Sunday, December 23, 2012

Caveat Lector 2

Remember my posting about an incompetent on-line music review, evidence of the value of knowledgeable critics? Of course you do.

Here's a NY Times article about the trouble with Amazon book reviews and what Amazon is trying to do about them (delete lots of suspicious reviews). It comes down to credibility: reviews by your kids, your mother, social media followers who haven't read the book yet, and that woman in Atlanta who has published 28,366 Amazon reviews - I am not making that number up - are worthless.


OTOH said...

I made an interesting discovery about a certain subset of Amazon book reviews last year. During a discussion/argument/flame war about religion at an online forum, someone on the pro-religious side said everyone should read a certain book and as well as others by a certain author. I was curious about exactly what sort of author and books they were, so looked up the author and books on Amazon, and started reading reviews. A startling number were incredibly favorable, in light of the somewhat controversial content. But I figured, oh, well, who would read this stuff except those already favorably inclined?

But then I noticed that virtually all of the reviews had a little disclaimer saying the reviewer's copy was provided by some kind of book club or such. It took some sleuthing, but I finally found out that the publisher (specializing in fundamentalist evangelical Christian authors like Billy Graham) was sending out free copies of the book in exchange for reviews and blog entries, as a sort of "book club" that had a different name than the publisher (which, by the way, was bought by some Rupert Murdoch entity about a year ago, if I remember correctly). Naturally, only people inclined to be favorable are going to be signing up for the club, I would think.

I should have notified Amazon, I suppose, but figured at the time that they wouldn't care.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Wow, thank you. That is a great report!