Good Bad Reviews

9 April 2014

Ah reviews on Amazon, how much do you love them? Many are genuinely useful – reviews written by real people (apart from the ones by authors pretending to be someone else so they can either plug their book or trash their rivals) rather than log-rollers, suck-ups or spleen-filled and embittered critics… but then there are the others.

As I flip through the Amazon pages looking for books I need for my research … or, I admit it, sometimes to check out how mine are selling … I find myself stopping quite often at reviews so jaw-droppingly useless that you have to wonder why the people ever bothered to put them there in the first place. Here are a few of my favourites (names and other identifing details of reviewers removed to spare their blushes and keep the trolls at bay).

Margaret obviously thought long and hard before giving this one three stars, shame no one found it useful…

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful

3.0 out of 5 stars

I chose this rating as I have not read the book. It was purchased as a christmas present. I do not know if the recipient liked it.

The next one’s approval rating is even lower:

0 of 12 people found the following review helpful

4.0 out of 5 stars

The product came well before the quoted delivery date. Packaging ensured the book arrived in pristine condition. The one thing I love about Amazon more than anything is that books arrive unsoiled, unlike in book shops where people thumb through them.

It prompted this rebuke from one irate reader:

You’re supposed to use reviews to comment on the book. Potential purchasers are interested in the BOOK. If we want a glowing testimonial about Amazon we can ask for it. BTW One of the pleasures of second hand book shops is just what you describe as a problem. ie: the fact that real human beings may have thumbed through the books and loved them.

Here’s another really useful one:

5.0 out of 5 stars

Bought this as it was the choice of the book club. Arrived quite quickly so I had plenty of time to read it.

And this one was refreshingly honest, the headline being the entire review:

3.0 out of 5 stars

But I Have Not Read It Yet

And finally here’s a  true work of genius, bearing in mind that the review is actually of a book by Stephen Leather:

1 of 10 people found the following review helpful

1.0 out of 5 stars

Martina Cole used to write brill books, but same as her recent gangster type novels they are ALL the same and I fast forward the bit about daughter/wife/mothers etc so boring and seemed to be the same as her other books, still half WAY THROUGH IT, AND CANT FEEL THE NEED TO RUSH BACK TO READ THE NOVEL….I am sure Martina can do better as she has done previously!!!

Please feel free to send me (any choice examples you come across, maybe we’ll collect enough for a book – imagine the reviews for that!