Monday, October 23, 2006

Amazon reviews

I'm making a case that should require their reviewers to sign their names. Real names. Hey, we can't throw eggs on them just because we know their name. Amazon can keep their other identifying info secret.

The reason I say this is because anonymity makes it really easy for people to heartlessly trash one of our books.

A lot of professional reviewers, like Harriet Klausner (amazon's Number 1 reviewer) or reviewers for some of the on-line review sites, are gracious enough to also post their reviews at amazon. Because these people sign their names, they are more apt to present a balanced review of the work.

Those who don't sign their names can make outrageous claims that are never substantiated.

I don't think you'll find many newspapers or magazines that will allow people to castigate someone -- or someone's work -- without identifying themselves.


JoAnn Ross said...

This has always been my complaint against PW. There are, for instance, movie reviewers whose opinion I NEVER agree with. If PW reviewers at least had to sign initials, people could start to pick up a pattern of likes and dislikes, which might at least put the reviews in perspective.

Personally, I avoid Amazon reviews, but there was one time I had a review removed after a friend told me about it because, instead of saying anything about the book, it told personal lies about me. That, and spoilers can get a review removed from Amazon, often the same day you request it. Unfortunately, that review, written by someone who didn't seem to understand I'd recognize her very distinctive voice, had been up on the site for a few weeks before I learned about it.

Meanwhile, I just stay away from reading reviews unless friends, editors, agents, or the reviewers themselves send them to me, because those tend to be the good ones written by brilliant people with excellent taste in books. Bad ones, as I've said before, are written by chimpanzees. With crayons. :)

Geri Buckley Borcz said...

Most of what I read at Amazon aren't reviews at all - they're the equivalent of graffiti on the bathroom wall.

If Amazon was interested in getting relevant book reviews, they would establish a higher standard of posting criteria, and then enforce the standard. No way that's going to happen. Instead, they condone slice-and-dice comments, which tells me Amazon's focus is traffic.