Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Did you know Amazon’s just zapped thousands of reviews from their site?

Or so it says here .

In general, I don’t know that I care that much. But: here is the first comment to this article:

“Here’s my standard: any book with five stars is likely cause for suspicion. It probably means either the reviewer has something to gain or the reviewer’s standards are low and therefore untrustworthy. Indeed, of the, let’s say, 10 million books written and reviewed, maybe less than 1% deserve five stars. Five star books are those by authors whose books have stood the test of time (e.g. Tolstoy, Twain, etc.). Usually, I go straight to the negative reviews, which are often more informative and accurate in my experience.”

To which my immediate response is: Well, buddy, it’s nice you have such high high high standards, but I almost never review books I don’t like, which means I often DO give a book five stars. And I hardly think I have such low low low standards compared to you. Or need a book to become a time-tested classic before I can tell whether it’s any good. So lighten up.

You know what? Five stars is not that many. If this was a ten star system, then I expect I would be giving very few books ten stars and I’d be a bit suspicious of books that garnered a lot of ten-out-of-ten stars. But it hardly seems out of the way to give a book five-out-of-five. Four out of five is actually too low for quite a lot of books.

Which that guy in the comments actually would realize, if he could do math. Because if 1% of 10 million books — his guess, not mine — deserves five stars, that’s 100,000 books, which is going to be a whole lot of the ones people have actually heard of.

If I’m using reviews to make a buying decision, which I actually sometimes do, I personally read a good handful of both the positive and negative reviews. A negative review that declares a book is “boring” may actually be a suggestion that I will like it, particularly if someone else left a comment about the book’s leisurely pace and lyrical writing.

And! Something else that is interesting: Harriet Klausner, who is cited in the article linked above because she has 25,000 reviews on Amazon? Well, her reviews make it perfectly clear that she really did read the Griffin trilogy, and since I know *I* didn’t pay her for those reviews, my guess is, she REALLY DOES read roughly a zillion books a day. I’m glad I don’t read that fast, as how could you linger over a book long enough to actually enjoy it if you read half a dozen per day?

But, in fact, overall, I don’t know that I care that much about what Amazon does with its review policy, since I actually go to Goodreads to read reviews or post my own. Besides, it doesn’t look to me like Amazon did anything to my reviews. Not (in case you wonder) that any close family members have ever left a review for any of my books. (Not that I would object if they did.)

How about you all? Anybody tend to write reviews, and if so, do you do it at Amazon or Goodreads or someplace else?

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2 Comments Did you know Amazon’s just zapped thousands of reviews from their site?

  1. Elaine T

    I’d heard about the Amazon kerfuffle a while ago. They still seem to have lots of reviews of books I’m checking out.

    I occasionally write reviews, not often. I’m never satisfied by what I convey when I try – I sound more like Harriet K than James Nicholl – who came up with this for SCORPIO RACES recently (I saw it today…): SCORPIO RACES is sort of like NATIONAL VELVET if everyone in it were deeply repressed Scots (or maybe Orkneymen) and instead of riding horses they rode semiaquatic velociraptors.

    It may not capture the book exactly, but it does get across a certain essential set of qualities about the book. Mine for SR would be more like: great characterization and plotting, well done story. The first grabs attention, mine doesn’t.

    BTW, we were in B&N last night and they’re still stocking the Griffin omnibus. Must be selling.

  2. Rachel

    Wow. I would never have thought of the phrase “semiaquatic volociraptors”. I clearly need to be following James Nicholl’s reviews.

    And I’m delighted to hear that the Griffin omnibus is still in brick-and-mortar stores! Thanks for passing that on.

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