Let the Book Buyer Beware?

I came across a very nice site – Penelope’s Romance Reviews – which had an interesting discussion about some of the activities that are going on in the world of books today. In actuality, it may not even be limited to the world of books since things like paying for reviews or even fake reviews have hit several industries.

A recent NY Times article discussed the plague of fake reviews and its impact on businesses.

Why is it so important to pump up the number of reviews for books, especially at sites like Amazon? It’s my understanding the Amazon algorithms have a magic number and once you hit that number, your book starts getting more attention in their world.

So what’s so wrong about gaming the system with scads of reviews offered in exchange for like reviews or for payment? Or gaming the system in a myriad of other ways about which the average reader may not be aware?

I think Penelope hit the issue on the head with one word: Integrity. Are you willing to sacrifice your integrity for a sale?

As many of you who visit are readers, how do you feel about this? Have you been burned by buying a book with dozens of five star reviews only to shake your head and wonder how that was possible? Granted, not everyone will love/hate a book in the same way.

Anyway, I’d love to get your thoughts on this today! Also, look for me to be sharing some photos from my little adventure to BEA. Tomorrow I’m off to Philly for another conference, so I’ll be sharing over the weekend as well.

10 thoughts on “Let the Book Buyer Beware?”

  1. I hate fake reviews. I see some negative fake reviews sometimes like if I read a book and read a bad review and the review is saying things happened that didn’t or things didn’t happen that did just to make the book sound bad. I don’t know why people do that either, they don’t care about their integrity like you said. Now I learned better and so I read a sample and look at what the book is about and decide for myself. I have been reviewing a while and I reviewed for authors sometimes that people said their reviews were fake and that is an insult because I put a lot of time into my reviews and my reviews are not fake just because they don’t agree with me, weather my review is positive or negative its still my opinion not fake! I think people should be careful to say a review is fake just because they disagree but yes sometimes they are fake because I read a review sometimes that will say things that are completely untrue. I don’t mean opinion I mean talking about what the content is but not being accurate even a little bit. Makes me wonder if they read or if they did maybe they just want something negative to say so make things up. So this is to say I hate fake reviews weather they are positive or negative but weather my review is positive or negative its still my opinion so be careful who you say is the one being fake!

    1. I own an online book tour company and I refuse to pay for reviews from my host bloggers. As a matter of fact in the last month I have had 3 bloggers approach me wanting to be paid in exchange for reviews and I promptly refuse them. I also, encourage my hosts to write honest but CONSTRUCTIVE not mean or snarky reviews. I am very proud of the reviews my blogger team writes on behalf of my author clients.

  2. Amazon ran into that scandal before about its review integrity & rating a few yrs back, if I remember correctly. I don’t usually read reviews PRIOR to actually reading the book I decided to read, bec I don’t care what other pp think and I don’t want them to sway or influence my opinion, I can decide for myself, thx you very much. If it interests me, that’s my choice, that’s good enough. THEN I’ll talk about the book AFTER I read it. Just like movies critics (eg: Ebert & Roeper), I often find myself disagree w/ them, whatever they gave a thumb down, I’d like it. Whatever they raved about, I’d find it “ok” or not. But when I do the reviews I’m a bit generous w/ my stars, they usually get at least 4 stars, simply bec if I found OVER ALL the book delivered what it’s supposed to and meant to be, like “romance”, if it met my expectation, I found it entertaining… good enough. I don’t usually review something or genres I’m not familiar w/, I just think I’m not in a position or qualified to be criticizing someone’s work, when I barely know anything about it. Only if I really, really have to (eg: chosen to receive an ARC from LibraryThing or book club for a review, but they usually send what I’m familiar w/ to read and review). Paying for reviews so one can bump up the algorithms to boost their book sales, just lame, tacky and a cheater. If I do it as a “favour”, STILL I would have to read it first. To review sth you NEVER read..?!?! That’s “Bottom dweller/feeder” thing.

  3. I read lots of reviews, ask fellow readers their take on books, look up the authors website and then make up my mind. Yes sometimes I’ve been disappointed but that’s my take not everyone; and sometimes something I don’t enjoy now I will live in a year’s time.

  4. I do pay attention to good and bad reviews and have been burned by reviews of books when I buy them and dislike the book. I know different things work for different folks but it is aggravating when an author gets her followers to all give fantastic reviews (whether they’ve actually read the book or not) just to pump up their numbers. I think it hurts both their integrity and the system over all. Great post and I’ll have to check out Penelope’s Romance Reviews.

  5. When I am looking for a book, I rarely go to the Amazon ratings. Instead, I go to Goodreads and check out my friends’ reviews – the good reviews and the bad reviews. I am suspect of a book that has only 5 star ratings because book reviewing is subjective. If I like books about sparkly vampires, chances are someone out there doesn’t like those kinds of books.

  6. If it’s an author I know, I don’t pay much attention to the reviews. If it’s a new to me author, I read the back cover and a little of the first chapter, then go to the reviews. I look at the bad and good reviews and make a decision on why they like or dislike a book. I have written reviews for books. I try to be honest about why I liked or disliked a book. In the end it is my choice whether I buy a book or not. I trust my judgement.

  7. I personally think I more often have a better opinion of most books I read than some of the reviews. I can not stand when someone reviews a book saying it was horrible and it is very clear they dont like those types of books. You can usually tell what the book is about by reading into it a bit before buying so there’s really no need for that. Like I read one that gave a book 1 star because they did not know upon buying it that it had MM romance in it. So with so many idiots out there trying to give books a bad rep when they dont deserve it you almost can’t blame someone for trying to amp up their reviews. But I know I also would hate for a book to get good reviews just because the reviewers were bribed. I think there are lots of people out there with different taste in books and it would help the authors to maybe try to target their book to some reviewers who like those certain types of books so their book can be properly judged in its own genre instead. I personally dont give reviews too much weight. If I did I would have missed out on some of my favorite books! As a book reviewer myself I always try to be fair :mrgreen:

  8. I always read the worst reviews to see what people are complaining about. If it’s a personal opinion that’s one thing, if it’s bad writing/plotting/story/characters I ask friends if they’ve read said book and get their feedback before buying any author I’m not familiar with. Which is why I won’t and will never read 50 Shades. LOL

  9. Well as a reader & reviewer for a web site I have never given a 5 star on my review site. I have not ever read a truly outstanding book. It is just not out ther for me yet. I go by the reviews & the book description & I read all reviews & take them into consideration. Now as a average reader & reviewer for my personal life if you will I give 5 star. Because for a average reader I felt the book deserved it. But now as a “professional” LOL, I feel I owe my truly honest opinion. But so far all of my reviews are 4 or 4.5. Well all my rambling on deserves a 3 star.LOL, Enjoy the sunny day. —Rachel

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