Unfortunately, nowadays, it's hard to tell if a review for a product or book is even legit.
|This Goodreads "Civil Protest" = Untrustworthy Ratings|
This deceptive behavior lowers the value of people like me who actually take the time to write genuine, HONEST reviews of books and products. As unfortunate as this is, we have to realize that we CANNOT rely on customer reviews alone to help us make a purchase decision.
Here are some things you can look for when deciding what to buy and what to ignore:
- Try It Before You Buy It: When shopping for a book online, use the "look inside" or "preview" options to read a bit of the book before you buy. Or, in the case of Kindle books, often you can download a preview straight to your Kindle device. No matter how good or bad the reviews, you should be able to tell if you enjoy the writing and story from this preview.
- Word of Mouth: Ask friends and family who have bought the product or used the service, or seek out sources who are knowledgeable about what you're buying. For instance, if you're shopping for a contractor to renovate your home, try to go straight to those with whom he/she's worked before.
- If It Quacks Like a Duck: Sometimes you CAN tell the difference between real and fake reviews. Starred ratings with no review whatsoever you should ignore since there is no information backing the rating. Reviews that are 100% glowing with praise and catch phrases such as "must-read" or "must-have", those you should probably ignore too. The most trustworthy reviews are those that aren't 100% positive or negative. Look for reviews that express both pros and cons of a product. That way, you're getting a well-rounded view.
Just for an example of a well-written critical review, here's one from one of MY books, Hearts In Exile:
You can see from reading that it's a well-rounded description of the reader's experience. It's more than just "I didn't like this book." It's full of specific details about the characters and storyline, which would be hard to do if the reader hadn't actually READ the book.
Sure, I wish this reader had enjoyed the book more, but I am SOOO appreciative of reviews like this. These are the sort that actually help inform consumers.
So, our lesson today is buyers beware. Learn to sort truth from fiction by not relying solely on reviews, but get the best bang for your buck by using your good common sense and doing a little research.