New thoughts on Amazon Book Reviews

With the proliferation of indie books, there has risen a veritable army of unpaid reviewers who review books in exchange for freebies.  Many Facebook groups exist to make this possible.  It's not a bad arrangement, given the difficulties that indie authors face in getting reviews.  But as with all online arrangements, there are pitfalls. Mainstream reviewers get paid for reviewing:   they follow rules. They review books and try to avoid inserting opinions. If you subscribe to a publication, you learn the tastes of different reviewers.

Online, it's more or less a free for all-- some reviewers are skilled, but many others are not.  A memoir gets a review: "I don't like memoirs." I recently observed a Facebook thread in which a reviewer had attacked a serial for having a "cliff-hanger," as if serialized fiction was a kind of scam.  (As an aside, it's curious how conservative reviewers are about the new formats that digital publishing allows.)  I tend to skip all reviews on fiction.  

As I've written before, Amazon could solve this problem -- in fiction, certainly. Have the reviewer state their preferred genres -- and their favorite authors.  Presto, I can "place" the reviewer.

If I knew that a reviewer liked, say, Nabokov, I might read his or her review with interest. If I know more about the reviewer's tastes (i.e., what books he or she likes) and why he or she likes the book (for a gift, for personal, etc.), the more I can use the review.  I might even read new authors, because I could "link" them to my own tastes-- just as I discover new authors through mainstream reviews.  Now, there's a thought.
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