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This is a personal blog and it is updated irregularly. Unless you are my friend, you probably found by way of google. The search results should have taken you somewhere interesting to you: i.e., not here.

If you are a stranger who came over because I left a comment on your blog, please continue the thread over there; I won't be talking about you here :-)

Some of you might have found your way here because of my questions on Amazon about the source of your reviews: your publisher, relatives, friends, etc. Here's what I have to say on Amazon about this:

Reviews account for much of what made me a loyal early adopter of Amazon. I was astonished to see feedback on books (because, in the beginning, that was what was on offer) from readers who had no interest in promoting a book.

That has changed with the advent of marketing advice that tells writers to have reviews written which include phrases like "buy copies for your friends" or "you won't be able to put this book down". There's at least one title about how to promote a book on Amazon. Obviously some of you or your publishers have assimilated the ideas from them or elsewhere and put them into action.

After ending up with some real duds, I began looking at other reviews written by the people who had supplied the raves. Time after time, I found -- and still find -- that these "reviewers" have contributed only one review, ever, or that they review books only by a single, relatively unknown writer, or that they have one or two other reviews -- typically not about books -- written on the same day as their sales pitch.

Amazon's business is to sell, so it is unimaginable that the company would have a problem with individuals and companies (watch out for some of those reviews of expensive kitchen gadgets, folks) advertising.

But Amazon is still a platform where individuals can say: this is what I thought of this book or product, and why; this is what you might want to think about in judging whether you want to buy this. We're being crowded by the relatives and friends of writers and by marketers and public relations writers, but we're still here. Reviews by people who have written a lot on varied topics and products over a long time are reviews are most likely to be unbiased. Theirs are the reviews I've learned to look for.

I've drawn the ire of several writers -- one actually tracked down my personal snail mail address -- by leaving comments on some of these one shot reviewers' contributions. My reasons are two-fold. First, I really would like to challenge those reviewers to step out of their role as promoters and actually become contributors to the Amazon community of customers. Second, I want to draw the attention of others who look at those reviews and are swayed by them -- as I once was -- to look closely at the Amazon review credentials of the contributor.

Unfair! the writers shout. Well, here's the deal, guys. If your book is a good one, ordinary Amazon customers will find it, buy it, and review accordingly. Go ahead and promote yourselves to your hearts' content, and know that sometimes you'll be caught out. You're not paying to "advertise" on Amazon, so why would you think that you can get away without attracting comments?

I have learned to read Amazon reviews with a discriminating eye and have become a more active reviewer again because I want Amazon to continue to have honest, unbiased evaluations of books and products by ordinary people like me.

Other than that, I'm a pretty ordinary artist/raconteur/curmudgeon. I don't actually take questions :)

Back to Out of the Frying Pan


Gothic and Gothic Revival architecture, animation, Web development and content management, theories of management and productivity, 3D design, cooking, Barbara Pym's writing, 20th and 21st century architecture, travel, expatriate living, Web development, digital photography, mysteries, art of the first half of the 20th century, poetry, classical art (especially sculpture, ceramics, mosaic, and architecture), wiki development, horticulture, the whole area of the Mountain Time Zone in the United States, modern Japanese prints, color and design theory, Glasgow