Monday, April 27, 2009

Amazon Reviews: Fake? But of Course!

I'm not the best at keeping pace with all the new blogs that pop up and do good stuff, but occasionally I stumble upon a few gems. Searching around today, I found this interesting article that examines just how fake Amazon reviews are (via Only the Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy). Of course it's completely self-serving, from my perspective it's preaching to the choir, and one of the examples used is someone who is well-known for abuses of the Amazon reviewing system - but it's still a good article.


ediFanoB said...

I read this article too. For me it was interesting. Fortunately I don't need Amazon reviews. I read blogs and excerpts.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Well, he's half-right: publishers and authors do sometimes write reviews of their own books on Amazon, and even more often ask their family and friends to review their books. But the idea that there's "big money" in this is ludicrous.

Amazon's search algorithm is affected by reviews, yes -- but it's also affected by tags, and the behavior of customers (what books they click on, what books they buy), and, most of all, by sales ranking. So it's not possible to do that much SEO through good reviews alone.

I won't say that no publisher has ever spent money to pay an outside company (or their own staff) to sit around writing Amazon reviews -- the world has an endless supply of really stupid people -- but that's a ridiculously expensive way of accomplishing not very much. For all but a few very bestselling books -- which are already selling very well everywhere else, too -- the velocity of sales at Amazon is not and will not be at a level to pay for those activities.

So: yes, authors in particular do try to game Amazon. It doesn't work as well as they think it does. And any particular reader might well find that a random Amazon review does not closely match her taste and preference in books. But anyone who's surprised and outraged that a self-publisher is a huge self-promoter probably is also shocked every morning to see that the sky is blue.

Neth said...


Thanks for the 'insider' perspective. Though I think you may be underestimating the impact of Amazon reviews - just from a very unscientific sample of people I know (including my wife), Amazon reviews are a big factor in selecting one book over another.

Cheryl Pitt said...

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