Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Amazon Reviews

Like most people, I put a lot of business Amazon's way. One reason for this is their customer review system. On the face of it, it is a useful gauge as to how good a book is, particularly if it's a subject (non-fiction) or author (fiction) you haven't tried before. So up until recently I've relied on it a lot in making a decision about whether or not to buy.

Until recently when I came across a thread on a writers' site where a newly published author was complaining about a bad review she had received and urging members to go and vote the review as "unhelpful". Then it occurred to me, poor naive fool that I am, that anyone could solicit good reviews from friends and family - even themselves, if they faked their identity.

The idea shocks me, to be honest. Shouldn't your work stand or fall on its merits, rather than this dodgy networking? It debases the whole system and makes all the reviews - well, pretty useless, really, unless you know who gave it.

Of course, as an author I can sympathise with the idea of getting bad reviews. But I don't think getting your mates to vote for you ever made anyone a better writer. And I'll be taking all Amazon reviews with a much larger pinch of salt from now on.


Nik's Blog said...

It's an interesting thought, isn't it? But I can honestly say that in my time as a writer, author, and amateur reviewer I've never given preferential votes or reviews to anyone I know, nor have I seen evidence of anyone I know doing this. Of course it can happen, but I think you'd find that a) those reviews stick out like a sore thumb, and b) that writers would want their work to stand up to the scrutiny of Real Readers.

I've had something similar recently in that earlier this week a story of mine has been nominated for an award, one that's won by votes. Yes, I've made people aware of it and yes I've encouraged them to take a look in the hope that they'll think mine's the best story but I'd never expect, nor want, to win because I could get the most people to vote for me - I'd rather win because my piece as the best. And I think that's true of pretty much every other author I know.

Nice blog btw!


Sandra Patterson said...

Thanks Nik, and welcome to my Blog.
Good luck in the award, but I'm sure you don't need it!

Lori Tiron-Pandit said...

I kind of stopped trusting the Amazon reviews ever since discovering that the most loved book from 2008 is "Revolution: A Manifesto" by Ron Paul. It has the most reviews, the most five stars. Out of 764 reviews, 702 are five stars. How is that even possible?

Tracy said...

I tend to go by Waterstones reviews if anything but mostly it's what I pick up from various sources that will pique my interest in a particular book.

As with many things on the internet, it is riddled with this kind of behaviour - best to take it all with a huge pinch of salt (that's if the UK can spare any at the moment what with the looming salt crisis because of the snow!! Ridiculous business.)

Hope you're well Sandra - should I presume you're still waiting?

Sandra Patterson said...

Thanks Lori and Tracy, wise words as ever. Typical of me to be the last to realise this goes on!

Still waiting, Tracy, but I did get another request for a full today(!). I'll say more about it in the next blog.

Tracy said...

How good is that - you are definitely doing something right. I look forward to popping back to read your news. :)