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I found this on an author blog, via a link from Sybil:


Hmmm… Aren’t you Americans big on freedom of speech etc, etc, etc?

What if the reviewer genuinely hated a book? Is it right that only the good reviews should be featured at the top? I know they aren’t talking about banning the crappy reviews, but isn’t this a type of censorship? Would it even work? Wouldn’t some people just choose to look at the negative reviews first anyway?

If a one star review is well written, without bashing the author, why should it be relegated to the bottom? What’s the point in having reviews on a site such as Amazon, if authors can pick and choose which reviews go where?

I don’t post reviews on Amazon, as a general rule, so it doesn’t really affect me, but doesn’t the whole idea make you feel a tad uncomfortable…?

27 Comments »


  • Jade James Truth or Dare
    July 21
    11:44 am

    If a one star review is written, without calling the author a name, then what the hell is the problem.

    People do have the right to their own opinon.

    In my opinion, whatever author wrote this should spend there time writing/sending a cache of letters to end world poverty or other worthy organizations out there. There is much help needed in this world, and sending letters to amazon.com is the least of our worries.

    Jade James

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  • Keira Ramsay
    July 21
    11:49 am

    Um…wow. As an author myself, I would *never* even think about doing that. Sometimes negative reviews point out something that was truly wrong or disjointed about our work…something for us to improve on in our next project. And if the review is one that’s just put out there (esp on Amazon) to trash the author, then he/she has recourse through Amazon to have it removed.

    Shaking head…

    Terri/Keira

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  • Eve Vaughn
    July 21
    12:18 pm

    Call me a weirdo but sometimes one star reviews make me buy the books and I’ve found a lot of great reads through bad reviews.

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  • Fickle Fiona
    July 21
    1:30 pm

    Damn. This is sad. First, I have more faith in Amazon than that…they are there for the consumer, not the author. Secondly, if this were to happen, what is to stop someone from giving a five star rating and then trashing the book in the review? That’s what I would do.

    *sigh* Have we hit ridiculous yet?

    Fiona

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  • Kate R
    July 21
    1:36 pm

    I don’t understand how Amazon decides which reviews go on top anyway. If they listed top rating reviews first (or bottom ratings first) at least the whole thing would be clearly arranged. Seems slightly random now. The review with the most helpful clicks gets to the top, but not always.

    On the other hand, this really does seem like censorship: they delete some reviews for no particular reason–I saw a call go out to click on the abuse button for a “meh, it was okay, didn’t love it” review. I think it was two stars? And the thing was gone within a day. I suppose with lawyers in the world, Amazon figures it’s best to safe to just erase.

    I imagine if enough people hit the abuse button the review just disappears?

    Makes sense–because Amazon is all about the money and that saves time and money. Otherwise some employee would have to sit and read the reviews marked as abuse. Censorship because of technology and money saving tactics. Wish I knew if it’s true!!

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  • Kate R
    July 21
    1:45 pm

    actually fiona, that’s exactly what jesus general does in his Amazon reviews–and at his political website.

    He’s a mock-conservative who’ll give an Ann Coulter a five star review–and then, in character he goes on about what a great American patriot she is for wanting to kill supreme court justices.

    His amazon reviews ALWAYS end up deleted, which is too bad because they’re way, way over the top but usually a hoot. Even my conservative republican friend thinks JG is “sort of amusing”

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  • Dramedy Girl
    July 21
    2:08 pm

    The reader can choose which order she wishes to read the reviews in, but the best will always be at the top.

    Ummm, then I’m not really choosing which way I want to read the reviews then, am I? I think Amazon posts them as they receive them, that’s why you’ll have a couple of 5 star then a 1 then maybe a few threes. When I go to Amazon I don’t even read the gushing 5 star. I usually only read four and below. And like Eve, I’ve tried books off of several one star reviews just to see what all the fuss was about.

    I don’t think people should trash the author personally in the review, but I see nothing wrong with saying “This book sucks, stay far away.”

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  • Barbara B.
    July 21
    2:08 pm

    What’s pretty telling is that the author doesn’t get how wrong she is. How are unfavorable reviews any less valid than the positive ones?

    Like Eve, I’ve been intrigued enough by a badly reviewed book to buy it. I don’t just consider how highly a book is rated but the things the reviewer did and didn’t like. Sometimes what the reviewer doesn’t like is exactly what I’m looking for.

    I doubt if either the negative or positive reviews that just rate instead of review have much impact on a buyer.

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  • Kat O+
    July 21
    2:25 pm

    This wouldn’t matter to me at all. I read the first couple of 5-star reviews then skip straight to all the negatives. If a book has 56 reviews and the average is 4.5 stars then I know it’s relatively decent. If I’m tossing up between a few 4-5 star-rated books, I scan the negatives to see what the points of annoyance are. Then pick the one with the annoying points least annoying to me.

    Erm…did any of that make sense? At all?

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  • jane
    July 21
    2:36 pm

    Jesus.

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  • sallahdog
    July 21
    4:45 pm

    Having been burned by 4 star ratings in the past on Amazon, I really don’t hold much stock in reviews on there, anymore..
    Especially in light of all the recent publicity of authors having their friends, family go on and give glowing reviews..

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  • sybil
    July 21
    4:55 pm

    THAT is funny. Really who do they think listens to amazon reviews?

    They are for the authors and pubishers cuz the readers don’t give a fuck. Good god.

    Funny thing is I was like.. wha? I did.. but found the post and the author that gave permisson to forward it doesn’t have the post on her blog.

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  • Lauren Dane
    July 21
    5:28 pm

    I know this author and I think she’s a nice person but when I first saw this call I winced and thought it was an inappropriate thing to do.

    Amazon is like the Jungle. It’s wild and odd and smells weird in places and heavenly in others. You never quite know what’s going to happen and so you tread carefully and trust nothing, especially the stuff that looks really pretty.

    I don’t understand Amazon’s current ordering system of reviews but it doesn’t bug me too much. As long as there’s a mix of reviews on the page, I’m not confused or annoyed and it gives a better idea of what the book is and isn’t (sometimes). I don’t think ordering it from best to worst is accurate or really fair. Perhaps the spotlight reviews and then everything by date order or something. I don’t know.

    Anyway, I cringe at some reviews at Amazon but I have to admit that I got two that complained about too much sex and my paper numbers went up the next month.

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  • Karen Scott
    July 21
    5:30 pm

    Jade, I couldn’t agree more. What a total waste of time. More to the point, they could be penning the next great novel!

    Keira, to be honest, I never pay attenbtion to Amazon reviews, I read them for the blurb only.

    Eve,I prefer to try a low grade book (by somebody I don’t know) than a gushing five star review.

    Fiona, exactly what I was thinking. I’d give it five stars then give it a one star review. I can’t imagine Amazon will go for it. It would be interesting to see how much support there is for this call to action.

    Kate, I’d like to know if that was true too. And you’re probably right, Amazon would do whatever was easiest probably.

    Shelly, more often than not, I read Amazon for the blurbs anyway, I’m not interested in gushing reviews, because you can never trust that it’s not a friend or relative who’s been asked to write the review. It happens doesn’t it?

    BarbaraB, exactly. Women in romance have got to get over this hang-up over negative reviews. Not everyone is gonna like you’re work no matter what. Bleating and bitching about it, isn’t gonna get you anywhere other than the psychiatric ward!

    Perfect sense Kat! I try to buy a book based on my personal preferences first and foremost, then if books are recced by people I have most in common with, I’ll always sit up and take notice. Amazon reviews make no difference to me whatsoever.

    Jane, excatly my sentiments when I read this.

    Sallahdog, authors asking friends and relatives to go and post reviews has been happening for a long time at Amazon. I can’t see that changing any time soon.

    Sybil, I wonder why she doesn’t have the post on her own blog?
    I agree with you about most readers not really paying any mind to Amazon reviews.

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  • Karen Scott
    July 21
    5:37 pm

    Lauren, I don’t think much thought went into this. Basically their plan is to censor the negative reviews so that only bright shiny ones are read. That is just ridiculous. Not all negative reviews are mindless, and if you’re gonna put your work out there, you’ve got to bear in mind that not everybody will love it, some may even hate it.

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  • Katie
    July 21
    6:02 pm

    Very manipulative. But to be honest, I never read any reviews on Amazon after I discovered that there are authors who manipulate the favorite lists and post 5 star reviews under different names.
    I know that’s not the norm, but it was a discouraging fact to me.

    Another point is, that most of the reviews I did read on Amazon are very short, often without argumentation, more an accumulation of words like “that was a bad story”, “this story was really great”. I much prefer reading reviews on AAR or listen to recommendations from reading buddies *G*.

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  • Alison Kent
    July 21
    6:57 pm

    I know this author and I think she’s a nice person but when I first saw this call I winced and thought it was an inappropriate thing to do.

    What Lauren said. Except I don’t know the person. But I did wince over the whole concept.

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  • Sam
    July 22
    10:13 am

    No one dares post an honest review anymore for fear of getting blasted by authors or readers or both, so I don’t pay the slightest bit of attention to reviews.

    I know this is probably falling on deaf ears but reviews are just personal opinions – they are not a final judgement. Besides, art & literature are subjective and something that works for one might not work for another – is that a reason to keep our mouths (and pens) shut?

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  • AngelaDionne
    July 22
    10:29 am

    I haven’t posted on this blog before but, I was compelled to comment on the ridiculous crappola about an author trying to halt the opinion of her readers…

    For f*ck’s sake, what the hell has gotten into some of these authors lately? I occasionally post a review on Amazon, some are five stars and a couple have been two or three stars. I have never been hateful to anyone, just posted an honest opinion based on what I felt about a book during and after reading it.

    It really does piss me off that so many authors lately think that we lowly readers who only PAY THEIR BILLS by buying their glorious works of art should not voice any opinion on what we have read because… I don’t know, we are ignorant of how the literary world works? I have to say that I read alot, and when I say alot I mean that I have devoured a book a day for at least the last twenty years, which means I have invested quite a bit of time and money on some of these author’s works. If I want to say that something I just read was crap than I should be able to voice my opinion and say that it sucked flying monkey balls and buy it at the peril of your pocketbook. In my opinion, if the thought of someone posting a negative review scares a writer so much that feel the need to block any such reviews, then they need to sit at home safely hiding their words in their trusty journels and not put themselves out there to begin with.

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  • Robin
    July 22
    8:43 pm

    What I love most is the assumption that only the one star reviews are mindless.

    As for order of reviews on Amazon, don’t newly written ones get listed first?

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  • Laura
    July 23
    3:00 am

    It’s all just so very…..high school.
    “I know how we can get better food in the cafeteria. A petition!”

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  • Desiree Erotique
    July 23
    3:35 am

    Hmm, I think differently, that in a perfect world the nice comments would always appear at the bottom, for that lasting impression 🙂 And in the real world I believe we all retain that which consciously or unconsciously appeals to us, whether for the good or the negative.

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  • Kate R
    July 23
    3:47 am

    so you saw my book? It’s not just pulp in the process of becoming another book? sigh.

    Come to my blog where the top of my head flew off.

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  • Nicolette
    July 23
    4:43 am

    Puhleese. Of all the crazy, counterproductive ideas! You can pick just about any novel and find some one or two star reviews. Seriously — someone will have found it overrated.

    I don’t care how wonderful a writer deems their story to be, or how good it is in reality, some people are apt to love it and others are apt to hate it.

    Beyond that, why would a writer want a reputation for playing around with their reviews? Doesn’t that pretty much cast suspicion even on the good stuff?

    Writing for publication is a good way to get your ego bruised, and I don’t think readers get how some of the comments may sting. I’ll also say the whole “write, bitch, write” mentality is particularly inappropriate, but people still deserve their say. Even if their words are cruel.

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  • Anne
    July 23
    3:58 pm

    I think that just sucks. Censoring people who don’t like something is wrong. What Amazon needs to do is be more interactive and watch for inappropriately bashing reviews and remove THOSE. Leave the appropriate ones where they are. Cripes what next?

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  • Jane
    July 23
    6:08 pm

    Because I can use google like the authors from MCRW, Jennifer St. Giles appears to be the author of this letter. It was posted on Kristen Painter’s blog on July 15, 2006. Kristen Painter is the co founder of Romance Divas.

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  • Lynne Simpson
    July 23
    9:53 pm

    Robin said: What I love most is the assumption that only the one star reviews are mindless.

    Exactly! To me, the five-star reviews often sound even more mindless. If I wanted to read propaganda, I’d go to the author’s site or read the cover blurbs.

    This is why sites that make an honest attempt to review books are so valuable to me. Although I may not agree with a real reviewer’s assessment of a book, at least I don’t feel like he or she is trying to bullshit me.

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