Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Comments and Opinions on Amazon

I have a bone to pick, so to speak. I make it a habit of posting my book reviews on other websites besides my blog, mostly with the intention to bring more attention to my blog. Amazon is one of them. I know Amazon has some kind of point system for posting reviews, comments, etc., but I do not pay much attention to all of that. Now, I am not a book blog that only posts positive reviews, that feels dishonest to me, and I believe in the integrity of giving an honest opinion of what I read. In all fairness, I do try to find something good in even the really bad books, but ironically I have noticed that when the review is on the negative side, those reading the review seem to miss the good parts. I have done a few negative reviews, and they always seem to garner much more attention on Amazon than the positive ones. I do remember on one negative review, the author herself actually thanked me for the review, which was quite humbling, really.
Unfortunately, pretty much every other comment on my negative reviews has been in the range of vaguely negative to a downright personal attack. Now, I have not gotten this kind of response anywhere else on the internet, whether here, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads. I am sure I am not the only one, but as my husband likes to remind me, I don't suffer fools gladly.
Sometimes I have to wonder how many people ever actually learned the difference between fact and opinion. Opinions are like noses, everyone has one. Opinions are not good or evil, right or wrong. They are just opinions. Everyone reads a book differently, and for the most part when an author writes a book, he or she does not dictate to the reader how to properly read it, either. I am sure there are exceptions to this standard, but thankfully, I have never come across any such book.
All the great classics are a perfect example of how people can read something different into the same text, and this is the accepted norm of any literary discussion. So why is it, when I post that I do not like something in a book on Amazon, I get attacked for it? Do that many people truly believe that only positive reviews are allowed online? Do that many people really think that every person who disagrees with them must be censored and severely admonished for being different?
Because really, that is the issue here. I have gotten some comments that were hospitable and open to discussion, but they are rare. Mostly, any comments were only about telling me how "wrong" my opinion is and why. I have been reading books for as long as I can remember, but I have only been reviewing online for about a year and a half. Last time I checked, opinion does not equal fact and it never will - which means that everyone is entitled to one.

If you are dying of curiosity regarding these negative comments to my Amazon reviews, you can find them here: Jacob's Beloved's Profile


Tiffany Harkleroad said...

I have noticed the commenters on Amazon have NO concept of what a legit book review is. They have no concept of of analyzing storyline and character development, pacing, setting, all the basic elements to a book. It is even worse when you take on a heavy hitting author. I review for several Christian sites, and post the reviews on Amazon. I absolutely detested a book that is super popular in the Christian community right now, and the author is a pastor. I have received so many attacks from his congregants and those who blindly follow the book because that is what the Christian community is telling them to do. Some have even suggested I am not going to Heaven for disliking the book. It is pure insanity.

The crazy part is, when I review a book I do not like, I still spin it to be positive, pointing out an audience who might like it better, or the aspects I did like while reading. People who comment on Amazon just do not understand what true reviewers do, they just write reviews complaining about the shipping or physical condition of the book, not the actual writing. It is maddening.

Jules@OneBookShy said...

It is amazing how zealous some people get over something as simple as a book review. They don't seem to get the point that it is an OPINION. We all have 'em (just like a certain body part), we're entitled to them and none of them are identical. ~ I wrote a rant a few weeks ago about this same topic.

I just had an anonymous (imagine that!) reader go off on me because I rated a book 3.5 instead of way higher. A 3 is "good book" on my blog with a 4 being a "must read". It fell in between for ME. The reader? told me how wrong I am and demanded that I read it again and change my review. It wasn't even a negative review!

Because of the insanity that seems to saturate the Amazon review site, I have started to only post a review there if the author/publicist requests it. Too much irritation.

Thanks for the great post and another opportunity to rant about a sore subject among book reviewers :)


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