I have recently been pondering reviews. More accurately, the purpose of reviews. See, I always viewed a review as my personal thoughts that are to help other consumers make an informed decision. So, lets say I read a book. I don’t like the book. I mention that I don’t like X, Y, and Z about the book and give the book 1 star. However, I also am quick to say that if X, Y, and Z don’t bother you then you might enjoy this book. Vague enough?? Let me be specific:
I hate love triangles. I just don’t like the trope much at all. I also totally hate books with cheating. So, lets say I grab a book and it has a love triangle and cheating. To me, thats a book I will hate. I will give it one star and explain that I don’t like love triangles or cheating. However, if you aren’t bothered by those two things, you might love this book.
I have always felt that the review was for the consumer. I like to get other peoples honest opinions on the content, plot, pacing, etc of a book. To me, 1 star means I hated the book and 5 stars means I loved it. Honestly, I never gave much thought to how others might view a review. Then someone got a bit nasty with me on Amazon about a 1 star review I gave a book.
So, basically, this person said that I was ruining the author and preventing them from getting recommendations because Amazon uses the ratings to determine what to recommend. She said that 1 star is for books that have tons of grammar mistakes and are poorly written, not just a book I didn’t like. Honestly, I was really taken aback. While I always write reviews because I know it helps authors, I never write a review with the sole purpose of my rating helping an author. Does that make sense?
So, I review books because I want to share my thoughts. I want to help other readers find great books. Simply being a part of this process helps authors-their books get out there, they get introduced to new readers, etc. However, I don’t write a review thinking “Will this help or hurt the author”. I would never say anything just straight up mean. My reviews, when critical, always emphasis why I personally didn’t connect with the book. I don’t feel a 1 star book means the book is filled with errors. In my world, a 1 star book is one I hated or didn’t even finish.
So, whats my point? Well, I guess my point is to see if I really am just blind! Are reviews solely for helping the author? What is a 1 star book to you? Am I totally off base here??
A side note, the person who was not very nice to me on amazon? Yeah, every one of her reviews was a 5 star. I’m not buying that either. I want helpful information about a book not just someone pumping sunshine. So, tell me-where do you stand? I have been giving this topic a great deal of thought, but I just can’t imagine changing the way I review books.
I read reviews to get a sense of the book and determine whether it sounds like something I would enjoy. I appreciate comments about things like love triangles, cheating and cliffhangers. It is the personal reaction of the reviewer that I am looking for. I think the idea of writing 5star reviews to help the author is new and, to me, unfortunate.I understand the sentiment but I think that in practice, it undermines the value of reviewing at all. And who hasn’t heard about authors purchasing 5star reviews by the hundreds? I find myself skipping right to the 1 and 2 stars to find honest comments.
I’m so glad to know I am not the only person who reads reviews for information! I was beginning to think I was like the only person who did! And the whole purchasing reviews makes me crazy!?!? I mean, if you write a good book you don’t need to do that.
I definitely agree on reviews being for other readers and yourself! Of course the authors and their publicists will appreciate them, whether they’re gushing 5 star reviews, or 1 or 2 stars but informative. That’s my opinion, I guess. I totally understand why you’re thinking about this! Can’t be nice to get a response like that from someone on amazon. But I don’t think that reviewers lying about books they’ve read would help anyone – if someone doesn’t enjoy a book they’re definitely allowed to give it only one star.
I suddenly feel like I have so much to say on this but I don’t want to write an essay… 😉
I know exactly how you feel-I have so much to say about this topic but my hands can’t type as fast as my brain thinks it and I didn’t want to write a dissertation!
I have never even though of that! I know that when I look at books (on Amazon, Goodreads, excreta), that one of the things that I look at is the rating. I know that if a book has a higher rating that I’m going to be more inclined to read it, and if it has a lower rating, I’ll be less inclined to read it. So, if people give a book a one star rating (for the reasons you gave) and it bumps the average rating lower, will that make a person want to read the book less? I mean, I also read the summary of the book and some reviews, but still… Great discussion post! 🙂
Thanks for the comment! I know reviews influence people and so it really made me think about who writes the reviews and for what purpose, ya know? I never assumed anyone would write a review for any reason other than because they liked/disliked the book until I started blogging!
I write reviews for a variety of reasons. First, I like to have a summary not only of the book, but of my thoughts and feelings if I look back at the book later. This is especially helpful when reading a long-running series. Second, I hope my reviews give other readers an idea of what the book is about and what they might be reading. I myself, read reviews to get an idea of what I’m in for if I read a book. I want to give that same option to others. Blurbs are great, but not always helpful. Reviews can clarify things and give a warning if needed. And Lastly, I like to review books to help an author. That is not to say I give all 5 star reviews, but honest opinions of their work. I feel this not only puts their books out there, but may also give the author an idea of where their readers are at and what they want. To me, an honest review, whether it be a 1 or a 5 is a better selling point than anything else. I may read a low review and still read the book anyway just because the reviewer gave me an open view of what the book entailed, just as I may read a 5 star review and decide the book is not for me. All of that said, I can’t lie and say rating isn’t something I look at, but I also look at reviews, the blurb, the cover, and generally a sample to really make up my mind. ♡
I’ve always looked at reviews like they’re for the readers. I read a good mix of reviews when I’m debating picking up a book, but the negative reviews are usually more helpful. I feel that a lot of people are afraid to truly share their honest opinions, particularly when they receive a free copy or were approached by the author, a PR company, blog tour, etc. Honest reviews are important, though, in my opinion — the good, the bad, and the ugly! I can say that I, personally, write my reviews for the readers, even when it’s part of a promo.