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I've only just started posting reviews for products I've purchased on Amazon, and I have yet to post a book review.  There's such a wide disparity in the types of reviews posted that I haven't really figured out where to start.  And that got me wondering, how many of you actually post book reviews for the books you've recently read?

Part of the reason I ask is because I was thinking about a "new to me" author who had a book offered by their publisher as a freebie a few months ago.  I loved the characters so much that I bought the other three books in the series that were available.  Today, I went looking to see when the next would be out, and as it turned out, the publisher isn't going to take any more of them because they weren't selling well enough.  When I went to look at the reviews, there were hardly any there.  Now this book was a freebie for a full month, and as such it sat in Amazon's top 100 for most of that time--hundreds, if not thousands of people have to have downloaded it.  And yet, it has just a few reviews. I can't help but think it has to be hard enough for the less well known authors to get their books in front of people; how disheartening would it be to know that there were all these downloads and no one cared enough to review the book?  Moreover, if a book has hardly any reviews, how likely are people who somehow stumble across it to buy it?

So--do you invest the time to review what you've read?  Do you do it for every book, or just for select ones?  And do you read books that have hardly any reviews posted?
 

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I do post reviews, but I don't have any real rhyme or reason to what I review. Just whatever I feel like, I guess.

That's partly because I'll sometimes post something here and then realize it would translate into a review without any real effort.

Alas, there are several great books I haven't reviewed.
 

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I haven't, but I should. I use Amazon's reviews all the time before I purchase, and have found them to be very helpful. Because of this, I know I should be returning the favor. I'm going to try to do it for every book going forward and catching up on past books. (It's a lot of books, though, and maybe that's why I've been delaying.)
 

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The one downside to offering books free or cheap is that people snap them up while they are on sale and set them aside to read later. My guess is that this explains why the book has so few reviews...the majority of "buyers" have it in a reading queue waiting to be read.
 

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VictoriaP said:
So--do you invest the time to review what you've read? Do you do it for every book, or just for select ones? And do you read books that have hardly any reviews posted?
Oops, forgot to answer your other question - I rarely buy books now with no or few reviews (ever since I've been online - many years - and have had access to online reviews). There's so much out there to read, I'm more "protective" of my reading time. If a book has no or few reviews, even if it's free, I might download it, but I'm not likely to make time for it quickly unless I'm already familiar with the author, or the blurb sounds very interesting and the first couple of chapters back it up. Otherwise, I delete it and move on. Because of this, I know I should take the time to write reviews of the books I enjoy (even if they're short). And I will - it's my new resolution! :)
 

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VictoriaP said:
And do you read books that have hardly any reviews posted?
I rarely write a review. As far as reading books without any reviews, it won't stop me from buying a book. Too often reviews consist of just praise without detail into why the book is great. I've found that my taste in books are pretty different than the mainstream so much of the stuff people love has no interest for me. If a review is detailed and lists specific issues that I agree with it does influence me somewhat. But my book purchasing is mostly based on publisher, topic, familiarity with the author, recommendations by people who know me and by what I see in the look inside feature from Amazon or from sampling.
 

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Since I'm in Vine, I have to review my freebies.

I'm less conscientious about reviewing the things I buy, but I do sometimes. 

There's no rules for review, or few. I try to be honest and fair and explain myself. And then people come along and call it unhelpful.  :D
 

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I have a really hard time reviewing books/movies. I don't want to give away the plot and opinions on entertainment are so subjective that I'm not comfortable saying 'buy/don't buy' to people I don't know. Hell, I'm not even entirely comfortable doing it with people I do know, because I've raved to people before only to have them say that they didn't enjoy something I was positive they would.

Now, I have absolutely no problem telling you to buy either of my rice cookers (both work as advertised) and not to buy my DVD player (it doesn't always recognize discs). And if it's a measureable problem with a book, I'll post that. Take cookbooks: "This cookbook has many recipes that are inaccurate when you compare the ingredient list to what is actually used in the instructions," I can do. "I find the recipes to be bland," well, my family won't eat my cooking because they say I over season*, so maybe the cookbook is perfect for other people. But saying a book is good? Do you know how many people love Marley & Me? I absolutely hated the book. Can I get a refund on those hours of my life?

* I don't over season, I just acknowledge seasoning options that aren't salt, pepper or ketchup! ::)
 

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LOL no kidding, reminds me of everyone that raved about Their's something about Mary * where is the gag smilie? * I HATED that movie.
 

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I try to tell people what brings me to the book or movie, and I think that helps. If you know who I am, you can then know if we have similar tastes, or how likely I was to like the book or movie -- my predisposition is on display.  I also try to explain what worked or didn't work -- not just "I liked it" or "I despised it."
 

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I make it a point to review nearly every single book I read. I think that it's wonderful that I get to voice my opinion of a work. I take great pride in my reviews and write them with an earnest and thoughtful approach. I have spent the last several months reviewing the works of indie authors. However, many people are skeptical of the reviews of authors since many of them appear to be nothing but sock puppetry or a cheap attempt to prostrate one's own book at the expense of another author's.

In the case of the reviews I write for indie authors, I use a very simple approach starting with never give away spoilers in a review! If a book receives a 5 star rating (which is nearly impossible to get from me unless the book is nearly perfect), I'll mention the books finer points and avoid writing a negative comments since I won't give a book a 5 star rating unless its weakness are few and far between. I will consider writing both positive and negative comments about a 4 star book. However, if a book gets a 3 star review, it's a certainty that I am going to outline what I like and disliked about a book. If a book gets less than 3 stars I won't bother to post it.

Reviews are the first step in spreading the gospel about a book. No book was ever successful that didn't get a good press. Word of mouth is essential to the popularity of a book and I find that reviews can help a book to find its audience.
 

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Greg Banks said:
The one downside to offering books free or cheap is that people snap them up while they are on sale and set them aside to read later. My guess is that this explains why the book has so few reviews...the majority of "buyers" have it in a reading queue waiting to be read.
I think Greg has a good point: I have books on my Kindle I downloaded last August that I haven't gotten to yet. Some I even paid real money for. :D

As to reviews, well, I don't. Never liked writing book reports as a kid and don't have the desire to do so as an adult. I know it's not really the same thing, but in my psyche it's close enough. :D

As to judging reviews. I generally discount any that are too short as it doesn't tell me anything. I'm a much more critical reader of either a 1 star or 5 star review. 3 star reviews are the most useful to me, on average, as the reviewer usually has really thought about it and not just slapped something up that's either overly glowing or purely negative.

I also look at other things the person has reviewed to see if they've reviewed anything else I've read to determine if I might agree with their assessment. Of course, there are a few folks on Amazon who review everything, it seems, and they think it's all wonderful. I know who they are and I ignore their reviews. I look at specific reviews less often when there are a LOT of them. Once there are 100 or so reviews, I feel like the star system is probably giving a fairly accurate statistical picture of whether the book is worth my time or not. Something at 1 or 2 stars will not likely draw me in, unless I have some personal knowledge. Anything with an average of 3 or better will get a second look. I will pay more attention to the reviews that go against the majority to see whether there's any kind of 'mob mentality' at work. (Like the Oprah book club picks always get huge ratings and, yet, every one of them I've ever tried to read has just left me wondering what the hype was about.)

Again, this is only valid if there are LOTS of reviews. If there are fewer than 20 I'll probably read them all. More than that, and I'll look at the 3 star ones and maybe some 2 and 4 star ones. Also any shown as particularly helpful. I don't know why Amazon highlights the one people have marked most unhelpful. . .that makes no sense to me! :D
 

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I tend to write reviews of books I like. I don't bother with books that were so-so because frankly, writing a review takes time and energy and if I didn't really enjoy a book, I don't want to waste my time on a review.

L
 

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As with most other types of writing, proper review composition is a learned art form. Although I am a huge fan of Amazon from many perspectives, I must note that the company has significantly cheapened the once scrupulous concept of book reviews. Of course they didn't do this all by themselves. They had a lot of help from the explosion of POD book releases and the paid review sites that followed the explosion with the same intent that Ron Popeil followed the development of television commercials. The result is that a large majority of the reviews you read at Amazon are quite worthless scams. A discerning reader will learn the names and the patterns and begin to see which reviews are valid and which are not. Do I review books at Amazon? Of course; I am the editor of http://podbram.blogspot.com/.
 

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I probably review less than 1% of the books I read, mostly because I'm not the best reviewer in the world and there are already lots of reviews that already say what I would say about the book only written so much better than I could write it.
 

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I almost never write a review on Amazon. I will share my opinions here on KB because that's what we do and no one is going to flame you here for a polite opinion. I just can't put a coherent review together without spending a ton of time trying to make sense of what I do or do not like in a book. For me, liking a book is a more visceral than intellectual reaction. I find it hard to put it into a written review that would help someone decide on a book.

EllenR
 

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I, like Leslie, only review a standout book.  If I thought it was so so, I don't bother.  I should review all, but I don't.
 

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I will review a book only if I absolutely loved it.  And I never review a book I hated because, well, I probably never finished it.  Pretty simple.  Of course books that I love won't appeal to everyone, but if I review a book with enthusiasm, maybe someone will take notice.
 

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Reviewing as an art form, which Floyd Orr mentioned above, has escaped me. I often agonize for hours over a one sentence review and I've never written one that satisfied me.

My reading habits have changed post-Kindle: When I was paying more, I tended to finish every book I bought; even books that I disliked. Now I quit when the book has lost my interest. Since it seems unfair to write a review for a book I didn't finish, many of my reviews tend to be four or five stars.

 
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