is why I finally determined to own it, however, the part of this little episode which most invites comment is that, along with my receipt, the register printed me out a helpful little slip of paper that read like this:




YOU MAY ALSO LIKE. . .
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
Moby Dick: Or, The Whale by Herman Melville
Martin Eden by Jack London



Which occasions a meditation on just how the computer might have come to such a conclusion:


Barnaby Rudge You, valued customer, just bought a book by Charles Dickens. Therefore, I shall assume you might like to try yet another.


Fair enough, register. I see your logic and, inded, I may read that one someday.


Moby Dick: Or, The Whale You, valued customer, whose taste in literature is now an open book (ha ha) to me, obviously like Big Fat Tomes. Here is a volume quite famed for its portliness.


I'll give you points for some restraint, register. I suppose you could have suggested Melville's Complete Works, which I have seen bound under a single cover, and which would be my choice of the book to throw at someone, if throwing the book at someone ever fell to my lot. But, deep in your little mechanical heart of hearts, do you find much similarity at all between a tale of hypocrisy in England, and one of verbosity on the high seas?


Martin Eden With my keen, virtual eye for detail, I have noted that you have been known to buy books with the Christian name of Martin. I've cleverly found another for you.


Now you're just havering. And I have a book to read. Goodbye.

2 comments:

Elizabeth in Alaska said...

I have often laughed over B&N's receipt suggestions, as well. :D Thanks for making me smile...

Molly said...

One wonders if it's worth the trouble they took to design a program to make such suggestions. . .then again, it is indeed entertaining!