I was browsing through new releases on Amazon the other day. In particular, I looked up a few books that I'd seen around the blogosphere that had peaked my interest.
I read a few reviews on Amazon, looked at the ratings.
And I got to one book's page and I was just like, "What is this?"
I won't mention the book name or author name because I don't think that'd be quite right, but something struck me as a bit off about the reviews for a particular book. I shall hence forth refer to it as FISHY BOOK (FB).
- This FISHY BOOK has only been out for a 2 months or less.
- It already has around thirty reviews.
- All of the reviews are five star ratings. Not a single 4-star, 3-star, 2-star, 1-star review in sight.
- All of the reviews are by "REAL NAMES" reviewers.
- And yet, comparably, FB it was ranked around 550,000 in sales.
Okay, so maybe I'm weird, but I notice things like this. And maybe I'm boring you but this thing is GNAWING at me and I don't do well with gnawing and I have to get this off of my chest.
It just doesn't add up.
At least when you compare it to stats for other books. The bolded stuff is what's important, you can skip to that if your bored by the stats.
Take Book #1:
- Release Date: August 2009
- Sales rank: ~ 42, 000
- Number of reviews: 22 (5 star=7 ratings 4 star=6 ratings, 3 star=3 ratings, 2 star=4 ratings, 1 star=2 ratings.)
This Book #1 has perfectly legitimate statistics. It's exactly what I'd expect from a book that's selling pretty well (42,000 isn't too shabby), has been out for 5 months or so, and has merits.
This Book #1 is ranked about....500,000 HIGHER than the Fishy Book (FB) in sales, has been out 2 months LONGER, and yet has much less reviews.
This is the case for pretty much any book you look over and compare to FB.
If you don't believe me, just start digging around Amazon. Get a feel for how the number of reviews, the sales ranking, and the release date correlates for a book.
Take Book #2:
- Release Date: October 2009
- Sales Rank: 30,000
- Number of reviews: 15 (five star=12, 4 star= 2, 1 star= 1)
So Book #2 was released at a similar time to FB, has nearly half the reviews, and about half a million better in sales ranking.
Only 15 reviews.
Obviously people like this book, the reviews are pretty much favorable.
The point is, I've NEVER in my life seen a book with double digit reviews that had every single one a 5-star rating. It just doesn't happen.
Take Book #3:
I found one that has around the same amount of reviews:
- 33 reviewers for Book #3.
- ~30 reviewers for FB
Out of 33 reviewers, only THREE had included their real name (9%). On the other hand, this Fishy Book (FB) had 100% reviewers with "real names"
So that doesn't add up either.
And finally, the most fishy thing of all: 97% of the reviewers for FB have never reviewed anything else. The only book they've ever reviewed is FB. Compare this to Book #3 where only TWO, or 6% of the reviewers had never reviewed anything else.
So, I don't know if my stats helped to show what's gnawing at me. I always, always, always, without fail look at sales ranks, number of reviews, and release date when I look up a book on Amazon. So I'm pretty attuned to what a book's stats should look like.
What I've been getting at this whole post:
I think there's something not right here with these reviews.
But I don't know if this is just a giant fluke. I could be completely and utterly wrong. I mean, Amazon does have some safeguards: you have to purchase an item before you can register for a reviewer account.
But to be honest, what I suspect is that the majority of reviews for FB were written by one person, or people that were specifically told to give five-star ratings. Also, once I'd read some of the reviews, it seemed like someone was trying FAR too hard to make them seem different--spelling errors, triple exclamation points. But the tone and sentence structure seemed very similar to me.
So the point of this post is that you need to be careful about reviews you read online by anonymous people. Any kind of review, just not book reviews.
I'm not saying book blogger reviews--that's a different matter. It's one thing to read a review on a reputable book blog and another thing to read a review by an anonymous person on Amazon or Ebay.
The other point is that I do very badly with gnawing suspicions.
Boring post? Probably, haha. Sorry about that.
But if you made it through, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this: do you think there's something fishy going on here? Or is it just a fluke?
And lastly, do you trust all the reviews you read? Why or why not?