I read a lot about reviews (or lack there of) here, particularly when the subject of promotion comes up.

I read this article in PR Weekly, and while it doesn't involve the book publishing industry, it got me to thinking about reviews - particularly the variety you find on Amazon.

So I'm curious if anyone is concerned, particularly where reader reviews are prominent, about the possibility of fake reviews, or reviews by people who have not read the book in question, that sort of thing? And what impact it might have on sales and/or the industry?

I have a sense that this could become a more prominent issue as self-publishing grows, but could be wrong.

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Presumably Amazon tries to keep an eye out. Legitimate publishers would never engage in this. It's too easy to prove and too embarrassing.

It is true that at one time (several years ago), authors would write their own 5 star reviews on Amazon. And it probably still happens that they get their friends and family members to write 5 star reviews for them. The reverse also happened: some people ran campaigns against authors, writing the very worst reviews they could crowd on the Amazon page. This naturally caused an outcry, and Amazon stopped it.

There are some reviewers who have been suspected of not reading the books they reviewed. In this case, the reviews were always good, but there were so many of them that it didn't seem possible the person could have read all the books. It is possible to write a review from the jacket description or by rewriting a PW review.

From the author's point of view, only the bad reviews damage the book, but, yes, one would like an honest opinion.
I have a situation on Amazon (UK) that is currently being handled by my publisher. A reviewer has given poor reviews to a bunch of business books published some time ago (10 years for mine) and has accused them of being obsolete, out of date, poor value and so on. My book aims to help people studying for a qualification in management. Since the first edition was published, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the criteria students are measured against has changed. Consequently I have written a second edition, to be published later this month. Unfortunately, the way Amazon has worked in this instance means that the reviews of the first edition come up for the second one also, so I am in the position of having a poor review against an as yet unpublished book. I am confident that the reviewer in question has not read any of the books to which he gave poor reviews. He seems merely to have searched on the subject and shot down everything he found that was published before a certain date. My one is actually out of print, and has been for a couple of years, due to the very issue he attacks. The only ones for sale on Amazon are second hand.
Oh, I'm sorry. That is something to keep in mind. Amazon is impossible to contact for corrections. I have tried.
Real or crap, it doesn't matter to the consumer. Books with reviews will outperform books without reviews any day.

It's kind of like concealed carry. The fact you are carrying is the point of carrying. The fine details don't matter as much.


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