There has been some discussion lately in book forums about paid-for book reviews, and how – hopefully – Amazon and other retailers will be clamping down on them.
Reviews have real value for both authors and potential readers. As a reader, I’ve written a few long form book reviews here on amdsoft and also posted to Goodreads and Amazon. As an author, I’ve been asking people to review my new book “Running a Website with WordPress: A Quick Guide for Business Owners“.
Some folks in online discussion groups suggest that it’s easy to spot paid-for reviews as they’re short and always positive.
I think that’s a really bad assumption to make.
I think book reviews are far more likely to be short rather than long in the future. They’ll also be mostly positive. Here’s why:
Ebook readers are being asked to leave reviews on their devices.
When readers finish books on their devices (smartphones, tablets, e-book readers), they are now being instantly asked to leave a review. Typing a long form review on one of these devices is difficult. It follows that these will be shorter.
Aside: they’ll probably also be less helpful to potential buyers.
I think this is the primary reason we’ll see short but genuine reviews in future.
These short reviews will also be mostly positive, not negative.
With the abundance of books now becoming available from indie authors, not all readers will bother to finish books they dislike, and so simply won’t be offered that end-of-book opportunity to review by Amazon. Therefore there will be a trend towards positive reviews.
Average readers just don’t leave reviews in most circumstances.
The stats from authors on Kboards are suggesting that in a best case scenario 1 in 100 (1%) of book buyers leaves a review, going down to 1 in 10,000 or less (0.01%).
That suggests that reviews will not be left by average readers, but only by those polarised readers who either loved or hated the book enough to bother posting a review.
Potential negative reviewers readers who felt that they wasted their time on a book will be less likely to waste further time by leaving a review. I think this will be a smaller number, but will still cause a further slight trend toward positive reviews.
Reviews are still crucial to sales for human and algorithmic reasons. How can authors deal with this?
- Unethical authors just straight up pay for guaranteed positive reviews from people on fiverr etc.
- Other will hustle hard to find pro and semi-pro reviewers, emailing bloggers, asking on twitter, buying “book tours”, desperately trying to compete with those who bought reviews, while trying not compromising their own ethics, wondering if ARC copies are bribes, and if they do cross-promotional reviews with another author, is that fair game…
- Many will give up on active attempts, give up, just hoping reviews will come in – not a good strategy, see (1) above.
In order for Amazon to get more genuine, unsolicited “average reader” reviews, they’ll need to more aggressively push for readers to review books, particularly on the device post-reading. They’ll also need to allow authors to do (2) above, looking for ARC reviewers, and running promotions in return for honest reviews.
What do you think?
Disagree or agree? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about the future of online book reviews.