Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Do Book Reviews Help or Hurt?

This is something I've wondered for a long time. I've heard lots of compelling arguments from both points of view. The question is, does book reviews help or hurt a book?

I'm not saying that we should stop reviewing books, of course. I've reviewed books on this blog before, I just wonder how effective they are. If you were planning on reading a book, and you found a bunch of bad reviews on Amazon, does that stop you from reading the book?

Obviously there are factors to be considered. If the reviewer is someone you trust, or someone who presents clear, logical reasons why they disliked the book, then the review seems more reliable. I am sure, however, that even the misspelled, poorly thought out reviews keep some people from reading a book they might have otherwise enjoyed. 

On the other hand, even if a ton of people dislike the book, you still might enjoy it. I've loved books that the rest of my friends weren't impressed with. Many people only use reviews as a gauge for the book and make the final decision for themselves. And reviews can help introduce people to a book that they might not have noticed in the store.

I think ultimately book reviews help inform people about book, despite the plethora of poorly written reviews in places like Amazon. So what do you think? It's obviously an aspect of writing with a lot of different variables.


  1. I used to do mini-reviews on my website. I had "what am I reading now" with three book covers and a little review of each. I started to get uneasy about this when I started to review contemporary fantasy authors who I would most likely have to ask for a blurb when I had a book of my own.

    I could say "The best fantasy I've read in years. His only shortcoming is that he can't write women." and the author is likely to remember only the second sentence.

    On my new design website, I just have a "what am I reading now" with a single cover and I've given up on the reviews. If I want to be a book reviewer, I'll be a book reviewer, but that's not what I want to do. Or at least, I want to be able to do it without worrying how it impacts my own career.

  2. I think ultimately they help as well. Even if a book has a few bad reviews, I'll pick that book over a book that doesn't have any.

  3. Joe: I think that's also a valid point for people who want to be authors as well. It's something I haven't considered. Thanks!

    Aubrie: Yeah, I am the same way. :D