February 13, 2004

Literary Guns

Amazon Glitch Unmasks War of Reviewers

Nice story about how Amazon had their Canadian site broken for a week, during which anonymous reviewers suddenly became known... and the number of people reviewing their own books, or having friends do so came to light.

Not that I'm picky or anything, but the truth is -- Amazon reviews are about as relevant as any review: not very, and rarely do they come without baggage and ulterior motives. I'm not saying I don't read Amazon reviews, but I've stopped trusting them because they greatly vary in quality. People have different tastes. People want to appear important. Good reviews, bad reviews, by the time you're finished, it's all a wash; you're not going to get an honest opinion.

If you think about reviews on a book site in general, the strategy is pretty good; let the masses say their say about a book. Publication of those reviews is cheap and likely to balance out.

But how to structure your reviews is a bit of a quandry: you can do it a lot of ways. Let people post anonymously, and then ask why someone would review a book anonymously. Remove the anonymous feature, which may discourage honest opinions coming from people who know the author, didn't like this one, but don't wish to be rude. Maybe have no reviews at all, and save the bother. Or have one person/a group of persons review books, and let that person/that group become the single arbiter of taste on the site.

Any one of these ways leads to bias of some sort; you're basically up to luck and friends in any of these cases. The best thing you can do is ignore the reviews, and judge for yourself.

Or, go one step further: use the library, and then you don't have to depend on a review to find out where you're money's well spent.

Posted by Ted Stevko at February 13, 2004 11:35 PM | TrackBack

Hey Man your a random link on the "movable type" page I'm going to check out when I have the time... And Motivation.
But This is a Cool little Article You posted here. And very cool. I wish People actaully read enough for them to consider going ot the library.. nowadays it seems that people just mostly get books because school requires them, they need them for work or college...
Not many true readers left in the world on the market for novels... Not compared to how it was before TV and RAdio Came out anyhow.

Posted by: FlameWithin at February 13, 2004 11:46 PM