Amazon reviewers: just as reliable as professional critics

Here’s an interesting one: a study that suggests Amazon reviews are just as reliable as newpaper ones, for non-fiction at least. I agree entirely, although I reserve the right to edit this post if people start posting one-star jobs…

Although the study points out that there is “virtually no quality assurance” in Amazon’s consumer reviews, which can also be “gamed” by publishers or competitors submitting false reviews, they found that, nevertheless, experts and consumers agreed in aggregate about the quality of a book.

Amazon reviewers were more likely to give a favourable review to a debut author, which the Harvard academics said suggested that “one drawback of expert reviews is that they may be slower to learn about new and unknown books”.

Professional critics were more positive about prizewinning authors, and “more favourable to authors who have garnered other attention in the press (as measured by number of media mentions outside of the review)”.




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