Blogger: Rachel Kent
Do you read reviews before purchasing a book? I do. Even if I’m going to buy a book at a bookstore I will go online on my phone and read reviews first.
Those reader reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble can really help or hurt an author’s chance of selling a book. As a consumer, I find that I am (sometimes subconsciously) making judgments about if a reviewer can be trusted or not. There are definitely some throw-away reviews out there and we all have seen them. The people that rant about the content of the book. Or the reviews that seem formulaic and make you wonder if that reviewer even read the book.
Do you read reviews before purchasing a book? What makes you believe a reviewer? What makes you discard or distrust a review?
Do you review books online? I confess I haven’t started reviewing books online yet (except for occasionally on this blog). I tell my friends if I like a book or not, so I’m passing along word-of-mouth reviews, but I haven’t taken my reviews to the main websites yet. One of these days I’d like to start so I can help tell people about the books I love. I don’t think I would put up negative reviews for the books I don’t like. I would have a hard time doing that, but I could help the authors who have written beautiful books!
Happy reading and reviewing! And happy weekend!
Kristen Joy Wilks
No, I don’t usually read reviews before purchasing a book. I most often either read the book first at the library to see if I like it or buy a book in a series that I know I’ll like or hear about the book through word of mouth from a trusted friend. Although, owning a Nook has made me much more likely to take a risk on a new author. If I am considering a new author, I might read reviews once in awhile. I always read reviews when purchasing things like skirts, shoes, or earphones online. But for books, I usually rely on my friends or whether I’ve heard buzz about a book from the lady at the bookstore.
I am hesitant to post reviews on Amazon due to some of the author/friend-related backlash. But I frequently post on Facebook when I’ve read a book I love.
Hope you’ve had a great week, Rachel! Good post.
* I do read reviews, and try to pay attention to the substantive negative offerings. SOme convince me to stay away, but some have actually given me the impetus to buy the book, because what the reviewer felt was lacking made it exactly what I was looking for. For instance, a recent pilot’s autobiography was panned as being ‘no “Top Gun”‘, but that made me realize that the story the author told likely had the ring of authenticity, instead of Hollywood bluster and idiocy. (That turned out to be the case.)
* I’ve done some reviews; not many. Should do more, really, since hey provide such a service for me. It’s only fair, eh?
I read the reviews. I read the one and two stars first, then the four and five star reviews. I find them helpful. However, they can skew my ‘take’ on the book and hinder the surprise factor.
I do read a few of the reviews, at all the levels, but only the short ones. Usually the one stars make me laugh because they are so ridiculous. On one sweet, Christian romance someone wrote, “It was all about wanting love” … I laughed and thought–what’s wrong with that? Lol. I read the book and loved it. Sweet and clean, godly. And I always try to write reviews …
Janet Ann Collins
I often review books for kids on my blog, and sometimes I review books on Amazon. I seldom review books I purchase there since most of those are gifts for other people. Most of the books I read (about half a dozen a week or more) are from the library or I get them at writers’ events. I only review books I like since I wouldn’t want others to post bad reviews of my own books.
Rachel, I look at the number of reviews, and the overall rating. Then I look at the Product Details information. Amazon has become very sophisticated about pushing what it publishes. If the book is published by Amazon, then I definitely read the reviews, and try to read a sample of the book. If there are only thirty or so reviews and all of them are five-star, then I know taht they’re most likely “plants,” or friend reviews.
If the publisher listed in the Product Details is unknown to me, then I research that too. Often, with Bookbub and the Amazon-recommended books, the publisher is a hidden Amazon subsidiary.
I’m not disqualifying self-published books. But I know that very few SP authors have access to the caliber of editors who help B&S clients refine their manuscripts, and that agency assets like Ginny Patrick Smith are few and far between. So the reviews are just one part of my purchase. But I do read them if an author’s work has cleared all the other hurdles.
Sorry for the misspelling. THAT instead of taht. Typing too quickly here!
Hey, NLB, ‘taht’ is mood-setting dialect! Reminds me of Charles Lindbergh’s description of growing up in the German-speaking upper Midwest, so lovingly described in “The Spirit Of St. Louis.”
Thanks, Andrew. It’s a speed-of-sound holiday afternoon.
Godspeed, NLB. Drive hard, and hold the reins loose!
I’ve been reviewing books since 2007, which encourages me to check out other people’s reviews when I am purchasing. I look at the overall numbers first: how many 5-star versus 2-star. Unless I see the same comment coming up over and again in reviews, I might still take a chance on it. If someone really has uncomplimentary things to say, I will click on the username to see what else they have reviewed. Perhaps they are tough on most books.
Though I know a lot of people who don’t post reviews about books they don’t enjoy, I feel as a reviewer it is my duty to consumers to share my honest opinion. That said, it’s important to professionally express criticism of any kind. Especially in cases where my criticism may be in the minority, I will mention other positive reviews and provide a link encouraging readers to check them out too.
I read reviews if I’m online at Barnes & Noble or Christian Book Distributors. Sometimes I’ve decided not to order the book based on reviews, especially if the same negative concerns keep coming up, and if the concern is one that would bother me, too.
*Other than that, my book purchasing is spontaneous, ie, from the used book shelves at libraries, or Goodwill, etc. I read a few paragraphs, look at the author’s name, and look at the publisher’s name. That is the “reviewing” I do.
*I did that this afternoon. I left some magazines at the local library and wondered over to the used book shelves. I didn’t find the particular book I’m looking for, but I did see a non-fiction book that relates somewhat to a situation I am in now. I’d never heard of the author, but I recognized the publisher. I read a couple pages, and knew I wanted the book. The author was in a situation he never asked for, never wanted. He started going to Scriptures for help and shares what he discovered in the process. The book is very encouraging.
I’ve made a special page on my history site for historical fiction. I’ve been reading and reviewing novels set in the Roman Empire, some recent releases, some classics, and some the first in a series that might still be growing. I’m hoping this will be useful to the teachers and homeschoolers that are a major part of my target audience. Since I’ve called it “Historical Fiction: Books I’ve Written, Books I’ve Loved,” I don’t post any book I haven’t enjoyed.
*I pay more attention to the reviews of nonfiction books than to those of fiction. I’m about to start posting reviews on the 60+ Roman history books that I’ve bought to do the background research for my novels. I’ll be able to say something good about each of them, and I’ll be able to write rave reviews for a few.
*Now that I know how important reviews are for sales, I’m going to start posting Amazon reviews for the other novels I’ve read recently, especially the ones that show “verified purchaser” so people will know I’ve actually read them.
Yes, I always read reviews before buying books, even if buying in a brick & mortar store, and even if it means two trips to the bookstore. I always start with the 1- and 2-star reviews. As to knowing which reviews to believe and which not to, all I can say is it’s usually obvious which reviews are more substantive and of importance
And, yes, I post lots of book reviews, mainly to Amazon and Goodreads. I even do that for used books I pick up, even books several decades old. I figure someone could benefit from it.
Late to the party on this one, but no, I never read book reviews. Which is odd since I read reviews on just about everything else I purchase. I believe it might be because I feel books are so much more subjective, just because the majority love or hate it doesn’t mean I will as well. After all isn’t that what agents keep telling us, query widely, the business is so subjective?
Since reviews can be so subjective — rave reviews about a book I couldn’t finish & vice versa — reviews don’t impact whether I’ll read a book or not. In fact, I’m more likely to check reviews out after I finish the novel … to see if anyone agrees with me on what I did or didn’t like. 🙂