Monday, August 27, 2012

The Price of a Positive Book Review

Welcome to Monday, everyone! I usually post a book review on Mondays, but I've been in vacation mode after a girl's weekend getaway. I came across this article today on about a entreprenurial guy who gets paid to write online book reviews: Link Here

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:
“I was creating reviews that pointed out the positive things, not the negative things,” Mr. Rutherford said. “These were marketing reviews, not editorial reviews.”
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 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?


  1. Reviews don't really sway me unless I know the reviewer. If I've been blogger friends with someone for a while and they rave about a book I keep it in mind. Otherwise it doesn't matter as much. Reviews may be helpful to some people but I think word of mouth through friends is infinitely better. Found your blog through GUTGAA and now I'm following :)

  2. I rarely go by book reviews. When I'm buying toys, game or different products I read those to find out info before buying. With books, its all about the blurb and a good cover doesn't hurt. Books are too subjective and I don't always agree with what some people consider hot:

  3. Like you, I get suspicious when a book has too many gushing reviews. While I sometimes skim through reviews, they don't influence me much in terms of whether or not I'd read a book. I'd read a book that interests me even if it has negative reviews.

  4. If a book on Amazon only has a dozen or so reviews and they are all glowing, I assume it's the author's friends.

    The thing about book reviews is that everyone has such differing tastes. When a reviewer is specific about what they liked or disliked, I can determine if those are the same things I like or dislike and make a better judgement. I might like what the reviewer didn't like.

  5. Exactly! If a book has genuinely positive reviews, they seem to still have some nuance to them. It's not all sparkly rainbows and lifechanging affirmations.

    For books I've read that don't have many reviews, I make sure to post one with considerable detail. I want to support authors I like, but at the same time I'm not going to give something five stars if I didn't absolutely love it. I can still write a positive review and give something three or four stars.

  6. Unless most of the reviews are bad, I usually don't pay attention. Even really popular books that people love have some bad reviews.

  7. Yes, I've been working on a post for Friday about various places that are charging for review. This is why I started the Knights of the Round Table group on Goodreads. Not only do the authors received multiple honest reviews, but there is also an award for any book that achieves an average rating of 4.5 or higher. Only one book has one the honor so far. The only issue is finding more readers. We need them!!


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