I’m curious how you, as a reader, feel about customer reviews at Amazon. I made this simple survey hoping to find out.
Please answer how you feel as a reader (not as an author).
This survey is just for informational purposes only.
Here is your chance to review the review system. 🙂
- You can learn about experiences that other customers have had with the product.
- The number of reviews give some indication of how much a product has been purchased.
- Feedback often includes a variety of opinions to consider.
- You get to express your opinion about products where thousands of other shoppers can read it.
- Critical reviews can help to prevent the sale of products that really aren’t fit for sale (though returns and complaints could achieve the same outcome).
- Honest customer feedback has the opportunity to determine the success of a product.
- Opinions are often contradictory, making it a challenge to judge what to believe.
- The system can be abused, both with favorable and critical reviews (though Amazon has made it much more difficult to do this compared to a couple of years ago).
- There are sometimes spiteful remarks in the review section. This is one feature that seems to contradict Amazon’s focus on creating a positive shopping experience.
- Customers aren’t required to either buy or use a product in order to review it.
- Reviews can be posted anonymously. This is a pro in terms of internet security, but leaves room for occasional reviews that abuse the spirit of the review system.
- Some external advertising services require a minimum number of reviews and average star rating, providing an incentive to recruit favorable reviews rather than encouraging reviews to come about naturally.
- Do you feel it’s beneficial, as a reader, to have customer reviews on the product page? That is, do the pros outweigh the cons?
- Do you like the comments, the ratings, or both?
- Do you feel that you could improve the customer review system? If so, how?
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I like the “real” ones (that don’t totally give away the story) but sometimes I’ve run across stupid stuff that has nothing to do with the book. It does make me stop and check out a book if it’s got 4 or 5 stars… If the cover is great, I might check out a 3. LOL
Spoilers! I wish I’d thought to include that as an option. Reviews that don’t relate to the book are crazy, too. Thank you for your comments. 🙂
Well, I scanned it so I hope it made sense and was appropriate for your question. I’ve had so many to read trying to catch up, that I admit… I sometimes scan.
No problem. Your comment fit perfectly. 🙂
Many reviews are helpful and balanced. I’m not sure if just having stars is helpful, so it’s hard to agree that throwing out the whole system would be helpful. The worst ones are those that comment on things like packaging or shipping; the ones that completely ignore the product altogether, but help to bring the star-average down…
When shopping, it nice to see a balance of helpful opinions. It’s amazing how many reviews describe the packing and shipping. Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂
I read tons of books. I never read a review before I read the book. I base whether or not I’m going to read a book based on the author’s description. Reading is very subjective. I also know that, rather than leave a really bad review, I just don’t leave one at all. And even if it is a 3 star review, I try and be kind. No purpose is served in being mean. Not sure what the best answer is though.
The blurb and Look Inside are good indicators, in my opinion. I agree with your take on bad reviews; as an author myself, I don’t have it in me to leave one that’s not favorable, so I only review books that I feel deserve good ones. (This helps to balance those customers who mostly give bad reviews.) Thank you for adding your comments. 🙂
That last poll was tough. I do wonder what would happen if there was no review system at all. I still can’t wrap my head around the star system because everyone has their own definition of the levels.
I’m sure Option C, keep the system but improve it, would be a popular choice. 🙂
I see reviews that sound great, but leave 2 stars, and reviews that seem critical, but leave 4 stars. I try hard as a customer to ignore the stars and focus on the comments (and to trust the Look Inside more than the comments).
I’ve seen those too. Today, my frustration has been with the selected quotes from reviews that they put on a book’s page. I really wonder how they choose those after what I saw on my first book.
That’s a good question. There is hope, though, as I’ve seen the selection change after some time. The choice doesn’t seem to be etched in stone.
I know, but it just changed today. Probably have a month at least unless someone in Amazon notices it and realizes it would hurt sales. This isn’t the first time this has happened either, but it’s a lot blunter this time.
We’ll cross our fingers that it doesn’t have too much influence… I know I just skip those highlighted quotes. Have you ever contacted Author Central to see if there is any chance of adjusting those?
I did it the first time and never got a reply.
When I read reviews, I tend to look at the middle-of-the-pack ones — that way you avoid the die-hard fans who will love anything the writer creates, and you also avoid the flamers. That being said, it’s kind of hard to do that with self-published books, since they don’t usually have very many reviews. I like the idea of titling your review, but I think Amazon and other online book sellers should provide more direction — as in, say “Remember, don’t just say ‘good book’ in your review title — try to sum up your review in a single sentence and make that your title”. Then I wouldn’t have to scroll through lengthy reviews, I could just glance through the titles to see what the general consensus is.
That’s a great point about review titles. Sometimes, one or two choice words in the title can have a big impact, good or bad. You should send your suggestion to Amazon; if they were to include this next to the review title, I think it would be helpful. Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂
I always read customer reviews, and I usually start with the low star ones.
You can discount most one star reviews. There are the people who didn’t read the book description (“I hate books with kissing, and this book had a lot of kissing parts!!” in a review for a book described as a torrid romance, for example).
Then there are the “reviews” dictated by the Reptilian Overlords on Planet Mongo. Those are frequently entertaining in a disturbing way.
Sometimes you run across reviews that don’t have anything to do with the book at all, rants about how Westerns are celebrating the genocide of Native Americans that don’t have any information about the particular Western that is supposed to be reviewed.
However, when someone takes the time to review a book that she or he didn’t like, there is generally a legitimate reason for it, and those reviews can be the most informative. A poor review won’t always make me avoid the book–often what someone doesn’t like can be a plus for me.
There seem to be many readers who look at either the critical reviews or the neutral reviews. I think it would be helpful for authors to realize that even readers who focus on the bad reviews often do so wisely and still buy books that have them. Thank you for sharing your perspective. 🙂
As Misha said, you can discount most 1 star reviews as being from reviewers who picked up something that just wasn’t their cup of tea and likely has nothing to do with quality. But if I find well- written 1-2 star reviews that explain why the book was bad, I give that more weight. The same holds true for 5 star reviews. “OMG, squee, this is the best book evah!” doesn’t sell me any more than “This book sux!” runs me away.
I do wish their was some sort of gatekeeping system for reviews, though I doubt it’s practical. Last week while I was checking out a new book, I saw a review where someone rated it a 1 because they didn’t approve of the cursing in the book. That was it. The reader’s personal preference on cussing brings down that author’s overall rating. That doesn’t seem fair. That’s kind of like having Christian rock enthusiasts rating death metal. That reviewer was clearly not the target audience.
I’m sleepy or I would have done a better job on that analogy. How about fans of southern gospel quartets rating death metal?
It’s not so much how you rate it, somewhat more what you say, but more about how you say it. 🙂 I really study the quality of the reviewer’s writing (and the Look Inside) when the review criticizes the book for spelling, grammar, or writing. Sometimes the reviewer doesn’t seem to be in a good position to comment on such things… Thank you for adding your examples.
I rarely read reviews on Amazon before reading a book (I don’t want any spoilers), just the description and perhaps the first page. However, I do look at the average star rating, and if I do read reviews, I ignore the ones with bad grammar/spelling (these are usually the spiteful ones).
Nothing like a good spoiler to make it unnecessary to read the book… That is a good reason to avoid the reviews. It seems like Amazon could cover up the spoilers with a link that says Spoiler Alert, so you would have to click the link to read the spoiling part. Amazon does this with other features, like Shelfari; why not reviews? Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂
I generally rely on the look inside feature and the blurb. I never leave a bad review – if I really don’t like a book I don’t post one at all, because there are lots of people who will leave an honest bad review, so my input’s not required.
That’s also my review philosophy. Could we be long-lost review twins? Hehe. 🙂