The first time we looked at Amazon reviews, we dug into who can leave them and who can’t. To sum up: consumers good, sock puppets or anyone who could be mistaken for sock puppets, bad. You can read the full article here, of course.
Today let’s talk about what happens when you get a one star review that: 1) you know is a mistake 2) that is actually a criticism of Amazon or 3) where the reviewer admits to not having read the book.
Example #1: An actual live review for one of our books (a Booktrope book, Riversong by Tess Thompson). We have reported this review on a couple of different occasions now, and yet, here it still sits. Now, you can see that the author of the review comments on her own review and indicates that she had made a mistake and somehow left the wrong review. Clearly she is confused and does not realize she can delete or revise her review. In fact, it appears she feels she already left a positive review somewhere for Riversong and says it is “excellent”.
Example #2: Lest we think this is an isolated incident, here is another example. Actually, on the same book: in this case a literal technical issue with a Kindle device and/or download or plain old user error. What I find fascinating here, is that there are actually four comments (from people I do not know, nor does the author) that follow on to the initial review. Note I only show two in my screenshot. These comments chastise and educate the reviewer for leaving the review and tell them to contact customer service. Wouldn’t you think that four comments telling someone to contact customer service might somewhere, somehow tweak a search bot on the site? I don’t know, but it seems to me like it should.
Example #3: Just for good measure, let’s look at the last type of review that I believe should automatically be pulled from Amazon – one in which the reviewer literally states they have not read the book. This one is for another of our books, Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales: A Story of Addiction by Marni Mann. In this case, the review says they have only read the sample and gives it a one star (apparently) for being about drug use. Hence the title which, I think indicates that very clearly. Generally, stories of addiction involve, well, addiction (I suppose we could mean addiction to books or puppies or something, but that is unlikely). Again, a stranger comes to our defense. Which, again, leaves me wondering why Amazon does not clue in to this.
All of these have been reported to customer service yet still appear as valid reviews – dragging down the books’ star ratings. As an aside, this has not created a financial problem, as both of these books are best-sellers and do just fine in sales. I think that lends credence to the fact the reviews are ridiculous.
Now, just to be sure I address this, there are certainly people who will leave one star ratings that should stand. Not everyone will love every book. On several occasions, I have found that one star (or two or three star) ratings help me understand how to do a better job of hitting the proper target audience. In some cases it has made me realize that I needed to rework a book description to better portray the tone of the material. Some people are just grumpy and delight in leaving horrid reviews for their own angst-ridden reasons, but are not technically violating anything but the policies of human decency. What I have issue with, is a system that is widely policed for bogus positive reviews, yet not policed (seemingly) at all, for negative or erroneous ones.
Have another example for us? Please put it in the comments section! Maybe Amazon will pay attention if we can get enough of them.