Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Amazonian Masterhood?

The rise of as one of the go-to sources for book buyers has produced some problems. A story in The New York Times highlights how a book about Michael Jackson's later years was sort of swarmed by negative book reviews written by MJ fans. Their one-star reviews drove the book's rating down and at one point, enough people complained about physical copies of the book being defective that the online retailer stopped selling them for a couple of days. The author thinks the all the negative reviews hurt sales of his book.

Negative reviews often hurt book sales, but the problem here is the suggestion that the majority of those writing the downchecks are slamming the book without reading it, in order to wreck its sales and get people to avoid it. The reporter at the Times apparently didn't ask one of the Facebook coordinators of the group that's taken responsibility for slamming the book if he believed the reviewers had read the book they were rating. At least, if he did ask, he didn't include the answer.

I've no idea of how accurate the book is, and even less interest. It would seem to me that fans of Jackson might have a warmer regard for a book that claims his "not guilty" verdict in a trial for the molestation of young boys was justified, and relies on his lawyer in that case as a source, but again -- no idea, less interest.

I've more of an interest in Amazon's que serĂ¡, serĂ¡, approach to screening their reviews for false negatives as well as false positives. Apparently, it's a worse for a writer to get his or her friends to improperly puff a book than it is for haters to get their friends to improperly slam it. But on the other hand, that attitude could lead to more and more people paying book reviews the attention they deserve: None.


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