Friday, January 11, 2008

An Overzealous Top Reviewer?

Now here's an ambitious reviewer. I know this topic was brought up briefly under one of the HK review threads, that being whether to post the same review under multiple issues of a book. You will find with the out of print books there are multiple listings, I suspect as each issue has a different ISBN # or something that forces them to be listed separately. In those cases when I've been shopping for a used book, one of those items has the bulk of the reviews and that's where I go to post my review instead of perhaps the issue of the book that I purchased and there are no reviews. Make sense I hope?

Anyway, this reviewer takes it to a new level. For example, I've pulled up the book title of a couple of her recent reviews, the first being Anya Seton's Smouldering Fires, and get this result, and a similar result with Seton's Dragonwyck. In both cases you will see multiple listings of the same book, but only one has the bulk of the reviews, the others have one each and you will find that the same reviewer posted the same review over and over again. To what purpose? As this reviewer reads and reviews books in the same genre that I read I've looked at her reviews before looking for reading ideas and have noticed this pattern of hers is a long standing habit.

I've been on a recent foray into 19C British lit and with them you'll find the Penquin Classics, Barnes & Nobel, Norton Critical editions, etc. for the same book and I have on occasion posted the same review on more than one edition of the same book, and received helpful votes on both reviews, so I felt the effort was worthwhile. I have to wonder why this reviewer takes so much time and effort to post the same review over and over and over again, since my understanding that the total count of your reviews doesn't help your ranking.

So, I guess my question is why go to all this trouble? And why doesn't Amazon fix it so that whatever book edition you review, i.e. The B&N Edition of Great Expectations it posts to all editions of the same book. I know they can do it, I've seen it happen, and that way I wouldn't see my Amazon recommendations keep suggesting another version of the same darn book I've just reviewed.


PS, I am not knocking this reviewer in posting this comment. I'm actually glad to see a top reviewer reading books that aren't part of the mass market paperback world, it's nice to see someone reading and reviewing the out of print stuff. My only quibble with her reviews is she just tells WAY TOO MUCH of the story.


Malleus said...

I also don't see it as a problem: after all sometimes you can search for a book via its ISBN rather than, say, the title. The you'll get a specific edition, potentially w/o reviews.

Now, about why people go through the trouble of posting several times, I think that it's because these reviews count as separate and the reviewers will get more votes. I'm talking about 'professionals' of course. An uninvolved reader will rarely post several times to different editions, though it's not impossible.

Again, I don't think it's bad, and I'm not sure why Amazon is so inconsistent in this respect: sometimes they keep separate reviews threads for different editions of the same exact book, yet sometimes they merge all reviews for consecutive editions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) which is stupid because these books do tend to be different.

Deborah Hern said...

I'm not sure I see anything inherently bad in this, although I'm sure that some people post their reviews on each and every release in order to get the most possible votes, as malleus indicated.

I've considered this very problem on my own review blog. If I get a book in hardcover and review it for that release date.... then, six months to a year later, I get the paperback release... should I repost the review?

Given the price differential, many readers prefer to purchase paperbacks and might like to know that the book is not available in pb. In the end, I decided not to do this, since it would look odd, and like I was trying to pad my blog or something.

I have, though, thought about posting an entry simply saying, 'these are now available in pb' and linking to the hc reviews. But, for some reason, I hesitate to do even that, for fear of looking like a publisher's shill.

Ah, if only I could remove the smallest bit of my inborn guilty conscience and graft it onto HK, the world might be a better place.

Cathy said...

"Ah, if only I could remove the smallest bit of my inborn guilty conscience and graft it onto HK, the world might be a better place."

Indeed. I, as a reader, would not have problem with a blogger such as yourself reposting a review on a pb issue of a book, or referencing your original review with a link.

Posting these multiple reviews can come back to haunt you, if and when Amazon cross references different book issues, or a book is republished. I often find duplicate reviews on an item page, specifically with this reviewer, and maddening when those two reviews are taking up two spotlights at that!