This isn't anything new -- authors paying for positive reviews on the big sites like Amazon, Goodreads etc, despite policies on those sites that warn against paid reviews -- but it's definitely interesting to read about someone making a career out of it. The reviewer in the artcile worked in marketing for publisher where he solicited reviews for books, until he realized he could do this himself -- and charge for it.
I don't know that there's anything necessarily wrong with charging for a book review in general. If you're a self-pubbed author (and frankly, even if you're not) marketing and publicitiy are often up to the author to really make a difference in sales. The issue here, is paying for a positive and glowing review, even if the book doesn't merit a positive review.
From the article:
Interesting; so he doesn't even consider his work as a traditional critical review, but a review viewed solely as a marketing tool. I've certainly seen evidence of this on Amazon, where a little-known book has half a dozen reviews or so and all are ridiculously enthusiastic to the point they are untrustworthy. I look for nuance in collective reviews. If a book is good I want to know why, and if it has weak points, I want to know that, too. A review doesn't need to be "negative" to accomplish this; it just needs to be truthful.“I was creating reviews that pointed out the positive things, not the negative things,” Mr. Rutherford said. “These were marketing reviews, not editorial reviews.”
I think the book blogging community handles this well, by either featuring only books the blogger recommends or providing a balanced view. But as for the Goodreads, Amazon, B&N user reviews, how much stock do you put in reviews to determine what you read? Do reviews make or break your decision to read a book? Does knowing that some of the positive reviews may have been paid for change your opinion?