Saturday, April 12, 2008

Amazon: The Broken System of Being Pathetic

By now you all know the on-going drama with romance author Deborah MacGillivray over at Amazon. For a more in depth analysis of the situation I recommend you read the post Jane has put up on her Dear Author site.

I am appalled and disgusted by the way the reviewing system is handled by Amazon. I started out as an Amazon reviewer back in 2003. This was my jumping off point to become the reviewer I am today. I never looked at my rank or the number of positive or negative votes I would get. It has taken me 5 years just to be in the top 5,000! And so what if I finally get in the top 10? Do I even get a cookie to munch on?

These people who play this system, which also may includes some authors, is so pathetic and sad. To think that these people have the time to watch and wait as someone posts a review and if they don't like it, you get a bunch of your buddies to start a negative voting campaign or try to get the review taken off the site. It has happened to me on occassion.


In February 2004, the NY Times published a very telling article about the Amazon glitches in their reviews.

And as for the mystery of Harriet Klausner, a reporter actually got her on the phone! And this what was said about that:

Many prolific reviewers speculate that Harriet Klausner, 55, who has long reigned as No. 1, cannot possible read all the books she reviews.
In a telephone interview, Ms. Klausner, in turn, accused the No. 2 reviewer of getting people to vote for him and against her in a ''desperate attempt to be No. 1.'

Funny, she still won't explain how she reviews all those books and circles around the situation, blaming someone else.

And so my love/hate relationship with Amazon grows...

Katiebabs (KB)


Rosie said...

Katie, I guess we are both playing on the 'net today, huh?

I just read the NYT article. It's soooo depressing to me and so freaking petty!

The guy who told people go ahead and give his (unseen) DVD a great review because it wasn't going to affect those people reviewing one way or the other. What about the next consumer that comes along? Crikeys.

kim said...

Call me stupid, but I always thought that in order to review, vote on reviews or comment on reviews, you had to have bought the book from amazon. Why isnt it that way? That would probably stop alot of this stalking of reviewers and "clickies". I would think amazon could implement this very easily, they already keep track of our purchases. It wouldn't be hard to do, and maybe you could get pretty reliable reviews that way. Just a thought through all this madness.

Lone Chatelaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
azteclady said...

Wasn't HK one of Times "most influential people" in the same edition as Nora Roberts? and there was a photo... I think it was posted somewhere at the SBTB's site.

On amazon... a lot of people who spend significant time online don't pay much attention to amazon's reviews--after all, if you know nothing about the person writing the review, how do you know you can trust their take on anything? Let alone trust them on how to spend your hard earned money.

But really, as you say, why would anyone spend that much time and energy on something that means pretty much nothing? They don't even get a t-shirt! or a discount, or ... nothing, really. I seriously doubt that relentlessly positive reviews make that much of a difference, sales-wise.

Lone Chatelaine said...

Ok, I deleted my first comment because it was too long.

I figure I should just say something like: Woah, I had no idea any of this was going on, but now so many things make sense. I knew something was off before, but I didn't exactly know what it was. Now I see.

Katie(babs) said...

Let me ask you all this, have your ever bought a book on Amazon based on the positive reviews alone? Because I have done that and gotten some real duds.
I would love to ask some authors what their thoughts on Amazon are if they really do care if they get that one negative review? Does it ruin their life forever? I don't think so.
The Amazon reviewing system is becoming a joke and those who do great reviewing are the ones suffering because they believe in what they do. Just like I use to when I would post reviews there :(

Thea said...

All I can say is WOW. Cripes. I've had a weird experience with Amazon too (getting voted "unhelpful" because of writing a lower-star review--which is bizzare, really!), but I never really knew that all this sinister 'stacking' and backstage voting/reviewing was going on!

I have bought books based solely on the positive reviews (well the first few you see because they are the most "helpful")--and boy howdy I have been let down. I know exactly what you mean Katie! :(

And how pathetic and frankly egotistical (not to mention paranoid!) is it of authors to think that negative reviews for their work are the reult of some personal vendetta against them? Yeesh. Reviews are matter of opinion and interpretation, writing a positive or negative one is our prerogative as readers/viewers/audiences.

sula said...

I don't trust amazon reviews as far as i can throw them. Thank goodness for reader blogs. Like this one! *g*

That whole crazy mess with DAM (as discussed at SBTB and DA) is totally nuts. Sad too that anyone would be that pathetic.

Kristie (J) said...

The only thing I use Amazon for are summaries. I never have and certainly never will be influenced by the star ratings as we all have different tastes.
I've known for a while that many have been manipulated by A FEW authors and friends of A FEW authors

LorelieLong said...

"Let me ask you all this, have your ever bought a book on Amazon based on the positive reviews alone"

I did it back in the day. Lately, I'm more likely to go looking for the negative reviews and judge by them. It's not going to automatically knock a book out of the running to have negs. One person's "too crude heroine" can by my kick-ass chick of the month.

But I vote against HK just on bitchy principal.

Rosie said...

Even when I paid attention to Amazon review I've never ordered a book based solely on positive reviews. I guess I'm just a cynic that way.

little_alys said...

"Let me ask you all this, have your ever bought a book on Amazon based on the positive reviews alone"
Oh yes and it ended up being a hit and miss. This is why nowadays, I prefer to go to the local bookstore and skimming through before doing any purchasing...also why I don't often buy from online anymore.

A similar situation from the Dear Author site by Jane also happened to me. The unnamed author would not tolerate any negative reviews or even simple jokes about typos.

It's scary how these people are out there, all for what? The only result is having people whom actually care about books/dvds get screwed over.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've bought books based on Amazon reviews - some have been good, others not.

Got to say, I've bought some dire books based on blogger reviews as well. Even newspaper reviews can be dodgy. I've bought a couple of mediocre books which have had terrific reviews, when I haven't been clued in to the fact that the authors are journalists, and the reviewers colleagues.

On the other hand, the majority of the books that I've loved in the past few years have reached me thanks to someone reviewing them enthusiastically, so I'm grateful that so many people do take the time to write thoughtful and honest reviews.

Marianne McA

Stacy~ said...

I've purchased books based on Amazon reviews, and yes, some were awful, but others were spot on. That part doesn't really bother me.

What I don't like is how people rate reviews. I used to write more reviews for Amazon, and occasionally I still do, but even books I give a great rating have been voted as "unhelpful", and I would like to know why. I'm not complaining, I'm just really curious.

Sometimes I think some people who click "unhelpful" do it because they don't like the author, period. So yeah, it's skewered over there. I prefer reader blogs - they have been more reliable by far.

Sarai said...

I actually never review on AMazon for that reason sad but true. I also tried to sell my books by DAM the author Dear Author is talking about and couldn't get anythign for them so I donated them to the library.
I refuse to support any author who treats people that way. What a crock of crap. Thank God i have places like this to go when I need a helpful review over books ;0)

Katie(babs) said...

I think Amazon is going to change somethings because of the last few days between Jane's post on DA and the Amazon message boards that are blowing up about DAM.

I am just worried that because of a few choice people who take advantage, the others who enjoy it likes ourselves and respect the process will be the ones to suffer.

Zeek said...

I'm ticked because I picked oout A Restless Knight because of the good reviews eons ago. Now I see I was scammed.


Zeek said...

eh hem. I pay attention to the reviews and I post them. I try to be honest and I think SOME other reviewer's do as well. (Usually I take the general consensus because that's USUALLY closer to the truth.)