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Do Readers Owe Other Readers to Review?

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As more authors bypass traditional publishing to bring their products directly to the consumer, the greater the risk is to the reader that she wastes her money (albeit a low amount of it) and her time (possibly more precious) on a sub standard product.  The benefit of a book that is published by an actual publisher, whether it is a print or digital first publisher, is this idea that someone impartial has said “this is worth reading.”  With a self published book or one published by a house that is run by the author herself (this is more common that you think readers), there is no impartial person standing between you and the book giving a single stamp of approval.

But even with that impartial person given a stamp of approval, non discounted book prices drives down the number of chances readers can take on a book in any given month. With covers, titles, blurbs, and themes so similar from one book to another, relying on the old browse method can be tricky and expensive.

With the increase in pay to play reviews which will undoubtedly grow as the secondary publishing services market grows to address the needs of self published authors, readers’ opinions are more important than ever.

I’ve been trying to buy and read more books that are self published. I feel like I am a pretty forgiving reader and am willing to overlook any number of grammatical and spelling errors and typos so long as the story is readable but I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books out there, even for 99c.  I’m not concerned about the money as much as my time, although 99c failures can add up fairly quick.  In order to sort through the books, I rarely buy one that doesn’t have at least 30-40 reviews with an average of four stars and above.

I asked Ned about this and he says he feels absolutely no compulsion to rate or review anything he buys, reads, consumes.  “There are plenty of people who are willing to provide their opinions,” Ned said, looking at me pointedly.  But I rarely leave reviews at Amazon or even Goodreads, both places that I go to look for reader opinions of books.  I write reviews here at Dear Author and that is about it.  Since the turn of the year, though, I have started to leave one to two sentence reviews at Goodreads of every book I’ve read, kind of like one of reading list roundups here at Dear Author, as a way to give back to the Goodreads community.  I haven’t yet started leaving reviews on Amazon but I’ve been thinking about whether I owe the customers on Amazon to rate the books I’ve purchased there.

I don’t think readers owe it to authors to review or rate their books up or down but I do wonder if readers owe other readers to review/rate their books so as to help other readers.  Maybe it is to warn readers away or maybe it is to help a book you really think is a gem find an audience.  Of course one can say that some readers’ reviews aren’t worthwhile because they are universally “THIS IS THE MOST WUNDERFUL BOOKES EVERR!!! or “icantbelieveiread that cruppy book”.  Or you can argue that one good review outweighs a dozen one line reviews that tell a consumer almost nothing.  Nonetheless, a cumulative number of reviews, either good or bad, can help to create a general picture of whether a book is worthy of your time.

What do you think?

 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

74 Comments

  1. Kate Hewitt
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 04:10:28

    I generally don’t trust reviews on Amazon or Goodreads for books that I am considering buying, especially with self-published books. I have seen far too many self-published books with as many as 100 5 star reviews and it is clear pretty quick that all these reviews are written by the author’s friends. In some cases I believed the reviews, bought the book, and figured it out after a couple of pages that it was not even readable. Now I check to see if the readers who reviewed the book have reviewed anything else–if they haven’t, then that’s a pretty clear indicator this was a friend of the author. I do trust reviews on sites like this one, and have bought books and discovered new authors (to me) based on those. I think word of mouth/recs of people you know (online or in real life) is the best way to figure out what is worth reading.

  2. SAO
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 04:18:22

    I feel most inclined to review when something is awful, but often the process of maintaining an account discourages me.

    Ultimately, to turn the avalanche of self-pubs into a selection of books worth reading, readers do have to review. Sampling the first chapter will help.

  3. Jayne
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 04:20:44

    This is actually something I’ve been thinking about lately since I started to buy more books from Smashwords. A little while after you buy something there, they send an email inviting you to review it. Up until now, I’ve just deleted those since I do most of my reviewing here but after getting burned by a few lemons that had no reviews, I’m thinking that I should at least do a brief pros/cons rundown for other readers benefit.

  4. Fangs for the Fantasy
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 04:44:35

    I don’t think there’s a compulsion to rate for a couple of reasons. partly because I don’t particularly think the industry changes is going to cause us to waste more time or money – oh, we may waste the same time, but not more money – so i don’t think the need to review goes up

    But also because I don’t like the idea of readers being obligated to review simply because I can’t see it producing great reviews. More of a problem, I see the possibility of an Amazon-ing of reviews – short “reviews” full of “zomg i loved it i love this author keep writing more oh it’s wonderful love love love” followed by endless 5 stars – which isn’t helpful.

    if you’ll excuse the plug, it’s something we’ve touched on http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2011/12/difference-between-negative-and-bad.html if people keep flooding sites with positive reviews then all reviews are worth nothing because anything – even the worst drek – can attract 5 stars

    And short, scrappy, ill-thought out reviews arent that helpful. I find a book and it says that Mary ZOMG LOVES this book? Without knowing why Mary loves it, what Mary’s tastes are or, indeed, whether Mary is the author’s mother I don’t see the review as being helpful

    So i’d call for not more reviews, but more detailed ones

  5. SHZ
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 04:46:21

    Nobody owes anybody anything, the same way we don’t have to write up a report every time we see a movie or go to a sporting event. We pay to be entertained. It’s a one-way transaction.

    However I wish more people would take the time to write a review when they DON’T enjoy a book. So often (the Amazon forums, for example), people say that they only review books they enjoy – they never bother if they dislike something.
    “What’s the point?” they say.

    There’s a much bigger and better reason to leave a review for a bad book than a good one. Because if you feel bad you’ve wasted your time and money, it would be nice to warn others so they don’t too.

    I never trust five star reviews for self-published books. Most of the time the reviewers have blank profiles and have never reviewed anything else (or have only reviewed the same few self-published books). It is getting to the point where reviews are a waste of time.

  6. Kim in Hawaii
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 04:48:21

    I’m with Ned, ”There are plenty of people who are willing to provide their opinions.”

    That being said, I do post reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. No doubt my opinion of a book will be scrutinized by someone who has a counter opinion. So I don’t feel that I owe it to any reader to justify how much I enjoyed (or did not enjoy) a book.

    I have found some helpful reviews on Goodreads and Amazon as well as some unhelpful ones. But I’d rather have an open forum than regulated reviews – that means the lemons come with apples!

  7. Mikaela
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 04:52:56

    @Fangs for the Fantasy:

    I agree on scrappy reviews. I hate reviews that is just ” I loved/ hated this book.” I want to know *why* they felt like that.
    Actually, I wish that Amazon and BN etc. added a minium length. That a review had to be, say, at least 50 words, or something. Wont happen, but I can always dream.

  8. Kaetrin
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 05:05:55

    I post my reviews on Goodreads and at my blog but I don’t think I’m obliged to review. I do it because I like to and it is part of the online community interaction which I (mostly) enjoy.

    I’m interested in your reference to “pay for play” reviews though Jane. Could you explain the term please? I’m not familiar with it.

  9. SHZ
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 05:23:59

    @Mikaela: Amazon has a minimum length – twenty words.

    They should probably up that to at least fifty! But even fifty isn’t much to give a decent review.

    One thing that annoys me to no end are those “professional” reviews that are a four-hundred word summary of the plot, with only one sentence of opinion at the end. With a five star rating, of course.

  10. Barbara
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 05:46:07

    Just a question. For anyone (not just for posters but for anyone reading) who says that they either don’t trust the 5 stars and look to the negs or mid-range reviews on Amazon/Goodreads or the people who say they won’t take a chance on a book that’s unrated…who do you trust to be the ones who are giving you a rating to use? If there’s a self-pub with ten gushing 5-star reviews and you see that someone with 200 reviews for books in that genre under their belt rated it 4 stars and gave a nice comprehensive review, does that make you feel more comfortable? If the attitude is, “I’m not going to do it, there are enough other people who will,” what happens when no one but the shills are doing it?

    I know that’s an extreme, but seriously. I’m not talking about feeling like you owe it to anyone to review everything or anything and I’m certainly not saying Amazon has to be the venue for it. Goodreads doesn’t make you write anything but you can toss in a sentence like Jane is doing and that would be helpful.

    If I limited what I buy to what I see reviewed on just my favorite blog/review sites, my buying would definitely decrease. I like to page through my recommendations, the “books like this” widget, etc. and I always look at the ratings and page down and glance at the reviews before I decide to put it on my to-buy list. If no one were interested in reviewing anything (I see a bunch of reviews by non-bloggers), it would make for a sad list.

  11. Ros
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 05:49:40

    I’m really uncomfortable about the language of ‘owing’ other readers. Buying a book doesn’t come with any obligations and I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for not reviewing or rating a book.

    But I do see where you are coming from. I am much more likely to leave this kind of brief review if I don’t like a book, as a warning for other potential readers about its flaws. And I’m grateful to those people who do leave useful reviews.

  12. Julie @ Manga Maniac Cafe
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 06:10:59

    Unless a reader feels passionate about writing reviews, I would prefer that they NOT write one. Reading is a hobby, and it should be stress free with no strings attached. It should be an escape, not an activity that adds more pressure to write a review. If readers all feel obligated to write reviews, reading won’t be fun anymore and reviews won’t be helpful.

    I maintain a book blog because I love writing/talking/thinking about books. Other book bloggers run blogs for the same reason. I want to read their thoughts on books, not the thoughts of someone who is reviewing because they feel that they have obligation to do so or do so out of a sense of guilt.

  13. farmwifetwo
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 06:27:46

    As someone else said “nobody owes anyone”. My goodreads pg is for me and me alone. Even the home page says “I do have opinions” and yes, I tend to post more when something is poorly written or hits one of my fav peeves and I’ll say so.

    Saying that, I check reviews from those I know who have similar or disimilar tastes. I’ve met a lot of different people online over the years. Truth is, most readers don’t get past those 8 books and they read the same authors over and over again. Yet, they call themselves readers. I don’t have a hundred friends on goodreads and have removed some I’ve followed/friended since our book tastes are that different and we don’t socialize much online.

    Unless one of them has read a self-published/e-book only author, I probably won’t read it unless the author has offered a freebee and I’ve tried it. There are many paper authors, the library has millions of books to try, and I simply do not buy something new without someone I trust reviewing it, or, I’ve gotten one of the authors books free (library or freebee online). I have found when I don’t, I usually end up giving away the book.

  14. Charlotte Stein
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 06:37:04

    As a reader, I don’t feel as though I owe another reader anything. But I know that this view might be a bit skewed, because I almost never go on the amount or average rating of reviews. I go on the sample, and whether the book’s what I want to read – I feel like I practically have to, sometimes. Even when we’re not talking about “paid” reviews, or sockpuppet reviews, or reviews from the author’s friends, there are plenty of people out there who love love love books that I can’t even get past the first page on. And I don’t think any amount of honest reader reviews is going to help that.

    Plus, there are loads of books I’ve loved that had nowhere near 30-40 reviews of any rating – especially on Amazon UK, where I get most of my books.

  15. Merrian
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 06:43:11

    @Jayne: I also like Smashwords having a search tag “most downloaded”. If reviews can be gamed it is where people have put their dollar that is the most telling.

    I don’t review but I rely on sites like DA, Jessewave’s, etc whose taste generally matches my own and authors as a brand, that is I will buy from a known entity before I will buy a book by an author I don’t have experience with. The recent kerfuffles and authors behaving badly have highlighted my own buying process to me and reinforced this practice. I also read the low scoring reviews because they more often give a sense of how the book works and whether it will work for me.

  16. Mireya
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 06:43:28

    I don’t review regularly any longer, but when I do, I post to Amazon. I now post depending on how the mood strikes and how the book made me feel. .I am more likely to post a 4 or 5 star review or a 1-2 review. I don’t bother with 3s (what I consider average). I try to post what I like or didn’t like. That being said, I don’t feel obligated to do so, except when the book has been so bad that I just have to let others know that some people may find fault with a book.

    I don’t read self-published books as a general rule. I know that a self-published book can be a high quality item, but sadly, those are more the exception rather than the rule.

    As a reader (if this helps) when I decide to read reviews I check if there are any bad reviews available. I read one of the glowing ones, and then proceed to read the 1 and 2 star reviews, and that along with an excerpt, is usually how I end up making a buying decision when it pertains to a new-to-me author or a hit-or-miss author.

  17. Estara
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 06:50:11

    A reader does not owe another reader anything. If he feels strong enough about a book however, to warn others about spending money (as long as he gives his reasons for it – they don’t have to be good reasons, but reasons that make sense, so that the next reader can decide whether he is bothered by the same thing) or to want others to buy it, THEN he should write a review AND/OR talk it up.

    Of course, if a reader builds a blog around the idea of his reading and people come to depend on being able to read reviews on his blog – and then he suddenly turns to talking about cars – that would be a bit of a betrayal I think.

    I review to keep more of a memory of books that aren’t stellar or the utter pits – to see if I change my mind during re-reads, to see how many books I read and now that I have people of similar tastes on GoodReads, to read their impressions and get recommendations.

    Oh and I want to be able to point someone to my clearer idea about a book if someone has asked for a recommendation that I think my book fills

  18. Jill
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 06:59:22

    I never reviewed before. But I was burned a couple of weeks ago with a book that had 20 5-star reviews on Amazon. It was OK and only OK. I actually felt “obligated” to leave a review (my first ever) for those who may have the same problems with the story that I had. I then went on to review a book I had enjoyed, that was fun.

  19. Mary Anne Graham
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 07:10:11

    Honest and impartial reader reviews are important and valuable to other readers and to authors. However, there are cases where reviews seem to have been written to make – or score – a point. The latter are “grudge” reviews and I do think that they make it harder to trust the former.

    Reading is like voting – you’re not “obligated” to share your response. If a book made a big impression – good or bad – then I hope a reader will take the time to pass along her thoughts. I believe it diminishes the impact of reviews generally if readers leave them to make a point instead of to share their reactions to the author’s words.

  20. cecilia
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 07:57:27

    I almost never (approximately once every four years) review on Amazon, and don’t feel any obligation to do so. I have started reviewing more often on Goodreads in the past several months, though. Partially it’s because that helps me to remember why I rated it the way I did. Partially because if I think a book deserves one or two stars, then I think it’s definitely appropriate to explain why. At times I might want to warn people off from what seemed terrible to me, but I also recognize that the things that really bother me might not be a problem for others. Either way, I think an explanation of my reasons for rating it the way I did are more important than the rating itself. (Though I usually wimp out on writing reviews of books I rated high that already have lots of reviews. I almost just want to put in links to reviews I agreed with and say “what she said.”)

    As far as how I choose books goes – I’ll always look at GR ratings, but sometimes (especially if I’m looking at a Harlequin) there are few ratings and no reviews. Also, I am deeply suspicious of books that have a predominance of 5-star reviews. That just makes me think that the main audience is not very discriminating. Even great (seriously great) books will have averages under 4. I usually look for somewhere in the 3.5-4.1 range, depending on how long the book has been out, how many reviews it has. I’d rather base the decision to read or not read more on a few reviews that seem well-written, rational, informed, and that give me a reason to think the reviewer’s taste might line up with mine. With Goodreads, the “compare books” function is also useful for figuring this out.

  21. Maili
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 08:38:14

    What should one do when it’s a DNF?

    I used to be that kind of a reader who felt obliged to finish every book once started. Now, with two monsters in my life? I’m less obliged to finish it. If it doesn’t hook me by the time I reach – say – chapter three, it becomes a DNF. No guilt. (I’m not a believer in “hang on a bit there, it’ll get better”. It should be good from the start.)

    OK to review when it’s a DNF?

  22. LG
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 08:45:47

    I don’t think readers owe other readers anything, the same way I don’t believe they owe the authors anything. In fact, I wouldn’t want readers to feel that way, because I’d rather not have to wade through a sea of crappy reviews that people left because they felt they needed to. Maybe that sea of reviews/star ratings would add up to something worthwhile, maybe not. I’d really just prefer a few thoughtful, detailed reviews that give me enough information to decide for myself whether the book is for me.

  23. alice s
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 08:52:20

    I write a short review of every book I’ve read at shelfari not for other readers but to remind me how I felt about the book. I do value the reviews that other readers give to a book since I base my decision on what books to read depending on whether other readers have enjoyed the book. In general well reviewed books are less riskier for me not liking a book.

  24. Michelle
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 08:53:01

    I am hesitant to leave bad reviews on amazon after being attacked by an author. But if there was a book I hated, I often will leave comments on similar reviews. Often the comment section on the amazon reviews are interesting.

    If I notice a book I love is getting bad reviews for things not related to the book, for example the 1 star rating for books not yet available in kindle format, I will leave a review to offset those low reviews.

  25. courtship
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 09:08:27

    I think readers have a responsibility to warn readers away from a book when they can impartially condemn it for, say, terrible grammar or formatting, second grade writing level, missing sections, or a misleading blurb. (For instance, the book claims to be a tender love story but ends up being about zombies getting their heads ripped off.)

    But so often reviews are opinions on content or whether or not a particular reader liked a character, which I trust a lot less, because maybe I would have enjoyed the content or liked the character another reader disliked.

    Here is what traumatized me. I read A Discovery of Witches lately and was over the moon for it and thought it was the best book I’d read in years. I went to Amazon to join what I was sure would be a lovefest of joy for the book. Instead I found tons of reviews railing over how bad it was, mainly for content and character-dislike issues. I was SHOCKED, but also sad. What if those reviews had kept me from reading it? I would have missed out on a book that is certainly in my top ten list of all time (for me).

    So I don’t think the question is whether readers owe it to other readers to leave reviews, but whether readers should be leaving reviews about anything other than the measurable qualities of a book (grammar, readability, whether length and subject matter are as represented). But then that sounds crazy, so I don’t know.

    The Discovery of Witches thing just freaked me out!

  26. Lada
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 09:12:27

    I don’t think there is ever obligation to review anything that I’ve spent my time/money on but since I rely so heavily on user/reader reviews before purchasing anything, I’m also starting to feel I should make some effort to add my voice, even if it matters little in the long run.

    I almost never pay attention to Amazon/GR reviews unless there are 100 or more and then I search out the critical reviews. I won’t ignore the positive/negative ones but to disagree with someone above, I often find the 3 star reviews most helpful because they are the ones that highlight what worked and didn’t in the book rather than just gushing or bashing. Also, if a reviewer is really fair and you track all of their reviews, the majority of their reviews should actually be in the “average” catagory. It’s a basic bell curve.

    I haven’t as yet found a good way to judge self-published work, even from sites like DA. It seems so much of what’s reviewed is erotica and YA, neither of which appeal to me.

  27. Lorenda Christensen
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 09:16:48

    Since I’m a big kindle reader, I do pay attention to the reviews on Amazon, and I used to do my best to provide reviews on the books I bought from the site…until a couple of my reviews were selected for attack from one of the ZOMG!!! commenters.

    From that point on, while I still feel reviews are important, I am much less willing to take the time. For me, I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle when my one so-so or bad review is swallowed by a wave of “I can’t believe you didn’t give this 5-stars! Are you Stoopid?!!!!?”

    When I stopped feeling my reviews were actually being read, I stopped making them.

  28. Lorenda Christensen
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 09:22:13

    @Michelle:

    Glad I’m not the only one with this experience.

  29. Frekki
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 09:26:01

    I find it really difficult to write a short review that actually says something meaningful about the book, so I don’t write reviews. I do find reader reviews on Goodreads and Amazon really useful, though, so it’s a skill I might try to work on.

    It’s often pretty easy to figure out if someone is getting their friends to write glowing reviews, because you’ll see a bunch of five star ratings that don’t actually say much about the book. I like to find a review I agree with of a book I’ve already read, whatever the rating, and then see what else that reader has reviewed. That leads me to more books to consider with reviews by someone who I know has at least somewhat similar reading tastes.

  30. Amy Kathryn
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 09:38:25

    I am a reader, not a writer. I own this and realize that I am not very good at expressing what I love or hate about a book most of the time. I know my preferences, tropes and characters that work for me, and the things that don’t…all very individual. I also tend to read books a few months or years after their release when they have already gathered quite a lot of ratings and reviews.

    I like to think about returning the favor instead of owing a review for a book. I have tried really hard to articulate my feelings about books in reviews for ones that have little to no other input on goodreads so that I can help a fellow reader out. I got a request not long ago to elaborate about a rating on a book that I had read before I started leaving reviews for that type of book (shelved by very few people). I was happy to exchange emails and really mean to go back and put in a review.

  31. ReadingPenguin
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 09:47:27

    I don’t feel like I “owe” anybody anything, but I like to be helpful. I like to think that when I take the time to write a review, I’m helping other potential readers figure out whether or not to devote precious time and/or money to that book. And yeah, maybe once and awhile I’m helping someone discover their new favorite author. Maybe.

    If you do choose to write reviews, I think you have a responsibility to be articulate, honest, and specific. If you can’t express WHY you liked/didn’t like the book, you shouldn’t bother saying anything. Those one sentence reviews and OMG BEST BOOK EVAH reviews just cloud the waters for potential readers.

  32. Laura K Curtis
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 09:56:11

    I rarely review “meh” books on Amazon or LibraryThing or anywhere else because I don’t think I have much productive to say. However, if I really enjoyed a book or really didn’t enjoy it, then yes, I leave a review. I think it’s important to give specifics — what really turned me on, what really turned me off — because those same things might not bother someone else. Meanwhile I rarely read the 5-star reviews. They’re pointless. I read negative reviews because I generally find them more informative. But I still often buy the book that is negatively reviewed because the things that people don’t like don’t bother me. (Historical inaccuracy! Too many characters! The plot’s too complicated!)

    As to whether I “owe” it…I don’t know. I think I owe it to authors who write really good books, but that’s partially selfish. If I don’t do my part to help them sell their books, will they keep writing them for me to read?

  33. job
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 10:06:33

    I wish AMZ/GR would allow unstarred reviews. Folks might stop to say, “Ghastly, unreadable mess” or “I couldn’t finish. Maybe it gets better later on,” if they didn’t have to also load on a 1-star rating.

    And I like lists. For me, these are the most useful reader-to-reader tool. It’s specific word-of-mouth advertising and almost impossible to scam.

  34. KMont
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 10:17:15

    I’ve read many books since opening my blog that I didn’t in turn review, books I had little to no interest in while and after reading, so the enthusiasm to write about it wasn’t there. I seriously doubt anyone is missing out because of this.

    Goodreads may have a community side to it, but I see it, on the whole, as a tool I can choose to use how best suits me. I’m not there to socialize so much as I am to keep track of books and take notes on what I read so my reviews hopefully sound a little more coherent. I rarely leave any sort of review there and only reluctantly started using their rating system (don’t understand their logic behind their star ratings). If someone does like what I do over at Goodreads and it helps them, that’s great, but it’s not foremost in my mind when using the site.

    Amazon – oh my word. I left there to start my own blog when the crazypants became obvious. Freedom to review however one wants is much more fun.

    Will say though that I do enjoy seeking out reviews on both sites still. I mean, c’mon, both entire sites cannot be comprised of 100% crazypants. There are folks at Goodreads whose opinions I trust and find enjoyment in, and I do think there are honest, real people reviewing at Amazon. It’s just that you have to wade through the other stuff to get to them.

    But overall, owing? Nope. If anything, I feel I owe myself. Reviewing helps me keep track of my reads, and I need all the help I can get. My memory sucks.

  35. Keishon
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 10:52:12

    No, I don’t believe readers owe anybody anything. I will go out of my way to give a critical opinion when needed for something that has a lot of praise when the reality is much different.

    @Maili about DNF reviews, I don’t mind them and they never put me off. But the practice does seem to be less popular but I do them on occasion and don’t much care if other people like them or not or think it’s the right thing to do or not. Just hit the back button and move on if you don’t like it is my motto (for just about everything)

  36. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 10:58:10

    No…I don’t think readers/consumers owe anything more than they want to give/do. When I read a book I love, sometimes I’ll post about it, sometimes I won’t. Sometimes I’ll add a one or two line note on goodreads, or my blog, but others? No.

    And there’s no rhyme or reason to the books that I’ll mention I loved, or didn’t.

    I also rarely do it for anything other than books…books are my passion. Honestly, if I felt ‘obligated’ to review, I’d probably be less likely to post anything again.

    Whether I enjoyed a book or not is really my business. If I decide to share that opinion is up to me. Kudos to those that take the time to do it. It’s a wonderful service, but it’s a service…it’s not a requirement.

  37. azteclady
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 10:59:33

    I cannot see reviewing as a duty, but I like the idea of ‘returning the favor.’ Many times reader reviews have steered me towards books that became absolute favorites, I would be thrilled to do the same for someone else.

    Further, I like to ‘hear myself talk’ by writing my thoughts on books–when the mojo is there *cough*

    But no, not out of a sense of obligation.

  38. Lynn S.
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 11:22:19

    I don’t think readers owe other readers anything or, for that matter, that authors owe readers anything. I don’t feel I have the depth of literary knowledge to write a satisfactory review and, except for the occasional read that is wildly misogynistic, I don’t think much of warning people either. I say buy it, pick it up or load it in, read the darn thing, and make up your own mind. If I were reviewing books, based on my huge TBR and scattered habits, I would currently be set to review Madeline Hunter’s By Design, which was written in 2001. Not exactly a hot priority on the should-I-buy-it list. Although I’m overloading on the don’ts today, I do enjoy the discussions and exchange of ideas that takes place here at Dear Author.

    @Jayne: In an about-face and thanking you from the bottom of my reading heart (It is okay for readers to thank reviewers, isn’t it?), I want to say how much I loved Trail of the Tudor Blue, which I probably wouldn’t have discovered if you hadn’t been generous enough with your time to review it. Charming, fun, and fast-paced with a good use of first personal narrative; engaging leads; a vibrant and motley crew of secondary characters; lovely descriptive passages; and, wonderful tension between the hero and heroine without reams of sexual high jinks. Except for some sentences that were a few words shy of being comprehensive and a scene that veered towards slapstick at the end of the book, an all-around good read which I’ll always remember fondly as the book that broke my late 2011 meh streak. (Hey, I think I just did a quick pros and cons.)

    @Kate Hewitt:

    I have seen far too many self-published books with as many as 100 5 star reviews and it is clear pretty quick that all these reviews are written by the author’s friends.

    Yeesh, don’t they know real authors don’t have time for 100 friends.

  39. CK
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 11:24:18

    Two things have really struck me.

    1. “I won’t buy unless there are X amount of reviews.” Why? The number of reviews won’t guarantee that you will like it whether it’s 1 or 1,000. I’ve read NY Bestsellers that have been raved about and I’ve hated. Hated it with purple passion. Someone has to be first. Why not me or you?

    A cover gets my attention. A blurb keeps it. A sample sells it. Yes. That’s how I shop now. Reviews are nice, especially by people with similar tastes, but even then there is no guarantee I’m going to love/hate something like they did.

    2. “Publishers are gatekeepers/someone impartial has said ‘this is worth reading’.” How often have you heard from authors bemoaning ‘nice rejections’? The ‘this is a great story, but I just can’t sell it’. Publishing is a business out to make money. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t guarantee that the best product (or the one you’re going to like) is out there – just one that they think will sell.

    There are no guarantees. Ever. Jane might rave about a book as a total eyegasm, but even though we might have similar tastes, that doesn’t mean I’m going to love it or automatically buy it.

    I’m always puzzled by readers complaining that there is too much choice out there. That they have to wade through gallons of muck to find a gem. Well, aren’t gems rare? Haven’t they always been? At least now we can sample the book without a clerk glaring and waiting to see if you are going to buy it or not.

  40. farmwifetwo
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 11:26:34

    Someone mentioned above about unstarred reviews on goodreads. You don’t have to put any stars if you don’t wish to. It will add them to your list without them.

    Someone else mentioned the “compare” feature – I use this one regularly. Also, if you load the person’s “page” on the left beside the avatar there is an “average rating”. Mine currently says 3.11. If someone’s over 4 and has a lot of books… definately a “fan”. If someone has only a few books – 200 or so – I don’t consider them a “reader” since they haven’t read enough variety IMO. I’m one that hunts for the “book-a-holics” and I find most of them give honest opinions.

  41. DM
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 11:55:45

    @CK

    ““Publishers are gatekeepers/someone impartial has said ‘this is worth reading’.” How often have you heard from authors bemoaning ‘nice rejections’? The ‘this is a great story, but I just can’t sell it’. Publishing is a business out to make money. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t guarantee that the best product (or the one you’re going to like) is out there – just one that they think will sell.”

    While I agree with you 100% that publishers pass on good, readable books with small audiences, most self-pubbed books aren’t those niche market gems. Remember Spoil of War? The author had one of those stories. New York loved it! But it was just too edgy for them! So she published it herself! The truth was that New York passed because the book was a hot mess of historical hooey short on emotional truth.

    I’m not saying that readers owe other readers reviews, but the world of self-publishing needs curating, or it will never be anything but an all-access slush pile.

  42. JL
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 12:50:45

    I also don’t think anyone owes anybody anything. Even if we love a book, we’re not responsible for publicizing it, supporting the author’s career, or helping other readers find it.

    All that being said, because it’s not an obligation, I am deeply grateful to those who do take time to review books and help me figure out how to spend my money on books that I will love and re-read.

    I don’t want to get into the ‘not all reviews are reviews’ debate, but I stay clear of Amazon and Goodreads and the like because I find book blogs tend to be more thoughtful and specific about their reactions to a book. Of course, many book bloggers cross post to those sites, but I just find it easier to stay away from them and stick to the blogs.

  43. Angela
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 13:09:21

    I think the comments here are fascinating. It’s brought up a lot of questions in my mind.

    But first: I don’t think that readers owe anyone anything. But I, personally, feel like I should pass along the favors that others have given me. It’s my goal to review most books I read. Even if it’s just a line or two about what I liked/didn’t like.

    I usually don’t look at the rating itself that someone gave a book. I scan reviews to see what the substance says. Things that they gush about being perfect could be pet peeves of my own. Things that they say ruined the book for them could be a trope I love. The only reviews that I discount are the ones I think we all do – Short reviews that say nothing more than the reader loved it or hated it.

    Reviews are subjective to me. They always will be. We view books through our own lenses and it’s nearly impossible to view them objectively – unless just talking about grammar, writing ability. And while I do want to know that someone has a good grasp on the English language, and an ability for a masterful turn of phrase, that’s not really what matters most to me. It’s whether they can tell a story, make me invested, create characters that are three-dimensional. All subjective opinions.

    To peripherally of touch on what @Barbara was asking: I think it’s interesting that so many people say they don’t trust 5 star reviews at all. I rate quite a few things as five stars. Anything that gets 4.5 turns into 5 stars (sometimes I really wish for the half/quarter star ability on sites like Goodreads and Amazon). And while not all my reviews are detailed, usually if I’m giving it 5 stars, it is. I’d like to think they’re helpful to people. The comments here actually make me wonder if it’s worthwhile for me to take the time to write in-depth reviews for things that I really enjoyed. I wonder, too, if it makes a difference on who’s writing the 5 star (or A) review. I’ve seen a lot of people on Dear Author say they’re rushing out to buy a book that was highly rated here. I know I’ve done it, because I trust the reviewers here, and know whose taste coincides with my own.

  44. Tamara Hogan
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 13:11:35

    Stars and the like don’t help me in the slightest when I’m trying to decide whether or not to buy a book. I value reviews in which the reader can articulate WHY they liked or disliked a particular book, and can convey their thoughts in a respectful, even-handed manner. This enables me to compare my personal likes and dislikes against the reviewer’s. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve bought after reading so-called “negative” reviews. I’d have missed out on many enjoyable reading hours if I’d simply “Asked the Mob.”

  45. Jane
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 13:44:10

    @Kaetrin Kirkus, PW, and another company featured on Publishing Perspectives all offer a review service for self published (and I suppose non self published authors) for a fee. The reviews aren’t published in their magazines or on their websites, but the authors can use them in their promotional materials such as in the description section on Amazon, BN, etc.

  46. Tara McTiernan
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 14:03:59

    I have to say that after reading everyone’s comments here, I realize a) how much I depend on other people reviewing books on Amazon when I choose a book to read and b) how important it is for me to write more reviews there myself. Both bad and good. Not due to “owing” anyone, but because of the simple truth that if I read and use reviews to decide, so do others. This is especially true for self-published books that don’t have a marketing team behind them.

    Great – and thought provoking – post!

  47. Author on Vacation
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 14:15:15

    1. I don’t shop for books according to ratings. Just as someone can get dozens of friends to rate a book 5 stars, someone can get dozens of friends to rate a book 1 star. I’m uninterested in anything except reviews. If you gave a book 5 stars and didn’t bother to say why, you don’t count to this consumer and to other consumers with my mindset.

    2. When I read reviews, the reviewer is just as much “on trial” as the book I’m considering. If the review lacks cohesion and logic or if it is badly edited, that opinion is going to carry less weight with me than a review more professional in style and presentation.

    3. I can’t say I’ve ever passed on a book I really felt interested in because of reviews. A good review (or even a negative review) has “sold” a book to me, but I’ve never put down a book I thought I’d like because someone else loathed it.

    I think if a reader has the time and the capability to type up reviews of books, it’s good for them to do that whenever possible. However, it’s not an obligation. I can still shop without other people reviewing books.

  48. Author on Vacation
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 14:17:30

    @Tamara Hogan:

    You said it all, Tamara.

  49. hapalochlaena
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 14:18:23

    From time to time I think about how I’d like to post a review about a book that I’ve especially enjoyed, in the hopes of encouraging others to give it a try.

    And then I think about how slowly I think, and how difficult it is to put my thoughts in writing, and how I then have to go over and over the post in an effort to clean up the spelling and grammatical mistakes (and make changes in word choice), and how this process can easily take more than an hour.

    And then I go back to my ereader and bury myself in a book instead.

    Sorry, fellow readers. I just can’t do it.

  50. DS
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 14:27:40

    I’m not associated with it but there is a piece of donationware called Amazon Review Analysis Tool. I downloaded it a few years back to keep an eye on my own reviews, make sure I wasn’t engaging in grade inflation. Well, that I’m occasionally obsessive about my review statistics.

    But if I’m feeling iffy about a reviewer I will load the profile and check it. One review web site that posts the reviews of its members to Amazon under one profile has about 6214 reviews. 83.3% are five star. .3% are one star. 1% are two star, 5.1% are three star and 9.8% are four star. Not a reviewer whose opinion I pay a lot of attention to.

  51. Sabrina
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 15:07:01

    @hapalochlaena:
    I feel the same way! Along with your feelings I also shy away from reviewing books on Amazon is because I am honestly worried about backlash from an author or other readers.
    I come here to DA because I am comfortable, it’s easy, people get along and are straightforward. I don’t have to worry about becoming the next causality in an “author’s biggest mistake” episode.
    While I do read reviews when looking on Amazon if I have not seen the book here at DA or other sites, I do not feel I owe it to other readers on Amazon. I’ll just put my 2 cents here on DA ;-)

  52. library addict
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 15:14:22

    I’m not on GoodReads. As for Amazon, I appreciate when others say why a book does or does not work for them in a review. I will read over the reviews when trying decide rather or not to buy a book more to look for hot buton issues.

    That said, I don’t pay much attention to the number of stars a book is given. There are books given A reviews/5 stars that I personally disliked, and books given C’s or D’s/3 or 2 stars that I loved. The grade/stars given by reviewers I chalk up to the individual’s taste.

    If the author/cover/blurb have me interested in reading a book, I’ll buy it regardless of the number of negative or positive reviews. It’s the books I’m on the fence about that I would read reviews before buying. But I’m much more inclined to trust a review site I am familiar with such as Dear Author, than random reviewers on Amazon. I guess if I read more reviews there and became familiar with the regular reviewers I may feel differently.

    But as a reader I do not feel other readers “owe” me to review a book.

    And I just have to say I love the LOL cat with this post.

  53. JH
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 15:18:01

    @DM:

    While I agree with you 100% that publishers pass on good, readable books with small audiences, most self-pubbed books aren’t those niche market gems. Remember Spoil of War? The author had one of those stories. New York loved it! But it was just too edgy for them! So she published it herself! The truth was that New York passed because the book was a hot mess of historical hooey short on emotional truth.

    While I think you have a valid point, I’m also wary because I personally feel that, recently, we as a group have been too eager to leap to a mentality that causes us to throw out a whole subsection of publishing or writing or genres upon encountering a few bad apples. Especially since, if you look enough, you’re going to find those bad apples everywhere. Spoil of War might have been a historical mess, but there are examples of just such disasters still being printed by publishing houses. Assassin of Secrets by Q. R. Markham would be the most recent one in mind, where the author deliberately copied passages from other well known novels in his genre. His books had to be literally pulled from the shelves after being printed and sold. Another example is James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces. His nonfictional memoir turned out to be an embellished and sensationalized story of fiction.

    Growing up, I can remember walking to the Young Adult reading section in Barnes and Noble that was mainly composed of the Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley Twin University and the Nancy Drew University series. Of the five book shelf sections designated to this genre, three of the sections were made up with these three series. Today, that’s completely different. When you walk to the YA section, you now have a much wider array of books looking back at you. The large majority of those books are of a supernatural slant, thanks to Harry Potter and Twilight. For good or for bad, both series received such notoriety that publishers are continually pumping out books featuring magic, wizards, vampires, and fey when, pre-Harry Potter, you were hard-pressed to find a printed YA book touching any of these subjects.

    The point is that publishing and book tastes are an ever-evolving process, with new niches popping up all the time. Yesterday it was Harry Potter. Tomorrow it’s dystopias (examples being The Hunger Games trilogy, the Matched trilogy, the Maze Runner trilogy). I’m not saying books in these niche markets didn’t exist previously, just that they are being brought to the forefront by ever-changing public favor.

    In the end, there are always going to be disasters that are published both by big publishing houses and self-published authors. But we’re fortunate that we live in an age where you can read the first chapter of a book as a sample on Amazon without even having to leave the comfort of your own home. And, in the end, you can read as many reviews as you like, each of which is taken with a grain of salt, but what’s really going to matter is your own opinion.

  54. Andrea
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 16:19:58

    I review on Goodreads so that if I come across Book 2 in a series which I vaguely recall reading Book 1 of, I can check on Goodreads and discover that I DNF’d Book 1 due to ditziness of protagonist. I don’t feel I owe it to anyone else to review them.

    [My ratings are disproportionately 3 stars, a whack of 4 stars, a handful of 5 stars and only a couple of 1 or 2 stars. 3 stars is a broad and vast range from 'just tolerable' to 'good but nothing brilliant'.]

    I think number of reviews has become as much a point of judgment as the overall rating. Even though it’s possible for someone to muster friends/family/sockpuppets to create 100 reviews, it’s so much more work that sheer volume of review does seem to make a book worth ‘taking a chance on’.

    Admittedly, unless a review explicitly describes something which I know I won’t like (bullying, overly aggressive love interest, for instance), I’ll happily read a book that other people don’t like and have rated low. After all, there’s tons of books people love to which my response is: “It has a hundred pages of a sixteen year-old impressing the love goddess with his sexing skills? Really?” People like such wildly different things in books that my interest in reviews is more details about the content.

    If it’s an author I’ve not read before, I sample before I purchase, so the only thing I lose to a truly incompetent book is a little time. [I tend to mass sample and then pick through them at my leisure.]

  55. Lynn M
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 16:34:42

    I don’t mind providing reviews, I’m just not very consistent with how I go about it. Usually, a book has to be either really good or really bad for me to feel compelled enough to write a review. If the book is just meh for me, I’m not likely to bother. I wonder how many other readers are the same – only speaking up about books they loved or hated.

    That said, I do confess to turning to Goodreads reviews as well as a handful of review sites I like for opinions on a book I’m considering purchasing. I don’t use Amazon – too many goofballs out there – but Goodreads usually gives me enough of a snapshot to make a decision one way or the other.

    After reading this, I do think I’ll try to be more consistent in giving reviews. More info is always better than not enough, IMO.

  56. eggs
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 16:37:12

    I don’t think any individual reader owes it to other readers to review, and I never reviewed anything anywhere until last year when I opened a goodreads account. At first, I was just going to use it as a method of keeping track of which books in a series I’d read, and which authors really did or did not work for me.

    One day I clicked on Jane’s Goodreads account. From reading here, I knew we had some similar tastes. Generally, I find books she rates as 4/5 star reads on Goodreads are also 4/5 star reads for me (although we have different hot button issues that can make a book be 1-3 stars). I found stacks of ‘new to me’ books this way. Then I noticed that many of my ‘hot button issues’ were the same as Ridley’s, so I started following her Goodreads books to weed out the (to me) crap. She’s taken a lot of bullets for me without even knowing it!

    I’ve been through this comparison process a few times, and Goodreads is now an invaluable source of ‘new to me’ authors. As a result, I’ve started adding reviews of my own, not because I think many people will read them, but because it’s easy to do and may end up being just as useful to others once I’ve got enough reviews there for people to be able to make a comparison with their own likes/dislikes.

    Conclusion: individual reviews are not very useful to me but an aggregate of reviews from one reviewer can be invaluable as a taste matching tool. Once that’s calibrated, just star ratings from an individual reviewer are enough.

  57. Sue T
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 16:59:56

    Asked before the recent authors behaving badly ruckus, I would have said that while I don’t think a reader owes another reader, it is certainly appreciated. However, with all the recent stuff within YA, I don’t trust Amazon or Goodreads reviews. How many absolutely gushed and you know they didn’t all read the book – they were rallying to the author’s cry and the sense of wrongdoing on the reviewer’s part.

    That doesn’t mean everyone is bad. I’m just likely to take the overabundance of 5-star reviews with cups of salt unless it’s a review site I trust.

    I wish readers would give honest reviews about books – they can like it but I’d love to know why and conversely, why they didn’t. It’s why I trust DA so much.

  58. eggs
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 17:22:22

    @farmwifetwo: You say “If someone has only a few books – 200 or so – I don’t consider them a “reader” since they haven’t read enough variety IMO.” I’ve read a few different comments like this from you where you disparage people who read narrowly or rate books infrequently as not being ‘real readers’. I must say it quite gets my goat.

    I consider myself ‘a real reader’ but would not be considered one by you. I find it a little insulting to keep reading that, by your definition, I am not one and I suspect that others in the same boat may feel the same way. I enjoy reading your comments other than this and hope that I have not insulted you in turn by posting this, as that is not my intention.

  59. Peggy P
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 17:23:28

    What interesting thoughts & comments! Some of the best books I’ve read/ listened to lately have come from comment threads. I find that the recs from readers on blogs like this are usually the most valuable to me. I love a thread like “what are you reading now”, etc. I follow a heap of book blogs for recs/reviews but it’s the reader comments that seal the deal for me. And while I say that, I know that I’m not that diligent myself about commenting or making recs but I’m rethinking that now and considering what I do owe to other readers/bloggers after reading these comments here.

    I gave up on Amazon reviews a long time ago but find an Amazon/Kindle sample of a book priceless and the best use of the intrawebs, evah!

  60. farmwifetwo
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 17:45:20

    @eggs: I’ve been on book boards where people tell you that they are “readers”. They read the exact same author over and over again. No variety, no change in genre. Offer them a new author or a new genre and they won’t touch it.

    Those are not “readers” that I prefer to follow. I want people that read a variety of books, from a variety of genres. Sorry, but 8 books a year is not a “reader”. I currently have 13 of them home from the library and will have them finished in about a week to 10 days.

    I appreciate that they may not have the time but most… and I have friends who say the same in RL… will tell you “how do you find the time”… which is honest. My answer… turn the tv off.

    So, I go looking for “readers”. People that read daily and a variety at that. People that do not write essays… I scan Dear Author’s reviews to the end, check the rating and then go back and read the last paragraph… I don’t follow “reviewers”… I had a few at first in my follows until I realized that books they hated got 4 stars. They aren’t readers either. They “review” period. They write lovely essays, I’m certain the authors enjoy reading them… I can’t be bothered.

    Honest opinions, variety of reading material, people that like to try new things… “readers”.

    I’m currently reading a non-fiction book… which would fit into the one board I play on. Post that I’m reading a romance…. learned quick either none of them would try them or wouldn’t admit to it.

    Reading is about books. Books, genres, ideas… none are better than another… and I eye-roll the “camps” of the different genres. It’s only books not one camp getting your funding cut b/c autism should be a difference not a disability. I have recommended books I have truly hated and found it a home of someone who thought it was wonderful. I recommended it for that very reason. I make a point of knowing my “friends” on goodreads, my friends online and my friends in the RL’s reading habits. What I like, they may hate and vise-versa and yanno…. I truly don’t care. I hate gushing… which is why I eye-roll the author blurbs on other authors books… although before the internet I admit that’s how I found new authors.

    So, yes, I find this whole thing childish and amusing. It’s about books. You read them or you don’t. It isn’t the end of the world if you do or don’t. I don’t owe anyone a review or an opinion. I don’t owe anyone a sale.

    I’ve been reading since I was 3 and got kicked out of the reading corner and told go to play in Kindergarten…. I’m a reader. I read Anne of Green Gables at 8 and adult books when I started my teens.

    A reader. Those are the reviews, comments, opinions I look for when I add books to my goodreads list. Readers who have opinions good or bad… not once in a while readers, not reviewers.

  61. Cara
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 18:11:50

    It’s surprising that you’re on here at all, given your narrow margin of what you define as “reader,” and the fact that you apparently only skim lengthy reviews to the grade. But maybe I misunderstood, since I didn’t have time to read the whole comment and just skimmed it to the bottom for your apparent point. Which appears to be that you think the whole topic is childish, and not worth your time, or something to that effect?

    Well, I’m off to go READ now.

  62. LVLMLeah
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 18:44:47

    I almost strictly read books in a small niche market. And I read fairly proportionately an equal amount of self-pubbed to pubbed books. So I do feel on some level to review those books either in a full review or a paragraph giving some thoughts.

    Often the books I read have only 1 or 2 or even no reviews on Goodreads or Amazon so I like to write something to help another reader like me who looked and found not enough info before I bought the book. At least give some info about what’s in the book.

    I was reviewing on Amazon way back but like @KMont #34 says, Amazon can get insane. Especially if you write a negative review with 2 or less stars. It’s almost a given people will dump on you. Or if the book is universally hated and you liked it, you’ll get ganged up on as well.

    I started my own blog so I could say what I want without the drama.

    Sometimes, rarely, I will just give a star review on Goodreads without saying anything if a book has tons of reviews, or, if I just don’t have anything too interesting to say about it. But I usually like to say something.

  63. Kaetrin
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 19:20:25

    @Jane: thx for the explanation. :)

  64. cecilia
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 21:40:55

    @Maili: Re DNFs – I do. Sometimes it’s only a comment about what caused me to quit reading. If I felt it wasn’t really a fault with the writing, but just a taste of mine, I would write the review but not give a star rating. If I felt strongly that it was a fault with the writing and that I had read enough of the book to make that call, I would give a star rating. But absolutely there would be a review to explain.

  65. Helen
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 21:44:54

    I tend to read upwards of 3 or 4 books a day. I do review on goodreads when I have the time. But by the end of the week that would be 21 reviews (so not all of the things I read make it). Usually only the ones I feel strongly about get a review (either love or hate). I just do a quick review stating if I liked it (or hated it) and why. I read a lot of self published stuff and I think of it as a way to help other readers find great books. I am always pushing books at people in real life as well, so this is just a continuation of something I love to do anyway. I do feel that we need more reviews by every day people who just love reading. They don’t have to be long reviews, sometimes all it takes is a couple of sentences to succinctly explain what you loved/hated about a book.

    There is nothing I hate more then buying a book with 100 5 star reviews that turns out to be typo ridden, poorly constructed, and ineptly executed drek. I have no problems leaving a 1 or 2 star review, I am not the author’s cheerleader, I’m a (good) book pusher!

  66. ruth
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 21:53:52

    I feel called to leave reviews if it is a publishing house book gone astray…ie Lora Leigh. I do feel like fellow readers should know that they are getting a poor value for thier money. LIke buying name brand green beans vrs. store brand. I expect better from publishing houses, but I am sad to say that their product seems to be getting worse and worse.

  67. Bren C
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 07:53:20

    I rarely review and certainly don’t feel like any reader has an obligation to do so. When I read reviews (from any source) I take them all with a big old grain of salt – not because they might have been written by the author’s friends or enemies, but because tastes vary so much.
    There has been more than one book on Goodreads with high ratings that has ended up in my DNF pile. Sometimes they contain content that is not my cup of tea, but there is no warning and nothing in the blurb letting me know that (personal pet peeve). Sometimes the voice just doesn’t appeal. Even if the reviews are genuine and positive, that still doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy it.
    I have gotten in the habit of reading the excerpts and looking at the flame levels on All Romance ebooks. That helps a lot.

  68. Kristie (J)
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 22:17:07

    If readers hadn’t spoken out, I never would have tried Ellen O’Connell who has turned out to be, in three books, one of my favourite authors. She self publishes. I think it very important for us readers to spread the word if we find a self published book that knocks our socks off.

  69. mb
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 22:21:08

    I too tend to weight the opinions of heavy-duty readers higher (i.e. those with several 1000 books listed as read vs. 10′s to 100′s of books on Goodreads). A Reader is a Reader is a Reader, yes. BUT, I’m more interested in the opinions of someone who has read widely, across multiple genres, including some classics, and with books listed that have not only been published in the last 5 years. I tend to think that s/he has sorted through a lot of dreck and should be able to recognize (and articulate) when they come across a gem. Do I always agree with their review? Certainly not. But I do tend to think their opinions may be a little more ‘formed’ than the 13-yr-old who lurrrves Twilight for example and has never been exposed to anything else and is only looking for something similar.

    I think Farmwife2 uses the same mental criteria that I use for evaluating reviewers.

    That’s not the only judgement I make, of course, but I do find it a valid one.

  70. eggs
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 01:37:03

    @mb: There is an enormous difference between using personal criteria to weigh up the utility of an individual review *to you*, and using that same criteria to publicly denigrate an entire group of people as not being ‘real readers’.

  71. Lynda the Guppy
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 03:27:07

    Here’s my .02:

    There are a very small handful of people whose opinions on books I trust. Do I read reviews on Goodreads? Yeah, sometimes. Amazon? NEVER. If I see a book that’s intriguing to me, I might or might not pick it up, but it’s pretty rare for me to go looking for reviews before I buy. However, when I’m really undecided, I might look to see which of my friends on Goodreads have read it and what they’ve said, and I take into consideration their book tastes. Do I read the same stuff they do? I might mentally rank their opinion higher than, say, someone who reads books I don’t.

    One thing I DO do, however, is pay attention to what other bloggers/reviewers such as Dear Author or SBTB are reading and recommending (esp on Twitter), and if I’m looking for something new, I’ll take a look, but on the whole, I don’t really read reviews. Even pre-internet, I was never a big review fan. If I pick up a book and it looks intriguing enough to me to spend my time on it, then I’ll buy it. Other people’s opinions rarely are considered.

  72. Jess
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 05:53:21

    @eggs:

    I totally agree with eggs’ comment. I consider myself a reader and I maybe read five books a month. I don’t have unlimited time and money to read everything I’d want to read, but I read when I can. I read genre fiction, mostly horror but sometimes things from the fantasy subgenres and sometimes paranormal romance and I’ll only read outside the genre for college assignments. Yeah, I have my preferences. Doesn’t mean I’m not a reader, just means I’m not an all-genre reader.

    Related to both eggs’ comment and the topic, there are some neat book blogs dedicated to the genres I like. I don’t care if those folks have read every single book from every single genre; I want to know that they love and know horror (my primary genre, but it can also be whatever other genre I’m into at the moment). Like I said, I don’t have unlimited time and money. When I buy a book from a new-to-me author or in a new genre/subgenre, I want to know from reviews whether it’s possibly worth that money and if it’s a good book but may not be good for me. I wouldn’t say readers owe other readers with reviews, but it’s nice having some advanced warning/notice and I appreciate the folks that take their time to review.

  73. Jody W.
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 09:20:53

    A bit of a tangent, but I do read (and even trust, at least somewhat) Amazon reviews for products other than books, particularly things like electronics, toys, household devices and so on. If an item has a lot of poor reviews when I’m doing my research, I probably won’t buy it.

    I wonder if people in, say, the apple corer industry are just as skeptical of Amazon reviews about apple corers since the manufacturers supposedly get a bunch of sock puppets to go vote up their corers? And those of us not in that industry just read the reviews and think, “Wow…several people seem to agree this apple corer falls apart easily. I think I’ll keep looking.”

  74. Allison
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 12:36:26

    I don’t feel that I need to write a review for everything that I read (and I read A LOT). Occasionally I”ll write a review if its something that I feel strongly about, either love or hate but I try to be constructive rather than destructive. The only time I might look at ratings is if its a new to me author and I don’t know much about them or their style but something attracted me to the book so I’ll read the blurb and try a sample. I’ll buy the book if the sample has hooked me in regardless of any ratings or reviews . I go based on what I read more than anything. Sometimes I can figure out within the first one or two sentences if its something I want to continue reading. If I’m on the fence about a book but I can read a full chapter and I’m enjoying it, I’ll buy it if I don’t have anything
    else to read. I generally ignore Amazon reviews because trying to weed out the legitimate from the crazies is too arduous (especially if there are a lot of reviews) for me to handle but I will check out DA and other blogs if I’m looking for new authors or genres because I find the reviews easier and a bit more informative (whether I end up agreeing with them or not). Reviews are subjective and should be taken with some skepticism.

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