Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday Thinger, With Barely a Mention of Library Thing

Our Tuesday Thinger, this week, from Wendi at Wendi's Book Corner...

"Another off-topic (to Library Thing) week for us this week. I've recently become aware of a new program through Amazon (played with it over the past month or so) called the Amazon Vine. It is "Amazon Vine™. The Exclusive Club of Influential Amazon Voices." Questions: Have you had an opportunity to check out the new Amazon Vine program? Have you signed up? Is this program something that interests you? How do you feel about the reviews posted on Amazon in general (not counting the ones that have made the news)?"

Well, if by check out, you mean have I seen the reviews with the bright green "Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program" logo plaster across the top or reviews, yes, I have seen those because it is impossible to miss them. Especially since Amazon appears to put those reviews first in the listings. I don't know if that is something new, posting them first, but it is only recently that I have noticed it. And I am not thrilled with it really.

Have I checked it out as in have I been invited to join? No, I have not. Does it interest me? Hmmm....I am not sure that it does. First of all...and I really don't think it is a case of Sour Grapes because I have not been invited to join {{sob}}... but I am not sure that I like the self-described exclusive nature of it. A bit too much of the popular kids in high school in my mind maybe. Amazon itself describe the program this way, with my added italics..." a program that enables a select group of Amazon customers to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make educated purchase decisions. Customers are invited to become Amazon Vine™ Voices based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews." Ok..select group, selected by TPTB (the powers that be) based on what?...well, based on the "trust they have earned" for accurate and insightful reviews....again determined by TPTB at the EVIL AMAZON Amazon.
That is real nice of them, but honestly, I would just as soon make the determination of which reviews I trust on my own.

But it also raises my general issues with the reviews at Amazon as a whole. To say the least, they are a very mixed bunch, ranging from the very good to the very bizarre. I find it useful when there are a large number of reviews to look to just get a general sense of the books ratings. But that has it's weakness. Take, as an example I like to beat like a dead horse (please, no PETA protest, it is just a saying ;-} ) The da Vinci Code. A very poorly, almost painfully badly written, very poorly researched book in my opinion, gets 3 1/2 stars and almost 4000 reviews. On the other hand, when there are just a few reviews, they are pretty useless. I have seen books with a handful of reviews, all raves, that sound like they were written by the author's friends, family and the people they owe large sums of money to. I have read a fair number of reviews that seem to be written by people that did not read the book, or read a totally different book which happen to have the same title.

Amazon book reviews share the same problem that is common to all online reviews. Yes, as much as I love Library Thing, and as I may have mentioned before, I do love LT, it is even true of the reviews there, although I think to a lesser degree. Anyone can write a review, they can even be anonymous. We have no way of knowing if they are honest, or what their motivation is to give a positive or negative review. There is no way of even being reasonably sure that they have read the book. In a way, I assume the Vine program is an attempt by Amazon to bypass some of those problems by pre-selecting people they feel can be "trusted". With some of the examples of controversies that have recently surrounded some Amazon reviews and reviewers, they may be looking for some way build more confidence in their reviews. But I think I may have mentioned before my concern about the POWER that the Mighty, Huge Amazon has over the entire book industry and this just strike me as another attempt to exert that control. I would prefer, perhaps, if Amazon would just leave that judgment up to each of us. All online reviews have to be taken with a grain of salt and the reader has to use some prudence. I'm not sure I want my hand held during the process.

Except with my reviews, of course, every word of which can be totally trusted. ;-)

As can that ever darling Bandit...oh Bandit, where are you, where is my cute little Bandit...oh, there you are...

oh Bandie, you are such a pleasure hound...


  1. OK I am in your camp on this one. I do not pay any damn attention to the Amazon reviews. I have heard from other bloggers that the whole "community", if that is what you want to call it, of Amazon reviewers is a nest of vipers. People whose only activity in life is to intimidate and rule that domain. Not interested. I rely on bloggers who I know are honest and tell it like it is, thanks. (P.S. I still love my Kindle!)

  2. I'm new to Vine and trying it out to see how I like it. I am generally wary of amazon too, but PEOPLE ARE GETTING VIDEO CAMERAS. And that could be me one day ;)

  3. I have never read an Amazon review or posted one. The program is rather annoying because as someone already pointed out (Wendi maybe?!) You have no idea who is posted the reviews on Amazon. It could very well be the best friend or family member of the book's author. So it seems a silly way to chose invitees to their new program. But Lenore I do understand the allure of possiblt getting a video camera. If they start offering flat-screen HD TVs will you let me know ?! lol ;o)


  4. video cameras huh...?

    well, certainly not that anyone here would be influenced in such a way, but if someone is part of a program that is offering video cameras or HGTVs...lol...might I, the reader of these reviews, not think it is possible that they are then influenced to be...shall we say...a little more positive in their reviews to remain a part of the program?

  5. Ok, now I'm rethinking the "It might interest me" thoughts I had when I posted my TT! How do they determine whose reviews are "accurate"? It must be based on their own opinion of the book!! So why don't they just write their own reviews???

  6. HEHEHE there i am!!!! : ) how are youse!?

  7. yes, Bandit, there is your cute little self. so cute....

    yes Vicki, I thought the same thing. I am sure they would say people are free to write what they want and I would trust them...right? lol

  8. Interesting post! I really tend to agree with your thoughts. I take the Amazon reviews with a grain of salt.

  9. Now that I've read this post, it just cracks me up more that you were invited to join Vine. Hee hee. Amazon is playing with you.

  10. you hush now....they may throw me out!
    and just when I got the secret handshake down.

    but you are right. it is funny.


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