I'm always buying books, and my purchases have doubled since I started reading digital books. I hear about the books I buy all over the place, from social networks to literary agent blogs. But I'm also a shopper and I've learned to check out all product details, prices, and reviews so I know what I'm buying and there are no surprises.
When it comes to books, I think most authors and publishers get it right with regard to product details. The book descriptions are usually helpful, and for me, besides the cover, that's the most important part of the shopping experience.
After I check out the publisher/author information, I usually go right to the amazon reviews. In most cases I think readers leave honest, informative reviews on amazon. However, there are times when I'm not sure what to think. I'll see a negative review that's only one line, which is a huge red flag for me. I know how people react when they don't love a book. These reactions are usually far more emotional than when they do love a book and readers are not shy about letting other people know they didn't enjoy the experience.
But a one line, one star review makes me wonder. Something like this happened to me this weekend. I saw a book being promoted on a social network and decided to check it out to see if I wanted to purchase it. There were two great reviews for the book, and one lone negative review. The negative review consisted of one sentence and the reviewer's name was one of those way out fake names you come across every now and then on Amazon.
So I decided to check out the reviewer's other amazon reviews. And sure enough, there were plenty of other reviews. And each of those reviews was a negative one star review, only one or two sentences long, and they were all for erotic romances. This didn't make sense either. Most people who read erotic romances are usually extremely discreet and don't leave any reviews at all. Or they are extremely passionate and leave reviews all over the place. For some, it's a passionate hobby. They love romance and erotic romance so much they can't wait to talk about it in a review. And their reviews are usually balanced. And there are always far more positive reviews than negative reviews. This makes sense; no one loves every book and no one ever will.
But what about those who only leave negative reviews? Of course it's possible that there are readers who only leave negative reviews on amazon for personal reasons. I guess anything is possible. However, as a shopper, when I'm looking for information about a book, I find it hard to take someone like this seriously.
After I checked out the amazon reviews for this particular book I was thinking about buying, I went to goodreads.com and checked out their reviews for the book. There were over 100 wonderful reviews and a few so-so reviews. But nothing that would have turned me away from buying the book.
This has happened to me before while I've been shopping for books. I've come across amazon reviewers...always with way out contrived names...who leave negative reviews for erotic romances and never leave one single positive review. Again, this makes no sense, and if it doesn't make sense I find it hard to take the reviewer seriously. Common sense dictates that if someone only reads erotic romance, there will be more books they love than hate. And the more critical reviews will usually be far longer than the negative reviews.
But if a reviewer only leaves negative reviews all the time, without taking the time to ever leave a positive review, I'm still going to have trouble taking them seriously. I start to wonder if there isn't a hidden agenda; maybe the reviewer isn't very stable. I like to keep it positive all the time. Life's much nicer that way, and I think most people would agree with me.
So never take one amazon review to heart when you're shopping for a book. Always check out the reviewer's other reviews and compare them. And then check out the goodreads reviews. As a shopper, I find there's more consistency over at goodreads, which I depend on when I'm spending my hard earned money making a purchase.