There's been a lot of hoopla lately over fake reviews on Amazon, both positive ones and negative ones. The problems exposed are various: some five-stars have been purchased to unscrupulously boost authors' sales, some one-stars have been purchased to unscrupulously lower rivals' sales, some glowing panegyrics have been written by biased friends and family members, some malicious diatribes have been written by angry trolls.
Throughout the past several months, the statement has been made over and over again that the Amazon reader review system is so flawed as to be worthless. But is it? This post that I read earlier this week gave a good defense of Amazon reader reviews, and after reading it, I wanted to post my own thoughts on the subject.
Sure, I know that some reviews might be originating from biased sources, but I also know that I have posted my own honest reviews on Amazon and that there are other people like me. I believe that I have the ability to discern between the review of a rabid fan, a disgruntled troll, and a discerning individual. I'm not going to buy a book solely because of how many five-star reviews it has. I'm going to read those reviews and see if they discuss the books' merits intelligently and if those merits are something I would appreciate. I'm not going to dismiss a book simply because of how many one-star reviews it has. Again, I'm going to read those reviews and see if the detractors' have any legitimate points.
I'm still going to look at Amazon reader reviews when I buy the baby his next car seat, when I buy galoshes for my boys, and when I buy Advent decorations for my house. I'm still going to look at Amazon reader reviews when I add books to my wish list for Christmas. And though I may not trust implicitly in the honesty of each review, I trust in my own ability to sort the wheat from the chaff. A place for everything and everything in its place, say I. And despite all the negative press, Amazon reader reviews still have a place in helping me decide what books I will and will not buy.