One Copy For Each Hand

Why don’t online retailers offer an “already bought” filter on searches?

Sorry if you clicked through looking for a joke to lighten your Monday.

I had cause to search by genre for a short-story collection today, and found myself scrolling through pages of results that contained entries I thought I’d already bought but wasn’t sure. Starting to lose oomph after checking the fourth one, I wondered why books I already owned were included.

Most supermarket sites include hotlinks to previously bought items because most people want to buy the same washing powder, the same toilet roll, or the same range of pies every time.

Surely the reverse is equally true of books and other non-consumables: most people don’t want to buy the same book, the same CD, or the same pair of fancy shoes more than once. So, why – given retailers know what someone has bought – do none of them offer the option to exclude items already bought?

Given the reducing interest in buying at all I experience compared to the chance I would want to purchase a second copy without searching by name, it doesn’t seem to serve the retailer or the customer.

It’s probably because another filter would make the code slightly more fragile and harder to test, but it’s been niggling at me enough that I decided to see if anyone had any good ideas (or humorous ones).

3 thoughts on “One Copy For Each Hand

  1. I have exactly the same thing with Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” feature. It’s meant to suggest new music to try, but 50% is always stuff I already have on my playlists. It should avoid suggesting things I’ve already added to a playlist, really.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting. I guess I don’t buy enough stuff online for this to be a problem. It’s probably perceived as too expensive a feature to add if it applies only to a minority of “power buyers.” And it’s also possible that unintended second copies purchased are seen as a bonus for the vendor.


    1. As most book retailers display a banner/message on the details page to say you’ve already bought a book, I’m not sure whether they get many accidental re-buys.

      I suspect many people spend much less time going through books by genre/keyword than I do though, so it might be a niche issue.

      Liked by 1 person

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