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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Book Review Author Sued and Amazon Book Reviews

Since I just started writing blog book reviews for MotherTalk, this story about a book reviewer being sued for giving a bad review snapped my head around real quick. The review was posted on the reviewer's blog, so I'm watching to see what happens.

But please, people. That's what reviews are - people giving their opinion. Not everyone likes everything. I was reading another author's blog (I'd link if I could remember where the hell in the blogosphere I was), and she was justly suspicious of books that get only five star reviews on Amazon.

As she points out, surely someone out there isn't going to like something. She said she'd reviewed a book and the author made a complaint about her negative review and had it removed. (If you recognize these comments, let me know and I'll link to you). Update: I was reading my favorite websites and found the entry about the suspcious five star reviews on Fangs, Fur, and Fey.

Now if someone starts attacking the author on a personal level and not based on the book, I'd say that's a problem. But I haven't seen any reviews that do that. The reviewer being sued was harsh, but all his review comments were centered on the book's content and layout.

I feel like I can tell most of the time if the Amazon reviews are full of it. If everything is sugar coated goodness, I'm suspicious. There is an over-the-top quality to most of the reviews written by the author and their co-conspirators. And I'm not sure how I feel about asking friends to give reviews. Is it unbiased? Is anything?

But fake comes across in writing, people. I'd rather trust a review that points out flaws - they seem more credible, and I bet you the authors who post fake reviews can't even contemplate putting a negative comment in there to better trick us into believing it's a real review.

Grow up, fake book reviewers everywhere.

My first book review for MotherTalk, Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, will be posted here on Monday. I have my attorney standing by.


roller coaster teacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
roller coaster teacher said...

Sorry, I was trying to edit and used the delete function.

Wow, that's really sobering. I love consumer reviews on online retail/shopping sites, and I AM suspicious of all raves and no complaints. I'll go read the articles you linked. I think there's a legal defense against libel/slander for reviews, right?

Tricia Grissom said...

I thought there was, but now my husband has me worried. He said there was another case someone lost because they weren't a paid book reviewer - they just posted on their blog like this gentlemen did. I get paid by MotherTalk, so I guess I'm covered. I hope. :)

Anonymous said...

Just want to point out a more charitable view about "fake reviews." They may be an author's naive attempt at marketing if he or she doesn't have access to the publicity machine of a large publishing house. They may also be in response to a "real" review that was erroneous. For example, Publisher's Weekly online reviews are anonymous so there is no accountability for a social or political agenda on the part of the reviewer. I've heard that some "professional" book reviewers just read the first chapter, or first and last chapter of a book. Does anyone have "inside information" about this happening? Any former "book reviewers" willing to confess? In the case of PW, these anonymous reviews carry weight (i.e. book sales) but there is no way an author can respond. My neighbor wrote a book and didn't leave her house for a month after a totally off-the-wall PW review. She asked me to post a review on Amazon. So I guess I'm one of those "friends of the author" but really, who else is going to be motivated to provide a counterpoint? She did not have a publicist and the anonymous Publisher's Weekly reviewer clearly didn't read the book.