Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Do You Think (5) : The Good, The Bad and The... Fake?

When I started blogging, I was reluctant to post the not so hot reviews. I'm generally a glass is half full person so talking bad about something isn't my thing. I have never felt any pressure from publishers to provide anything but an honest review, but I'm sure there are some who may feel they 'owe' the publishers something. My first priority though is being honest to my readers, that way if I really like something, they know it!  What cemented my feelings on posting a negative review was a post by BookNet Canada after a technology conference earlier this year.
Apparently, 75% to 80% of shoppers read online reviews. And, surprisingly, research has shown that “a negative review converts more effectively to a sale than a positive review.” This is because although customers like reading reviews but they don’t always agree with them. They read them for information more than opinion.
I recently read a review from a fellow book blogger who hated a book which I loved. They saw the author create a world using gender roles which victimized a woman. I instead took that world as a given and focused on how the character reacted to being in such a position. Needless to say, our personalities play a big role in how we see the world...and books! We all have different views and I love being able to see them, not just the filtered (AKA good) ones.

I only post reviews for books I've read, so the rare book that I could not finish would not get a review at all. I feel this is fair as how can one write a review if they don't know the entire story. Last Friday, the NYT posted an article on fake reviews.
Mr. Pinch’s interviews with more than a hundred of Amazon’s highest-ranked reviewers found that only a few ever wrote anything critical. As one reviewer put it, “I prefer to praise the ones I love, not damn the ones I did not!”
The fact that just about all the top reviewers in his study said they got free books and other material from publishers and others soliciting good notices may have also had something to do with it.
I was surprised to see people are paid for their positive opinion, but would this be a person you would trust to follow? Is this similar to only posting the good reviews on a blog, skewing the data so that you only see the positive? The negative, which does and should exist, gets thrown to the wayside... but should it?

Which leads me to another issue which Victoria Schwab brought to light. I have often wondered why books have ratings when the ARC's are not even available, heck I've even seen an author's work in progress, which hasn't even been sold to a publisher, rated! I am a frequent user of and love seeing the ratings for books. When I'm in-store and see a good deal on a book, my first thought is "hmm, I wonder how it's rated on GR?" to see if it's worth buying or if it's on clearance for a reason. It really bothers me that people can ruin a rating based solely on their desire (or lack of) to read a book or worse because "ohhhh, the cover is so pretty!".  Things like this make Goodreads ratings lose their integrity and, sadly, Goodreads is not seeing this as an issue. Please take a minute to see this  post by Victoria where she talks about her issue. I must say I love the idea of a separate interest level rating! The power of the people is strong, just look at what happened with Rick Yancey and his Monstrumologist series last week. Let's tell Goodreads what the readers want!! (**pumps fist**)

We can't be expected to love everything and let's face it, not everything published is good. So let's talk reviews...
Do you post reviews on books you didn't care for? If not, what holds you back? Do you think that bad reviews also generate interest in a book? Do ratings matter to you?


  1. I think it's our duty to rate what we feel.

    Sure sometimes that's low, but we would lose credibility among our followers if we weren't honest.

    Back in the day, one bad newspaper review could really hurt a book. With today's plethora of reviewers, I believe most readers find someone who they feel alines with their tastes and interests and trust their opinions to make educated purchases.

    When I see a book, I go to Goodreads to read the good and bad reviews. I believe both really give you a feel for what might work for you and what doesn't.

    Someone might say, "I hated the biblical references" and that's something I like. All the things some dislike (love triangles, cliffhangers, etc.) may be junk to one person but great to another.

    So yah sure I definitely like negatives reviews from time to time as long as the blog isn't full of them, ya know?

    Great question.

  2. I feel negative reviews are important. As long as they're not rude or insulting, I see no problem with them. Not every person is going to like every book - and if I read a book that doesn't suit my tastes, then I want to let other people with similar tastes to me know that perhaps this isn't the book for them. Of course, some people will love books I dislike, which is great, because there will always be both positive and negative reviews for any book - it's up to the reader themselves to decide whether to read it or not. But if only positive reviews existed, how would anyone ever decide what to read and what to skip?

    The Goodreads thing really annoys me as well - why would anyone rate a book they haven't read anyway?! I definitely think it's an issue, I hope Goodreads does something about it.

    Great discussion post!

  3. I know many bloggers post good reviews only and just don't review books they didn't like. I like to review anything and everything I read, especially if I got it for review.

    I feel that if the only reviews I got to write were glowing then I'd surely be repeating myself every single time. Not every book is going to be great, so why should be review list give that impression? The 'label' (reviewer) also holds an almost professionalism along with it. I feel that if there was no gray or black - just white - then that professional edge would be lost.

    Not that I, in the least, think myself that professional. I agree about GR, though granted many people rate by accident. I've done it once, and I've even added books to my READ shelf when I've never even seen it before. :P Ratings should only be open when it's been moved to the read shelf, I reckon. The idea of a hype rating sounds good. Maybe something that works like the "Like" function.

  4. Juju ~ I like seeing why it didn't work for them too! The negative must be backed up too and I would not want to follow a blog that is only full of them LOL It's kinda like balance, we can't like them all.

  5. Liz ~ I think it's so true, we all have different tastes, books included, so a so-so review by one doesn't mean it's a bad book, just that it didn't work for them! I hope GR notices the need to separate a rating & interest too!

  6. Cass ~ I like seeing both good and bad too. Many people LOVED a book I absolutely hated because all it had for me was violence and no point, but I like cute and cuddly so hopefully my readers take my review with that in mind...and if they are the same as me, they will get an idea if it'll work for them too!
    I've done that too with GR, clicked on 'read' not 'to-read' oops! The 'like/interest' feature, it's such a great idea.

  7. Great topic!
    I also review books I didn't care for, as long as I finished them. And with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions, the books I finish have something in them I liked, which I always mention in my review. I don't push myself to finish a book I really dislike anymore, so the once I really couldn't get into are DNFs and don't get a review.
    I like seeing the good and the bad, and I pretty much always check the Goodreads rating before buying a book. But I put more faith in what my friends on Goodreads rated it than the general population, because I know they've read it when they rate it..

  8. Oh, I definitely think you need the positive along with the negative reactions. I mean, how else do you get perspective on a person's taste? If I see only positive reviews, it makes me think that that person is easily pleased and less discerning. I lose trust, and I'm less likely to pick up the book, even if they rave about it. By the same token, I respect a well-written negative review. I know how hard they are to write, and if it's logical (or even better, funny!), then I take it at face value.

  9. Daisy ~ I recently pushed myself to read on others raved about, wondering where it got better LOL I like that you can see your friends GR ratings in a group before other and do look at this too.

  10. Cecelia ~ Yes, it is a good way to see a person's taste! Oh and yes, the bad reviews are not easy to write and MUST be backed up to be taken seriously.

  11. The only ones I don't post are books I did not finish. That wouldn't be fair. But, yes, I have posted negative reviews in the past. It's amazing. When I posted my not so nice review on Matched, it got quite a bit of "helpful" votes on Amazon. So, in a way I feel that I've done something right. I don't care about other ratings. There are times where people were raving about a book and I hated it and vice versa. Lately, I'd have to say, I've become rather skeptical in books that have a lot of hype. They've been disappointing me so far.

  12. I think that negative review are fine as long as they're not judgemental. For instance people hating a book because they didn't like the style or issues in it but then not talking about it and just saying don't read it!

    I once borrowed a book from the library (a shortened version of The Ring (the Norse legend) illustrated by legendary illustrator Alan Lee. Anyone who has read the legend will know it is bleak and everyone's lives are ruined by the cursed ring. Anyway, someone had written in the front of the book (in very neat handwriting) something along the lines of: "this is a terrible book, do not read it." Of course, being someone who never does what they are told I ignored it and enjoyed the story vastly. This story is also said to have inspired Tolkein in writing The Lord of The Rings.

    If reviews are like this, of course it is terrible. But if they explain truthfully why they did not enjoy the book, I think that's fine.

    I have only recently started blogging, and not long ago, found myself writing my first not so positive review and was conflicted over whether or not to post it. However I agknowledged in the review that it was a great book, despite my not enjoying it, and I think that that was fair.

    I don't think reviewers and bloggers should ever be swayed by free books or other gifts, and I also don't think people should ever judge a book by it's cover. I mean, seriously, there's a proverb about that, guys!

  13. The only thing I would have a problem with with negative reviews is people who cannot accept other people damning a book for that reason, ie sexuality, race, etc, but it is still personal opinion. I'd just like them to be upfront about the fact.

    Sorry I ran on so long.