I was thinking today about Amazon.com, and the reviews on their site. Now, I am all about product reviews before I buy something. There have definitely been books I've bought and then gone, "You know, I wish someone would have told me this sucked." But I've been thinking about Amazon.
First of all, the reviews are sometimes either not that honest, or the people have really bad taste. I'm sorry, it's true. I've read some incredibly lame books that are pretty much universally panned, but someone has always left one or two reviews that are five stars and say [AUTHOR'S NAME] HAS DONE IT AGAIN!!!!! Well, who do I listen to? The seventy reviews that say this book should only be used as some kind of interrogation torture, or the two that say it's the best book of the year?
Another thing that I noticed is that, out of all the genres, Paranormal Romance gets some really fervent fans. And those fans will go to other authors' book pages and leave reviews either panning the books or giving lukewarm praise, then suggesting their favorite author. There was a review I saw on one author's book lately where someone basically said, "This book was alright, but I like Kresley Cole better." Okay, good for you, but what does that have to do with the book you're reviewing? Is your suggestion that this author should be more like Kresley Cole? Or that the customer buy a Kresley Cole book instead? What is the point of your comment?!
One of the weirdest things I've found is that sometimes I have used Amazon to tell me what I think of a book that I'm reading. That's weird, and I don't know how I got into that habit, but it works like this: I start to read a book, and something about it isn't quite right. I don't know exactly how, I'm just not digging it as much as I think I should. So, I think, "hmmm, I wonder if this gets any better, or if someone else feels the same way I do?" I pull up Amazon and read the reviews, and sometimes the positive ones will make me go, "You know, I'm going to stick with this, they're right, I do like x and y!" Other times, I'll side with the negative ones and think, "They're so right, this book sucks, I'm going to reread Twilight."
What do you think about Amazon reviews? Are you more likely to buy a book if it has positive reviews? Have you ever left a review? Have you ever had an Amazon review sway the way you feel about a book you were reading/have read? I'm really curious, because I don't know exactly what purpose the reviews are serving.