Thursday, July 27, 2006

Amazon reviews: Friends or foes?

I love Amazon.com. It was the first site I bought online from six years ago; for a long time, the only place I could get many books that were not available to me here. It’s also the community I trust when I need to know if a book is worth buying, or running away from as fast as my skinny-ass legs will take me.

Their reviews are “deal breakers” for me. If they’re 3.5 stars and above, there’s a good possibility I will get the item. If it’s bellow that, there’s no chance in hell I’m risking international shipping to own a piece of rubbish—be it a book, a computer, a camera or a hunky male slave. :P

I was surprised to hear rumors that not everyone feels the way I do about Amazon reviews. There are claims that some (most?) of these comments are fake. The gushing ones are supposed to be written by the same authors that penned the novels they are reviewing, and the bad ones are made up by “evil” writers who want to trash their competition.


Amazon.com wields a huge amount of influence in the publishing industry. By some accounts 25% of all books are sold by Amazon.com. That’s incredible market share.

If you’ve been in the book writing game more than a week, then you are probably aware that some authors post fake reviews to their books and their competitor’s books. Its an ugly truth that is rarely spoken about.


Is this all true? I don’t really know, or care that much to be honest LOL. I tried to find tangible evidence of authors doing this and came up with nada—though that might be because Amazon isn’t really that good at keeping track of who writes what in their “ratings and ranting” section.


When a book is sold on Amazon.com anyone can post a review about it whether they read it or not. All you need to do is create an account on Yahoo or Hotmail and then create a new Amazon.com account with that e-mail address. You can be a Fred Smith, Barney Rubble, or anyone you want—you can even impersonate someone. Amazon.com doesn’t seem to care. It’s a prefect set up for fraud, and for people with no scruples it represents a simple way to pump up their own ratings while knocking down their competitors.


It is true that these reviews influence millions of potential buyers and therefore Amazon should take more care in making them as legitimate as possible. But in all honesty, authors going in there and pumping up their ratings or bashing each other doesn’t make me lose one precious minute of sleep. Don’t we see that in cyberworld every single day? Just log on to any book site, bulletin board and/or Yahoo! group, and you’ll most probably find self-promotional pimping by writers all over the place. And then, you’ll notice the other side of the coin as well: readers and writers shredding whichever novel has been unfortunate enough to land on their hands to pieces.

So, who really cares if an author or two (or a hundred for that matter) are writing up a storm in the review section at Amazon? There are probably that same number of people writing nonsensical bad ones! What I really care about are the overall stars a book has, and how many people have reviewed it. If there are 500 reviews, I bloody well doubt that a busy published author is sitting around writing these themselves. So I ask, what exactly is the big issue? As they say in my country: “What is the same for everyone is an advantage to no one.”

And just because I love Amazon reviews so much, especially the funny bad ones, :P I will leave you with my new favorite one. Enjoy. *g*

Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. *I’ve never actually read this book (and I sooo don’t plan to!), but I find this review so freaking funny I couldn’t help but share. This appears to be a ghastly read LOL, Outlander-like, if you please!*


DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK I WARN YOU!

First off, let me say that Ginny was KIDNAPPED by Steve Morgan against her will. ... They get married and i swear, he has sex with atleast 10 other women, while Ginny gets raped about 10 times defending Steve. When Steve finds out about this, he goes on to call her a whore, about 30 times in the whole book, even though she stood up for him! On their wedding night he was off fiddling with a slave girl! Not to mention there are so many questions i have. There are people in the stories brought in, babies, friends, women, and in the next minute they drop of out the scene and you have no idea where they went. Steve IS NOT hero, and this IS NOT a love story. If you want a love story, an actual ROMANCE, then please find other authors.

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35 comment(s):

Blogger Dakota Cassidy said...

LMAO--OY, now that was a review, eh? I don't know a whole lot about Amazon, other than some authors feel like the 1 and 2 star ratings should be last and the glowing ones should be first.

I agree with you. If they want to write reviews for themselves, knock yourself out. I hardly ever go to Amazon. I have writtena review for a couple of my author friends. But I'll only do it if I like the book. And I've never written one for myself.

I say I need to get out more. LOL

DC :)

7/27/2006 06:46:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

This is not la la land, people, so negative reviews, like the positive ones, should be welcomed too. It's not only fair but people learn from these negative comments as well: both the readers and the author who penned the book.

If the only purpose of putting up a negative comment is to be malicious, i admit that could be infuriating. But i'm pretty sure nasty comments can be deleted anyway.

Anyway, what's the fuss? I don't think buyers actually read ALL those comments. They usually just check the ratings. About people crying for blood because of the "injustices" at Amazon *rolls eyes* and those authors who are putting up fake comments, i think it's all a waste of their time really. And since i don't buy my books at Amazon LOL, i don't give a flying fuck.

7/27/2006 07:42:00 PM  

Blogger Dakota Cassidy said...

I agree about the reviews. I say, any review is a good review. I don't agree with the malicious content either. You can say you don't like something without being a menche about it.

However, our society and some of its consumers are kinda hellbent on raging against the machine when they feel they've been wronged. They like it public and they like it when others join the fray. So some people sling mud when they really hate a book. I say, that's okay too. Censorship sucks and I think it sucks in reviews.

Bad reviews happen to all authors. It sucks, but such is the way of a reader/author relationship. Not everyone is gonna love ya.

DC :)

7/27/2006 07:43:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Hey DC! :)

You're right. Authors know that not everyone will love their book/s. Everyone gets them, including JK Rowling, Stephen King and those uber popular authors.

>>>However, our society and some of its consumers are kinda hellbent on raging against the machine when they feel they've been wronged. They like it public and they like it when others join the fray.
So true LOL. And this happens EVERYWHERE not just in Amazon. And many people love these kinds of crap. Oh well.

Anyway, I think when a reader/buyer wants something, malicious reviews won't stop him from acquiring what he wants. And i think most readers listen to people they know who've read the book, not from strangers in Amazon. If an author would rather waste his time writing fake comments LOL, that's his problem. Writing his competitor a malicious review, that's his shame.

7/27/2006 08:05:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis said...

Trollop, that's a funny one. LOL

I've read that Rosemarie Rogers book. And I agree with that review, STAY AWAY. Seriously, the "hero" is repulsive.

About the Amazon reviews, I don't read those, LOL. Like you, I just check the stars/ratings. I'd rather do something else than waste my time reading Amazon comments.

7/27/2006 08:10:00 PM  

Anonymous 2nd Amdt said...

I stopped paying attention to Amazon reviews after I read a thread on another book board talking about a reader review which was removed from Amazon at the author's urging because it trashed the book. I think the review was eventually been put back up, but only after a bunch of nice reviews were posted so that it was pushed it down a couple of pages. I just didn't like the way it seemed to be manipulated.

I think many of the Amazon reviews are too gushing to actually be objective.

I tend not to agree with reviews anyway, so I'll read them to find out more of the theme/story line to see if I think it is something I'll like it, but I've read "F" books that I liked.

7/27/2006 08:50:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

It doesn't matter to me. I don't trust Amazon comments, whether it's a positive or a negative one. I believe most people don't care too.

7/27/2006 09:04:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

Is there even a proof that fake reviews are from competing authors?

7/27/2006 09:05:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

I used to give a lot of credit to reviews, whether they were trade, author's endorsing, or just readers. Now I find the best method to get the scoop is to trust my own instincts as well as my other reading pals who have similar tastes to mine.

We all have such diff likes and dislikes in our book choices and really , who am I to say, "you have to read this" unless I know you really well and what you like. (unless it's a show stopper like PASSION lol)

Never shopped Amazon but I say, take ALL reviews with a grain of salt. Er, but if a review says "steamy sizzler, fast-paced, hilarious" , the book will probably go home with me :P

7/27/2006 09:16:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

I agree with 2nd Amdt. Amazon reviews aren't helpful, therefore I don't read them. Or even if I happen to read some, I don't base my decision from them.

Smart buyers think before purchasing a book. Reading a negative comment here and there or positive ones for that matter, should be considered first. Ask yourself, could these reviews be all true? We all know they aren't (nor accurate).

7/27/2006 09:22:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

Lol, Rosemary Rogers review, lol. I loved this book when it first came out *rolling eyes* But the review is right on. That's how a lot of the best selling romances were "back then" (ughh)

7/27/2006 09:23:00 PM  

Blogger Lollie Rose said...

As long as there are losers out there who can't contain themselves, things like this will never stop.

I don't give value to Amazon reviews but it's unfortunate that some people who have personal vendetta against certain authors put malicious comments everywhere.

Anyway, if the book is really good, it will surely end up with many positive reviews, no matter how hard a competing author or malicious reader try to sabotage or damage things.

7/27/2006 09:46:00 PM  

Blogger Dinosaur Mom said...

What I don't get is how they link the reviews one submits (look, we can't all be Book Bitches, some of us just occasionally overflow into Amazon.com review mode when something strikes us as particularly heinous) and the things on one's Amazon wish list to make recommendations. If I freak out one time about the lousy imitation Dr. Seuss book about natural sciences my sons insist I read to them, what genius then decides I must be interested in buying %$#@! "Clam-I-Am" in the same series?

7/27/2006 09:59:00 PM  

Blogger Vixen said...

I never read the reviews on Amazon. Like Hotmama said, I rely on friend's recs.

That Rosemary Rogers review was hilarious. Great article Trollop!

7/27/2006 10:40:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

Trollop, that's funny!

About Amazon reviews, I read some of them, but not all. Usually just browsing over them.

I think if a review really strike you, there are little ways that can help. Check how many reviews the reviewer has already posted and for which books. Also, there are those "top 1000" "top 50" etc little marks near his name to identify him from just random posters.

7/27/2006 11:13:00 PM  

Blogger Vanessa said...

I agree with Danielle. Also those "real name" tags (though I doubt this actually worked LOL).

Dinosaur mom, those are annoying! I hate those too!

7/27/2006 11:48:00 PM  

Anonymous Tisty said...

Self promotional Pimping???!!! Bwahahah. God that made me laugh Trollop:-D So funny and sadly so true!

I have to admit I read reviews where every I can find them. I like knowing what a book/movie/tv show is about and reviews, even bad ones, are a great way to get the info.

Really bad ones also make me smile. I'm sick like that....

7/28/2006 06:10:00 AM  

Blogger Gun_Wielding_Bitch said...

I read the comments on occasion and unless they are well written and state why they like or dislike the book, I don't give them much credit.

I don't give credit to the reviews that say, "I hated this book. it was a piece of crap and I wouldn't wipe my butt with it. I used it at kindling for my bonfire." What is the REASON for not liking the book? Poorly written, unbelievable characters, bad plot?

Reviews don't matter that much to me either. I can think of quite a few movies, TV shows and book that I read or watched and LOVED but the critics hated. Everybody's taste is different.

7/28/2006 08:17:00 AM  

Blogger Serendipity said...

I read Rosemary Rogers in highschool. I have no other book to read as books of romantic nature is rare in my world then. It was like contraband, passed around in secret and covered in the Holy Bible cover. Well, maybe not holly bible...but close.

It wasn't so bad if you have no other book choice to read. Really.

7/28/2006 08:56:00 AM  

Blogger Mystery Girl said...

You are right.
I shoudent buy this book.
But can I "The Red Tent"?
For serindipity?

7/28/2006 09:46:00 AM  

Blogger Ladybug said...

Everyone has different tastes. Usually I find books many reviewers have bashed but I really enjoyed. Or books many poeple loved but I actually hated. That's why I don't usually read reviews. I just go to Amazon to read blurbs or actually buy stuff.

7/28/2006 11:43:00 AM  

Blogger Sparkling Cipher said...

I don't pay attention to reviews when deciding on books or movies or music. It's so rare to find someone who's tastes are close enough to mine that I can really trust them to tell me "You'll love this" or "This isn't worth your time." I read summaries and go for whatever sounds interesting to me.

I've heard of people flooding sites to promote and raise ratings mostly on movie sites. They have the underlings create ids online just to gush about the studio's latest blockbuster. I imagine a little sweatshop on some lot with a bunch of PAs hunched over computers typing "OMG, this movie totally ROCKS!" and "I LOVE this movie. Mary-Kate and Ashley are great actresses" while drowning in self-loathing.

I once came across a site where someone posted their list of the funniest reviews. If I can find it back, I'll post the address. I think I remember someone complaining that "Catcher in the Rye" wasn't about baseball at all....

7/28/2006 12:04:00 PM  

Blogger Mailyn said...

so far every review I've read over on Amazon is dead on the money. For averages, I mean.

99% of books I buy are from Amazon and I also only get whatever is over 3.5 or so stars. so far I don't remember being dissapointed. I mean if there are 100 reviews I don't think most are from the author and her friends.

however, I must add, I read reviews to know more about the plot since I don't realy tend to go by what people think unless I know them personaly and know what kind of taste in books they have.

hope that all amde sense. I have a cold. lol.

7/28/2006 12:05:00 PM  

Blogger Ladybug said...

Oh GWB, I swear I didn't copy your comment! LOL This is why I should read the other comments first before commenting myself. I guess great minds think alike. :-P

7/28/2006 12:21:00 PM  

Blogger Gun_Wielding_Bitch said...

Ladybug,

You plagiarizer! How dare you think like me! Stop reading my thoughts... some might make you blush... or call the cops for indecency...lol

7/28/2006 12:41:00 PM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

I read some comments on Amazon, but usually I just browse. Most of the time these reviews are not helpful anyway, either they're just gushing about the book or bashing it incessantly anyone can see they're exaggerating. I'm like Trollop, I just check the over all ratings and how many people have actually given their reviews.

7/28/2006 12:56:00 PM  

Blogger Lorelei said...

I think the better guide is how many reviews the book has gotten. Don't put much weight on the number of stars. I think it's always good to read a book people felt passionate about to even write a review, even if it's a negative one.

7/28/2006 02:23:00 PM  

Blogger Ladybug said...

GWB, you're thinking of doing a lot of kinky stuff with Mr. Delish down there, aren't you? LOL

7/28/2006 02:26:00 PM  

Blogger Gun_Wielding_Bitch said...

Not so loud Ladybug, people will hear you and discover my wicked, hott, lick-o-licious plan...

7/28/2006 02:31:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis said...

GWB, I think everyone has the same kind of plan. Just in different positions, er, degrees. :P

7/28/2006 03:17:00 PM  

Blogger Diane R. said...

If an author feels the need of writing a fake review of his book, then he isn't that good. I don't really care about reviews on amazon anyways, so what do I know?.

7/28/2006 03:51:00 PM  

Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

gwb, others--

That guy in those photos is gay. He'd be more interested in my backswing than any topspin you could muster.

Just look at him. When he's not modeling for "Rogerio", Rogerio modeling for him....

Now, if you are looking for real men...

7/28/2006 10:37:00 PM  

Blogger Lola Lovegood said...

Like Trollop, I like bad amazon reviews. Does that make me sick? *g* When I hate a book I log on to Amazon and check the bad reviews to see who else hated it and what they have to say. I find them amusing I guess.

I dont care who writes the reviews as long as they make sense and they're informative.

7/29/2006 12:22:00 PM  

Anonymous Linka said...

Oh yeah, I've heard of this book and others by this same author...she's an old-style bodice ripper romance author. Times have changed and now we don't think a man is hot because he's off being unfaithful w/tons of other partners. I actually know a person who likes this author, this same person likes another author where the main character throws his heroine off to his men to gang-rape. Aren't these guys great? No wonder people stereo-type romance as trash...if you read those books, well they are...

I don't know about amazon reviews...some of them are needlessly vicious, but the stars are good. There are some readers who just like to give one star and just rip the book apart because they have nothing else better to do, but for the most part, I think a lot of people give their honest opinion.

7/30/2006 03:57:00 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't read Amazon reviews. Too many romance readers nowadays think fluff is great. *roll eyes* Give me RR or Chirstine Monson any day of the week and twice on Sundays. :)

8/07/2006 08:48:00 PM