Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Of course! W.Boudville reviews ARCs.

Here it is from the horse's mouth:
Another gripe has to do with the low resolution screen captures. Text is hard to read. Also, when the figures are graphs, there are often 2 or more curves. There is a legend at the bottom that indicates what each curve means. But the curves are often hard to distinguish. This is in my copy of the book, which is an Advance Reading Copy. Perhaps in the final version that you read, this will be different.
But did anyone ever believe that W.Boudville reviews books he buys for reading? Of course he get ARCs from the publisher he's shilling for.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Don't like comments? Delete and repost!

Some reviewers resort to delete and repost completely shamelessly, without even attempting to hide it:
Amy E. Barker says:
I don't care for the comments feature that Amazon has provided with the reviews. I've seen too many people abusing it. I had to delete several reviews recently and repost them because of the number of nasty comments attached to the reviews. You can report them as abuse but Amazon doesn't seem to be doing their job lately.
And sure enough, a lot of commentary has been censored by this reviewer. Well, I'm glad Amazon "doesn't seem to be doing their job lately" -- if the "job" means censoring commentary, Amazon is to be commended for not "doing their job". It'd be even better if they removed this delete-and-repost functionality altogether! It's not needed for anything legitimate, and effectively its only use is blowing away comments.

PS. And look at the reviews!

Friday, August 22, 2008


Here's one natural-looking exchange.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Why do crap books demand 5 stars just because you got them free?

Some months ago I was contacted by author Brandon Simpson who wanted me to review his book, Demystifying Spanish Grammar as I have reached a reviewer rank in the 180s. He sent it to my address in the U.S. and it took a while to get to me. But last week, I read it and began formulating an honest review of this fairly bad, amateur and self-published work. Imagine my surprise when I got to the Amazon listing and found twelve 5-star reviews already there, with Grady Harp's leading the pack. Why do top reviewers feel a need to give 5-star reviews to self-published dreck?

Are they afraid that self-published authors will stop sending free review copies? Well, in that case, so what? The vast majority of these publications can't be unloaded for cash at a used bookstore, so you lose nothing if people stop sending them. Some of the top reviewers are doing just fine padding their collection of reviews with fluff pieces on items major publishers will notice and care about. There's no need to do so much for one dude in Kentucky who thinks he is so skilled in Spanish just because he got a B.A. in it.

When I tried to post my 2-star review, it did not appear on the page, and is presumably being held for evaluation. For what it's worth, here it is:

As I am an Amazon Top Reviewer, Brandon Simpson sent me a copy of his book DEMYSTIFING SPANISH GRAMMAR. Unlike some others here, I'm going to give the book the evaluation it really deserves, because learning a foreign language is a serious business, and people deserve the best tools. Simpson received a B.A. in Spanish and has worked as a Spanish tutor. He noticed that his pupils had especial trouble with a handful of Spanish grammatical concepts: 1) the use of accents, 2) the difference between "ser" and "estar", 3) the difference between "para" and "por", 3) the distinction between the imperfect and the preterite, and 4) the use of the subjunctive. He decided to compile helps on precisely these issues.

The result is all but unusable. When dealing with foggy areas, like the difference between the preterite and imperfect of "estar", Simpson asked random Spanish speakers instead of citing trustworthy studies prepared by trained linguists. There's little coverage of the considerable differences between Latin American and Spanish usages, nor literary Spanish (which form the small town American student will probably encounter more than the spoken language). The book appears to have had no professional editing and is amateur in all respects. On the back cover we find "This Book Will Demystify... the Dreaded Spanish Subjunctive!!!" Using exclamation points so abundantly doesn't inspire confidence. Inside, misspellings and lack of punctuation abound. Typesetting was done in a word processor, Microsoft Word, instead of a suitable typesetting engine and the result is hard on the eyes.

I'll give the book two stars because the grammatical paradigms within aren't wrong. However, the student of Spanish would do better to get the [[ASIN:0007224206 Collins Gem Spanish Grammar]], a nice little pocket-sized reference of all aspects of the language, including a number of completely conjugated verbs, still widely available available on the used market.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Cleaner in hot pursuit (Chippindale update)

This guy, The Cleaner, is doing an amazing job. Take a look: it seems like an awful lot of Chippindale reviews have been crudely cribbed from somewhere else. I'm amazed at how The Cleaner digs up the originals -- that's an "amateur sleuth" (as Harriet would say) for you! Outstanding job; The Cleaner should send a bill to Amazon for doing what they should be doing.